My Amazing Month in Africa


I spent a cumulative 22 days in Africa in October. I won’t lie – it was amazing!

Throughout October I traveled to Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa. I went to Tanzania to report on agriculture, health, food security, and poverty as an International Reporting Project fellow. I traveled to Zambia as a guest of Malaria No More to cover their brand-new Power of One campaign that is essentially a global movement where a small $1 donation goes to test a Zambian child for malaria and treat them. $1 literally keeps a child alive. And finally I traveled to South Africa on the final Social Good Moms’ insight trip for the year.

During my travels in Africa I have learned many things: the continent is gorgeous! Gorgeous! My photo collage does it absolutely no justice whatsoever.

Gorgeous Africa

But there are places in Africa where a lot of work needs to be done. In some places infrastructure isn’t worth a damn. Pardon my French. It’s true. That is why I was happy to hear about the upcoming Building Africa conference that is taking place in February because something has to be done about the roads. Of course, I am not saying anything new here, but having spent time on many dirt roads in October to the detriment of my backside I thought I’d mention Africa’s massive roads problem. If Africa doesn’t fix its infrastructure problem, health and transport woes will continue to be a constant burden on African countries. To wit, you cannot transport medicines, food, and essential items to people who live in areas you cannot reach. That’s problematic. Last week the African Union’s economic development arm, NEPAD, convened a conference in Johannesburg that is looking at bringing on private partnerships to help fund roads in Africa. $500 billion dollars is needed to fund infrastructure improvements on the continent of which $100 billion is expected to come from private funders. That’s a start.

I also was reminded that the African people are amazing and beautiful, and warm and welcoming, but there is still corruption that prevents or severely stalls a lot of good projects from happening. Even Kenya has set up a name and shame anti-graft site to curb bribery and corruption. Who knows if it will work, though, or is significant in name only.

The United States government has a heavy presence in Africa through global health programs like PEPFAR, Feed the Future, and the President’s Malaria Initiative – not to mention the millions of dollars in funding that goes to NGOs on the ground. A lot of productive, life-saving work happens on the ground in Africa. I have seen it, reported on USAID-funded projects, and have read about countless programs that are helping those in need. You wouldn’t believe how many USAID logos I see throughout Africa. Seeing USAID’s African presence gives me a sense of pride to witness what the American people do for other countries even if they don’t realize where a minuscule fraction of their taxpayer money is going. This I know to be true: the people who work for USAID are fantastic stewards of US taxpayer money. It’s their duty to use the money in the ways in which they are intended. And although I haven’t seen every USAID budget allocation line for foreign aid programs, I have talked to enough USAID employees to know they take their work very seriously. I enjoy seeing where taxpayer money is going in Africa and have many times. Most Americans have no clue that as a nation we are keeping millions of people alive and healthy and that’s a shame. I wish more people knew.

USAID

Being in Africa for nearly a month teaches you that time flies! 22 days goes by extremely quickly even though at first it seems like the month will drag on forever. I also realized that I need to set my eyes on west Africa in the near future. I have only visited east and south Africa. That, my friends, has to change. I am sure I will go to west Africa for some reason in 2014. That is a promise to myself.

Africa

I also learned that if you set goals things will get done! I had goals of traveling internationally more in 2013 and that has happened time and again and I am grateful for it. My next international trip will be visting India next year. Many of you know I was supposed to go to India this month, but the kind folks at Water for People (the fantastic NGO I am going with) were so kind to move the dates to 2014 that my year of travel will start in February of next year. And as you can expect I am truly looking forward to going to India again.

Finally, I will leave you with this: whatever it is in your life that you want to do, do it! You probably don’t want to spend nearly a month in Africa like I did. But, whatever your goal – go after it. Time won’t wait for you!

sitting with mamas - Tanzania

My Walk to a Much-Needed Latte


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I love where I live. It’s not Manhattan or downtown Chicago, but it’s my little slice of the hustle and bustle in North Carolina.

I don’t need much to make me happy. A short morning walk to my favorite, local coffee shop is a great way for me to set my day. This morning I walked around the corner to get a latte and took photos along the way. If there is one thing I love, it’s a beautiful summer North Carolina day.

Wolfies - My Favorite Local Ice Cream Shop!

Wolfies – my favorite local ice cream shop – with a few words of wisdom.

It’s the subtle things I love noticing.

While it was only morning and not yet opened, Hutch and Harris’ patio was bustling by lunch.

Picking my lid.

