I visited this wonderful family in Vietnam. Read all about Pham Thi Thuy and her family over at Heifer.org and check out all of the great photos.
We have some new wonderful friends to introduce to you.
Library in Honduras (www.libraryinhonduras.org) is a small project with a BIG heart. Our friend Jenny Gutierrez Le is from Honduras and recently she decided to help a small school in San Rafael, Choluteca raise the money ($17,000) they need to build a library. Check out their website and please give generously.
The community of San Rafael is located in Namasigue in the State of Choluteca, Honduras. It has approximately 2,000 people and an area of 1,729 acres. It is located 14 miles from the state capital of Choluteca.
This community has basic services like electricity, water, health clinic, and dirt roads. It also has some paved highways for basic travel to and from Choluteca. Most people are farmers that plant corn, beans, sugar cane, etc. Others have small ranches or small businesses (e.g. bakeries).
Five years ago, the leaders in this community organized themselves and started thinking of ways to provide a better future for their children through better education. Until now the community only had a kindergarten and a primary school.
To extend the education level the community decided to convert the primary school into a Basic Center of Education with classes through the 9th grade. Before this occurred, the school only had classes up to the 6th grade. If they wanted to pursue further education, they would have to travel to Choluteca. However, this is too costly for most families, especially ones with two or more children.
The community presented this need to the Honduran Department of Education and they agreed to pay the salaries for three new teachers. Finally, with these new teachers and new grades level the Center was able to open its doors to the community in 2007.
The Center now had more faculty (7 teachers) and more students (196) but had no more classrooms. To meet this second need, the community opened its doors to host classrooms in their homes and parks and playgrounds until the Center was able to build two new classrooms. These classrooms were built by the community and from donations from the government and private organizations.
As new grades were added to the Centro Basico San Rafael, there were now new demands. For example, the Junior High students needed to be able to do research for their class projects. Thus, the community decided to build its first library so that students could do their own research and have books to read.
Technology is a big part of what I do and there is lots of great stuff that makes my work easier. This is a space for me to share some of my favorites with you.
iPhone App Review and How-To
There is a very short list of things that I take on EVERY trip. One absolute must when traveling is my iPhone. I love mine so much that my wife calls it my girlfriend.
I am frequently asked how I use my iPhone while traveling and what apps I like. While the iPhone is a revolutionary piece of technology, it is also way more powerful than most people need and pretty expensive too.
For those of you who want to be power users, I have lots of app suggestions. Full disclosure: I have not been paid for any of these reviews or recommendations.
Many people know about the quaint sampan, but in my opinion the most graceful are the vo lai.Anyone who visits Vietnam’s Mekong delta will be dumbstruck by the quantity of boats floating in the river, its tributaries, canals, ponds and seemingly even puddles.
These long, slender boats are typically propelled by large engines which sport long drive shaft and a propeller on the far end. Their flat bottoms and sleek lines help them cut quickly through any canal, no matter how shallow or narrow.
Painted on the front of many vo lai, and lots other watercraft in Vietnam, are two stylized eyes. Legend has it that these eyes protect river boats from monsters or evil spirits. They add a special touch to the character of each boat.
Special thanks to Heifer International and Russ Powell for the use of these photos.
I love the spirit houses you see everywhere in Cambodia.
Beyond the rich colors and beautiful designs, I really enjoy seeing what people leave as offerings. Incense, food and drink are common. Occasionally, they have figurines, photos, or remembrances of loved ones. The variety and style of each house is a reflection of the family that loves and cares for it.
These mini dwellings are displayed prominently in homes and businesses across the country. According to Wikipedia, "The house is intended to provide a shelter for spirits which could cause problems for the people if not appeased." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_house)
In almost all of the restaurants and hotels that I visited, there were indoor shrines that were even more ornate. Shrines and pagodas are also scattered across Vietnam. I have included a few in the slideshow below.
I just got back from a trip to Bolivia and Ecuador, so I thought it was cool when I spotted these photos and information on the Heifer Blog. There is actually a great extra shot of dad kissing his llama because it was a totally spontaneous moment that reflects his joy and love for these animals.
Visit the Heifer Blog to read more -- Llamas and Alpacas: Your Black Friday Alternative
War has many terrible impacts both physically and mentally. Death, families torn apart, and refugees forced to flee their homes are just a few of the most talked about effects. There is also the lingering mental damage that is felt for many years and can cross generations. Heifer International has assisted thousands of families to rebuild their lives after being devastated by conflict. The gift of an animal provides hope for the future, hope that can sooth both the physical and mental scars people carry.
