Tuesday, February 21, 2017

We are ready to make our departure to Djibouti, a small African nation in the Horn of Africa.  We, that is Elana Powell, Global Action Coalition’s intern, a student at USF and I, are headed on a great adventure to represent GAC there.  We have several jobs to do.  Our major job is to help coordinate the arrival of these state of the art tents, film their delivery to the port and travel and set up at the Kalatbisan village with the hand over to the Village Elders.  There has been interest from our friend John Wilson for us to put together a story about this project that could be featured nationally.  Also, while there, we are giving two other tents to worthy projects: one to a School for Disabled Children in Djibouti City and one to a joint project with the Djibouti Army to set up a clinic for refugees and the poor.   Finally, we will meet with both US and Djibouti officials to find the funding and resources to start our solar powered water project to help bring safe drinking water to many arid communities.  Please stay tuned each day as we take you to one of those places you will never travel to and meet the people that inhabit this exotic place.  You will also meet the career foreign policy staff and military who is the face of the United States here.  There are great stories to tell about this and I am sure it will interest and inspire.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

I journeyed all day from Kathmandu to Chitwan by bus.  Due to working on the 'highway' a two lane road through mountain passes the trip took 7 plus hours.  Along the way I saw damage done by the earthquake to homes and buildings and places where the highway was being repaired from the landslides that closed it for quite a while.  What I also saw was people working everywhere.  The Nepali are an industrious people.  If they have a motor it will soon be pulling a cart and carrying either people or goods. If they have a few feet of space in a building it becomes a store selling water and soda and other snacks.   In a couple of months the weather will resort to monsoons and life must be quite a bit harder with constant rains during the hottest times. In Chitwan I am staying at the Jungle Safari Lodge.  This is a beautiful place with lovely grounds and the rooms are very modern.  When I arrived they were experiencing load sharing.  This country due to the fact this is a dry time of year has a shortage of electricity. The rivers are drier causing less hydroelectric power and promises by the government to work on extending the power grid go unfulfilled every year.  Last year they had 14 hours a day of power outage.
Tomorrow I meet with administrators from two schools that we work with followed by our partners Nourish Nepal. We are seeking ways to make our education initiatives more successful.  This give me a chance to hear what their biggest problems are and I am proposing we work towards creating a Learning Center to help teach the teachers more effective ways to reach the student.  That is all for now.  https://www.facebook.com/Globalactioncoalition/

Friday, April 8, 2016

www.globalactioncoalition.orgI promised to take you with me so our first stop is the village of Kavre.  I have been staying with the founders of Yogdan Foundation, former members of the Tampa community who have returned to Kathmandu.  They had purchased land on the top of a hill in the village of Kavre north of Kathmandu to have a get away place. When the earthquake happened they headed up to there to find that nobody had come to help and most of the houses around 240 families were destroyed.  Luckily they had no fatalities.  Talking with the mothers of the village who had seen their world turned upside down was quite sobering.  They lived perched on their hill top village homeless and experiencing constant tremors wondering at any moment if there would be more destruction.  Punam and Atulya new at once that there would be no help from the government and they contacted everyone they knew to build temporary housing so that they would have shelter from the elements.  Global Action Coalition and the Tampa Bay Nepalese community responded.  The simple housing might not be much to us but as you can see they have taken great care to make them homes.  Our next step is to build houses for the most neediest.  Another project Punam started was to use the community center for a small sewing factory for the local girls.  There are 5 machines and in one of the photos the young manager of this enterprise is showing off a new product.  One of the inhabitants was this 100 year old woman.  The small path up to her home is daunting but she is nimble and a loving person. Our visit was a big hit for the children too.  I also met an Austrian man who had build a retreat center on a piece of land.  He would love to have help in rebuilding the bathrooms in the village school.  There is so much to do here, but I believe we can help them.  Enjoy the photos and forgive me if they are not perfectly aligned.  Rob
Young mother 
4 people live inside this shelter
a grouping of shelters
The Manager of the new enterprise

Can you imagine she is 100 years old

what a smile

Another family

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Friends of the World
On Tuesday I head to Nepal for my 3rd visit. I hope you will follow this blog as I travel to earthquake devastated villages and also visit projects we are working on in the country. Every time I go I find my heart moved in so many various ways.  Whether it is the welcome and hospitality of the people, many who have so little yet are so generous or seeing how people survive day to day eking out their existence.  I will try to take you along with me so you can feel the pulse of life in this far away land that even the name of Nepal and Kathmandu evokes exotic memories. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Djibouti Final Day,

