Darfur United


This is pretty stinkin’ cool. Here is a soccer team called Darfur United, who hopes to play in the 2012 Viva World Cup in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is a tournament for nationless people held at the end of May.

The team is coached by i-ACT, a California-based nonprofit who has been working in the refugee camps of eastern Chad since 2005. If you’re interested in helping with support, go here.


Mother and child

I’ve been a bit preoccupied with the life of my sweet little baby to contribute much to the blogging world over the last, oh, say, a year. My daughter Annika was born on May 12. As I have prepared for her, my inspiration has been women from around the world – from rural African women who wrap their babies on their backs while doing their household chores to urban professional women who make time for their families while still tending their careers.

One book that really inspired me during my pregnancy is “Half the Sky,” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn. In it, Kristof and Wu Dunn reminded me through well-crafted stories from throughout their journalism careers that investing in development efforts that aid women and girls makes the most impact for a community.

Through reading “Half the Sky,” I became so much more appreciative of the quality healthcare that I was able to receive from the midwives at Oregon Health and Sciences University. Unlike many women in developing countries, I had access to a good hospital within a 15-minute drive from my house, healthy food and vitamins to ensure that I and the baby were well-nourished, support from educated medical professionals during delivery and pediatricians to help me know how to care for my infant.

I was also 28 when I had my first pregnancy. I had a chance to finish high school and college before becoming a mother. I was old enough and under such quality care that the word “fistula” would never have to be used.

I have a job and a 90-day leave of absence protected by law. My finances are by no means perfect from an American perspective, perhaps, but my husband and I have a savings account and plans for how we will continue to provide for Annika.

It also reminded me that as a woman, I am not alone. There are millions of women worldwide who have a similar experience no matter how varied our backgrounds may be. With that thought in mind I came up with a simple way to help just one mother and child in another country – one to one.

At my baby shower, my best friend made donation jars for each baby name my husband Jory and I had selected from our list of possibilities. Then I asked my friends and family to vote with their money for the name they thought we should name our new child. The money raised went to purchase a World Vision New Mother and Baby Kit, which provides infant education for new mothers as well as key baby items.

I loved the significance of giving during one of life’s rites of passage. Jory and I also gave a gift through World Vision after our wedding. As Annika gets older I plan to encourage her to participate in giving. For example, we could sponsor a child’s education beginning the same year that she starts kindergarten.

So, I encourage anyone who reads this: find someone of a similar experience and celebrate life’s best moments with him or her by giving out of your blessing.

Improving education in Afghanistan

I love it when my work at the Review intersects with my aspirations in the purest way. Hopefully, someday I’ll be writing about topics such as these all the time. But for now, I’ll showcase these gems on my blog. For this story, I met a professor of education at Lewis and Clark College, who is originally from Afghanistan. Zaher Wahab has lived in the U.S. for the last 41 years. He has gone back to visit family over the years, but since 2002 – when the Taliban was toppled – he has gone back to help in his area of expertise. He’s worked with the Ministry of Higher Education in Afghanistan, and now he teaches graduate-level courses to education faculty from the county’s 16 teacher’s colleges. For the whole story, read here.

Piece by Piece

I may not own an old home (yet), but I found this whole process of deconstruction fascinating. I’m hoping that I can write about it again in bureaucracy time if the city of Lake Oswego chooses to move forward to incorporate sustainability in the development code. It did also bring some questions to mind regarding new LEED certified buildings (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design). How “green” is it to tear down a building and construct a newer building with environmentally efficient  technology? How do we make it easier to preserve a building instead? Read my article here.

Tomatoes and Avocados

I just have to rave about how incredibly cool it is to see progress being made in just one person’s life because of you. At Christmas time, a few people in my family pitched in to give a loan to Julián Solóranzo Espinosa through World Vision Micro. I wanted to give to a farmer because my dad grew up on a farm in North Dakota. Julián farms tomatoes and avocados in Mexico (I also love tomatoes and avocados).

With $300, he purchased 100 avocado trees and 600 tomato plants. It will take the trees a few years to start producing fruit, but the tomatoes are paying off right now. He has already paid off 56 percent of the loan, and when it is paid off that money will go to fund other loans for more entrepreneurs in developing countries.

I am definitely doing this again this Christmas! Hopefully, more people will join me. Check out his profile at: http://www.worldvisionmicro.org/show/131 and sign up to give your own loan.

Democracy Debate:

Pair of national figures discuss strategy of imposing democracy on nations around the world


Recently, engaged U.S. citizens have questioned former President George W. Bush’s strategy of promoting democracy around the world as a way to promote peace and stability. Lake Oswego resident and former four-star Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak and Paul Wolfowitz, former deputy secretary of defense under President Bush, discussed the issue in the broader sense at a Monday evening symposium at Lewis and Clark College.

The event headlined the 48th annual International Affairs Symposium. It is the longest run student-led symposium in the nation. The three-day event titled, “Global (Dis)order: Searching for Solutions in a Changing World,” invited speakers from all over the nation to speak on topics such as nuclear proliferation, global power struggles and east-west dynamics.

McPeak and Wolfowitz spoke from two different philosophical backgrounds. While equally rooted in the usefulness of democracy to foster international cooperation, they disagreed on how much intervention should be done by the U.S. to prompt other nations to adopt a democratic government.


New drug helps fight drug-resistant strains of malaria


Last spring Lake Oswego resident Jane Kelly was the lead author of a report on a potential breakthrough in treating malaria, an illness caused by parasites that have repeatedly grown resistant to drugs used against them. The report in Nature, an international weekly science journal, introduced the drug T3.5.

The new drug is not only potent on its own, but it is synergistic when used with other common treatment drugs, such as chloroquine. This means that it can actually help chloroquine fight against drug resistant parasites. It’s a “double whammy.”

“That’s the real significance in our discovery,” said Kelly, who works in the malaria discovery lab at the Portland VA Medical Center. “(We) are not just developing a drug; (we) are developing a drug that is synergistic.”

Due to drug resistant strains of the disease, in recent years the most effective drug to fight malaria has been artemisinin used in combination with other drugs. Unfortunately, there have been signs that parasites are also developing resistance to it. Though T3.5, as Kelly has dubbed it, is not synergistic with artemisinin, it could still be used in combination with it.

The World Health Organization currently mandates the use of two drugs by malaria patients simply because drugs have grown less effective as the parasites grow more resistant. T3.5 could potentially reverse that trend, making other drugs more reliable once again.

Kelly has been testing the compound for almost three years. Now, scientists need to figure out how to make T3.5 more potent so that it can be taken at a low dose and will be cheap enough for those who will use it.

Also, “we’re trying to find out how big the scale of synergism is with other drugs,” said Kelly. “We have not seen a red flag for this compound, yet,” said Kelly.

After the highly publicized Nature report, the project received NIH Challenge Grant in Health and Science Research through the 2009 federal stimulus package.

Despite that, human trials are likely five to 10 years out, said Kelly.