Friday, July 30, 2010

Jerron 'Blind Boy' Paxton

The Playing For Change crew picked up Blind Boy Paxton at his school in Manhatan, then they all took the subway to the park. They were planning to add him to some of their new Songs Around the World. While setting up the mics he began warming up on some of his favorite songs from childhood-- one of which was "Mole in the Ground." They loved it so much they just had to record it, so here is Jerron 'Blind Boy' Paxton singing Mole in the Ground

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Walking accross America!

A video of a man trekking from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge was this weekend’s viral sensation on YouTube, racking up half-a-million views since its debut on Tuesday.

The video is popular not just because it’s a trek past American landmarks both major and minor, but because of a unique visual effect created by a combination of stop-motion and time-lapse video. The finished project consists of 2,770 still frames shot over 14 days. The filmmakers actually traveled cross-country in an RV, “living on the Gatorade diet” and stopping at scenic places along the way to do their shoots.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cleaning Up

We could cry all day because we go back to the same misery. We have no more hope.”

These are the heart-wrenching words of a few despairing women, who came to the Africa Mercy for vaginal vesicular fistula (VVF) surgery. Not all surgeries are successful. At times, several procedures may be required to repair the injury, and sometimes there is nothing else that can be done. These women were preparing to return to their homes as they came, with no money, no hope, and constant urine leakage.

“They were so full of hope… and they used all their money to get to Kara where the Mercy Ships vehicles picked them up and brought them here,” says Ellen De Pagter, Hospitality Center Education Coordinator.

She conferred with Adjete Wilson, a day volunteer, whose mother, Antoinette, teaches soap making. “ They spend so much money on soap to keep their clothes clean and sweet smelling,” said Ellen . Antoinette agreed to present a program to teach the departing women how to make soap. Each received a litre and a half of the clear liquid to take home, plus enough money to buy the equipment and products to make the soap in order to start a small business. This would give them the opportunity to start a small business and have an ample supply of soap for themselves.

She also offered to open the presentation to any of the other women with VVF, who were waiting for their surgery dates. Almost all of them were very interested in learning how to make soap and have a business of their own.

The women packed the education room at the Hospitality Center, where Antoinette shared her recipe for soap making in great detail, giving opportunities to stir the batch with her wooden paddle. If acid is not used, the soap can be used on the skin. She advised the women to keep children away from the mixture, if they use the acid. They were also given a printed list of instructions and ingredients which was laminated for greater durability.

After the program, Adjete gave the departing women a basic course in business finance, stressing the importance of using the money to buy the equipment that will produce an income for them. From then on, the soap will bring profits.

Ellen also gave each woman a small wooden box with instructions to put a portion of the income into the box each time a bottle of soap is sold. The box must be broken to remove the money.

“Save up the money to buy something important,” she told them.

One of the women said, “I wondered why God ever brought us here. I thought God had forgotten us.”

But after seeing the program, a few of the women were anxious to pair up to make the soap together. Another woman went out and bought everything she would need to make the soap at home.

“This is the first ste ,” she said. “I can start now.”

Ellen was satisfied to see the women had made such significant progress.

“They have new hope again ,” she said.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A 60-year-old tailor's life transformed

“Thank you, Mercy Ships. Now I came back to life ,” said a jubilant Jean Loko.

For 18 years, this 60-year-old tailor had been dealing with a tumor that grew in a double row, curling like an inflated collar around the back of his neck and down his back. It forced his neck and head to stretch forward, impairing his balance. He found it difficult to walk. With stark simplicity, he stated, “I was afraid I would die.”

In 1992, Jean was caught in a battle between opposition and government forces on the Cotonou Road in Benin. The soldiers began beating the people, and Jean tried to run away. But a soldier hit him on the back with a bat, causing a wound that began to swell. And the wound kept growing.

Medical care in Western Africa is limited. The local hospital told Jean that they could not help him.

Jean tried to continue working, but his range of movement became more and more limited. He could not cut and sew the fabric of the garments without constant pain. Soon, he could no longer run his business, so he had to abandon his only source of income.

Jean also had to battle the cultural aversion to deformities, which were seen as a curse. The father of seven, Jean was rejected by his two oldest sons because of the growth.

All Jean could do was sit in his house. There was no joy in his life.