Mrs. Amina Makoba’s (60) life was turned upside-down during the reign of Idi Amin Dada. Amina lives in Uganda’s Eastern region. Amina’s husband, Mr. Michael Makoba was one of thousands of Idi Amin's victims.
Amina and her four children were living in desperate conditions until Amina received a cow from Heifer. Today she is caring for her family and “I am a role model for other women,” said Amina.
Check out the newest Heifer appeal. This is from my recent visit to Uganda. Take a look and give generously.
We just helped our hilarious friends over at The Things Patients Say (www.thethingspatientssay.com -- @thingsptssay) redo their website. Check them out, it'll be well worth your time.
Below is a letter from Pierre Ferrari, the President and CEO of Heifer International. My recent visit to northern Kenya helped to gather much of this information. I am proud to be a small part of Heifer's amazing work to support families around the globe. We encourage you to visit the Heifer website (www.heifer.org) and give generously.
Even the most prepared families are no match for a historic drought like the one currently ravaging Kenya and the Horn of Africa. If families are to survive, they urgently need help from Heifer International.
For a second straight year, the rains haven’t come in northern Kenya. Crops are failing. And people are starving. It is quite simply the worst drought in recent memory.
Families throughout the Horn of Africa are in crisis, including members of the Heifer community.
We recently dispatched a team to check on our projects in the most remote and hardest hit communities. The team’s Field Report was submitted from the remote village of Ngurunit … where a brave grandmother named Mbaatian Lemungat lives.
Thanks to the camels and training her family received from Heifer International, they have fared better than most. But they are not without loss.
Just a few months before our team arrived, Mbaatian’s oldest daughter died after drinking contaminated water from one of the few wells that hadn’t yet run dry.
“My daughter, who died, died from vomiting and diarrhea in just one day,” she told our team. “It takes them so quickly.”
She left behind her 4-month-old daughter, Roniti. Milk from Mbaatian’s camel has kept Roniti alive. But even Mbaatian’s careful use of resources is no match for a drought this severe and unless the rains come soon, the fodder will run out and the camel will stop giving milk. Roniti’s life depends on that milk.
With teams of experts already on the ground in Kenya, Heifer International is in a unique position to make a difference — and even though we are not typically a first responder, we have both short-and long-term plans to assist the members of the Heifer community who are suffering right now.
That is why I hope you will help us take emergency action by making a donation to the Heifer Families in Crisis Fund.
Gifts to the Heifer Families in Crisis Fund help us act fast whenever families around the world find themselves in crisis. And with the situation facing Mbaatian and families throughout northern Kenya so grave, I urge you to respond today.
We can save lives by taking action now.
These families depend on their animals for their livelihoods and cannot survive without them.
In fact, Mbaatian told our team that three months ago the World Food Programme gave them corn, beans, and cooking oil. Mbaatian is grateful for the relief they received, but in her opinion, Heifer’s assistance is better than relief. “It (the food) comes and after a few days it is gone,” she said. “With my camel I get milk daily. We would starve to death if we only depended on relief,” she added.
Heifer is taking a similar, long-term view by setting up this new program in the region to support families and communities in the area.
You see, not only will we help them weather this immediate crisis, but with droughts now coming more often to this part of the world, we must also help families like Mbaatian’s build sustainable livelihoods. Only then will they be prepared to cope with the rapid changes that are now underway there.
For instance, during this drought, Mbaatian is only getting about half a gallon a day from her camels. “Usually we can sell milk for medicines and salt, but now because we have so little milk we cannot afford it,” said Mbaatian.
With your help today, small farmers like Mbaatian can take steps to ensure that during the next drought, their farms can continue to operate at full capacity.
You can read more about Mbaatian’s struggle to keep her family alive in the Field Report below. I hope it shows you just how much your support means to the families we serve. And I hope it will inspire you to make an emergency contribution to help us reach out to Heifer families in crisis in Kenya and all over the world.
Pierre U. Ferrari
President and CEO
Please review the Field Report below. It details our plan to provide Heifer families in Kenya with both immediate, meaningful relief, and make sure that when the next crisis hits, our project families will be more resilient as the frequency and severity of these extreme conditions increase.
Thank you in advance for contributing at such a critical time.
Click here to donate.