Darfur United

Video

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.

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.