Tag Archives: Elizabeth Atalay

Eucalyptus In Ethiopia: The Selfish Tree

Eucalyptus In Ethiopia: The Selfish Tree
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Atalay

Eucalyptus Tree scaffolding

One could not help but notice all of the development as you drove through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. While there on an International Reporting Project New Media Fellowship in 2014 evidence of the country’s rapid economic growth was displayed by the progress on the roads, buildings, railroads, and homes being built-in, and around the city.  What I noticed most about the “progress”, aside from the Chinese companies working on the roads, were the archaic wooden frames being used as scaffolding on the construction projects. Piles of timber were stacked by the roadside, and carts piled with the thin poles of trees were pulled amidst the traffic often by small boys barely taller than their load.

 

I was told that the scaffolding was Eucalyptus wood.   Compared to the safety standard steel beams that would typically be used for construction projects in Europe or the USA, the tall slim Eucalyptus trees framing construction projects seemed, well, flimsy, and downright unsafe. The amazing thing is that somehow it works! As cement buildings rise from the dusty streets of the city at a rapid pace, I can imagine this is the way construction has happened for many decades along the way.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Atalay

Eucalyptus Scaffolding

Eucalyptus Scaffolding

The ubiquitous evergreen hardwood Eucalyptus trees used for scaffolding are not indigenous to Ethiopia. In the late 1890’s the ruling Emperor Menelik realized they needed quick-growing resources for construction of the “new city”, Addis Ababa. The Eucalyptus tree, or Gum Tree, which is native to Australia, was known to grow quickly and easily, so Emperor Menelik imported Eucalyptus from Australia to Ethiopia, where it has thrived (in its invasive and selfish way).

Boy transporting wood in Ethiopia. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Atalay

The Eucalyptus tree, it turns out, demands huge amounts of water and tends to obscure other plants nearby. In Ethiopia it has come to be known as “the selfish tree”, taking for itself all the water and land around it. With Ethiopia facing the worst draught it has seen for the past 50 years, I wonder about the impact of this resource being used to help build the country, while at the same time robbing precious water from the ground.

SAMSUNG CSC

In travel one is constantly reminded that things we take for granted in one area of the world may not exist in others. “Safety precautions” are a big one, a reminder reinforced for me for example while watching a three-year old wield a machete in Borneo. While I stared in horror, mouth agape, the local adults went about their business unfazed. Or in New Zealand where they sent me abseiling down a 100 foot drop to “black water raft” the rapids through caves on an inner tube with a mere 1/2 hour tutorial under my belt.  Again and again in various scenarios around the world I have thought, this would never fly back in the litigious, and bubble wrapped USA.  In most areas in this world you operate at your own risk, and I find myself wondering about all the travel mishaps we’ve never heard about. In Ethiopia I worried for the construction workers working on the tethered timber scaffolding 10 stories off the ground. My hope being that the “selfish tree” will always come through to support them.

Highrise in Ethiopia with Eucalyptus scaffolding

How I Grew A Human Published on Mamalode Today For The Nourish Theme Sponsored By ONE Girls & Women

How I Grew A Human Published on Mamalode Today For The Nourish Theme Sponsored By ONE Girls & Women
Photo by Bob Packert

Photo by Bob Packert

These days I’m walking around with a tightness in my chest. The feeling that something is missing that stays with me all the time. A very slight deep underlying melancholy, and I hope every mother gets a chance to feel this way at some point.  It sounds cruel, I know, to wish this on others, but my post on Mamalode today explains why I do.

On my trip to Ethiopia this past summer to report on newborn health with the International Reporting Project, and through the work I do with the local non-profit Edesia that nourishes children around the world, the theme of #Nourish struck a chord with me. Especially at this moment in time when my own baby was going off to school as a teenager for the first time. I realized that as mothers this is truly our ultimate goal, to see our children grow up to be healthy and happy and productive. At the same time this is the most difficult part of motherhood. The letting go.

I can not grow a garden, though lord knows I’ve tried, and each of my houseplants clings tenaciously to life each day, but somehow, someway it seems, I grew a human. And I am amazed.

nourish copy

Source: Mamalode

I am honored and  thrilled to be published on Mamalode today as part of the #nourish theme sponsored by the ONE Women & Girls campaign. My travels to Ethiopia mentioned in the post were with The International Reporting Project #EthiopiaNewborns New Media Fellowship this past June.

An Exciting Announcement!

An Exciting Announcement!

More details to follow soon!

