SRI LANKA: Monsoon season arrives with Facebook Safety Checks

SRI LANKA: Monsoon season arrives with Facebook Safety Checks

Monsoon season is on the brink.

To make things interesting there was a Tropical Depression that started in Sri Lanka and made its way to India, flooding everything in it’s path. It turns out that “Flooding in Sri Lanka” made it to the Facebook Safety Check system and I promptly marked my family as “safe”.

There have unfortunately been a lot of displaced families and ruined homes. Landslides and too much water put Sri Lanka on the news. If you would like to donate to the flood victims please visit the site for YAMU that offers plenty of options for helping from abroad. Our family is in a safe area.

The two days of intense rain that cause the flooding got me thinking of how I always remember an occurrence of strong rain about every place I have lived in.

There are few things I like more than being inside at night with all the lights off and a thunderstorm raging. The way the lightning shines on everything for just a second; it’s like a dangerous magic sparkle.

The first time I ever saw real heavy rain was in Miami when I was 9 years old. I couldn’t believe that so much water could fall from the sky at once. In Lima, our rain was more like spittle in the air, making everything damp instead of washing away grime. The trees got moist but never really clean so the leaves stayed dirty from the soot that never washed away.

The rain in Miami was ruthless, it soaked you in seconds if you got caught outside, parks and streets flooded, the sky would explode in light and the wind would whistle between the houses. When I was 12 we experienced Hurricane Andrew and even if it was a bit scary, I fell in love with heavy rain. Since then, every place I have traveled to or lived in has been marked by episodes of rain.

When my oldest daughter was little, we lived in Cusco, a city in the Andes where rains are quite special. Rainbows are an every day occurrence and sun showers always took our breath away. Once in a while it would hail and the streets would get covered in little rivulets of ice pellets. I loved those days; the sound of hail hitting the roof was so loud we couldn’t hear each other talk.

When I left Cusco, the thing I missed the most was the beautiful cotton like clouds that formed against the crisp blue sky. I didn’t see those again until we arrived in Bangkok. What a sight, giant billowy formations over skyscrapers intertwined with wispy fingers over a deep blue sky that would suddenly turn grey and break loose like a thousand waterfalls. Rain so powerful that you couldn’t see the buildings across the street.

My kids have never been afraid of thunder and lightning, they get excited when they hear the rumbling getting closer and closer as a storm moves in. We watch from the window trying to guess where the next flash of lightning will strike.

Just another afternoon in Sri Lanka

A video posted by Crazy Little Family Adventure (@oranavelarde) on

I read a book once about a hippy commune in Goa, India. I clearly recall that the foreigners would disappear every year during the monsoon season. What a magical word, “monsoon”.

I didn’t realize the magnitude of a monsoon until we arrived in Phuket. The floods were maddening, the wind overpowering, the rains could last for days on end with no breaks or openings in the sky. Those were long, needless to say, wet days.

In the book Goa Freaks, the people that leave for the monsoon are the foreigners; obviously the locals stay. I am living this firsthand in Sri Lanka and the thing that surprises me the most is how people just go on with their lives, wading through the flood. The women in soaked saris going to work or getting things done without a care in the world. The strong rains are so common that it does not stop people from living. Life is just a little wet here on the shores of the Bengal Sea.

Is there a weather phenomenon that has stayed with you through time? Are your children scared of thunderstorms?

If you would like to donate to the Sri Lanka Flood Relief, please visit YAMU, there are plenty of online “from abroad” options if you are not in Sri Lanka

This is an original World Moms Blog post by Orana Velarde, Peruvian mother in Sri Lanka

Orana Velarde

Orana is a Writer, Artist, Mother and Wife; Peruvian Expat currently living in Sri Lanka with her husband and children. She writes on her blog Crazy Little Family Adventure about Worldschooling her kids and the trials and tribulations of being an Expat Mom.

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WORLD VOICE: How Social Change Happens

WORLD VOICE: How Social Change Happens

I know a lot of people – women and mothers especially – doing really amazing things in the world. It is this that comforts me when I start to get depressed about the news. There are people all over the world who are using their unique gifts to creatively tackle the difficulties of our time – income inequality, racism, sexism, xenophobia, war, gun violence, climate change – name a problem and you’ll find a person or group of people devoting time, energy, and talent to both the causes and effects of these problems. My faith in humanity lies in its willingness to figure out the messes we keep creating.

