How does an ant eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Big problems are composed of smaller, albeit interconnected, problems. Solving the smaller problems will have an implication on the larger problems.

26 April 2009

This is what my brain feels like after this week at work:

This is partially why:

My scrambled eggs brain is the cause of a long 48 hours in the Emergency Operation Center at PAHO, dealing with the Swine Flu Outbreak during lots of Spanish meetings (actually a lot of English ones too). I'll catch up soon...whenever things slow down a bit!

23 April 2009


"We now must begin to realize that the Earth does not belong to us, it's the other way around. We belong to the Earth."
- Evo Morales (President of Bolivia)

Here are 8 ways you can protect your health - and the planet!

1 - Take short showers. Yup, I'm talking five minute showers - or get "low-flow" shower head (I am really guilty tonight...I took the longest shower EVER and pretty sure I could never keep it under 5 minutes, esp if i have to shave!).

2 - Bypass your dry-cleaning and wash 'em by hand or find a "wet-cleaner" (they don't use hazardous solutions).

3 - Go EASY on the BEEF (it's gross anyway!). Did you know that red meat production is responsible for about two-and-a-half times more greenhouse-gas emissions than chicken or fish?

4 - Stop using air fresheners? Okay, truth be known...I read this in an article: "Indoor air may be up to three times more polluted than the air outdoors, so go fresh the natural way by opening your windows (and use potpourri instead). The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) tested 14 air fresheners and found that 12 contained phthalates, chemicals linked to hormone abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems. Even products billed "all-natural" or "unscented" weren't chemical-free. Eeeew! Why does everything always have to have so much crap in it!?!

5 - BUY ORGANIC!! I am a strong supporter of organic foods and buying locally (I wish it wasn't quite as pricey though).

6 - Skip the liquid: Many liquid soaps, though convenient, contain triclosan, an antibiotic agent toxic to wildlife. Again, WHY!?! :( Not going to lie, I struggle with some of these better ways...can I make up by reducing my carpon footprints instead? In some other way? :)

7 - Screensavers=no, no! Set your computer up to sleep after a bit instead of running the screensaver.

8 - Toss the flea collar! HAHA Easier said than done! Come on, haven't they ever lived in ROMANIA!?! Have the makers of these rules ever had fleas living in their house and had a million bites all over their bodies? Probably not. But all I can say is FINE! Get rid of the flea collar, but not the flea bombs! But yes, yes...the pestisides, always the pestisides!


07 April 2009


Today is World Health Day!
"When Disaster Strikes, Safe Hospitals Save Lives"

Celebrations were held all over the world today in honour of World Health Day, PAHO included. My unit has been busy at work planning out the celebration here in DC. We had 3 really great speakers this morning. One of which was one of the doctors that ended up stranded in Charity Hospital with her patients during Hurricane Katrina. She was an excellent speaker! It was a busy, busy day...but great success (Mostly thanks to Jill and Pat!).

On my soap box...

"You have to be stronger than your fears if you want to get anything done in this life." -Daoud Hari-

I just finished reading The Translator, a book which is about the war in Darfur (I put a summary of the book @ the end of this post). It was interesting to learn more about, cause I didn't know the history of the war very well. I have also been sitting in on weekly teleconferences with the W.H.O. office in Geneva about the Humanitarian/Health situation in Sudan, making the book that much more interesting. Recently, the ICC (International Criminal Court) issued an arrest warrant for President Bashir. This is fantastic news, indeed. Unfortunately, in response Sudan has ordered some 13 international aid groups to leave the area - the best thing in Sudan right now!! This is heartbreaking news, given the situation!! Essentially, this leaves the nation at extremely high risk of a lot of health problems...if they weren't already at high enough risk!

So I am sure many of you wonder, "why does Sherrie post about these awful things!?!" I know I lose people right off the bat, but they are such IMPORTANT issues and I feel like it's important for people to know about them and not be entirely ignorant to what is going on in our world. Imagine if all the systems and rules that hold our country together fell apart suddenly and your family members were all - every one of them - in a dangerous situation. THIS is why I talk about this stuff...can YOU imagine or even begin to comprehend!?! NO, it's next to impossible to! On top of all of this, this type of stuff sparks my angry side and I've got to vent somewhere, right?!?