Party With A Purpose; Alex & Ani for Water.org

Party With A Purpose; Alex & Ani for Water.org

 

Bloggers from The Mission LIst; Carla Molina of Petit Rhody, Laura Rossi of Mysocalledsensorylife & Elizabeth Atalay of Documama host the Alex & Ani Party with a Purpose for Water.org

A few of my own favorite charms

While working on the Water.org campaign for The Mission List  fellow bloggers Laura Rossi, Carla Molina and I realized we all lived in the same area.  We decided to get together and try to augment our social media fundraising efforts with an Alex & Ani Party With A Purpose.  Alex & Ani is a fabulous local company that we love to support not only for their amazing jewelry line, but their positive energy philosophy as well.  An entire division of the company is devoted to Charity By Design which supports various charities through the sales of specifically designed charm bangles for each group.

Their Parties With A Purpose are another way the company gives back.  Parties are hosted in the stores and provide a unique shopping experience that enables the Charity By Design department of Alex and Ani to raise funds and awareness for various charities.  Events are generally two hours long (6-8 p.m. or 7-9 p.m.), and the company donates 15% of event sales to the designated charity.  Co-branded evites are created by Alex and Ani for event promotion, and lite bites and positive energy punch are provided by the store.

 

 

We are thrilled with the results of our Party With A Purpose held at the Alex & Ani Chapel View Store at the company’s headquarters.  In just two hours of shopping and fun we were able raise over $500.00 to be donated directly to Water.org.

Every $25.00 donated provides clean water for life to someone.  That means we just provided 22 people clean water for life!

We are so grateful to all of those who turned out to support Water.org at our Party With A Purpose, and to those of you who have donated  on-line or helped to spread the word by re-tweeting and re-posting our social media efforts.  We have three days left to reach our goal of bringing 100 people clean water for life, and we are so close to being able to do just that.  If you missed our Party With A Purpose but would still like to help us reach that goal, you can still do so on The Mission List fundraising page.

 

Earthquake in Istanbul (1999)

Earthquake in Istanbul (1999)

Photo by Elizabeth Atalay

It was around 3:00am in Istanbul when the earth shook beneath us. My 6-month old baby slept in her pack-n-play at the foot of our bed, and my husband and I woke to a thunderous roar. My first thought was of terrorists’ bombs going off. When we had told friends we were going to Turkey to introduce our baby to the Turkish side of my husband’s family, everyone mentioned the terrorists. Growing up on the East Coast of America, I knew nothing of bathtubs and doorjambs, and the deafening cacophony associated with an earthquake. Instinctively I grabbed our baby and clutched her to my chest – a pose I held as I watched the chandelier above our bed swing wildly. My body folded around hers as she slept on. Furniture tumbled, as I swear I felt undulating waves of movement beneath me in such a way that a bed or a floor of an apartment building just DO NOT move. When the roar was continuous,20 seconds, 30 seconds, I knew it could not be bombs hitting the building next door . The 40 seconds felt like an hour.  MY BABY, MY BABY! Was the plea that circled through my mind.  In the days following, and thinking back still, I can not get over the feeling of terror that washed through me, but that is not it.

Photo by Elizabeth Atalay

It is the knowledge that countless other mothers had sat clutching their children that night the same was as me, only to have their buildings crumble on top of them.  The official death count is listed as 18,000, but Turkish authorities estimated it closer to 35,000 people who died that night in Turkey. Most of whom lived less than an hour outside of Istanbul in and around the city of Izmit, the epicenter of the earthquake.  Corrupt builders there had not followed building codes, and had put too much sand in the cement, so when that night stuck buildings literally crumbled.   The earthquake registered 7.6 on the Richter scale.  With the hundreds of continual aftershocks that shook Istanbul a couple of  Turkish scientists announced that everyone should sleep outside.  In 1999 the city of Istanbul had a population of over 9 million people, and they formed a carpet of humanity filling parks and lining highways to sleep outside that following night.  My father-in-law and my husband are both scientists and thought the suggestion was ridiculous.  I am not a scientist, and as the mother of a six month old baby, demanded that if the rest of Istanbul was sleeping outside, so would we.  My father-in-law called a close family friend, Ali, who had a yard, and asked if we could camp out there for the night.

Photo by Elizabeth Atalay

Ali, gracious as always, immediately agreed. So it was that we caravanned to Ali’s house with my husband’s aunt and uncle, his grandfather, his grandfather’s two body guards, their household staff of three, my father-in-Law, my husband, our infant and myself.  Our entourage sprawled around Ali’s yard, and once we were settled, he left for Izmit with his grown son to try to help dig people out.  It was a surreal trip, and a lesson in humility.   To feel the earth move like that under me was a reminder of how tiny we each are in the scheme of things.  How great and powerful the nature of the earth truly is over us all.

 

Have any of you experienced an earthquake? Did you know what was happening?

Photo by Elizabeth Atalay

Photo by Elizabeth Atalay