Now that my oldest is nearing 5 years old, his questions about the world are becoming more complex. He is beginning to see the interconnectedness of the world and I am of course trying to make sure that my answers both satisfy his curiosity and invite him further into critical thinking.

To me, this feels like an essential part of raising a socially conscious child; I don’t want to teach him what to think about the world, I want to teach him how to think about the world, and then how to translate this critical analysis into meaningful action.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to one of the authors of the book This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt is Shaping the 21st Century speak about social movement ecology at the nonprofit I co-founded. Paul Engler spoke directly to something I’ve struggled with as a person committed to social change. What should I be doing? Do we fight the system? Do we “be the change”? Do we scrap everything and start over?

Paul’s answer was that for real social change to happen, we need a healthy ecosystem of efforts. For some of us this will mean a focus on personal transformation and healing, for others it will mean modeling a different way of operating outside of existing institutions, and for some it will mean taking a stand against existing structures in an effort to change or influence them. For most of us, we will move between and among all three, depending on where we are in our own lives. All approaches are necessary and all lead to meaningful social change. Like all other ecosystems, diversity is key!

So how do we, as parents, model this?

How do we empower our children to take meaningful action in the world in the way that makes the most sense for them at each point in their life?

And how do we model the necessary cooperation and collaboration that has to happen between all people working for social change so that the ecosystem can be healthy and productive?

Well, like all things we want to teach our children, we do these things ourselves! The work for us then, as parents, is to identify what we have to offer the world, and to commit to using these gifts and talents in a way that makes the most sense for where we are in our lives. I think the mistake I’ve made in the past has been feeling like whatever I did to address social woes had to be big and bold. Since having children I’ve learned the impact of small things. Each choice, every day, can be a socially conscious one.

This, perhaps, is what I want to make sure I teach my children: when it comes to social change, every choice matters and our choices must be informed by a commitment to personal transformation, a willingness to approach the existing institutions with a critical eye, and the courage to create new ways of doing and being outside of what already exists.

Do you have a way that you try to teach your children to give back in the world?

This is an original post written for World moms blog by Ms. V.

Photo Source: the National Archives and Records Administration

Ms. V. (South Korea)

Ms. V returned from a 3-year stint in Seoul, South Korea and is now living in the US in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her partner, their two kids, three ferocious felines, and a dog named Avon Barksdale. She grew up all over the US, mostly along the east coast, but lived in New York City longer than anywhere else, so considers NYC “home.” Her love of travel has taken her all over the world and to all but four of the 50 states. Ms. V is contemplative and sacred activist, exploring the intersection of yoga, new monasticism, feminism and social change. She is the co-director and co-founder of Samdhana-Karana Yoga: A Healing Arts Center, a non-profit yoga studio and the spiritual director for Hab Community. While not marveling at her beautiful children, she enjoys reading, cooking, and has dreams of one day sleeping again.

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WORLD VOICE: #GivingTuesday, A Day to Give Back

WORLD VOICE: #GivingTuesday, A Day to Give Back

2015 WMB Quote Anne Frank

 

Typically, after Thanksgiving in the United States, the following Friday and Monday, known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, kick off the holiday shopping season. Black Friday, in the stores and Cyber Monday, online. However, Giving Tuesday follows and is what now kicks off the holiday “Giving Season.” This movement has been around for several years already.

With so much poverty around the world, the fact that a movement, based entirely on the giving of time and money, is gaining momentum gives me great hope. Did you know that you do not just have to give money on Giving Tuesday? You can, instead, donate your time. This means many more of us can get involved.

How great is a movement that the whole world can participate in as a collective unit with one goal in mind: to give?

So take today to think about the something you want to change most in the world. And give. Give of your money. Give of your time. Give only what you can. From around the world to your local community, find out how you can participate today, Tuesday, December 1st.

As each year of Giving Tuesday goes by, more and more organizations are getting involved, which plays at my heart strings. For example, here, in Canada this is the first year that Waterloo Region in Canada will be launching Giving Tuesday in an official manner. The community is rallying around local groups and causes in a way that I would never have imagined!

