Plug problems and other…

Tough day today.  I awoke to the email announcing my plane tickets.

I did note that I am taking essentially a tour of North America on the way home.

Our trip leader texted me:  “Did you see the tickets”

Me: Yes, I am touring the USA on the way home”

TL:  sorry it was the way the budget did it

Me; It’s ok, it was kind of funny.

TL: It’s just stupid.

ME: well, ok, it is stupid.

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I did my regular Wednesday workout.  Swim, run swim, getting out for my second run, I realized I had once again been a late Lucy and didn’t really have time for the run. I devised a plan to do it this afternoon and then ran smack into Coach.

He is all excited about my project.  I am churning through the things to worry about.  He is poo-pooing them all.  And eventually towards the end we actually had an interaction that resembled an argument.  So unpleasant.  He was displeased too that I had failed to execute the workout.

Work went pretty well.  I took care of business.  I was essentially focused on the external business of the trip, but…I did take care of the hospital’s business.

People are really responding with mixed emotions.  Most of them do not really have an understanding of how difficult the work will be, and thus are looking at this as a holiday trip for me or something. So they are either jealous, or just annoyed.  My Boss…really has been wonderful in bending over backwards to get things done for me and allowing me to go.

So I just kind of muddled through the day.

At exactly 5 pm, as I was chatting with the boss, my phone went off.  I had an email from my coach.  he was telling me he was super excited for me.  All the situation of the morning came back and I felt the immediate need to rush over there.  Which is essentially what I did. After stopping for a few things.

When I got there, I rushed into Physical Therapy still in my work clothes.  He looked a bit alarmed, and then immediately cut me the thera bands.

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I went and changed and was putting on my shoes when he started to gesture to me.  I walked over and he had 4 sheets of exercises for me.  Yeah..Going to be a fun trip..working out with the therabands.

I told him I needed to run my 2 miles…and he added, “which you failed to do this morning”  and I hit the treadmill. My legs are tired.

After..I went to say goodbye and we both relaxed a bit.  Started to talk and talk about things.  His wife showed up and he and his wife prayed over me.  He was very specific even praying for my QL strain. She prays in a different style, but the gesture was so real and genuine that I appreciated it.  She and I chatted a bit for real for the first time, probably EVER.  She told me that “He can’t shut up about your trip”…I for the first time asked about the upcoming baby.  It was a good moment.

I left the gym and my phone beeped…coach sending me another message.  Good people in ones corner.

As we prayed, I received a message from the foundation’s board president.  The email was so welcoming and loving that I really started to feel good about this trip.

Of course, small problem…

I have not packed yet, and I can’t find my Nigerian plugs.  I really need to get organized, I am probably overrelaxed.

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Uganda!

That is where my Operation Christmas Child boxes went!

I got the cheery email this weekend.

Merry Christmas from Samaritan’s Purse! Thank you for participating in Operation Christmas Child and for choosing to Follow Your Boxes.Your gift box(es) went to Uganda. For photos, stories, and other information about Operation Christmas Child in this country, click here.

Please remember to pray for the children who will be receiving your shoe box gifts. Thank you, and may God richly bless you.

I am really thrilled with this!!!!  Primarily because I packed my boxes based on my knowledge of Africa, and was concerned that the boxes with no mittens or warm hats would end up in Romania. In addition, some of the things I packed were had English writing on them, and English is one of the main languages in Uganda.

Uganda is also a country in need of some Holiday cheer.  There has been a lot of talk about how Uganda has emerged as a Peaceful country after decades of incredible unrest.  

On the Operation Christmas Child Facebook site, there was a note allowing members of the group to comment and list where their shoeboxes had gone.  Many people commented that they had to look up their African countries- places like Burkina Faso, Seychelles, or Chad seemed to be really unfamiliar to most of the donators.  For me, not so much.  I’ve seen first hand the life in these places and for the most part, it is so different than an average life in more developed countries.  I love the fact that the shoebox gift not only blesses a child personally, but it also seems to be giving back and providing education to many of the donators.  So many said they read about these places and tried to imagine what the child who received their box would be like.  It seems small, but looking beyond oneself, and thinking beyond just the gifts in the box, to the actual day to day lives of these children and families can only bring us all one step closer to more fully understanding each other, don’t you think?

