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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

Runaway teen survives 5-hour flight as stowaway in plane's wheel well

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 11:50 PM PDT

A teenage boy stowed away on a five-hour flight from California to Hawaii in the wheel well of a passenger jet, and miraculously survived subzero temperatures and near-total oxygen deprivation.

The 15-year-old stowaway, whose name hasn't been released, remained hospitalised on April 22, two days after his death-defying jaunt over the Pacific Ocean, said Kayla Rosenfeld of Hawaii's Department of Human Services, adding that the teen was "resting comfortably".

The boy ran away from his home in Santa Clara on April 20 and travelled in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 on an almost six hour flight from San Jose International Airport to Kahului Airport in Maui, the FBI said.

The teen told investigators that he sneaked into the airport overnight and chose the plane at random, climbing into its rear left wheel well and falling asleep, said FBI Special Agent Tom Simon.

It was unclear how long the boy spent on the plane before take-off, but Simon said it was "enough for him to get a decent night's sleep". During the flight, the teen passed out and didn't wake up until an hour after the plane landed. 

Citing law enforcement officials, CNN reported that the teen was trying to travel to Somalia to see his birth mother, who he hasn't seen since he was two. A local CBS-affiliate reported that he was living with his father, stepmum and siblings in Santa Clara, but his birth mother lives in Africa.

The Hawaiian Airlines flight took off at 7:55am Pacific Time, said airline spokeswoman Alison Croyle. San Jose airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes couldn't say how long the teen might have spent at the facility before that. No surveillance footage exists of the boy climbing over a security fence at the airport, although footage does show an unidentified person approaching the Hawaiian Airlines plane in the dark, Barnes said.

Transportation Security Administration has deemed the video sensitive security information and prohibited airport officials from releasing it, Barnes said. A TSA spokesman confirmed that, but gave no further details. However, the fact that the teen managed to climb aboard the plane raised concerns about airport security.

The boy quickly lost consciousness as temperatures in the wheel well sank as low as -62°C, Simon said. The FBI added the plane eventually reached an altitude of 12,000m – higher than Mt Everest, which stands at 8,848m – where oxygen is so scarce, breathing would've been difficult.

It's likely that the cold saved his life, according to speculations by perplexed medical experts, who said the chill may have induced his body to go into a hibernation-like state and reduced his need for oxygen.

According to figures from the Federal Aviation Administration, 105 people worldwide have been found to have stowed away on flights since 1947. Eighty of them perished, representing a survival rate of less than 24%. The last known stowaway to walk away from such an ordeal was in 2013, on a domestic flight in Nigeria.

The teen is currently in the custody of the department's Child Welfare Services division in Hawaii, and officials are working to ensure his safe return to California. The FBI has said that it will probably not press any charges against him. – Reuters

Bündchen, Alba, Silverstone: Celebrity mums who love being green

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Over a billion people around the world celebrated Earth Day on April 22. Here are three green celebrity mums who inspire others to protect Mother Nature.

Gisele Bündchen

Fashion supermodel Gisele Bündchen has long been an advocate of going green. The Brazilian beauty says her kids – four-year-old Benjamin, one-year-old Vivian, and six-year-old stepson Jack – have made the importance of the message hit home.

"I had my first munchkin, Jack (husband and NFL star Tom Brady's son with actress Bridget Moynahan), before I gave birth to Benjamin," Bündchen says. "After spending so much time with Jack, I saw how he wanted to play with the stuff I was using instead of the toys we bought him. In terms of clothes, I bought Jack so many clothes and am now using them for Benjamin. Look, when I was growing up, my sisters and I wore hand-me-downs and we're now doing the same thing. This all goes back to my motto: Reduce, recycle and reuse. The more we buy, the more we encourage the manufacturers to produce more stuff."

Bündchen says Benjamin was potty trained at six-months-old! How did she do it? Bündchen says her son was on a schedule, including breastfeeding in the morning and afternoon, followed promptly by a bowel movement, making it easy for her to put him on the toilet and eliminate the use of a diaper.

"Give it about five minutes – and bang," she says of the process, admitting with a laugh that she realises the process is actually "more complicated".

Jessica Alba

Hollywood star Jessica Alba and her movie producer husband Cash Warren are parents to two kids – Honor, five, and Haven, two. Shortly after her second daughter arrived, Alba partnered with Christopher Gavigan, dad-of-two and founder of Healthy Child Healthy World, to create The Honest Company, an online source to purchase eco-friendly baby and children products.

