Author Archives: documama

Show Your #Strengthie #WithStrongGirls Everywhere

Show Your #Strengthie #WithStrongGirls Everywhere

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Show your #Strengthie #WtihStrongGirls everywhere! What is a #Strengthie? Inspired by the Iconic Rosie the Riveter image One Girls and Women has launched the #WithStrongGirls movement as part of their larger #PovertyIsSexist Campaign that focuses on the impact of poverty on girls and women. One of the calls to action is to take a “Strengthie” which is a selfie that shows your strength in the style of that iconic Rosie the Riveter image. The pose shows that we stand with girls and women around the world to call on world leaders to recognize the disparity between the sexes when it comes to poverty. Women and girls are disproportionately impacted by poverty, and by uniting in this campaign we signal that we stand together to change that. Poverty can only be eradicated when women and girls are put in the forefront of development.

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In support of this campaign, nine of Africa’s most talented artists, Victoria Kimani, Vanessa Mdee, Arielle T, Gabriela, Omotola, Judith Sephuma, Waje, Selmor Mtukudzi, Yemi Alade, and Blessing, came together.  The artists from seven different countries, created a new anthem called “Strong Girl” that celebrates the power of girls and women everywhere.  And I am definitely adding this to my workout playlist! It truly inspires the inner strong girl in me.

Each artist contributing in the writing of the verses. The lyrics of “Strong Girl” call out the importance of standing with girls and women everywhere. All over the world, girls and women are showing their strength and achieving extraordinary things, despite the barriers they face. It’s time to stand with girls and women, because together we’re stronger. – ONE Girls & Women

Join us! Here are three ways to stake a stand:

1. Share the ”Strong Girl” music video.

2. Sign our Poverty Is Sexist petition for world leaders to deliver real change.

3. Take part in this visual and virtual demonstration by taking  a #strengthie (your own version of the iconic ‘Rosie the Riveter’) to show the world you stand #WithStrongGirls, post it to social media and then tag your family and friends and encourage them to do the same. Here’s mine.

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Happy #MothersDay

Happy #MothersDay

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I read this line in Ismael Beah‘s novel The Radiance of Tomorrow two days before Mother’s Day. It resonated with me as I was missing my mother, and feeling so grateful for being a mother at the same time. I thought, yes, my story began with my birth, but really before that. With my mother’s story and her mother’s story beyond. I thought that although my mom is no longer alive to guide me, I do still hear her voice in me. When I wonder what she would do, or say in a certain situation, or advice she would give, the answer is usually there.

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Now it is up to me to continue to write my story, and to watch and guide as those of my own children unfold.

image Happy Mother’s Day! We are each the Heroes of own own stories, so be sure to write a good one!

SOS Children’s Villages in a #Relay4Kids

SOS Children’s Villages in a #Relay4Kids

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SOS Villages is in a #Relay4Kids

SOS Children’s Villages, Johnson & Johnson and the Huffington Post launch Relay for Kids – a virtual relay that will help provide shelter, food and medical care to children in crisis

Ethiopia is home to 5.4 million orphans and vulnerable children, as is evidenced along the streets of Addis Ababa, where it was not unusual to see groups of kids seeming to fend for themselves. I was there last summer on a fellowship with the International Reporting Project, and when we pulled into the SOS Village as one of our visits, it was strange to feel that these were the “lucky” orphans. This was the first time I had heard of the organization and was truly impressed. Technically the SOS Village kids are no longer orphans, they are taken in by their SOS Village to become part of a family and larger community. Founded in 1949 by an Austrian named Hermann Gmeiner, his vision for SOS Villages was to place children in a home where they would grow up with a mother, siblings and a community. Read the rest of this entry

The Origin Of Coffee

The Origin Of Coffee

 The Origin of Coffee

 

SAMSUNG CSCBefore my trip to Ethiopia last summer with the International Reporting Project I’d had no idea where coffee had originated. Imagine my thrill upon discovering that I was heading to the very birthplace of my favorite morning elixir.   Coffee, called Buna in Ethiopia, is central to the Ethiopian culture, and much to my delight, its intricate ritual of preparation takes place throughout the day in every possible setting.

The legend is that back around 800AD a young goat herder named Kaldi noticed his goats had increased energy and would begin jumping around the field every time they had eaten from a certain tree.  Kaldi gathered the tiny fruits from one of the trees and brought them to the village elders. The elders tossed them in the fire due to the bitter taste of the fruits, dismissing the young Shepard and his claims, but when the smell of the coffee roasting in the fire wafted out, their interest was piqued. The roasted seeds left behind were taken out of the fire and placed into water to cool, creating the first drink of coffee.  Now we grind the roasted seeds from inside the fruits, which are what we refer to as the coffee beans, and millions of people worldwide consume coffee each day in all sorts of permutations.

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Look familiar?

“When you drink a cup of coffee ideas come marching in like an army”- Balzac

I fell madly in love with thick rich Ethiopian coffee while on our trip, and became enchanted by the ritual coffee preparation that I witnessed in factories, restaurants, homes, or on the sidewalk throughout our days.

North of Addis Ababa, exploring the islands of Lake Tana in Bahir Dar we passed wild coffee trees with branches of coffee fruit lining the paths, and again south of Addis, in the fields of Yetebon, coffee trees lines the fields. Ethiopia produces more coffee than any other African country, and coffee is its largest export. The climate is ideal for coffee growth, and most of the major coffee producing countries of the world lie in that same swath of tropical latitude.

Coffee beans growing in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Coffee beans growing in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

The seeds, or fresh coffee beans are hand roasted over hot coals, and or fire, in wide flat roasting pans called baret metad, with what I perceived as a cathartic patience, until they are perfectly done.

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Trying my hand at roasting the beans

The coffee beans are crushed and then added to the hot water in the traditional Ethiopian clay coffee pot called a Jebena. IMG_2879

Once the coffee boils up the long neck of the Jebena it is done. Popcorn is the traditional coffee ceremony snack accompaniment when the coffee is served.

SAMSUNG CSCI travelled to Ethiopia as a New Media Fellow with the International Reporting Project to report on Newborn Health.

Of Oil & Water in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Of Oil & Water in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Of Oil & Water in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The Author in Riyadh

Like a shimmering oasis the city of Riyadh rises out of the sand.  Located in central Saudi Arabia the capital city is 250 miles from the nearest coast.  Although the Arabian Peninsula is surrounded by water, humans cannot drink saltwater.  Saltwater can be turned into drinking water through a process called desalination however, and desalination is increasingly used as global populations grow.

When my husband and I visited Riyadh in 2012, one gallon of water cost three times a gallon of gas.  We could see why.   The population of the city has grown from 100,000 to over five million in the past century. To supply this precious resource seven desalination plants work to provide about 70% of the potable water for the use of its inhabitants. Desalination is a costly process that takes high energy though, deep underground aquifers and scarce ground water provide the rest.  Our host told us that he had dug a well for a new home that he is building on the outskirts of the city.   When he said that they had to dig 500 feet down to reach water, my husband jokingly asked if they had stuck oil as well. Read the rest of this entry