Well.  That said. back to Uganda.

Uganda was the birth place of what is considered the most effective guerilla Army, the Lord’s Resistance Army.   In my opinion, the LRA uses God’s name in vain.   God would never ever permit or condone the type of behaviors that this group is known for.  At least not the God of the New Testament.  Jesus, the son of God taught us to Love they Neighbour and Turn the other cheek, not to bludgeon them to death and cut off the body parts of 8 year old girls.  I will be quite honest, in looking up info on the LRA, I realize that they did and probably still do operate in South Sudan, where I worked for a year with Medecins Sans Frontieres.  Learning this, safe in my home, I still got shivers down my spine.  Uganda actually seems to have done well in the recent year and LRA activity seems to be more centered in the surrounding countries.

These days….the Tourism Uganda Website sweeps all the difficulties under the rug and has produced quite an appealing website for would be travelers.

But yeah, I do not think I will be booking my trip any time soon.  Not to Uganda, or actually the DRC or even South Sudan, where I actually lived with permission of some sort of Southern Sudanese Government.

Still things do seem to be improving for the country and these gifts can only help.

This video is from a visit to Uganda where Shoeboxes were distributed….the music is actually in Swahili which is the second official language in Uganda, after English.

Forgot to make a shoebox?  There’s always time.  Samaritans Purse accepts Shoebox donations ALL YEAR LONG!  You can simply mail your box to North Carolina.  Here’s a Link to the address.  

In addition, you can Make a shoebox on line, though the price is a little steep, if you ask me!!!

And Happy Christmas to all who are celebrating.  Take a Moment during this season to focus out and spread the Joy that is Christmas.

Oh goodness, I am running…..

I've decided to run the Mountain Home Marathon for Kenya.  in November 2008.   I have not been running well,but I find having a goal helps me focus.  This is a particularly lofty goal, but after much thought and a discussion with one of the trainers at the NTC,and a long time running pal, I decided to go ahead and go for it.  I have always said I would not run a Marathon unless I could do it in 4 hours and 20 min, but I decided not worry about the time. That said, I am aiming for 4:20-4:30. But if I go longer, well, I will drink gatorade and not get dehydrated.

I also decided another way to stay focused was to raise money for Medecins Sans Frontieres.  I had the option to raise for a great many charities including World Vision (which is the big beneficiary of the race fees etc)  but I decided to do something more personal, that I had experience with. You can see my fundraising progress by clicking on this link….  http://www.firstgiving.com/hollytaggart

Thus, I bring you 26.2 reasons to support Medecins Sans Frontieres, through Me and my Marathon!!!

 

 

Number One Bol Mau.  Bol came to the Outpatient Theraputic Feeding Program in Akuem South Sudan when I was there in 2004-05. He is a bright child who would climb up into my lap and attempt to graph his weight each week. Bol deserves every chance to grow up healthy, don't you think? Outpatient Theraputic Feeding allows children to continue to recieve calorie and nutrient dense foods while living in their home environment, thus allowing a parent to continue daily chores, and life, rather than staying full time at the Feeding Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number Two: transportation!   MSF volunteers and patients are transported all over Africa in smaller planes like these.  While the Pilots are intrepid, they do expect payment for their services, which include difficult landings, quick notice flights, unpredictable weather, and dealing with those who are not exactly fans of flying!  These pilots get volunteers, supplies and mail to very isolated areas. In addition, they often fly patients out for life saving treatments not available in those areas.  This plane has touched down in Kotobi, South Sudan.  

 

 

 

 

 

Number 3:  Immunizations!   In the United States, children are required to be immunized against many diseases,and hearing of a child with Polio, or Measles would be quite surprising.  Unfortunately this is not the case in African countries. You can see the evidence of Polio especially in any substantial community.  Polio can cause significant paralysis and can dramatically affect mobility.  In less developed countries mobility often directly affect how people earn their living.

Vaccienes often require a Cold Chain, meaning that they must be kept within a certain temperature range in order to be effective.  This can be challenging in Africa where temperatures can goto 120 degrees farenheit regularly.  Your donation protects the cold chain and ensure a healthier, more productive future for many!

 MSF volunteers also need vaccienes, your donation ensures healthy volunteers who are ready to make a difference.

