Friday, March 30, 2007

Helping People Help Themselves

I have studied about poverty in undeveloped countries of the world and I have come to believe that the only way that people are going to be able to get out of poverty is for them to help themselves. Of course, they need tools to help themselves. I have supported Heifer International for a few years now. This is a fantastic org that gives livestock to people around the world. As a donator, you can give money to buy a flock of sheep, a herd of goats, or simply one pig, etc. You can even buy an "Ark" or a portion of a cow. When a poor person receives this animal, they are able to sell milk, wool, etc and use that money to buy food, clothes or education, plus receive the benefit of having additional nutrition for their family. And, once the animal has its first offspring, that offspring must be given to another member of the community. It is a program that keeps on giving. I remember one time when I watched 60 Minutes, an African girl's family had been given a goat. Through the sale of milk, the girl was able to go to school and then receive a scholarship to study in the USA. Please check out Heifer International at

I just learned of a new non-profit org that is also doing wonderful work. In a recent column, New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof wrote about Kiva, which helps American lenders give money to people in need in poverty-stricken countries. You can loan money (starting at $25) through Kiva to people in places like Samoa and Azerbaijan. You can choose whom you want to send money to. Both women and men apply for these loans to help buy supplies for their bakeries, groceries, farms and clothing-making businesses. This money is a loan, so you should receive your money back. Most loans are repayed. Mercy Corps and other non-profits are helping to find the borrowers and research their needs. According to Kristof, most commerical lenders in Third World countries charge interest of several hundred percent, but not Kiva. Kiva gives the borrowers a chance to make a better life for themselves, their families and the employees that they are now able to hire in some cases.

What I like about both of these programs is that it puts power directly in women's hands. These orgs give women the ability to provide for their families and to help them in a world where woman aren't treated equally to men. I encourage you to visit Kiva's website

or you can also watch a video posted by Kristof on his recent trip to Azerbaijan where he met the man that he had lended money to.

Assai Ah Kee, a Samoan woman, who needs a loan to purchase food products to sell in order to pay for school fees, etc.


Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness is never decreased by being shared.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sexy Beijing - Lost in Translation - Danwei TV

This is so funny and so true in many Asian countries. I hope that you enjoy it too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Sun Magazine

There's a magazine that I love but that is not readily available. You won't find it at the checkout counter at the grocery store. You won't even find it at Barnes & Noble or Borders. The maazine was started by Sy Syfransky in the 1970s. He used his last twenty-some dollars to start up a literary magazine that would have art and no ads. The magazine is The Sun.

The Sun has grown in recent years to include beautiful black and white pictures. In each issue, there is an interview or personal account about a political situation or social situation. This month's issue has a great piece called "Seduced by War." Other wonderful regular features are Readers Write In (readers write about a subject), Sunbeams (quotes) and journal entries from Syfransky. Every issue also includes thought-provoking poetry, short stories and personal essays. I highly recommend this magazine for its originality and quality. It's a bit pricey at $4.85 US or $5.50 Canada. But it is well worth it. You can subscribe to it like me and save money or find it at some small book stores or hippy stores. Oh, and they offer a free issue. But let me tell you, if you receive the free issue and read it, you'll be hooked!

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical means, but ny an infinite expectation of the dawn."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Prairie dogs

These are some of the most adorable creatures ever! My parents and I went to the little Wisconsin city of Baraboo. There, they have a little free zoo with deer, swans, bears, a bobcat, llamas and prairie dogs, etc. I just love the prairie dogs: they are so adorable.

Monday, March 19, 2007

At the crossroads again

Here I am again at a crossroads in my life's path. As soon as I figure things out lately, the rug is pulled out from under me and I am left scrambling for a plan, a job, money and confidence in my decisions. I feel okay today. That may be due to the spring-like atmosphere outside of my window or simply to more positive thinking. I guess going to church yesterday morning reminded me that I am not completely in control of my life. That I have just got to trust that things will work out for the best. Since I went to Korea, I also have the knowledge that I can handle just about anything. I also have a great support group that helps me when I feel helpless. I am keeping busy with newspaper stories, a book and a potential job. The only thing with the potential job is I am not sure if I want it. It would mean moving to Milwaukee and sort of starting over, when all I want to do this summer is completely start over. I really didn't expect things to be so complicated when I returned home from Korea. I miss my days in Korea when I had fewer responsibilities and I was more carefree. Even though I am not going to work right now, I feel weighed down by life's worries. Today is an exception. I feel more carefree and open to possiblities. I have just got to trust in myself and in the greater power that things will work out for the best.

"The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience."
--Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


I haven't written anything in nearly a week because I have had to make some major life choices. They were difficult and I stressed over them for a few days. The major decision that I had to make also forced me to reevaluate some other aspects of my life as well. It was a difficult few days, but I feel that I have made the right decision. I now want to move forward with my life.

I just finished watching one of my favorite tv shows. It's an anime series called Samurai Champloo. I want to thank Aaron for introducing it to me. There are 26 very well-made episodes in the series. The show is about Fuu- a young Japanese woman who is starting a mission to find the "Samurai who smells of Sunflowers." One day she working in a restaurant when her life is threatened by some government hot shots. Two customers, Mugen and Jin get into the fight. Both are eventaully arrested and are going to be killed when Fuu saves them. In return, they agree to help protect and guide Fuu (she also has a pet flying squirrel) on her journey. Mugen and Jin are both badass swordsmen, but who have very different personalities and fighting styles. Mugen has a hip hop, beatboxing flair to his fighting (in the fact the show has a hip hop edge to it). Jin is more traditional and conservative. As the series goes on, the viewer learns more about these characters and their sad pasts.

the show has so much depth. I really got to feel affection for the character. Also, the art is beautiful and so many of the elements of the show are unexpected. It is one of the best-made shows that I have ever seen. It's not for everyone, but I think that most people can appreciate it.

I have to watch some more anime before I go to the anime convention in Chicago in May. I am really excited about it. The only other shows that I have watched are Full Metal Alchemist, Gunslinger Girl and Cowboy Bebop. I never thought that I would like Anime, but it is often very artisitic and original.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
--Martin Luther King Jr.