August 31, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Although I have been home for a month, I continue to think about the Acholi people, the red dirt roads, and the beautiful simplicity of life in Uganda. I have not shared many photos from my time in Gulu and thought I would share some here. All photos belong to me unless otherwise stated.
To learn more about Invisible Children’s effort to bring peace to this part of the world, visit their page here. My students, friends, and colleagues asked me not to forget about them. I have not.
July 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
This week I’m a quarter of a century old. I’m celebrating my day of birth in Uganda as it marks it’s 25th year of war (see part 1 of this post here). I have heard many stories of how the war has impacted the lives of the students I work with, but I have also met beautiful people full of joy. Although life is hard here, it has also been really simple. It makes me appreciate small things, like having long mornings. This weekend, celebrate the small things with me and spend 25 birthday morning minutes doing the following:
1. Lie an extra 5 minutes in bed after the alarm snoozes. It’s a nice feeling to know you can turn your head over to the cooler side of the pillow and close the lids for a bit longer.
2. Take 28 seconds to pour water in the tea kettle and select the tea of the day. I like my tea with a bit of honey.
3. As the water heats up, dance around in your pajamas for 7 minutes, 32 seconds.
4. After the sing along, sip your cup of tea and read a chapter from Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Goodness I love this woman. She’s so funny! She’s Greek, a mother, a doer, and a bossy lady who likes to get things done. I’m reading her book right now and I literally laugh aloud each chapter multiple times. Below is an excerpt from “The Mother’s Prayer to Its Daughter,” or listen to her read excerpts here. Take 9 minutes with Tina.
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half. And stick with Beer.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.
What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.
5. Lastly, spend 3 minutes loving on those around you. Call, email, hug, or just say I love you. It’s never unnecessary to say so.
July 7, 2011 § 1 Comment
Pakou guest-blogged about her experience collaborating with Ugandan teachers and students over at Invisible Children’s blog. Check out her post here.
June 24, 2011 § Leave a Comment
My first afternoon in Kampala, Uganda (a couple weeks ago) was spent at Bavubuka (ba voo boo ka in Luganda means youth). Bavubuka is a community of young artists. These artists share their craft for the purpose of social change. The young men and women shared their dances, music, jewelery, and art pieces with us. Ending an 8-hour flight with Bavubuka was a great way to be welcomed into Uganda. (Photos taken by Gilbert Frank Daniels of Bavubuka.)
The folks were as vibrant as their screen prints and art pieces. Their songs are sung in their native tongue, but tied to a hip hop flow. Most shared stories of how thankful they were to have a space to learn, create, and share in community.
Learn more about Bavubuka at their blog space here. A nod to the young artists at Bavubuka who are creating in community.
June 8, 2011 § 2 Comments
In preparation for this summer the recurring theme seems to be facing my fears. I share below. Don’t judge me.
1. I am fearful of birds, specifically being pooped on by a bird. A couple of weekends ago some friends and I were at the beach. As I was getting things ready to get into water, I felt a whack on head. I put my hand through my hair and realized it was bird poop. I screamed. Then a friend helped me wash my hair and I handled it. Birds can cause such destruction–watch below.
2. This is a dislike that has turned into a fear. I don’t like my teeth to be touched. Ewww! Before dentist visits I usually prep myself with a mantra, “I can handle it. I can do this. I will be okay.” As I sit in the chair and hear the awful noise from the tools, my feet are crossed at the ankles and my hands are gripped tightly together. Agh it’s awful. Only a couple of times a year and I do it. I go through with it and if I’m lucky to experience the good laughing gas I’m thankful for that.
3. Growing up I didn’t have a bike to pedal through the streets. Just to be clear I can ride a bike. I just can’t turn, stop, or start well, but I can ride one. I’m mostly afraid of riding a bike solo on city streets. However, this past weekend I rode my bike on a beautiful Sunday morning through my city. It felt wonderful to get on my red bike and cruise. I felt every ounce like the boy below.
I have conquered the bird poop. I have gone through the dentist visits. I have made it through the city bike ride. I can teach well, learn well, and love well. I can do Uganda.
Readers, look forward to more nods by Abi, guest posts and possible posts from Africa. Farewell until August!
May 16, 2011 § Leave a Comment
In four weeks I’ll be living and working in Uganda (be prepared for some guests posts) as I partner with Invisible Children. My story with Invisible Children began 5 years ago when I saw the documentary ”Rough Cut.” Three young filmmakers captured the images of the night commuters and child soldiers’ stories. The story compelled me to give my time, energy, and resources. There are so many others who are also giving because of the stories they have heard.
With my windows down and sun beaming on me, I grooved to a new song the local radio showcased. I soon learned the song was by Brett Dennen, who is partnering with Invisible Children in an effort to end Africa’s longest war. All of the profits (all 100%) from his new album Lover Boy are being donated to Invisible Children. This man has soul in his music. I’m sharing three videos because I couldn’t just share one.
Brett’s “Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog)” was the song I heard on that sunny day driving with the windows down.
This raw version (using only a single microphone) of “Walk Away Watch Me Burn” is so beautiful.
“Queen of the Westside” will definitely get you groovin’ and bumpin’ your head. I dare you to stay still.
