If I lived close by, I would be a doting uncle. Or if I had lived close by when my nieces and nephews were little kids. Which most of them are not anymore. Take my oldest niece, of whom I am inordinately proud (well, I'm proud of all of my nieces and nephews - the cleverest, funniest, handsomest, prettiest, kindest and strongest kids in the world). My oldest niece has always had a will of her own, even from the time I first met her when she was only six weeks old and without even crying, she exerted an iron control over both her parents.
Anyway, instead of going to college when she turned 18, my niece decided to go to Bhopal, India for seven months, volunteering (inspired no doubt by my parents, who are the biggest do-gooders I know) with the community there that is still suffering the after-effects of a terrible disaster when a Union Carbide factory blew up. She's written about going inside the long-abandoned factory - a disturbing tale - and about the difficulty in getting proper compensation from Dow Chemical (which owns Union Carbide) for those in Bhopal still affected by the explosion.
And now, my niece wants me to get the word out that this week in Stockholm you can learn more about how to help at the Bhopal Bus (times and places at the link), a traveling informational exhibition manned by volunteers trying to raise awareness of the tragedy, which happened 25 years ago.
So, this one's for you, my dear niece. May you succeed in making the world a better place.
The Swedish word for the day is katastrof. It means catastrophe.