Let’s kick off the giving season and make this the most memorable Giving Tuesday the world has known to date.

A Note From our Founder:

Today, World Moms Blog asks our readers to consider volunteering, donating and/or advocating for these 4 organizations that have been created by our contributors or employ them. Click on over to see why they are worthy of your #GivingTuesday love!

  • Mom2Mom Africa helps to educate and provide a better life for children in Tanzania. What started as a penpal project of a mom in Canada, turned into an education sponsorship program, a school being built, class trips provided and much more!
  • Cleanbirth.org, which helps to provide a safer birth experience for mothers in Laos through clean birth kits and nurse midwife training. Started by an American mom who pledged to single-handedly take on poor maternal health statistics.
  • The Advocates for Human Rights is the workplace of our resident contributor and human rights lawyer. The organization provides opportunities to volunteer, donate and/or advocate for their life saving and life changing work to help people worldwide.
  • Edesia makes Plumpy’Nut which helps provide nutrition for children who need it most in the developing world. And did you know that our Managing Editor works there in digital media?

Tell us what you’re doing for Giving Tuesday…

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by contributor, Alison Fraser, in Canada. 

 

Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.

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SOCIAL GOOD: A Hidden Gem, Heifer International’s Heifer Farm

SOCIAL GOOD: A Hidden Gem, Heifer International’s Heifer Farm

heifer Collage

One day I was in New York City at the United Nations among World Leaders, and the next in rural Massachusetts milking a goat. Though the two may seem totally unrelated, they are actually intertwined. It will take both the efforts of world leaders and small share farm holders for the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals to ever succeed. As a social good writer I had been to New York City for UN General Assembly week and the Social Good Summit, and then to Heifer International’s Farm located in rural Rutland, Massachusetts, where World Moms Blog had been invited to their first ever Media Day.

The new set of Global Goals are focused on sustainability which is one of the cornerstones of Heifer International’s approach. Heifer International was founded by Dan West based on his experience as a relief worker. He realized the aid work he was doing needed a new model to help those in need become self-sufficient as opposed to continually reliant on aid. As a farmer he knew that a gift of livestock was a gift that would keep on giving. A heifer refers to a pregnant cow, and in 1944 the first dairy cattle were shipped, and Heifer International born.

“Heifer International is a non-profit, humanitarian organization dedicated to ending hunger and poverty and caring for the earth. Heifer currently provides livestock, trees, seeds and training in environmentally sound agriculture to families in 30 countries, including the United States. We work with smallholder farming families and communities because we believe they are key to feeding us all.”- Heifer International

The goal of Heifer International is to help communities transform themselves through education, environmental stewardship, empowerment of women in the community, and the legacy of passing on generations of animals and knowledge. This in turn generates the accomplishment of the once recipient turning into a donor in their community.

HeiferCollage1

At World Moms Blog we have written about Heifer International in the past, included Heifer International in gift guides, and followed their trip last summer to Malawi with our friends at ONE Girls and Women. We had no idea however that Heifer International had a farm to showcase their programs this close to home. As it turns out, just over an hour from where I live is this hidden gem of global education!

At Heifer Farm in Rutland Massachusetts we toured the flourishing ¾ acre farm garden where we were encouraged to pull vegetables out of the ground and taste as we went along. A delicious fresh beet hummus, with a rainbow of carrot colors I had no idea they grew in, was served.  Apparently the massive size of the vegetables grown at Heifer Farm has to do with the rich soil quality based on the farming techniques used,  the same techniques taught to small share farmers working with Heifer International around the world. After the garden tour we had lunch in Peru.

Peru is one of the eight global villages at Heifer Farm that provide experiential, hands on learning through programs ranging from day trips to week-long camps for all ages. We then meandered through China and Ghana on our way to the barn. This brings us back to milking the goat, and to the tiny baby piglets we got to hold, and all I could think was how crazy my kids would have been for everything. I can not wait to bring them back to experience Heifer Farm! Other Heifer International sites in the US include Heifer Ranch in Perryville, and Heifer Village in Little Rock, Arkansas. If you ever have the chance to visit, I highly recommend it. If you do be sure to bring the kids, after all they are the future generation who will be seeing these new Sustainable Development Goals through to 2030.  Global Goals that all stakeholders will need to be involved in, large and small.