As I wrap  up my Djibouti Adventure I am left with some thoughts.  First the incredible support I have been given by the Djibouti government.  Though I did not meet the President this time, he had to travel to Saudi, meet the Turkish President and visit in Ethiopia, his help was felt.  Colonel Mohamed Farah, my friend from his days at Central Command Coalition was given a government car that because it had the letter A on it, many thought I was a visiting Ambassador or dignitary.  We were also able to travel across the water to the other side of the county saving many hours in a car with a Coast Guard patrol boat.  And finally our meetings with the Minister of Agriculture were so productive.  We will have many agreements on working as partners in Solar Powered water all over the country. 
As for the people of Djibouti I have so much respect.  I have met from one end to the other.  One a  young man whose father is a Chief Advisor to the President took me to the 5 Star Hotel to see the other world that I had missed.  The other end of the continuum was the many Nomads I have met, whose life it lived totally in the now.  They know nothing of 9-11 and other world affairs, but of their camels, goats and other livestock, their families in their little huts and how each day they will survive.   That they are sending their children to schools is hope for the future of change for these people. One afternoon in Carta, a small village in the mountains where the winds always blow, I found myself kicking a plastic bottle in a makeshift soccer game.  Even here Messi is their hero.  I see that Global Action Coalition can really help here and our education efforts will be met with support from the World Food Bank and the Djibouti government.  Simple things like sweaters will help keep these children healthy.  In several schools if we supply the building materials, the new classrooms will be the catalyst for other great things.  I think with help we can be the change we want to see in the world.  This Muslim country is not a hot bed for extremism and I always felt welcome.  Many times people talked of the help they have been given by the United States.  I have collected many great photos and wish I could include them in todays blog, but I promise when I get back to add them.  I hope that I will have touched you to think when you are feeling generous to help us.  Your support will go far and not be wasted.   Rob

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Djibouti views

I came to Djibouti to see if I could be involved in helping this country in two ways.  Water and Education.  Well it looks like we will be partnering with the Ministry of Agriculture to supply solar powered water to both existing wells and newly drilled ones.  Also if the technology of solar powered desalination is efficient we will be helping the many wells that have salt water intrusion.  This is so exciting.  As for the education project.  The needs are huge.  There are two populations we will be addressing.  One are the ones that live full time in a town and the nomads.  As we will be working in the countryside and one of the pressing needs as much of the area is barren and has winds blowing 100% of the time will be sweaters for the children. I could distribute 5,000 sweaters tomorrow if I  had them.  In one very remote area Kalatbi San, we can be a catylyst to help.  Right now 100 children out of the 1,000 go to school.  Why is because the only school room is a tent.  The other blew away.  If I build a school room we add 100 children.  The teacher assured me that I supply the materials, they will build it and then he can get more teachers and the World Food Bank will feed them lunch.  I also have a commitment from the Army here to transport the materials to the site for free. Now that is partnering.  So now lets start finding the money for some buildings. Other needs are school supplies, a lunch program, and this is just in a few villages I have been.   Please check out some of the photos that I am unable to include in this blog on Global Action Coalition Facebook page and share it.  Rob,   #water, #education, #nomads, #solar power, #NGO, #Djibouti.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My second trip was to an entirely different landscape.  The small mountains Level out to a wind blown plateau peopled with some small villages, many wandering nomads and the village of Acta.  This is an Afar village with a small school and a clinic across from the makeshift homes.  They rely on the water truck each week to fill the barrels and a cistern.  There was another cistern that caught the running water and was a 4 month reservoir shared by the village and the nomads.  Not sure what it will take to repair but seems worthwhile.  All over this landscape are concrete cisterns regularly serviced by these water trucks.  You see nomads and their tents all along the highway.  They have their livestock wandering around seeking vegetation to eat.  One clever man put his goats up in a small tree to eat the leaves.  Nobody bothers anyone else's animals whether in the city or the rural countryside.  I visited with the school master and one of his teachers.  They teach French and Arabic and most teachers are working with 2 grades at one time.   One getting a lesson the other working on an assignment.  He finds out who is not doing well from the tests then they help them.  On my Facebook page I put photos from the school.  They need more food as the food program is always short.  They have few real school supplies and simple things like more plates, small chairs and tables for their lunches would be huge.  Their big need is two more small classroom buildings. This will enable the government to supply 2 more teachers.  They have 2 different groups of children taught each day, one in the morning and the second in the afternoon.
Maybe tomorrow we will meet with the Minister of Education to learn more.  Finally how we can make a huge initial difference is by supplying them with sweaters.  It is cold here in the evenings being at higher altitude and little shelter.  My friend Mohamad said we should try to get a few extra large sweaters and give them to the Nomads we see. I hope this keeps you entertained and informed.   I told Suzanne what a perspective on our lives and puts our everyday challenges in a different light.