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.

20 July 2010

"Love life, engage in it, give it all you've got. Love it with a passion, because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it."
Maya Angelou

07 July 2010

Ready, Set, Gooooo

Tomorrow, I will be flying here:

Yes, that would be TURKEY!
I have been here once before, on a freak trip (that one day, I will share some of these most beloved and comical travel stories that I have) with my friend Joni, in 2005. 

This is a bit how my Istanbul portion of the trip will go:
I will spend a good portion at what I think is the most beautiful building in the world (and probably one of the stinkiest, since everyone is required to remove their shoes).
The beautiful Blue Mosque

I will also be spending my time at these places:
Aya Sofia/Hagia Sofia

The cistern and just outside, where the Green Restaurant is that Joni and I ate at for uh...yes, I think it was EVERY meal. I am going to hunt down our cute old waiter. He's probably dead now though.

 Enjoying the Spice Market...MMM! Yummy!

Then I will probably spend some time at the Grand Bazzar in the cluster of people, getting told by random salesmen that I am an angel that fell from heaven, or maybe that I am a model, or that I am their next girlfriend. Those salesmen always have prize-winning pickup lines! It honestly doesn't get much better! You should honestly try it...good self esteem boost, but an even better ab work out for how hard you will laugh with some of the stuff these guys come up with. I'm not kidding! The BEST I've heard in my travels come straight out of this market!
And then, I think I will probably be just as exhausted, annoyed, and disappointed by the shopping spree. Two thumbs way down...maybe not this time though?!

You may also find me doing one of the following:
Sipping the amazing apple tea that is served after any and every meal (for free, too...most the time).

Staring at this beautiful calligraphy...LOVE this! It's so beautiful! One day I will learn Arabic, simply because I think it's such a beautifully written language!

Enjoying the Whirling Dervishes!

 Looking for this cute old man. I want to buy one of his hats and just stare at him! I love him! What a COOL old man. I want to know his story!

 Taking awkward photos with kids on their field trip? Is it because I am American and can speak English? The blonde hair? Or the fact that I stick out like a sore thumb in your country and can't speak Turkish, so you think I am hilarious!? 
I am not really sure what was even happening, other than the fact that I was at some random castle that I still can't begin to pronounce the name and was MAULED by these youngsters. They asked if they could get a picture with me...on my camera. Sure, why not!

Or you may be able to find Joni and I shooting our favorite places in Istanbul and possibly jumping into a few of our shots to make up for the lack of quality photos that we were in the last time around!

The only unfortunate part of this trip is, Joni and I will have to find a new form of entertainment, as we will not be accompanied by these jems, that we met at our hostel. 

As they will not be around, we will also be lacking "tic-tacs" (sorry that is an inside joke only for Joni) and some pretty hilarious stories provided by Naz. OMG! Hilarious! Who goes to India for a month and doesn't even see the F#%@ing Taj Mahal!?! That would be Naz. He went to India to find himself and found out that he is a pretty boring person!

However, when you are with Clog American, who knows what will be in store! :) I am just excited to get over there and be with my friends and be at the folk dance festivals!!

05 July 2010

My Lari

I came across this article tonight on Dr Sanjay Gupta's blog (he is the chief medical correspondent for CNN). I wasn't going to read it, but the picture was intriguing to me. This young woman happens to have the same condition that one of my little orphans in Romania has. Their two stories are so similar, it is frightening! However, the large difference is the ending -- this woman has a happier ending than my Larisa. It's an incapacitating joint condition called arthrogryposis. I had never heard of it until I was living and working in Romania and I got a hold of the medical records of one of my favorite little girls in the orphanage I volunteered at.
My little Larisa...oh how I miss that little girl (who is not so little any more; she just turned 9 here a few weeks ago!) I just want to take a bit of time and reflect on her, because she is so special to me. This girl freaking stole my heart, I will tell you! I haven't thought of her recently and was SO happy when I read this article, as it reminded me of her.

She was my daily delight at the orphanage. Days that I had a hard time getting myself up in the morning for work, I thought of her, which always helped. I was able to see quite a bit of progress for this little girl, which I always thought was so great. Naturally, it is great. However, her progress is progress you should have seen in a much younger child, not a 2 year old. Nonetheless, it was always exciting to hear her try to talk and see her attempt to crawl. It always made me sad knowing her condition could improve drastically just by physical therapy and/or surgeries. It's hard to see someone that has potential, stuck.

A few years ago, I was able to visit Larisa on one of my many jaunts through Romania. She happened to be in the hospital, which made it much easier to see her. I was able to go right in the hospital, where the orphanage, I had to go through Dr Ciabaneu, which usually has the potential of a bribe (which I didn't have to do when I did go to visit...but in order to snap a few pictures, I did bring her some flowers!). 

The last time I saw Larisa, she had gone through quite a few surgeries and continues to today. Last I heard, she was using a wheelchair quite successfully and they were hoping that she may have a chance at walking and using her joints a little more productively one day. I hope so. The only unfortunate part now is how developmentally behind she is from being in the orphanage. I hope one day...something good will happen for her!

