Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yellowstone in early Spring.

Some of the roads opened up in Yellowstone this past weekend, so we took the opportunity to get away from our computers and to-do lists and headed up and into the park to see what, if anything, was waking up from winter!  Hard to tell, in some sections of the park, if there were any critters roaming about as the snow level is still really high in places...in fact, in those areas, it was a bit like driving in a snow tunnel!  But, we saw plenty of bison, deer and elk, several coyotes and even a few wolves.  We also spotted a good sized grizzly heading out along a foothill (sorry Travis, that we couldn't find one for you in the Tetons)!



The best part was trying out our new rig, which we call the "Yurt".  It's our new home away from home, and I kind of fear our retirement digs...!  It's a really cool conversion van...called a Sportsmobile, with most of the creature comforts of home!  If you see us around, be sure and say hi!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A few of the Karen children we met along the way...

I feel as if I have this burden and I don't really know what to do about it, or how to deal with it...not just yet anyway.  My burden is this...that I want you, because you are reading this, to care about these children as much as I have learned to care about them.  I want you to worry with me; about their health, their education, their families and their future.  I want you to see them as your own children, or grand-children, or nieces and nephews, and see that they deserve so much more than what they currently endure.  I want you to empathize with the life they are living; in such poverty it is almost unimaginable to those of us with full bellies and full closets, with the freedom to go to school and to go to the store and to sleep peacefully every night. 

And yet, I am without adequate words to explain to you what it was like to meet these children; to hear them sing and laugh, and to hear them speak in a language I didn't understand but yet could easily comprehend with their smiles and giggles.

It was heart-warming and heart-wrenching all in the same breath.

These are a few of the Karen children we met, living in refugee camps and hide sites along the Salween River...






Monday, April 11, 2011

Have I told you about the children?

Many of my friends and family have called or sent me emails about these posts, "what an experience", "how can I help", "I didn't know...", and I am so glad if my posts have touched you in some way.  Please don't hesitate to ask me questions, give me a call or email me, and please let me know if you are interested in helping these beautiful people in some way.  Please also check out Partners website where there is lots of information and a really great, easy way to donate online.

If photos affect you, pull at your heartstrings, as they do me...well, brace yourself. 

In the next week or so, I will be sharing a few photos of the children we met on our visit to the IDP sites and refugee camps.  These are children who have only known a life of fear, of running from a monstrous enemy.  These children have lost grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and/or friends in this "conflict", and every one of them still has a child's spirit alive inside of them. 

They love to play and learn and be silly!  They love to be held and appreciated and valued.  They love to sing and dance!  They love to feel handsome and beautiful.  They love candy and surprises!  They giggle when they see themselves in pictures!  They squirm when they are tickled!  They say please and thank you (dah bloo) and have beautiful smiles.

They deserve a healthy childhood of peace and security.  Don't you agree? 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Home.

We woke up in the morning to the sounds of the jungle waking up; roosters crowing, babies crying, fires crackling and Tokay's calling for their mates (a large gecko!).  We had a cup of hot Birdy coffee, rolled up our bed mats and mosquito nets, and then the hut started to fill...with newcomers... 

New to the camp, these people had recently found themselves, once again, fleeing from the Burma Army.  They ended up here, at this camp, with their families...trying to make a life, starting over, with nothing...trying to survive.


This woman had traveled with and was caring for her nephew, who had lost both of his parents and his sister, due to the Burma Army's activities.  I wondered what she was thinking about, staring out that doorway...


Oddny was "interviewing" these newcomers to the camp.  Where did they come from?  Do they have families?  Were they run out of their village?  How many times?  When?  Did they lose people in the attacks on their village?  The stories were painful, repetitive, heartbreakingly sad.  To imagine the life they have been living...well, it's unimaginable really. 



She was also inquiring as to their needs, to see what void Partners can help to fill.  Do they need clothing, tarps for shelter, food, medicines, school supplies, training...yes, to all of the above, especially to food.  Many of these newcomers to this camp came because their families were starving, trying to sustain themselves in the jungle.

Appreciative, they were all so appreciative of even the smallest things we could offer. 

And then Oddny asked this man, the one with his face resting in his hand, what he wanted, what he needed.  His answer was heartbreaking...and telling. 

"We just want to be able to go home," he replied. 


I don't know what the future holds for these people, displaced from their homes and their livelihoods.  I wish I could assure them that change will come, in their lifetime, that the oppressive government currently ruling their country would step down or some other entity would step in and stop these human rights abuses...but I can't.  I cannot assure them that they will ever be able to go home.  But what I can do is write these stories, publish these images, talk to people, write to people in power, raise money to help them feed their children, and I can educate people, make them aware of what is going on in Burma.  I can speak up for these oppressed people.  I don't want them to feel forgotten.  I want them to be able to go home.

The ability to fly...

It was kind of a birding weekend, last weekend.  We saw plenty of four-legged animals in the Tetons (everything but a bear!) and we saw lots of feathered creatures waiting out what is hopefully the last bits winter...  (It is snowing like crazy right now, so maybe the end of winter isn't quite in sight yet....?!)

Have you ever asked people, if they could "come back" as any animal, what animal would they be?  A lot of people say some kind of bird, right?  I am sure it is the idea of flight...what an amazing kind of freedom that must be...  My husband, for example, always answers that he would come back as an eagle...in the United States, of course, as eagles are a national symbol and therefore protected from human predators!  It doesn't hurt that eagles live in incredibly beautiful places, like the Grand Teton National Park, or Alaska...either of those places are where he would choose to live! 

In any case, thinking about eagles...makes me think about freedom...and makes me think, again, about the Karen people we met, the IDP's of Burma...many of whom have never known freedom...  Imagine that, never knowing freedom...in fact, knowing only a life of oppression, terrorism, fear...

Tomorrow I will write more about those amazing people...today I am appreciating my freedom!



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I went to the mountains...to breathe...

I am a lucky woman with pretty fantastic opportunities…

One of those came this past weekend, the chance to head to the hills, or rather, to the mountains, the Grand Tetons to be specific, to hang out with some wildlife and nature, and a couple of wonderful guys (my husband and my nephew)! Another great opportunity came when my husband, who was driving, was turning the car around so that he could get a nice photo of this red-tailed hawk… Well, his camera (he has a really nice, long lens) was resting in my lap as he turned the car around, and the hawk was getting kind of jittery…so, I caught this as he flew away…

Serendipity! Thanks honey!