Then he heard a radio ad that brought a glimmer of hope. A Mercy Ships team was coming to hold a medical screening near his home. Although he was a little fearful that he would meet disappointment again, he went to the screening anyway. “But I was chosen!” he said with a combination of surprise, disbelief and elation.

The volunteer doctors aboard the Africa Mercy successfully removed the tumor that had caused him so much misery. When he realized the growth was gone, his usual sombre expression turned to a brilliant smile. “I just thank Mercy Ships for what they have done for me. They gave me my life back.”

Story by Elaine B. Winn
Edited by Nancy Predaina
Photos by Liz Cantu

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pull up your trousers!

After shopping at Walmart yesterday I was returning to my truck when I noticed an older lady walking to her car and two young men getting out of theirs.

One of the gentlemen's trousers was, shall we say, sagging around the hips when the old lady suddenly stopped and in an admonishing and very loud voice pointed to the man's hips and said, "Excuse me young man, but I can see your underwear". I have never seen someone yank their trousers up that fast!

He passed me red faced and all the way to the shop kept on adjusting his belt. His friend was killing himself laughing.

Good on you, lady with the tone!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Waka Waka - old school!

Lisa, a friend of mine from Cape Town, posted this clip of Waka Waka on YouTube... I will let her explain...

My cousin David and I traveled to Malawi in 1994. Then, during the World Cup we heard Shakira singing her now hugely famous Waka Waka song and both instantly remembered a classic musical outfit called Chief Chipoka's band who did an even better version of it on the shores on Lake Malawi ... way back then. So we looked back at our holiday video, found the clip and have uploaded this classic rendition onto Youtube for everyone to enjoy.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Roadtrip: Austin City Limits!

Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 15th-largest in the United States. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in the nation from 2000 to 2006. Austin has a population of 786,382 (2009 U.S. Census estimate).

I joined the crowd to watch 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats shoot out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge. The local joke is that by standing atop the bridge, visitors offer the condemned mosquitoes a last meal while waiting for the bats to make their entrance.

The Lyndon B Johnson Library and Museum is one of 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The library houses 45 million pages of historical documents, including the papers of Lyndon Baines Johnson and those of his close associates and others.

At the LBJ Library and Museum I was quite happy to find a temporary exhibition celebrating the life and work of Walter Cronkite, one of my personal heroes. He was an American broadcast journalist, best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years.

During the heyday of CBS News in the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as "the most trusted man in America".

While I was on the University of Texas at Austin's campus I visited the University's tower where Charles Joseph Whitman, a student, killed 14 people and wounded 32 others during a shooting rampage on and around the university's campus. Three were killed inside the University's tower and ten killed from the 29th floor observation deck of the University's 307 foot administrative building on August 1, 1966; one died a week later from her wounds. The tower massacre happened shortly after Whitman murdered his wife and mother at their homes. He was shot and killed by Austin Police Officer Houston McCoy, assisted by Austin Police Officer Ramiro Martinez. The incident was the deadliest university shooting in United States history until the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007, when Seung Hui Cho killed 32 people.

The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, is a museum owned by the State of Texas dedicated to telling "The Story of Texas", and boy, they do it very well! I most likely know more now about the history of this interesting state than most Texans do.

Tonight, the symphony and fireworks along the shores of Lady Bird Lake.

Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Roadtrip: Austin, Texas! – Independence Day Parade in Belton, TX

Being the 4th of July long weekend, I decided to explore the capital of Texas a wee bit more. While doing my research I found out that according to the USA Today newspaper, the little town of Belton, TX is one of their 10 most favorite places to wave the American flag this weekend, and it just so happened to be on my way...

So, while it rained on and off, I vigorously waved the little free flag, and I concur with the USA Today people, it was a fun place to wave the flag. Thank you good people of Belton for keeping me supplied with free water, Crystal Light, koozies and paper fans while waiting for the parade to pass.

I had my own world cup moment when they started selling every kid an annoying vuvuzela like plastic horn. Alhough a lot shorter it emitts a sound not unlike a deer in heat while suffering from terrible constipation. Needless to say I only lasted an hour before I left town with a splitting headache.

In the United States, Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, political speeches and ceremonies, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.

Uncle Sam

The other Uncle Sam...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Watch an amazing rendition of 'The Star Spangled Banner' sung by Shannon S!