Bottom line: The Sea to Summit eVENT Compression Dry Sacks are fantastic.
I travel a lot and whether I'm camping/backpacking or flying to distant lands, I am always worried about saving space. I've had luggage go missing for days and things stolen out of my checked bag, so I only take what I can carry-on. These stuff sacks are fantastic for bulky items like sweaters and fleeces. They are waterproof, very strong, come in a variety of sizes and save you tons of space.
Bottom line: The Sea to Summit eVENT Compression Dry Sacks are fantastic.
I've been promising app reviews for a LONG time, so it's time I started. My first recommendation to everyone is AppShopper.
Why I like it:
This is a fantastic app that will save you money. It does exactly what it should, doesn’t crash and isn’t always popping up with annoying information.
Below is a story with information that I gathered for Heifer International and edited by Kim Nixon.
Posted on April 10, 2013 by Kim Nixon
Nancy Ascencio Neira lives with her husband, Galo, on their family farm in Manglaralto parish along Ecuador’s Pacific coast. They have seven sons; two have moved to Guayaquil, the nearest big city. One is studying at the university in Guayaquil and the rest live at home. Galo only attended school through the 6th grade and Nancy never went. “My parents said I was too pretty, and I would get married soon,” she said.
Nancy and Galo wanted to give their children opportunities they didn’t have. “If we don’t educate our children, then their life will be as difficult as ours,” Galo said. However, sending their children to school was always difficult. “I haven’t been able to educate all our children because we are a low-income family,” he said.
In July 2010, they received 100 chickens as participants in a Heifer project. They later received two pigs, fruit trees, vegetable seeds and a backpack sprayer. Galo was excited to receive so many seeds because they wanted to diversify the plants and produce on their farm. “Since we produce our own vegetables, we no longer have to buy and that’s an additional income for us,” Galo said. Plus, their farm is now 90 percent organic and their produce is healthier.
Read more about this wonderful family over at the Heifer Blog.
Original story by freelance writer Christian DeVries (published on Heifer's Blog).
Photos by Russell Powell, courtesy of Heifer International.
In Peya, a small village outside of Gulu in northern Uganda, Mrs. Christine Akello is rebuilding her life as well as the shattered lives of 12 children. She provides for her own two daughters, her brother’s five children, three cousins and two other girls.
Christine’s husband, Mr. Nono Benson, died in 1997 from an HIV-related illness. Christine later learned that she was also HIV-positive. “When my husband died, his brothers chased me off because I only had girls, and girls weren’t important,” she said.
After being forced off her husband’s farm, she moved to the Koch-Goma internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, where she lived until 2007. “Life was very difficult because we couldn’t farm. We just depended on the food donations,” said Christine. They were only able to eat once a day, and all they had were beans and ugali (corn meal porridge).
One day while working in a field collecting food for their family, Christine and her daughter, Cavin, were captured by rebel soldiers. They used Christine as a porter to carry things they looted from villages they attacked. “Life in the (rebel) camp was very difficult,” said Christine. “We depended on the mercy of the commanders. When you laid down at night, you weren’t sure you would get up the next morning,” she added.
Christine was able to escape two weeks later when the rebels went on a looting run. The Ugandan government had set up an ambush. When the shooting began, she dropped to the ground and prayed. Many people, including rebels, soldiers and captives were killed in the crossfire. “I survived by God’s mercy,” Christine said.
Cavin was not as lucky as her mother. She was raped by the rebels and spent an entire year in their camp. When she came home, she was carrying her baby.
Those years were a nightmare. The family was under constant pressure. “People were living all the time in fear. We didn’t plan for the future, because we weren’t sure we would make it to tomorrow,” Christine said.
The Koch-Goma IDP camp was dangerously overcrowded, and although there was a healthcare center, “There were far too many people in the camp for the clinic to manage,” said Christine. Her health was terrible, because until 2008, Christine was not taking antiretrovirals to combat the HIV, so she was often sick.
Then Christine heard about Heifer International. Heifer was helping families by providing them with bulls and plows so they could clear land to rebuild their farms. To receive a bull, you had to be willing to move out of the camp and start farming. Christine was happy to leave the camp. Her father helped her relocate where she would be able to participate in the project.
With her father’s help, she built two houses and a cow shed. In October 2008, Christine and four other families received four bulls and a plow that they shared. Together they began clearing land and planting rice.
On November 27, 2009, Christine received a dairy cow from Heifer. “I had never even dreamed of having a cow,” said Christine. Now she is producing three gallons of milk per day, and that is their primary source of income. Christine also received a variety of seeds: onion, cabbage, tomato, calliandra, eggplant and Napier grass.
Christine sold alcohol made from corn meal when she lived in the IDP camp to earn money, but it was never enough. Everything she earned used to pay for salt, school books and other essentials. Now she earns $860 per year selling milk and additional income from selling peanuts, eggplant, spinach, jackfruit, mangoes and avocado, for a total annual income of about $1,215.
Christine has participated in many Heifer-sponsored trainings: hygiene, HIV awareness, fodder and pasture management, dairy management, plowing, Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones, and others. Christine’s favorite Cornerstone is Improved Animal Management. “If you practice this Cornerstone, your animals will be healthy,” said Christine. “If your animal is healthy, it will provide more milk and live longer.”
According to Christine, Heifer is a very different type of organization. While other NGOs brought animals in for families in northern Uganda, they just gave them away. “There were a lot of things we didn’t know,” she said. “If the animal was just brought to me without any training, it would have been dead long ago.”
She believes the trainings Heifer provided were a crucial part of her success. “The project is going in the right direction. We have moved from one to three meals each day. It is a sign that things are getting better,” said Christine. While their typical meals are simple, just peanut paste and spinach, they eat chicken every Sunday, beef twice a week, and they have three meals per day. “We now have a balanced diet,” said Christine. Perhaps best of all, Christine feels much healthier. “I have a lot of energy, and I’m now very healthy,” she said.
Christine is proud to have completed her Passing on the Gift requirements. In 2010, she passed on a bull, and in March 2011, a heifer. “As we received an animal, it is a blessing to pass on to another family,” she said.
Now she has begun to plan for the future. She had to give up her hopes of going to school when she was very young, but Christine wants all of her children and adopted children to finish school. Even though school fees for so many gets expensive, Christine is happy to pay whatever it costs. She pays for their uniforms, pens, books and paper. “If they study, they will get employment and become self-reliant,” she said.
She knows firsthand that Heifer’s assistance is transforming lives, and she sees it in her community. “For the people who have already received, there has been a big change in their life, but there are still many families who have not yet benefited, and their lives are still very difficult,” said Christine. “People were in the camps for such a long time, and they lost their property, so if more support can come, it will help them to resettle.”
Christine has a modest request: “Please don’t get tired of helping us.”
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.