It has been unbearable to hear reports of vulnerable children being literally ripped away from their parents and housed in wire mesh enclosures.
St John's Hill School's environmental work is truly impressive, and leading the way last week were Aurora Chernoff, Liam Scott Pages, Kate Macpherson, Connor Rooke, and Jake Newton.
There are many privileges that come with being a regional councillor but a recent highlight was presenting St John's Hill School's Green Gold Enviroschool certificate last week.
As a lover of all things environmental, I shouldn't have been surprised by the amazing things happening at that school – but I was. The depth to which they are examining how the world works and integrating principles of sustainability was truly impressive.
That's what the Enviroschools programme is about – creating future leaders who can contribute more than the important first steps of growing their own vegetables, setting up recycling and planting trees, although they are doing all that too.
The respectful interaction between adults and students at St John's also served as a stark contrast against the news coming out of Trump's America about the separation of parents from their children at the borders. It has been unbearable to hear reports of vulnerable children being literally ripped away from their parents and housed in wire mesh enclosures while their parents face potential charges for entering the US without the appropriate bits of paper.
Apparently this treatment is occurring as part of partisan fighting – a leverage tool for Trump to get legislation passed to get his wall built. It was a decision by his administration to implement this existing option, although breaking news is that Trump has said he will issue an executive order to stop it. I hope this is correct and happens promptly.
All this horror is happening around World Refugee Day, which is a time to be reminded of the wonderful contributions former refugees make to our societies – and our responsibilities as global citizens to provide a safe haven for those seeking refuge. It is not illegal to seek asylum – some people must enter a country without their paperwork in order – they have no other choice if they want a chance to survive.
Now I appreciate not all people crossing borders into the US will have valid cases for asylum, but can you imagine a stranger taking your child away from you? The latest reports are from concerned doctors emphasising the serious brain development trauma possible for children.
The madness that has been happening in the US is being compared to Nazi Germany, although it's not the first action from Trump's administration drawing parallels.
On Twitter, I saw a pic of rosaries that had been confiscated at the Mexican border with this comment from @clarissalule: "Remember the piles of wedding rings taken from holocaust victims and how we see it now and wonder how we ever let the violation of human rights get so far, well yeah".
Another example from @kumailn: ""These are not cages. They are enclosed spaces made with chain link fences." The redefinition of common words is something the Nazis did. It worked."
Or from @StephenAtHome: "One thing I know for sure: no one on the right side of history has ever had to nitpick what the definition of "cage" is."
When you have former first lady Laura Bush speaking out against the practice calling it "immoral", it is time to take action.
It's hard to imagine that doing anything from New Zealand as an individual can make a difference, but I did write to our ambassador to the US expressing concern, for what it's worth.
Maybe the resource I found on the @biglifejournal Facebook page, designed for children, but definitely applicable to adults too, can help us cope.
It listed: "Things I can control – my behaviour, my goals, my effort, learning from my mistakes, taking care of myself, who my friends are, and asking for help. Things I can't control – what others say, things I have to do, past mistakes, what others think, the weather, being sick, and others being kind."
Finally, I'd like to sneak in a public happy birthday message to my parents, Bryan and Lesley, who both turned the same undisclosed age this month (let's just say we didn't have enough candles).
Thank you for all that you do to support my children growing up with love, fun and security in their lives – and me, too.
Nicola Patrick is a Horizons regional councillor, works for Te Kaahui o Rauru, and is part of a new social enterprise hub, Thrive Whanganui. A mother of two boys, she has a science degree and is a Green Party member