A Unique Offer

I write to invite the reader to participate in a remarkable opportunity. It all starts in the village of Hopkinton, 26 miles from Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the Boston Marathon, which I will run on 15 April, 2013. My purpose – apart from winning the race and driving the Mercedes home to Australia – is to raise funds for the Michael Lisnow Respite Centre. The who?.
The Michael Lisnow Centre is, briefly put, a place of joy. As you will see.

I have written on a previous occasion along similar lines to these. That was in 2004 when I decided to bring about a cure for haemophilia. I resolved to achieve this by running 42.185 kilometres (about 26 miles) from Hopkinton to downtown Boston. I would race against the 12000 select runners in the Boston Marathon and I would cure haemophilia.

I wrote to all my friends and begged for donations for research at Boston Children’s Hospital. This very great institution treats my great nephew for his severe haemophilia.

Everyone donated, I bled my friends, and, running as Pheidipides Goldenberg I completed the marathon – and, blow me down, haemophilia wasn’t entirely cured. But treatments improved and the quality of my great-nephew’s life improved. The boy – his name is Elisha – is absolutely blooming. All because I ran the Boston Marathon.

All told I have run the Boston Marathon three times and I have never won: a clear case of home town favouritism.
I am coming out of retirement to give it another crack this year because the Michael Lisnow Centre has captured my cold old heart. Haven’t heard of them? Neither had I until someone sent me this short short youtube. Have a look at it: http://www.youtube.com/hopkintonrespitetv

This program, both modest and magnificent, is located in little Hopkinton, the world’s most famous village on this one day of the year. On the remaining 364 days, in perfect obscurity, the miracles continue.

The deal is this: I do the running, you make the cash investment. I am instructed to raise US$5000.00 by exploiting my friends.

Now I expect many of you are reaching for cheque books and credit cards as you read this, wishing to provide the entire $5000.00 yourselves. At the risk of disappointing you, I advise that this is not my plan. Rather I invite everyone who feels a pang of delight at the youtube above to make a modest investment.

Although I lack a Securities Advisor License, I believe I am qualified to comment on this opportunity. This is a BLACK CHIP INVESTMENT, something unique, a guaranteed, dead set, one hundred percent secure opportunity. Unlike other funds, shares, projects and speculations, the fate of your contribution is beyond doubt: you will never see a cent of your money again. Neither will the Tax Office get a share of the funds. Nor will inflation chew away at them.
Every penny goes for the care of these kids. Donors in Australia will not receive a tax deduction in return for their goodness.
I stake my reputation on these undertakings – not very high stakes, you might say – but I remind you I am also committing a lot of perspiration and shoe leather. Finally, I undertake to provide donors with an Investment Report after my return from Boston.

All you need to do to say goodbye to your money is to sponsor me in the Boston Marathon.

Time is short: the marathon will be run – as always – on Patriots Day, falling this year on15 April, 2013. Please send your donations directly through this link– http://www.razoo.com/Pheidipides-Foolproof-Investment-Opportunity

I might not win the race but together we will certainly improve the life of some lovely children.

Help me to help them, please.

Sincerely

Howard (Pheidipides) Goldenberg

The Mosque Turns Fifty

By far the most elegant structure on Christmas Island is the mosque. I come across it while running, shortly before sunset on a Sunday afternoon. It is time for me to recite Mincha, the afternoon service. I descend to the shore and gaze out to sea. Empty for now of smugglers and pursuers, the sea is a wide place of peace.

While reciting the silent devotion I can hear the unmistakeable sung sound of the call to prayer. There in front of me is the sapphire sea; behind me the towering slope; and in my ears the voice of the muezzin: I might be in Haifa.

I find myself musing on that word, muezzin. How homophonous with the Hebrew ma’azin, ‘to make hear’, to announce.

I complete my prayer. It shall be on that day, that the Lord shall be one, and His name one.

I jog over to the mosque. Its gold minaret rises from creamy walls to catch the setting sun. The green slope beyond darkens toward blackness. A great quiet falls upon the world. I walk towards the mosque’s open door and count shoes at the threshold: there are ten. How many is a quorum, I wonder?

Outside, on the grass, a plaque of stainless steel bearing the Australian coat of arms announces the assistance of the Federal Government of Australia in the construction of the mosque. I read the date: fifty years ago. The plaque is fixed to a mount by iron bolts that have rusted. The emu and the kangaroo gaze at each other across a widening stain of brown that flows down across the plaque.

My imagination begins to work. I’ve seen no-one on the island wearing Islamic dress. I have seen the slender, sinuous forms of young Malay women jogging in skimpy western tops. How many Muslims live on the island? How many of them live their faith? How does a remnant faith survive here, cut off from the root in Malaysia and Singapore?

Over the following week, some answers filter to me. It turns out that this coming Wednesday the community will mark the mosque’s fiftieth birthday. The federal Department of Immigration and Citizenship is paying for the airfares of a couple of clerics from the Islamic community in Perth. All citizens of Malay descent are invited, numerous non-Malay dignitaries are invited. Hundreds will attend this by-invitation only event. Remarkably enough, Doctor Howard Goldenberg has not been invited.

On Wednesday morning I approach the boss of the Health Team: “Have you heard about the mosque’s fiftieth birthday party this morning?”

She has.

“I think a member of the Health Team ought to attend. As a token of respect. An invitation should be obtained for one of us to go. I am willing to attend – to represent Health.”

The boss is silent. She gazes stonily at me, her face saying, “Get real, Howard. It’s a work morning. Go and do your work.”

The Islamic community marks its milestone without the presence of the stickybeak from Health. I wonder whether I might have inflated the importance of Islam in the lives of the islanders. Within the men’s compound there is a second mosque, little patronized by the detained persons. Grotesquely, the chaplain for all these Muslims is a Greek Orthodox priest.

I go to my work and I meet a man in distress. He suffers shame in simply describing his plight. I cannot control my bladder, Doctor. I wet myself, like my small baby son. I cannot pray when I am defiled, I cannot go into the mosque; I have to shower five times every day. Continue reading