 

 

 

 

 Number Four:  Reproductive Health.

     These young girls pictured here are lucky to have the opportunity to be in school.  Many young women in developing countries are married at a young age and begin bearing children early on. This, combined with a lack of proper pre-and post natal care can lead to unhealthy children and mothers, or even mortality of both Mothers and infants.  MSF has programs to help families plan for healthy pregnancies, as well as address obstetrical emergencies,and other reproductive health issues.  MSF works diligently to reduce maternal and infant mortality.

 

Number 5: Neglected Diseases.

In many developing countries, unusual, rare diseases exist.  Unheard of in the developed world, pharmaceutical treatments are often hard to find and can be quite expensive. Unfortunately, many of these diseases have dire consequences, including blindness and eventual death.  It seems unfair that medicines may not be available for life threatening conditions because there is  no large 'financial' market for these medications.How would you feel if you went to your doctor and were told you were very ill, but because your disease was rare, you couldn't get any medication to cure it?   MSF has several programs in effect to treat these diseases.  For more info, look here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number Six: Water and Sanitation.

Doctors without Borders is mostly known for treating diseases and injuries in conflict ridden areas. It's easy to forget about the many Water and Sanitation projects completed by MSF Water and Sanitation Engineers each year.  Without clean water and adequate sanitation (appropriate disposal of bodily waste), MSF hosptials, feeding centers and TB treatment areas could not be successful!   MSF logisticians work hard to ensure a continued supply of safe clean water for both the volunteers and people recieving treatment.  Shown here is a Borehole in South Sudan. Boreholes, and wells must be maintained.  With your help, MSF is able to create safe water situations, and teach the local population how to maintain both the safety and supply of their water. Look Here for more information.

 

 

Number Seven: Because 41 years is not enough.  In Liberia, the average life expectancy for a man is 38.9 year, for a woman it is 41.  If you are this age or older think about what you have accomplished since reaching 40 years! Children need parents, and indeed if life begins at 40, many Liberians are missing out.  MSF programs in Liberia have provided both acute care and medications to help Liberian adults (and others!)  live healthier, longer lives. Your donation can ensure that MSF is able to continue to provide care and education that can increase both the length and quality of life for those in countries like Liberia.

 

 

 

Number Eight: Local Staff

While it is easy to think of selfless volunteers gracefully making rows of latrines or 6 a day feedings of 200 malnourished children occur with a snap of a finger, this is not the case.  MSF incorporates local staff in every project.  These dedicated people come to work with us while their lives are often in turmoil due to the delicate situations in which MSF works.  These staffers can be invaluable, assisting with translations, explaining certain cultural norms, providing friendship and encouragement to MSF volunteers who often enter a totally unknown environment.  Like most people, local staffers can not work for free.  Your support of MSF allows us to provide appropriate salaries, training, and support for these dedicated workers, who create the strong back bone for many projects. 

Number Nine: Emergency Medical Kits

Over the years,MSF has responded to so many emergencies, they have been able to streamline supplies needed into a variety of kits that can be shipped rapidly to where there is a need.  These kits contain what has they have found to be the most needed items for certain types of emergencies.  This is a highly effecient way of delivering whats needed, rather than a hodge-podge of donated or collected supplies.

Of course having these kits ready at a moments notice costs money.  Your donation assures that people in need will recieve the most appropriate help as quickly as possible. 

(Photo courtesy of F.Gaty and MSF website.) 

 

Number Ten: Religion                                     

Religious beliefs are driving factors for many interventions in developing countries.  It is not uncommon for children to recieve a vaccination and multiple tracts promoting religious beliefs of the organization.  Religion is also a driving factor in certain behaviors and conflicts worldwide. MSF intervenes during crises for everyone, regardless of religious beliefs.  During missions, MSF focuses on health issues, rather than issues of religion.  While MSF respects local Religious beliefs, as an organization they remain neutral, allowing them access to many areas where other groups are banned due to religious affiliations. Thus MSF is able to provide health care in many settings where other organizations are forbidden. This assures those who are most in need recieve assistance, not just those in areas where religious groups are permitted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number 11: Because no one signs up for a disaster or war. To the left you see a shot of the aftermath of the Tsunami in 2004.  Residents in these areas didn't sign up for a natural disaster, nor did they do anything to encourage it.  Natural disaster in an area with an already vulnerable and disadvantaged population is a recipe for complete chaos.  MSF was on the scene rapidly to help bring some calm to the chaos.

