As much as I travel it is amazing to me that the first time I’ve ever ridden a moto was last week in Haiti. It was my two-wheeled taxi each time I visited L’Hôpital Sainte-Thérèse with Midwives for Haiti.
The short ride over rocky, rural roads with frequent potholes of mud that the driver had to dodge was exhilarating and provided a much-needed respite from the stifling heat that spreads across Haiti as soon as the sun is at its highest. The only thing that could have made the ride better was sunglasses. I forgot mine back home and didn’t buy any while I was in Haiti. Every time a caravan of SUVs or big trucks passed, a tornado of dirt and sand was kicked into the air and made its way into my eyes. I really needed my sunglasses in those moments, but I managed.
I took these photos on the way to the hospital. It was one of the few times I had to really be outdoors and close to the roadsides where people live and work in their markets as I was quite busy until after five in the evening.
I loved seeing two women hang sheets out to dry on cactus plants one morning as we rode by. It reminded me of the juxtaposition of both the simplicity of doing something mundane and everyday and the necessity of making sure the chore gets done.
These past few days have been fairly intense. First, I spent Thursday and Friday at the SwitchPoint conference in Saxapahaw, North Carolina, then when I was coming home from SwitchPoint I heard about the massive earthquake in Nepal where I actually have friends, all the while readying myself to travel to Haiti today. It’s been a lot!
As you read this I’m on a plane somewhere in transit to Port-au-Prince. I am excited to go to Haiti and although things have been a bit overwhelming nothing can stop me from gathering great stories while I’m there for the first time.
While at SwitchPoint I thought critically about my work as a writer and founder of Social Good Moms and how I can make both better through powerful storytelling. SwitchPoint is a conference for global health thinkers, artists, and communicators. That’s not their full definition, but that’s how I define it for myself. That’s what I like about SwitchPoint: The flow of it hits people in different places. Mine was about telling the best stories we can with the tools and knowledge we have.
Everyone had a story to tell even the freestylers who have traveled the world creating Beat Making Labs for the youth of Africa and Asia…
… to the husband and wife owners of Haw River Farmhouse Ales who wanted a full-fledged brewery and funded it themselves without any investors (impressive) and could care less if they grow big or not. They are taking it one step at a time and are staying true to the Saxapahaw community. I love that.
By the way, their ales are fresh and delicious. I tried two: one dark, stout beer and another light, lemony beer. Both were two of the best beers I’ve ever had in my life mainly because of the unique blends and because they were literally brewed 10 feet away.
And with that…I will talk to you when I arrive in Haiti given I have Wi-Fi. Be sure to follow me at @jenniferjames. I may be able to tweet and not write full blog posts.
Talk soon, friends!
I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day as an adult. I loved it when I was a kid, though. Eating cupcakes and exchanging Valentine’s Day cards at school was so much fun. Now, it’s just another day, but I wanted to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day if you do celebrate and revel in this sweet holiday!
When I look back on 2014 a few years from now I want to remember that I went to Tanzania in October because, friends, I will forget!
I always need to write about my trips because remembering back to the things I’ve done and trips I’ve taken is sometimes quite difficult for me because I am so busy! Days merge into weeks; weeks merge into months. Then, the next thing I know I look up and it’s an entirely new year.
In October I traveled to Tanzania with PSI along with singer, actress, and humanitarian Mandy Moore and IntraHealth to report on health workers. It was a whirlwind trip – not even an entire week. And although it was quite quick, we packed a lot into the time we had.
When I was in Tanzania last year I took a lot of overland trips from Dar to Morogoro to Iringa with a final stop in Arusha. It was gorgeous around the time I went. The Jacaranda and Flame trees were in full bloom. It was beautiful. This time we flew from Dar to Mwanza and then drove a few hours to Shinyanga and then back to Dar. Dar was just like I remember her – crowded with a ridiculous amount of traffic! I still haven’t spent enough time in Dar. The next time I am in Tanzania I am going to give myself at least a day to just wander around the city. And, of course, I will go shopping at my favorite place in Dar, The Slipway. And, I am not going to miss another chance to visit Zanzibar. I’m always so close, but find myself just being way too busy to get to the islands!