SONY DSC

Don’t you love a coffee shop that’s also a wine shop/bar. Love!

Yes!

Les fleurs!

Les fleurs!

7 seconds....

7 seconds….hurry!


I hope you have a great Friday! By the way, I was interviewed about Social Good Moms today on Jennifer Barbour’s Philanthropy Friday series. I love it. Do give it a read.

- Jennifer

Signs of a Truly Early Spring


Yesterday was one of the most beautiful days I’ve seen in quite some time. We usually have pretty temperate weather here, even in the winter, but there’s something about how beautiful the sky is when spring is nigh.

Taking advantage of the beautiful blue skies and warm weather my daughters and I decided to go for a run and then we stopped by Starbucks for a quick treat. I hadn’t had any coffee for about two weeks and nearly inhaled my Venti Pike.

Out With My Girls

But before we went to Starbucks we were thrilled to see one of the earliest signs of spring – daffodils. It was the perfect present on a gorgeous February day. DSC02447

Coffee Walk


Today on my walk to get coffee I decided to take a few photos of what caught my eye along the way.

Mums

Berries and sunshine

Leaves

Chairs

Shop Owners

Have a great Friday. Take a moment to observe more of what is around you this weekend. You may be surprised and be peaced out like I was this morning.

Appreciating the Things Around Us


This morning I was up early. I had really good rest last night so I was particularly refreshed when I awoke. That doesn’t happen often. After reading emails and clicking around the Net for awhile I peeked through my blinds and saw the most magnificent red and pink sunrise. I threw on my coat and shoes, stammered around for a bit looking for my keys, and quickly tried to get outside before the beauty faded to take photos to share. By the time I got outside I was too late and missed capturing such a beautiful morning. Dejected I turned around and suddenly realized I have never seen how peaceful the Japanese garden is that sits right beside our building.

Why is it that we typically don’t appreciate the lovely things around us? Maybe our surroundings become too familiar and stale. With a new eye we can find great appreciation in them.

My family and I have been living here for four years and I have never taken a moment to really appreciate this serene garden. The Japanese maples are starting to turn a brilliant red and show a touch of autumn and the small, cascading waterfalls give just a hint of sound, nothing too overpowering.

Today I have five business calls and will be hosting a Twitter party this evening. Those are in addition to everything else on my calendar. I definitely had to center this morning or my day could quickly rumble out of control.

I hope you have a great day. Many of you I will see online somewhere, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest. See you there.

A Moment of Weekend Reflection


In June I traveled quite a bit – Disneyland, DC, Reviewer’s Retreat, Type-A Parent, and Rio. I didn’t realize how much I had traveled until my body and mind began to experience that “I’ve traveled way too much” ache I typically get in the summers and at the end of the year. The funny thing is I have a heady amount of upcoming travel starting next week. I will have had a two week break in between, though, which has been and still is glorious.

One thing I have been trying to do more of when I am home is really appreciate being home instead of concentrating on where I am traveling to next. There are so many wise sayings that implore all of us to be in the moment, and while that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare for the future, we should also cherish now.

Ever since coming home from Rio I have really been embracing my “now” moments like the photo above when my girls and I walked around the block to pick up dinner on Friday, or when I go out in the morning and get coffee and feel summer on my face, or even now as I write this. I am not thinking about anything else except finishing this sentence.

Have you been able to really cherish the moment or is life simply moving too fast? 

“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”
― Maya Angelou

A Gorgeous Walk Through Georgetown


I have been to Washington, DC countless times. My mother lives right outside the city and with it only being five hours away by car and ridiculously close by plane we tend to get to the area at least five times a year. Despite this, I have never walked through Georgetown. I am so glad I changed that yesterday.

I was in DC all week with the ONE Moms Advisory Board (as I mentioned in my last post) and yesterday we capped off our week by attending the Child Survival Call to Action event at Georgetown University. You can read more about it on Mom Bloggers for Social Good.

Before it was time for me to head to the hotel, grab my bags, and race to the airport I decided to take a leisurely stroll through Georgetown. It was the perfect opportunity – beautiful location and beautiful weather – to get out and see the neighborhood.

I don’t know much about Georgetown except I am always drawn in by its beautiful architecture and quaint colors.

I can’t help but notice how Old World it feels walking on the brick sidewalks. And those tiny front porches – adorable.

Everything about Georgetown is so classic and austere.

Georgetown is beautiful in every sense of the word. I can’t wait to go back and walk some more. I bet it is unbelievably beautiful in the fall.