 

 

 

 

 

Number twelve:  Because these people DO sign up.        

 

To the right you see an MSF team (actually this is a photo of MSF personnell from 3 teams MSF Belgium, MSF France, and MSF Spain all in Monrovia,Liberia) enjoying a meal together.  At that table is a collection of extraordinary medical skill, talent, humor, and courage.  These volunteers make a choice to leave the comforts of home and family, and enter into an unknown region. They work under stressful, seemingly impossible and many times dangerous conditions. They are not trainees, in any senseof the word. All have excellent home experience, and many bring other overseas experience with them.  Your donation helps MSF provide for these volunteers: things like needed vaccienes, antimalarial medications, transport, and education for specific missions. 

 

 

 

 

 

Number thirteen: A Refugee Camp inside of the City.   MSF-USA has a wonderful traveling exhibit, "A refugee camp inside of the city" which is set up ina variety of US cities each year.  Here, people can come and learn more about the day to day lives of displaced peoples and the work that MSF does to assist these people.  This exhibit allows for a broader understanding of what MSF's mission and values are, and where donations go when given.  For more information you can look here.  This exhibit is a great learning tool, but again, like everything else, it requires funding.

MSF can also provide speakers to your organization.  Just click the here link above.

 

                                                                                      

Number Fourteen:  Because He lived.

Because of a Feeding Center in Akeum, South Sudan, and a very dedicated Doctor and team of local staff members, this boy is now home with family happy and healthy.  He received treatment for both Tuburculosis, and Malnutrition at the same time and made a surprising recovery. He isn't the only child in this condition, however.  MSF needs your help to treat many more that are suffering even today.

 

 

 

 

Number fifteen: Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a debilitating disease that can affect not only the lungs, but the spine, and other organs.  The treatment for Tb is daily medications for a long period of time.  MSF provides appropriate treatment regimensfor patients in all areas of the world, as well as monitoring and support of patients.In some cases, people live so rurally that Tb treatment areas must be set up for patients to live in during their treatment. We are seeing more and more drug resistant Tb coming about in both the third world and developed countries for a variety of reasons.  Your donation to MSF can be earmarked for Tb programs, and can directly affect successful treatment of this very debilitating and resurging disease.

 

 

 

 

Number Sixteen:  Speaking out

MSF is committed to not only providing medical treatment, but also to speaking out against the causes of sufferring in areas where the organization works. 

While immediate assistance to those in need is a great prioity, giving the people MSF serves a voice in the international community is also a priority.  MSF volunteers have spoken out on a variety of issues from Rwanda to the more current crises in Darfur, Sudan.  As the Website says, "When medical assistance is not enough to save lives, MSF will speak out against human rights abuses and violations of humanitarian law its teams witness while providing medical relief."

Your gift ensures that thousands of people will have a voice that will be heard in the international community. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number Seventeen: The Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1999 the Organization was awarded the Peace prize.

You can look here for more information and a video interview with the MSF president.

This award in general has gone to individuals, not organizations.  This speaks volumes about the effect that MSF has had in areas of conflict.  An organization that has only been operational for 37 years, MSF has achieved great success in intervening where lives are threatened by disease or conflict.  Your donation assures that they can continue for another 37 years and beyond.  

 

 

 

 

 

  Number Eighteen: Books

MSF volunteers are surely committed individuals.  As noted before they bring with them talent, energy, experience, and passion.  But everyone needs a little assistance at times.  Medecins Sans Frontieres has produced several guidelines for a variety of situations.  Pictured to the right is "Minor Surgical Procedures"  which actually became very helpful to me on my first mission.  It's hard to find "textbooks"  on how to successfully give medical aide, and these books, available not only to MSF volunteers, are clear, concise, illustrated when necessary, and give volunteers a great deal of extra assistance

 

Number Nineteen: Mental Health. 

Often when we think of Doctors without Borders, we think of Surgeons bravely digging bullets out of bodies, or volunteers riding bicycles for miles to bring Anti-malarials to a remote area.  We don't think of mental health as a priority.  However, research has shown that those who have experienced horrific events in life tend to become depressed, aggressive or withdrawn.  Thus MSF provides Mental Health care to populations in need of such care.  This ensures a brighter future for persons who have experienced these events. 