HeiferCollage3

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Elizabeth Atalay who also writes at documama.org.

 

Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

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USA: Au Revoir and Thank You, Madame Warren

USA: Au Revoir and Thank You, Madame Warren

Mrs. Linda Warren

One day this spring, after taking the kids out to dinner, I checked my Facebook feed before I set out to drive home. I saw the news that my high school French teacher, Mrs. Warren, had passed away.

I began to drive home, and I felt such an emptiness, and I began to cry. I hadn’t seen Mrs. Warren since I graduated high school in 1994. That was 21 years ago. But, the impact she made to my life was so grand that I didn’t realize that there was a part of her that was always with me.

Mrs. Warren was an amazing French teacher. However, her greatest impact was not what she taught us about French, but what she taught us about life. For me, she was a teacher who peeked through hypothetical doors with her students, and said, “Look what is possible!”, and then said, “Go do it!” She listened to us, and she knew that we all had different wants and needs.

I remember that Mrs. Warren had a husband and two sons who she loved and spoke about very much and who were very into camping. So ironic because she, herself, belonged walking the streets and museums of Paris.

Every year she arranged to lead a bunch of school kids to France after school let out. She treated us all like her own. In the 1990s we had lectures at every step of the way: about the value of the Franc at that time compared to the dollar, our safety and what not to do and what to do in the French culture. She went over everything and then set us free to make our own decisions.

She led us up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and as much as she treasured the view, she seemed to be more excited about us seeing it for the first time.

Before this trip, I had only been on an airplane once to go to Florida and my parents had never been out of the country at that time. Mrs. Warren extended our boundaries. She taught her students that there was life outside of Brick, New Jersey, USA and how fun and interesting it was to explore the world!

The next year, after having exhausted my summer job savings on the trip to France, Mrs. Warren told her class about a scholarship competition from our town’s Board of Education for a summer foreign exchange. Since I had already been to France, I chose Japan because I yearned to see more of the world, and it was the country I knew the least about on the list. Everyone else who was applying chose a country which coincided with a language that they were learning at school. I realized that I had to come up with a different strategy for my essay and interview because I didn’t know any Japanese.

I wrote down all the stereotypes of Japan that I could think of and explained that I needed to go to Japan to get answers to questions such as, “Were the Japanese really obsessed with American baseball?” and, “Did the women walk around in kimonos everyday?”

However, although it was a very formidable obstacle, winning over the Board of Education, wasn’t the toughest thing in my way to get to Japan. After telling my parents about the scholarship for the foreign exchange, they said that I wasn’t allowed to apply.

As I mentioned before, my parents had never traveled internationally at that time, and I had extended them beyond their comfort zone when I went to France. But Mrs. Warren had been with me for that trip, and she had reassured them at the time, so that had been ok. This was different. There was no way they were going to allow their 17-year old daughter to go to another country on her own when she didn’t know the language. So, that was that.

Well, not really. I wrote and submitted the essay anyway. Not quite Malala standing up to the Taliban for her right to an education, but for me, it was rebellious.

My mom actually came into my room the night I was writing the essay and asked what I was doing. I didn’t lie. I told her the truth. I assured her that I probably wouldn’t win anyway and writing the essay was good experience for me. She looked at me, gasped in disbelief, and then since it was so late and she was tired and going up to bed, she said, “Ok, just don’t tell your father.” So, I didn’t tell him.

I remember the day I was in my AP Biology class and Mrs. Warren was standing outside the door. I had no idea why she was there. I waved to her and she kind of hid. I thought it was strange. It turned out she was trying to surprise me, and when I got out of class, she handed me a folder from the nonprofit foreign exchange organization, Youth for Understanding, and beamed as she gave me the news…

I couldn’t believe it!! I had won the scholarship, and I was going to Japan!! But, OH, NOOO!!!! Mrs. Warren didn’t know that my dad forbade me to apply. I had to tell her. So, I did.