A nod to Brett who is choosing to invest on the behalf of another.
April 29, 2011 § Leave a Comment
An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.
When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for men.
- Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls.
2. Do wear Sseko Sandals. Sseko Designs supports young women in Uganda to further their education by providing fair work for them to earn money towards their college tuition. The sandals are handcrafted and beautifully made by these wonderful women.
3. Do watch the video of the recent graduates’ (all employees at Sseko) from Cornerstone Leadership Academy reaction to passing their exams. 1.52 minutes of pure joy!
4. Do love on the women in your life and find a way to acknowledge the ones that are yet to be.
March 12, 2011 § 1 Comment
No words can express the devastation that happened in Japan.
Here are some ways you can help (info gathered from technolog.msnbc.msn)
- Using your cell phone, you can text-message donations of $10 to the Red Cross. Text the letters REDCROSS to 90999 to make the $10 donation, or visit the organization’s website.
- The International Medical Corps is putting together relief teams, as well as supplies. The organization is in “contact with partners in Japan and other affected countries to assess needs and coordinate our activities,” said Nancy Aossey, IMC president, on its website. You can donate here. Or, you can text MED to 80888 to donate $10 to emergency relief efforts.
- Save the Children is accepting donations for its Children’s Emergency Fund. “We are extremely concerned for the welfare of children and their families who have been affected by the disaster. We stand ready to meet the needs of children who are always the most vulnerable in a disaster,’ said Eiichi Sadamatsu of the organization in a statement. You can also text “JAPAN” or “TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10.
- GlobalGiving, based in Washington, D.C., is providing relief and emergency services to victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Text JAPAN to 50555 to donate $10.
- The Salvation Army, which has had a presence in Japan since 1895, is sending an assessment team from Tokyo to the city of Sendai “to assess damage and will begin providing basic necessities (food, water, etc.) beginning as soon as possible tonight or tomorrow,” a spokesperson said. In Tokyo, the Salvation Army ”opened its main building to help shelter commuters who were unable to reach home. They served hot drinks and packed meals.” You can text JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888 to make a $10 donation to the Salvation Army’s relief efforts.
- World Vision, with a staff of 75 in Japan, focuses its relief efforts on children. Visit the website to donate, or call 1-888-56-CHILD (1-888-562-4453). You can text “4JAPAN” or “4TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10.
- The mGive Foundation, which helps with mobile donations, said these groups are also accepting text-based donations: Convoy of Hope, text TSUNAMI to 50555 to donate $10; World Relief Corp. of National Association of Evangelicals, text WAVE to 50555 to donate $10. “When prompted, mobile donors should reply with YES to confirm a one-time gift,” the foundation says. “The $10 one-time donation will appear on the donor’s next mobile bill. All donations are tax deductible and receipts may be printed” from the mGive site. “Message and data rates may apply.”
- Facebook has a Disaster Relief page with lots of good information about organizations that are offering aid, and that you can help, in turn.
- Portland, Ore.-based Mercy Corps is “accepting donations to help survivors of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami through our longstanding partner, Peace Winds Japan.” Donations will go to meeting the “immediate and longer-term needs of the survivors,” a spokesperson said. You can text “MERCY” to 25283 to donate $10.
March 8, 2011 § Leave a Comment
An extra post this week in honor of International Women’s Day! Just wanted to share some fun, animated infographics on the topic. This first one celebrates working women in the last 100 years and some of their accomplishments that have made life easier and a little more luxurious:
And this presentation by The Economist and Jess3, is a realistic look at how countries around the world treat women today in regard to education, maternity leave, the enforcement of labor policies, and sexual violence. The U.S. ranks at about #15. Not bad, but disappointingly not higher.
An interesting observation they note: Eastern European countries have done quite well in their rankings, the one positive result from Communist regimes being that women were expected to work and thus respected as colleagues.
And finally, if you haven’t seen The Girl Effect video already, check it out. The problem is real and the solution viable. I strongly believe that many of our global problems – poverty, AIDS, human trafficking, environmental pollution – are intertwined and they stem from keeping women uneducated. The Girl Effect has a simple, but powerful vision.
February 25, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Today I worked from home while Pakou recovered from pulled wisdom teeth (and considered if laughing gas was worth joining the forces of comedic outlaws). She put on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and promptly fell asleep.
It was a movie I’ve only seen in bits and pieces, but sitting across the room, I was struck by how heavy and dark the story is. I didn’t see what was happening and I couldn’t hear much of the dialogue, but the tones, the music, the lengthy pauses between speakers reminded me again of the Nazi-like oppression that descends on Hogwarts and the magic world. This is the point in the series where survival becomes questionable and the resistance grimly emerges.
All this revealed through pauses and music.
It reminds me of Valentin Spirik’s rendition of His Girl Friday (on a much lighter note), where he strings together every moment without dialogue in a fast-talking comedy. Reduced to 8 minutes, you can still clearly follow the story:
Pakou mentioned Invisible Children earlier, and we heard today they’re planning an event on April 25 called Speak Out Without Speaking, 25 hours of silence to raise awareness of the plight of child soldiers (this may count as Pakou’s 25 1/2 post).
Selah. For the weekend at least, we’ll pause here.