Here is the CNN article:
Prudence Mahbena story: 21, was born in Zimbabwe with a crippling joint condition called arthrogryposis. By the time she was 8, it forced the amputation of both legs and most of her right arm. In a society that looks on disabled children as cursed or worse, her childhood was marked largely by cruelty and indifference. She found salvation at a charity school in Bulawayo, where she discovered her talent for music and joined with a group of similarly talented but disabled youths. Their story is told in the film “Music By Prudence,” which won this year’s Academy Award in the documentary short category. It will be shown March 12 on HBO. Mahbena spoke with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on a visit to New York.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: I've visited lots of places around the world. I've been to Zimbabwe. I've been to many countries in Africa. What is the perception? How are people sort of thought of, that have some sort of disability? Are they thought of as people that people want to help, or in some cultures, are they thought of as a burden?
Prudence Mahbena:In Zimbabwe, whenever a child is born, it’s like it is all over the world. When a child is born, they celebrate, they do A, B, C. They bring presents and all that. But whenever a disabled child is born, that's when people start talking, saying bad things. You know, “Maybe you were bewitched. She was bewitched. Maybe it's a curse from God,” and all that. That's when you don't get to talk to your families, your families turn their back to you.
Gupta:How did you even think to start singing? It’s so happy in some ways. The music – when did that begin?
Mahbena: The way I started singing is very funny. I used to sing with my grandmum, when I was young, but when I went to school, I used to sing in the corridors, just moving around. And one day, I got to meet a teacher who later became my music teacher. She heard me singing. She said, "Who was singing?" I kept quiet, actually. "Who was singing?" And I said, "Um, it's me," and I thought maybe I was in trouble. (LAUGHS) Maybe I had made some noise, you know? Then she said, "Oh, OK." Then she left me. And the same day, in the afternoon, she called me for a choir practice. It was a senior’s choir, and I was the only junior. Later on, I led the whole choir.
Gupta: Your range is incredible. At what point did you realize, “You know, I could be famous?”
Mahbena: I realized that I was going to be a star one day when the director and the producer of the movie came, and they said they wanted to make a movie about us. At first I wasn't sure of them … but they kept on telling me that, "One day, you'll be a star. One day, you'll be a star." And when we did one of the shows, in the biggest theater in Bulawayo [a city in Zimbabwe], people were screaming. People were clapping. It's in the movie. That's when I recognized – wow, okay, I am a singer. I am a musician. And one day I'll be a big star for sure.
Please tune in to “Sanjay Gupta M.D.” on Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 am ET to watch the entire interview with Prudence Mahbena.

03 July 2010

Wrong Name

I had a friend that had this video posted to her blog a couple weeks ago and couldn't stop laughing with what came to mind the time of watching this. Yes, old song; no, doesn't entirely pertain to what I was thinking about, but slightly!
When I was in DC working, my boss could rarely remember my name. At first I thought it was cause I was new and my name isn't always the easiest name to remember. Then I thought he was maybe having the same problem that many others seem to have; mixing together my first and last name and coming up with Stacey. Well, one month became two, two became three, three became four and so on, and on more than a few occasions, I would get called the wrong name. By the time the H1N1 hit full force and I was hired on, with a short-term contract, he still was occasionally getting it wrong and it cracked me and my coworkers up!
It started with Stacey; like I said before, close to Staley, I get it. Then it turned into Stephanie occasionally. That was fine, too. I have an old roommate and dear friend that I worked with at the hospital that none of our coworkers could tell us apart, for some reason. We were given the name "bobbsey twins", as we were the two blondes that lived together, always hung out together, were studying the same thing, and apparently looked SO much alike! Okay, so anytime my boss called me Stephanie, I got it because I was used to that from working at the hospital and getting it there quite frequently.
Being called the wrong name by my boss wasn't even that comical to me. My whole life people have fought to pronounce my name correctly, get the right version of spelling, or remember the right name without mixing it with my last name and coming up with some absurd name. My boss calling me by the wrong name frequently was just semi-normal to me. It was okay, I knew who he meant. However, when it became more frequent and I worked there longer, my two coworkers found it especially entertaining. They would tell me not to answer until he got it right, which actually was a pretty good idea! I would sit there as my boss, from the other room, would say, "Stephanie (pause)...Stephanie (pause)....Stephanie?....uh, Sherrie? Can you do something for me?" It would make my day as the three of us would sit there, trying not to laugh out loud, as my poor boss would search his memory bank for the name he was really trying to get out. He did pretty good most of the time. I think it was when he was stressed out that I became Stacey, or Stephanie, or Shelley.
The best incident came during our first big H1N1 meeting. Since the initial outbreak was in Mexico, which was part of our area at PAHO, we were one of the key players, especially being in the Emergency Operation Center. We had all been working long hours and convened at the end of that first Sunday, with the task force team. As my boss discussed one of our big assignments, he asked that all the information come to me. Unfortunately, he lapsed under the pressure and my name came out as Shirley. I think. I glanced over at my coworker and took a very deep breath in attempt to hold back my laughter. After our meeting commenced, one of the managers grabbed me in the hall and said, "I thought your name was Sherrie, is it not?" My coworkers and I burst into giggles as I explained to him the wrong name thing and that my name really IS Sherrie. As he left, he laughingly said, "See ya tomorrow, Cindy." It became quite the joke among the few of us that noticed!
By far too good of a memory to forget...still makes me laugh!