Around the World in 80 Days is an adventure novel by the French writer Jules Verne published in 1873. In the story, Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a 20,000 pound wager (about 2million pound in 2017) set by his friends at the Reform Club.
The technological innovations of the 19th century had opened the possibility of rapid circumnavigation, and such prospect fascinated Verne and his readership. Three technological breakthroughs, in particular, occurred in 1869–70 that made a tourist-like around-the-world journey possible for the first time:
Consequently, it notably marked the end of an age of exploration and the start of an age of fully global tourism which could be enjoyed in relative comfort and safety. It sparked the imagination that anyone could sit down, draw up a schedule, buy tickets and travel around the world, a feat previously reserved for only the most heroic and hardy of adventurers.
Even up to the 20th and 21st century, this story still inspire a deep sense of exploration, adventure and imagination. Around The World In 80 Days has been adapted into television series, cartoons, films, theatre and even games.
About the author, Jules Vernes
Jules Verne (1828 – 1905) is widely regarded as the father of science fiction today. Verne wrote books about a variety of innovations and technological advancements years before they were practical realities. Although he died in 1905, his works continued to be published well after his death, and he became the second most translated author in the world.
Apart from the novel Around the World in 80 Days, he has written several other well-loved science fiction literatures such as Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and From Earth to Moon. Verne imagined many things that would become realities in the future: Video conferencing and lunar modules, among many others. Verne himself didn’t live long enough to see these inventions, but his writing certainly did. In 1989, his great-grandson discovered an unpublished manuscript. Its title? Paris in the Twentieth Century. As you would expect of Verne, the novel was full of futuristic technologies that had actually been invented by the time it was discovered in the real twentieth century: skyscrapers, worldwide communications networks and many others.
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Economic depression has devastating effects on both rich and poor countries.
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The Great Depression changed the lives of people who lived and farmed on the Great Plains and in turn, changed America. The government programs that helped them to live through the 1930s changed the future of agriculture forever. Weather touched every part of life in the “Dirty 30s”: dust, insects, summer heat and winter cold. York County farm families didn’t have heat, light or indoor bathrooms like people who lived in town. Many farm families raised most of their own food – eggs and chickens, milk and beef from their own cows, and vegetables from their gardens. Continue Reading…
According to UIS-UNESCO report, globally, six out of ten children and adolescents are not learning a minimum in reading and mathematics. The total – 617 million – includes more than 387 million children of primary school age and 230 million adolescents of lower secondary school age. This means that more than one-half – 56% – of all children won’t achieve minimum proficiency levels by the time they should be completing primary education. The proportion is even higher for adolescents at 61%.
Is this statistic applicable to Singapore? Despite being an affluent country, there are still a group of children from underprivileged families who do struggle with reading. Having the ability to read opens up minds and doors of opportunities for children to fulfil their dreams and become contributing global citizen. Thankfully, there are several reading programs catered to help this group of underprivileged children in Singapore.
1. ReadAble – A community of passionate people who believe in beating poverty one word at a time.
I’d rather get bombed and die straightaway. Don’t make me lose a limb or something. I’ll be very upset,” quipped Singapore-based Dr. Lim Chin Siah who volunteers with the Nobel laureate Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders.
Sporting a beard, a loose white tee, baggy khaki-coloured pants, and a pair of casual sandals, the laidback 36-year-old wasn’t typically what would conjure in one’s mind when thinking of the word ‘doctor’. He described himself as ‘bochup’ (meaning nonchalant in the Hokkien dialect), which seemed rather ironic given the fact that the guy repeatedly puts his life on the line in war-torn countries to save others.
A full-time consultant in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Singapore General Hospital, where he has practised medicine for the past 12 years, Dr. Lim consistently juggles approximately half a year’s worth of unpaid leave to attend missions with the humanitarian organisation which renders emergency medical assistance in places afflicted with natural disasters, epidemics, and armed conflicts. His three missions so far, have found him much fulfilment.