The next time you need to call in for a "Mental Health day"  consider supporitng MSF's mentla health programs. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number Twenty: Epidemiology

  MSF uses epidiomological tools to track all sorts of data.  The organization does disease surveillance and is often able to detect a sudden spike in cases and intervene early on, allowing for hopefully a less severe outbreak.  While some work is done by trained volunteer epidimologists, much data is complied by field staff using programs designed by knowledgable persons.  Use of these tools allows MSF to respond rapidly when a need is identified.

 

 

 

 

Number Twenty-One: Training

MSF works closely with local health care professionals on many levels.  In some areas, highly trained personnell have fled to safer regions, or no trained personell is available to join with MSF.  In these cases, MSF provides training for local workers.  Training of course, lasts longer than a MSF mission, and gives the community tools to continue the work without MSF.

To the left you see a student nurse working with me.  In this case, she was learning to give medication by the Intravenous route. 

 

 

 

 

 

Number Twenty-Two: Electricity.

How many times a day do we use electricity? We hardly think about it as we switch on a light, or charge up our cell phones.  Many MSF projects are in remote places.  The Intrepid MSF logisticians use a variety of measures to allow projects this needed commodity.  Power in Akuem Sudan was provided largely with Solar panels and solar charged lanterns.  Each Volunteer was also provided with a flashlight for getting around at night (A must with pit toilets!!).  Projects with less sunlight must rely at times on generators.  Electricity, even in the solar form, is not free.  Your donation can help keep the lights (and the vaccienes chilled!) on in critical situations.

 

Number Twenty-Three: Self Reliance

This is a photo of the V.O.A. refugee camp outside of Monrovia, Liberia.  I took it in 2005.  Liberia has struggled for over ten years.  MSF does not entrench themselves as an organization into the local landscape.  Instead, MSF works from day one with the idea of turning over the project to capable, local administrators.  Instead of encouraging dependence on foreign aid, MSF works in a variety of ways to ensure that important programs will be continued long after they are gone.

 

 

 

Number Twenty-Four: Plastic Sheeting and Netting.

To the left is a hosptial ward in Akuem South Sudan.  It was not there when MSF first arrived on the scene.  The very durable plastic sheeting on the floor helps keep the ward clean and minimizes problems with rodents, snakes and other pests.  The white netting hung above is the ever present mosquito netting.  Both these items greatly enhance the health of the hospitalized population, but again neither the items nor the transport of these items are free.   And as Boring as a mosquito net may seem, they are quite welcome when the biting insects come around at night!!!!

 

Number Twenty-Five: Maybe Plastic sheeting and vaccienes aren't really doing it for you.

This young lady needed to bring her children to the Theraputic Feeding Center at Christmas in Akuem, South Sudan.  There, she received food for her children, medications for her children, food for herself, and education regarding raising healthier children (Basic sanitation, nutrition, and development of children).

Your gift allows MSF to reach thousands of women like this one, and not just at Christmas-time.    

 

 

 

 

Number Twenty-Six:  Because they are putting their hope in you.

To the left you see Children and adults lined up in blue gowns waiting for an examination.  Again and again in Africa patients would come to me and thank not only me and my team, but they would also tell me to "Thank the people in Europe and America for sending you to us, or for sending the medicines to us."  These are very strong people.  They are also extremely generous with praise and with thank you's, and they know where their help is coming from.    They are counting on us for help.

Lets give it to them.

 

Number 0.2:  Just a little one!

 

She's adorable,  and happy and healthy because someone like you cared enough to help MSF provide care in her community.

I hope you have enjoyed the photos and reasons.  If you feel you would like to donate, I would appreciate ANY amount.   You can click here: http://www.firstgiving.com/hollytaggart As always gifts to MSF are tax deductible. 

  I encourage you to invite others to participate by sending them this link.  Can you send it to 4-5 interested people?   These days, we live in a very tiny world, lets reach out and support it where we can do the greatest good.

Thank you all!!!

 

PS:  Almost all of the photos are mine, a few were taken on my travels at Non-MSF sites, but were such good representations, that I chose to include them….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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