Sunday, July 27, 2014

WATR interview with Larry Rifkin about A Thirst For Home, A Story of Water Across the World

Monday, August 26, 2013

Gimbichu Project Montage

Our project this year is The Mother and Child Project (refer to previous entry)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gimbichu Project LLC

Coffee ceremony at Gimbichu Clinic during our visit in April
We are officially incorporated.  Gimbichu Project LLC.  This is an important step toward non-profit status.  I am very excited to be making progress toward a project that will be entirely dedicated to the support and well being of the Gimbichu Clinic and community.  I truly feel it is within my capabilities to be able to make a difference here.  I am mostly proud of the fact that I will be working so closely with this community including them in all of the decision making, knowing that they know what is best.  This is how to create programs with outcomes that are sustainable.  Come September, I am excited to begin fundraising for the Gimbichu Mother and Child Project.  (see previous entry).  God willing,  we hope to return next summer not only to work on the new room but also hand deliver a solar suitcase.  I am beyond thrilled that Gimbichu Health Clinic was chosen to receive a solar suitcase that will be used in the future labor and delivery room.  Check out to read about this amazing organization.  As we found out after successfully purchasing and delivering the fuel generator in April,  light and power are something we take for granted.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mother & Child Project

In Ethiopia,  women prefer to labor at home because of deeply rooted tradition.  If complications arise,  this can be tragic.  Ethiopia has one of the highest maternal/newborn mortality rates in the world as well as one of the highest rates of obstetric fistula.  In an attempt to encourage women from Gimbichu and the surrounding kebeles to come to the clinic to safely deliver their babies,  my friend and medical director Binyam has created plans to build a culturally relevant and traditional labor and delivery room.  This has been proven to work in other areas.  He will also travel with a team providing education.  He is dedicated and brilliant.  HE knows what works and that is why I listen to him.  I am also dedicated to helping him with this proactive project.  Another important aspect is that we will hire local people and use local supplies in the building of this room.  Involving the community is always a good thing.  I am beyond excited.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The long, the short and the tall of it all

Have I mentioned how much I love Ethiopia, especially Gimbichu and Balamo??  I could get there with my eyes closed but never would because I would miss all of the beauty along the way.

To sum up the success of this trip,  thanks to the help of so many generous people, 3 fabulous schools: Holy Cross High School and Waterbury Arts Magnet School both of Waterbury, Connecticut,  Eli Terry Jr. Middle School of Terryville, Connecticut,  St. Casimir's Church and Pathways For Children (,  this is what we accomplished....

All items purchased donated and delivered to Gimbichu Clinic:
1 6500 watt diesel fuel generator
1 autoclave
1 heating oven for sterilization of equipment
2 enema cans used in birthing process
An enormous supply of donated scrubs and receiving blankets
hemostats, gauze, betadine, glucometer/supplies, baby formula, insulation pouches, cold packs
1 much needed laptop for improved documentation (although this was the most organized clinic I have ever seen)

Items purchased and donated to schools:
1 blackboard, and large supply of paper, chalk, pens and writing tablets
Easy readers and phonics books
1 dvd player and educational dvd's
Jump ropes and frisbees (a big hit by the way)

The most important thing brought to these two villages was hope!  I cannot put into words the joy and happiness expressed by the community, especially at the clinic.  They told us that this was the first time anyone has ever come out this far to help them.  They explained that the generator is something that they have desperately needed for over five years and will make the care they give more efficient, saving lives.  In the past they relied on a candle or small 'torch' (flashlight) as their only source of light.

Lastly,  I can tell you that although they say what we have given them is so much,  it is small in comparison to what they have given me.  I have never been so grateful to be apart of something my whole life.  I love these people and consider this my second home......and so does Mike.  God was at our side through the entire trip.  He had to be.  It all went without one single hitch.  Thank you God!

See you soon Gimbichu!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Let There Be Light

Upon returning to Ethiopia this spring,  Mike and I wanted to know what was the best way to help our beloved health clinic.... medications? medical supplies? more equipment???  Well, yes, those things are important and always needed, but a priority seemed to be something as basic and simple as light.  Light or more specifically electrical light is something that we take for granted and wouldn't have thought of in a million years.  In Ethiopia,  power isn't always available,  especially at night, and many doctors and nurses are forced to work by small lanterns or even candle light. This can make for challenges and unsafe conditions especially when delivering a baby.  Babies don't always wait for the sun to come up to decide to make an appearance.

The importance of proper lighting is monumental and we westerners can only appreciate it the few times we are without.  I can't imagine trying to do my job in the ICU effectively and safely in the dark.

That is why we have decided to purchase a solar powered generator that we will hand deliver ourselves.  Lucky for us that we live in a community where our friends and family have embraced this idea and have shown support.  Even two amazing schools are helping us to meet this financial goal, Holy Cross High School and the Waterbury Arts Magnet 8th Grade both of Waterbury, Connecticut.

We are so blessed and excited at the prospect of once again helping this clinic and the beautiful community it serves.

Gandhi said, 'The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others'.  Mike and I are so grateful to have these opportunities that have been bestowed onto us under the grace of God.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Water is Life

Excerpt from  A Thirst for Home

We have walked all morning with the blazing orange sun on our backs.  Emaye (mother) tells me a story while we walk.  "Our watering hole gives us something precious", she says, "even more precious than gold.  We could live a lifetime without gold, but not a day without a drink of water.  All over the world, the clouds make the rain and the rain brings us our water.  This connects us to everyone and everywhere.  Water is life."

I couldn't care any less about diamonds or beautiful rare gemstones,  or about  fancy cars with all the bells and whistles one could hope for.  Expensive shoes don't impress me.  Money is nice, but only when you can do good things with it.

It is water that I am in complete awe of.   I am a child of water.  I am drawn to it.  I was raised by the sea.  I couldn't live anywhere else in the world but on the coast.

How ironic is it that soon after adopting my daughter from Ethiopia,  I found her drinking from a puddle in my driveway.  Was this coincidence or a sign from God?  Then to have written a children's book A Thirst For Home and soon publish through a fancy New York Publisher is a dream come true.  It is a chance to share my passion of water with children everywhere.

Water, clean water,  is something taken for granted and only appreciated when out of reach.  Eva's simple act of squatting down and drinking from that puddle four years ago changed my life and the course of it.  Sometimes I think,  'How did I get here?'.  My desire to never stop or ever give up knowing that this is a life long journey doesn't end with the release of this book.  Along the way,  I have been connected to the most amazing people,  joining forces to attain the same goals.  It all started with water.

I think of Eva's birth mother struggling everyday without the privilege of clean water among other things and it can be excruciating at times.  All of my happiness is always a little overshadowed by her struggles.  It keeps me grounded but more importantly keeps me going.  I can't wait to return to Ethiopia this fall.  I am nervous and excited.  I want so badly to bring clean water, education and accessible health care to the Hossana and surrounding area.  I may never see it, but have to keep trying.

My daughter has taught me so much and is wise beyond her years.  I love A Thirst for Home, the book she inspired me to write, and I know it will be loved by many because of its message of water, hope and love.