“I can live on less things now,” casually joking about how much lighter his luggage on his recent third mission trip was compared to the first one. Perhaps light-heartedness was one of the things it took to be a frontline emergency doctor.
Nonetheless, these stints with MSF aren’t without sacrifices. Looking rather worn, the cheery doctor recounted, half in jest, how one of his missions abroad led to him missing his only brother’s wedding; the result of a one-month delayed flight back home which left him helplessly stuck in a far-flung province in Afghanistan.
“My mum was calling me and I was very stressed because I was the best man. What’s more, was the long-distance calls and poor reception. But whatever happened was beyond my control.” Cheekily adding that he wasn’t around for his nephew’s birth as well.
Citing his most challenging mission to be also his most recent one, the doctor detailed his three-month stint in Saada, Yemen. It involved sudden influxes of patients, sometimes as many as 50 at a time, while active bombings meant that the grounds were regularly shaky. As much as he admitted that it was pretty stressful for him, Dr. Lim quickly remarked that the stress levels experienced by the local medical staff who permanently lived and worked there were much worse.
Despite having medical professional friends who were amongst the 42 fatal casualties in last year’s tragic Kunduz hospital airstrike, Dr. Lim expressed his ‘ideal’ hope to eventually become a full-time doctor with Médecins Sans Frontières.
“If MSF isn’t there, these people will have a zero chance of help at all. But at least if we’re there, we can give them a chance. We can’t save everybody, but for those whom we can, they definitely benefit from our presence.”
Beaming, he shared a photo of an Afghan boy not more than 10 years old, with plastic bags wrapped around his feet as shoes. The child had made a miraculous recovery after being in a coma for months, having suffered a shrapnel lodged in his head. We are unable to show the image as MSF has a policy not to distribute pictures of its patients. But the gusto in which Dr. Lim talks about this young boy makes it apparent that encounters such as these make him feel that his sacrifices are worth it.
Médecins Sans Frontières’ difficulties in recruiting
Kelly Dilworth, an anaesthetist, in the intensive care unit of the burns unit in Al Shifa (Gaza) where two brothers, 8 and 4 years old, are hospitalized after being severely burned when a missile fell on their house. Photo by Samantha Maurin/MSF Image: https://pride.kindness.sg/singapore-based-doctor-saving-lives/
Médecins Sans Frontières relies on dedicated individuals such as Dr. Lim Chin Siah, willing to be on the frontline.
In 2015 alone, 75 facilities assisted and run by MSF were attacked. Earlier this month, the international non-profit organisation announced its withdrawal from the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), holding no hope that the WHS will be able to address the weaknesses in humanitarian action and emergency response, nor the repeated violations committed against MSF staff and patients in conflict zones.
“In general, it is difficult to recruit medical field workers for mission in war zones,” said Dr. Rhitam Chakraborty, the MSF Hong Kong Field Recruitment Manager.
The spokesperson added, “We always respect the individual’s decision in terms of accepting a mission be it in a war-torn or stable context. Security of our teams in the field is a top priority for us.”
There are in total just eight active field workers from Singapore. With regards to the lack in Singaporean medical professionals joining the organisation, MSF cited the ‘difficulty to leave their current stable job for 6-9 months, which is the usual availability period MSF asks for a nurse or medical doctor or non-medical profiles’, along with the lack of the organisation’s awareness in Singapore as possible reasons.
MSF faces the particular challenge in recruiting medical professionals with good experience in tropical medicine and infectious diseases, but it does believe that Singaporeans spreading and raising awareness about the humanitarian crises happening globally would help bring changes on the frontline.
As Médecins Sans Frontières has not been registered in Singapore, Singaporeans may donate to the organisation’s causes via its Hong Kong office at https://ssl.msf.hk/donate/en.
Aside from doctors, MSF is also in need of non-medical professionals for the efficient running of its medical activities and programmes. For those interested to work with MSF, kindly visit www.msf-seasia.org.