"First and foremost, we try to model and practise eco-friendly habits for the girls," Alba says about how she encourages her kids to minimise their carbon footprints. "Otherwise, we talk to them about being mindful and explain that things can be turned into something else one day. This can be as simple as teaching them about recyclables and showing them how to sort bottles and cans from trash. We also do a lot of DIY crafts like using cardboard boxes to make airplanes and dollhouses – our creative playtime together similarly shows the girls how to repurpose old items."

"Involving children in gardening and cooking is another great way to inspire eco-friendly living," says Alba, who is all about living eco-friendly on a daily basis. "Caring for the plants in our herb wall garden helps Honor understand the steps to growing food (including patience!), how it ultimately lands on her plate, and about being a good steward of the planet. Honor is also a great sous chef when we're in the kitchen, so being a part of the dinner process encourages her to eat the foods she grows and develops her taste for fresh ingredients. Hopefully, this lays the foundation for children to prioritise their health and that of the planet."

Alicia Silverstone

Actress Alicia Silverstone is one outspoken green mum! She caused quite a stir on her eco-friendly blog The Kind Life with a video that went viral, in which she fed her then-11-month-old son Bear Blu mouth-to-mouth. "I just had a delicious breakfast of miso soup, collards and radish steamed and drizzled with flax oil, cast-iron mochi with nori wrapped outside, and some grated daikon. Yum! I fed Bear the mochi and some veggies from the soup... from my mouth to his. It's his favourite... and mine," she wrote.

Silverstone and her musician husband Christopher Jarecki live in an LA home with solar panels and an organic vegetable garden. She's an advocate for animal rights and environmental issues, became a vegan in 1998, and shares her eco-friendly tips on her official website. "The Kind Life is an interactive extension of my book, The Kind Diet, which is about living your healthiest and happiest life to the fullest, while taking care of mama Earth at the same time," she writes on her blog.

"The site is whatever you make of it; whether it's joining many others who are on this same journey or simply gathering information and tips. Whatever you need, you will find it here. I will be sharing all kinds of tasty morsels with you; from fashion and beauty tips, to simple ways that we can help the planet. By the time you're done with your visit, your mouth will be watering and you will surely want to crash here forever. So come on in, kick off your shoes and check out all sorts of recipes, my favourite foods, nutritional information from doctors that are in the book, the very best restaurants, amazing travel discoveries, party planning tips, ways to make sure your house is as healthy and green as possible, great pet care tips, and so much more."

Silverstone is also vocal about elimination communication, the eco-friendly potty training technique coined by Ingrid Bauer, author of Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene. When Bear Blu was five-months-old, Silverstone tweeted, "(S)aturday Bear Blu went poo and pee on toilet 4x throughout the day... we were so proud! Check out book Diaper Free... soo fun!" Then she added: "... yesterday, Bear did two poops in toilet... so sweet! I'm saving so many diapers... even cloth ones... yahoooo! and it's so fun!" – Celebrity Baby Scoop/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Old Is Gold: A simple but enchanted village life

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The rustic charm of kampung life leaves an indelible imprint on the heart.

Back in the late 1950s, there were 11 of us siblings. My eldest brother, Abang Long, was the head of the pack. He was about 13 at that time. Abang Ngah was the second in line, the rest were girls.

We stayed in a government house in a kampung where both my parents were teachers. I don't remember much about that house, but from what I gathered from my siblings, it was a small miserable house. The house had one room, so the children slept wherever they could, mostly in the hall. The kitchen was even smaller; this was where all of us had our meals. Once everyone was seated on the mat on the floor for meals, there was no more room to move.

There was a small outhouse where we discarded our bodily waste. It was always dark in there, even in the day time. Some of us must have developed spontaneous constipation to avoid going in there.

Our daily routine then was, for the older ones, to go to school, while the younger ones were left at home with a babysitter who came daily from the kampung. School was just a few hundred metres away, the house being in the school compound. After school there were Arabic classes to attend. After that there were numerous chores to be done around the house. Firewood needed to be chopped by the boys, the compound around the house had to be swept, clothes be picked up from the clothes line, a big dinner to be prepared, and numerous little siblings to be looked after.

The two older boys resented the housework for there were so many exciting adventures awaiting them in the kampung. It was a full-time job to stay on top of things among the kampung boys. To earn the respect and stand tall among the local boys, they had to be good at spinning tops, flying kites, trapping birds in the woods, and catching fish in the water channels in the padi fields.