Now when I say people should not be ignorant to what is going on this world, I mean they should know about issues that don't involve Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Hannah Montana or some of the ridiculous athletes that are WAY overpaid! I'm sorry, but famous people and majority of the media make me absolutely DISGUSTED! I get so tired of hearing about them - their drug problems, relationships, the ridiculous amounts of money they spend on clothes, purses, shoes...or the athletes that complain about not getting paid enough! Some of these people have been able to use their fame, position, power and money for great things (people like Oprah, Angelina Jolie, and Natalie Portman). These few, definitely deserve some attention...if anyone in Hollywood does. But let's stop focusing on Hollywood and let's focus on the AMAZING heroes in this world that HAVE actually done such great work and sacrificed something! These are the people that are well overdue for some credit and fame!

This book I just finished reading...WOW! What a powerful memoir! It's people like Daoud Hari that should be on the cover of magazines! I definitely recommend reading his story if you'd like to know more about the war that is continually raging in Darfur, Sudan. It's definitely heart-wrenching and makes you weak in the knees at some of the stories told...especially knowing that these are first-hand accounts - all true stories. I realize that there are some people that just absolutely cannot gut some of these types of things. Most people can't. I will be honest, I had a REALLY hard time reading parts of this book. However, I still think it is important to know that this stuff is going on in the world. It is the only way that anything is going to be done to stop it.

As many of you know, I am a total news junkie and came across a photo article not too long ago on the BBC news site. It was pictures that young children had drawn for the ICC to prove that Genocide is happening in Sudan. It was extremely saddening...almost disturbing! Photos in explicit detail of what is going on to these children's families, friends, and villages. One young artist said: "It is very kind to send us food, but this is Africa and we are used to being hungry. What I ask is that you please take the guns away from the people who are killing us." Children should NOT have childhoods like this! No human being should have to have a life like this!!

Often times I wish there was more I could do. Maybe one day I will be able to do more, but for now, all I can do is be an advocate here and help others to spread the word.
"The leaders of the world can solve this problem, and the people of Darfur can go home, if the leaders see that people everywhere care deeply enough to talk to them about this. So, if you have time, perhaps you can do so. For it has no meaning to take risks for news stories unless the people who read them will act." - Daoud Hari
May we ALL do a little more...

My thoughts, provoked from the book (sorry they are random)...
  • It amazes me that in a country that has such a great deal of oil money, the people only get a few hours of electricity a week!
  • The line that made me laugh the hardest in this book, "Most people are a little thin because of all the walking, the hard work, and the dieting - that is one of the many advantages of poverty." Who honestly finds ADVANTAGES to living in poverty!?!?!
  • Daoud comments on the child soldiers at one point, "the tragedy of a life so monstrously wasted". Interesting, cause I have this conversation all the time and think about this constantly!! I think about how many AMAZING people are unidentified because they are not able to grow and develop into the person they have the potential of being, because of their situations. I thought about this when I spent time in many of those little kids running around had the potential to be life-saving doctors, powerful women, successful and bright individuals but are restricted by the walls of poverty and circumstances and are never able to develop into Einsteins or Paul Farmers. Some may be lucky to jump over the hurdle of limitations...those not so lucky though? It makes me sad...what a waste!
  • All in God's hands. This is Daoud's theme in life. His work was his fate and everything was in God's hands. What beautiful faith in his God. May we all be like that a little more; putting more trust in that higher being in which each of us believe in.
  • Google PAUL SALOPEK. He was the writer for National Geographic that was with Daoud when they were taken by the government. It is interesting to hear his side of things. What a good man!
"Altitude itself is a powerful thing. When travelers are in space, looking at our small planet from a distance where borders and flags cannot be seen or imagined, this also, I am told, bends one toward a peaceful view. That is what I wanted, really, just peace."

Title: The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur
Author: Daoud Hari (as told to Dennis Burke and Megan McKenna)

"Daoud Hari is not a person to stand around and do nothing. Despite the danger, he felt compelled to put his English skills to use as a translator for genocide investigators and reporters, in an attempt to get the word out about the genocide, to bring the ethnic cleansing of his people into your living room, so their voices could be heard. His memoir largely follows his work from 2003 until 2006, when he received protection as a refugee in the United States. It is a remarkable story of one man's determination to help his people, risking his life over and over again to fight the injustice that he has witnessed.
Daoud's story is the story of his people. It is also the story of millions of refugees living in border refugee camps around the world. They encounter many of the same problems that Hari witnesses: inadequate shelter, women and girls raped when they have to leave the camp to gather firewood for fuel, and people unable to earn any income when their host country forbids them from working.
The Darfur genocide is still taking place today. It may come and go in the news, on the whim of large media outlets, but it has not gone away."

Darfur links: