29 Jun 2022

The BEST shower ever

I watch from my hidden vantage point as my 13 year old son walks casually towards a project in the works, carrying two shovels with him. He is joining the other 13 year old on the team, Charlie, and Kevin. Those guys are now digging a ditch where piping for a water system will be installed. Hard work, for sure, on this dreary, freezing day and Kevin makes reference to Milan's "I Will Make a Man Out if You" song. I really should be helping, but my arms are grateful that there aren't enough tools for me, as we started the work this morning with scythes, cutting a path [...]

25 Jun 2022

Zimbabwean beauty and the sounds found in silence

My amazing friend Lindsay and I head out to spend a night in the bush, a gift of togetherness after a long time of doing, doing, doing. We can't wait to be surrounded by Zimbabwean beauty and the sounds found in silence, so we pack up and head out as soon as we can on Friday morning. We make it to the outskirts of town, listening to music and chatting away until we are flagged down at a police stop, where we are told the insurance on the vehicle is expired. Lindsay says that cannot possibly be true and we both get down to check the stickers on the [...]

20 Jun 2022

Fast and fearless in Kinshasa.

On the road again... Actually, in the air again - to Nairobi (Kenya), Johannesburg (South Africa) and finally, by tomorrow afternoon, to Bulawayo (Zimbabwe)! Spend the afternoon and evening with a friend, eating shwarma and catching up on life, kids, husbands, and work. After a hot shower (an actual shower with hot water!) and my last packet of coffee and a final hug, I arrived well to the airport, thanks to the best taxi driver ever, the bopping Dode. I am so glad to be able to call him when I need a safe, . He isn't fazed by anything. NOTHING. He just sways his body from side to side [...]

18 Jun 2022

Life skills in Gemena

A little sewing at the Boyebi Center in Gemena. This is such a cool program, helping HIV+ women with life skills, such as sewing. They take a 10 month course in order to learn and practice before they graduate. After graduation, they can rent a sewing machine at the program in order to make clothes or other items for sale. The big need we have a a large generator to handle the three specialized sewing machines they have. One of the ladies had her little boy with her and he was quite frightened by the molende (white person), so he cried and cried until I left the room. [...]

16 Jun 2022

Heirarchy of a Congolese Road

The bell of a bicycle will have walkers and animals scurrying out of the way. The beep of a motorcycle will force a bicycle, goats, pugs, and individuals into the closest yard or swath of tall grass The honk of a car horn will make even the most intrepid motorcycle driver scoot out of the way, sometimes finding the nearest path where they stop to wait for the dust to settle before going on The sound of a truck under the weight of jerry cans full of water or gasoline or palm oil, with people and their possessions perched on top of it all will make all the above run [...]

15 Jun 2022

Books for Kids at Gift Academy

Kids at Gift Academy, singing thanks for the UFEEMA Library, where they can borrow school books in order to do their homework and not fall behind in school. In a slum of Kenya, these kids have hope.... education changes lives when it is respected, valued, used properly, and shared. On behalf of each of the children who will benefit from this incredible opportunity, Asante Sana (thank you very much)! All the books at the UFEEMA Library are required by the Kenyan government but are impossible for most children to afford.

13 Jun 2022

Episode 9: Volunteer Suzanne Heskin talks about traveling with AFCA

Listen on: AnchorFM / Spotify / iTunes Podcast Homepage Join Jen as she sits with Suzanne Heskin, who has volunteered with AFCA and traveled with both Climb Up, Kilimanjaro, as well as Vacation with a Purpose Zimbabwe programs. If you are interested in learning more about our adventures, and how you too can plan a once in a lifetime trip that helps spread hope to those infected and affected by AIDS, you can learn more at www.afcaids.org/adventure Trips for 2023 are forming now!

13 Jun 2022

Taking in the Sounds

As the sun sets over the Tandala guesthouse, the night comes alive. First, a chirp, a gurgle, a moan. A rooster with his timing all askew joins in the chorus on occasion, letting those of us who hear him know he might not own a timepiece, but he has a loud, beautiful voice. By midnight, the croaking of tens and tens of frogs are heard over the blowing wind which rustles the palm trees outside my window. The night is not hot, yet not cool, either. It is perfect as I lay under my mosquito net, taking in the sounds. What sounds like a very loud duck is not [...]

12 Jun 2022

Sights from the back of a motorcycle

What I see from the back of a motorcycle never ceases to amuse, comfort, shock, and/or captivate me. Some of today's sightings include: Children barely out of babyhood themselves, carrying infants on their backs or on their hips Grannies, mothers, girls, boys, toddlers...all balancing massive bundles of wood or jugs of water on their heads, walking slowly on uneven ground A tree heavy with jackfruit, carrying its load on roots which are no longer underground, as the rain has slowly but surely eroded the soil away A woman carrying 25 liters of water on her head and another 25 in a hand, a baby on her back, and sadness [...]

11 Jun 2022

I whisper a prayer

He raises his arms to me the instant we step foot on his Mama's compound. Without hesitation, he reaches for me and I reach down for him, bringing his emaciated little body tight to mine. I pull back, looking at the first African child to not hide or stare in wonderment before finally reaching out a hand. As I look into his big eyes, too big for his little face, he smiles hugely, looking directly at me with no fear despite our differences. It is easy to carry him with me as he weighs close to nothing, his thin legs hanging on both sides of me as I hold [...]

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