My mom worked at the time as a teller at a bank, and without my knowing, Mrs. Warren went down to the bank and spoke with her. What teacher goes through the trouble and gets involved like that? Linda Warren did.

Mrs. Warren’s support justified to me that dreams were possible. That anything was possible! Even getting past my strict father and his sometimes totalitarian rule. (He doesn’t read my blog, so I can be all high school dramatic like that here.) It took a lot of convincing, but I did finally get permission to go to Japan for the summer. And, it definitely was one of the best experiences in my life.

Since Mrs. Warren encouraged me to travel internationally as a student, I have now visited sixteen countries. But perhaps some of the best things that have come out of my love of all things international are my English husband who also loves to travel, and the amazing opportunities the women at World Moms Blog and I have created together. We’ve spoken on a panel at the World Bank in support of the universal education for all children; accepted invitations to the White House and the United Nations; been on various delegations around the world to view health and education programs, and I still feel like we’re just getting started!

I can’t help but think that World Moms Blog may not have been, if I didn’t have Mrs. Warren’s support and invitation to the world when I needed her most.

Au revoir and thank you, Mrs. Warren. I am so grateful for your life. You are an inspiration. You are very missed, and I promise, I know now that everything IS possible. Your impact exceeds the number of the many students who had the opportunity to have you as a teacher.

Your life lessons proved much more valuable than what we thought we were getting when we signed up for your French class in high school. You were much more than a French teacher to me. Thank you for sharing your life with your students and inspiring us. 

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA, who is greatly missing her French teacher today as she heads to a memorial mass for Linda Warren. 

Photo from the Brick Memorial High School Class of ’94 Yearbook. 

 

 

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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WORLD VOICE: Summer Reading with Meaning

WORLD VOICE: Summer Reading with Meaning

 

WMB Alison's Book Stack 500

I am an avid reader, especially during the summer months, reading outside each evening with my daughters under the stars on our back porch. I go back and forth between fiction and non-fiction, between heart-wrenching and laugh out loud funny, and between popular bestsellers and hidden gems. So, I thought I would share my meaningful reads list for this summer. These are most often the hidden gems that aren’t featured on lists of number one hits but are just as good, if not better, than those popular reads.

I won’t go into detail about plots and story-lines, but will say that each of these books was a page turner that left me pondering what I had read for weeks after.

If I had to pick a favourite, I would decline…it would be too difficult. But, if I had to pick one that resonated the most with me, it would be “If Nuns Ruled the World”.

Being a Catholic myself, I have always felt that nuns were never given the credit they deserved for the work they were doing throughout the world. We all know of Mother Theresa and her work with the sick, lonely and poor, but not much more is known of nuns working in this day and age. We often hear stories of the Pope and those of the Vatican, but what about those hard-working nuns who are on the ground changing lives every single day in the most adverse of conditions???

This book features the incredible stories of nuns who have taken chances, gone against protocol, helped those that others had given up on, and did it all under the watchful eye of many who disapproved of their work. These nuns are courageous, spunky, lively, funny and most of all, selfless and good-hearted.

I was so inspired by their stories that I wrote to a few of them to let them know….and they wrote me back!

I can honestly say that if the nuns who were featured in this book, really did rule the world, it would be a world of peace, justice, love, acceptance and empathy.

When my three young daughters saw me compiling this list, they too wanted to be involved. They hurried to find their favourite meaningful reads and have compiled them here as well:

Alison's Book Stack 2 500

 

Quynn, who is 8, loves the book “Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors” and has wanted to become a doctor ever since.

Camryn, who is 10, loves the “Who is/was…” series. She has read about Jane Goodall, Hellen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman and Amelia Earhart, to name just a few.  Wanting to be a pilot, she especially loves all books about Amelia Earhart.

Ryleigh, who is 11 loves to read about Anne Frank and anything related to the Holocaust. She read “Number the Stars” in two days and has not stopped talking about it. It is so hard for her to wrap her young mind around the stories of girls her age who survived such atrocities in our history.

So, if you are looking for some great books to read this summer, we hope that you will enjoy some of our recommendations. And, if you have suggestions for us, we would love to hear those as well!

What is on your summer reading list?

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Alison Fraser who is founder of the non-profit Mom2MomAfrica.

Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.

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