But mostly they loved to go swimming in the river behind the house. The river was a forbidden place for all of us. After a rendezvous in the river, the boys were careful not to reveal their wet clothes or else Mak and Ayah would know about their forbidden adventure. Once Mak found a pair of wet pants on the clothes line, carefully spread and hidden underneath her batik sarung.

Born a year apart, the two boys were inseparable. Knowing how the boys could get into trouble if left free to roam the kampung, Ayah kept a tight watch on them. If the boys were not found in the house, Ayah quickly asked the girls to look for them.

The girls just knew where to find them. In the river. Ayah would tell the girls to go to the river and call them home. The girls then went to the river and shouted out the boys' names at the top of their lungs, asking them to come home. As long as the boys did not get out of the water, the girls continued calling their names. You could hear their voices along the whole stretch of the river, to the embarrassment of the boys.

Ayah had an old gun that he used to shoot squirrels and other wild animals. There was a time when Ayah was away and Abang Ngah used the gun to shoot some birds and catfish in the nearby water channel.

Once Ayah got home, my sister Imah, ever the reporter, told him what Abang Ngah had done. Ayah's eyes became big and round, they looked like they were about to pop out of the eye sockets. He could not believe what had happened. He quickly took the gun and looked for places to hide it – under the bed, on top of the cupboard and everywhere – but could not decide where to hide it. He was probably thinking no matter where he hid it, Abang Ngah would surely find it.

As for the older girls, after Arabic classes, on the way home, they usually stopped by the roadside stall to buy scraped ice-balls laced with red, sweet syrup. These ice-balls were sold on yam leaves as they were be too cold to hold on bare hands. They had to cross the school field to reach home.

In those days, school fields were not fenced, so the kampung folks were free to park their buffaloes, cows and goats there to graze on the grass. Crossing the field was a feat by itself; you have to watch out for the animals. On one occasion, some kids were chased by a hostile cow, and they ran helter-skelter. It seems that someone was wearing red that day.

Being among the youngest in the family at the time, I was left mostly in the care of my older sisters. When I was about three, an incident took place that was remembered by everyone of my siblings.

One day we were crowding by a window in the hall, watching the goings-on in the street in front of the house, when all of a sudden I fell out of the window. I went down head first, hands and legs flailing behind me. I fell on a flower pot, which probably saved me. The other older children looked down in horror. Later the babysitter ran to the school where both my parents were teaching, to tell them that I had fallen down and "broken my head".

I was rushed to the hospital where I had my scalp stitched up. I am sure after we came back from the hospital, some of my siblings were on the receiving end of the wrath of Ayah and Mak.

Under the command of Mak, meals were prepared by the older girls. Fish was a staple diet, brought to the house daily by a Chinese man on a bicycle. We ate more rice than fish; we could have any helping of rice, but not fish. Everyone knew that if you ate too much fish, you could have worms inside your tummy. Despite not having too much fish, we still had lots of worms then, every one of us.

Eggs and chicken were a treat only to be had once in a while. Sometimes Mak cooked some eggs and cut them in half for each one of us.

On the few occasions that we had chicken, the day before, Mak would identify which chicken to be slaughtered. In the evening, the poor chicken was chased around the compound and kept in a small coop. Very early the next morning, Ayah would sharpen the intended weapon. By now every one of us was excited about the big lunch we were going to have. The chicken was then slaughtered and cleaned. The whole kitchen buzzed with activity. Once the food was ready, everyone got a small piece of chicken. Still, it was a feast for us.

We are all adults now with plenty to eat. Ayah had passed away a long time ago. Mak is 90. She no longer believes that eating too much fish can result in worm infestation. She now allows her grandchildren to eat as much fish as they like.

Abang Long is 68 this year and he remains the leader of the pack. He and Abang Ngah are still close, and they play golf together every now and then. Both are very handy around the house, a legacy from their childhood training.

Imah remains the reporter in the family. If you want to spread news, you tell her, and she'll get the job done. I have two huge scars on both sides of my scalp, devoid of hair, as a result of the fall. I keep reminding every one of my siblings that the fall, I believe, deprived me of becoming the second Einstein; I just became an ordinary Jane. The debate on who was responsible for my fall is still going on until today. Some say I was accidentally pushed by someone in her eagerness to look out, others speculate that I climbed out of the window. Every one of the girls became good cooks, from cooking at an early age. All became wonderful mothers and doting grandmothers.

Those were the days.

> Old Is Gold is a platform for readers aged 55 and above to share their wealth of experience and take on life. Email star2@thestar.com.my. Published contributions will be paid, so include your full name, MyKad number, address and phone number. 

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