Friday, July 29, 2011

The lesson of Swedish fish and the tardy bell

Go Bulldogs!

     My grade school, Winans Elementary School was only five or six blocks from my family's home.  Jones' Grocery, a small mom-and-pop store that opened very early and sold penny candy, was a block and a half from the school.  It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that my friends Sarah, Mike, Lisa and I were often late for class.  Really, who wouldn't want to start the day with a handful of cinnamon bears and Swedish fish??

Swedish fish, the breakfast of champions!

     About a block away, we'd hear the bell ring.  Instead of picking up the pace, we would look back to see if there were any kids behind us.  Our philosophy was that we might be late, but those kids would be later.  If luck had it, there might be kids walking even farther behind and they would be the latest.  This helped ease our minds and keep things in perspective (for nine year olds)....If we had it bad, others had it worse.

     The years have passed and I still believe in the lessons I learned as a young child walking to school:  1. Swedish fish make a delicious breakfast.  2.  Be grateful for what you have and remember those who have it worse.

    When the power went out in the neighborhood today as the temperatures outside crept up to 104F, I called upon these lessons...Well, only Lesson #2 since I didn't have any Swedish fish handy.  It was a bit sticky in the house and the dog was panting rather dramatically, but we had a house to shelter us from the sun and a room where I could nap and wait for the airconditioning to turn on again.  It may have been uncomfortable for me today, but as the photos (click on the link) below show, too many people have it much worse.

     So here's my soap box speech for the day:  Over 1,600,000,000 people live in substandard housing and 100,000,000 people are homeless in the world.  About 600,000 of those are Haitians still displaced after the earthquake more than a year and a half ago.  By 2030, 40% of the world's population will need access to decent housing.  Research has shown that clean, decent and stable housing increases a person's health, physical safety, and security along with increasing educational opportunities and job prospects.  Whatever was bad for you today, so many people had it worse. 

    Be grateful for what you have.  Donate to Habitat for Humanity Haiti if you can.  And enjoy some Swedish fish for breakfast sometime.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No hammers but lots of monkey tails and a great video

     Humid, hot, sticky, oppressive.  Not the weather forecast you want to hear if you plan on spending your day replacing a roof.  The wise people at Prince William County's HFH affliate had the same thought this morning as they postponed work on a local house.  No hammers today.  I had been looking forward to climbing around on a roof, pulling up old shingles, but my sunburn-prone face was a bit relieved.
     Humid, hot, sticky, oppressive.  Now those are exactly the words you want to hear if you plan on making and eating monkey tails (frozen bananas covered in chocolate and dipped in nuts or sprinkles).  So that's how I spent my day instead.  Can you blame me?

Ok, this is not a photo of the monkey tails I made, but mine were just as delicious!

    I also started reading a new book by Paul Farmer....Look for a future blog entry on this amazing doctor who has worked in Haiti for years.  And I found a fantastic video that shows the work that I'll be involved with on my trip to Haiti.  Grab your own tasty summer treat and enjoy the clip below!

And for those of you who live in Prince William County with me, take a look at the local HFH affliate's website:  If you volunteer, I guarantee that you'll meet some amazing people, have a wonderful time, and maybe even learn how to install a window or use some fun new power tools!!



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mwen pral an Ayiti....I'm going to Haiti!!

Just as the school year drew to a close, I learned that I'd been accepted to work on a Habitat for Humanity (HFH) build in Haiti in early November.  It's now more than three weeks into summer vacation, and it's finally starting to sink in....I'm going to Haiti!!

I can vividly remember what I was doing eighteen months ago today.  Driving home from work, I was thinking about a nap when I turned on the radio and heard about the earthquake that hit Haiti earlier in the day.  The utter destruction and despair being described was unfathomable.  My nap didn't seem very important anymore.  For weeks and weeks, along with the rest of the country I was glued to news reports from Haiti, horrified by the images being shown and amazed by the inner strength of the survivors.  Like all of you, I donated to charities such as the Red Cross and HFH (one of the first groups on the ground with emergency survival kits!).  Still, it didn't seem like enough.  Then several months ago, I received an e-mail from HFH with information about the 2011 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Leogane, Haiti.  My fingers probably turned purple from being crossed while sending in my application, but it worked.  And now, I can't wait because four months from today I will be lifting cinderblocks in Haiti!

This online journey will follow my adventures leading up to the Haiti build:  trying to learn some Haitian Creole, reapplying for my passport, outfitting myself for the build (sleeping bags, bugs spray, shots!), creating a blog (for those of you who know my lack of technology skills, this probably gave you a few giggles) and most importantly, fundraising.  My personal goal is to raise a minimum of $5000 for Habitat for Humanity, Haiti before I leave.  I invite you to help me with reaching my goal and it only takes a couple of clicks at:
Mwen pral an Ayiti!