As you know I love to travel. Most importantly, I love seeing the smaller cities and getting outside of the capitals and major urban metropolises. Getting out into the other parts of the country is what makes traveling worthwhile.
Here are some of the posts I wrote about health workers for both PSI and Intrahealth.
Here are some of my photos from Instagram. You can follow me at instagram.com/jenniferjames_
I have been in the Philippines all of four days and I’m already in love with this country!
First, I didn’t know that the Philippines is made up of over 7000 islands. That mere fact sounds like a challenge to me and although I won’t nearly see them all during my lifetime, I am already plotting in my mind how my family and I can see at least some of them.
I rarely come to Asia as most of you know. I’ve only been to Asia once before and that was to India. But, now I am entirely intrigued about visiting Asia more often to write about global health. I know there are challenges in southeast Asia and while I tend to primarily concentrate on sub-Saharan Africa most of the time, I think it might be time to expand my horizons slightly. There’s a big world out there!
As you probably know, if you have been following my journey, I am here with World Vision USA to see their recovery efforts after Typhoon Haiyan. I’ve written a few posts thus far. You can find them here:
I’ve also been taking slice-of-life photos while here in Tacloban. Here are a few of my favorites.
Wheels Down Tacloban
This is public transport if you can believe it. These buses called “jeepneys” are holdovers from WWII.
Filipinos are huge basketball fans. In fact, the Philippines is the second largest NBA market behind the United States — hence this driver’s seat cover, a Dwayne Wade jersey
Filipinos love basketball. Really love it!
Fresh seafood! Even the clams were moving and spitting water. I’ve never seen that at home.
I can’t say enough about the seafood. We’re on an island and it’s delicious and fresh!
I met Crisanta V. Caimoy in Dulag, about 90 minutes from Tacloban. She is lovely!
If you follow my travels, you know I always take photos of flowers. Always!
More flowers! Different color.
The Filipinos are VERY fond of their coconut wine and many have offered it to me, even on the one-year of Typhoon Haiyan anniversary vigil route. Many make coconut wine themselves and their livelihoods were wiped out because of the storm. I don’t know. ..not sure how good coconut wine would be…
The food is really delicious here. And with chili peppers..it’s even better!
The Pacific ocean is beautiful. ..just beautiful.
During a packed event at Michelangelo hotel in Johannesburg, key partners including Save the Children, World Vision, PATH, Mothers 2 Mothers, and the Society of Midwives of South Africa came together to rally support for newborns and celebrate the progress thus far to save millions of vulnerable newborns around the world.
I traveled to Johannesburg for the two-day event about maternal, newborn, and child health.
The Every Newborn Action Plan was endorsed by 194 countries in May 2014 and will be officially launched at the PMNCH Partners’ Forum today. At this early pre-event called “A Common Thread: Reaching Every Woman and Every Newborn” leaders in the global call to save newborns and their mothers spoke including Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, Joy Lawn, professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, former Ethiopian Minister of Health as well as the Minister of Health of South Africa.
During the event Save the Children unveiled its Blanket of Hope with squares from across the globe.
And global stories of mothers and their newborns and their survival were placed throughout.
The Partners’ Forum begins today in Johannesburg. Follow along at #PMNCHLive.
One of my absolute favorite places I visited this year was Tanzania. In particular I loved spending time in nature with the Maasai and international NGO Oikos. Alhtough the terrain is terribly arid due to human fault and probably global warming, the landscape was still utterly breathtaking to me. Granted I don’t live there and don’t have to deal with the problems that perpetually arise from not getting enough rain. Selfishly, I simply loved sleeping in a tent under the full expanse of the night sky that was filled with millions of stars and then waking up on a beautiful, sunny morning to snap photos of native birds and flora.