What inspires you? I am inspired by people who have a passion for something positive and pursue that passion with incredible results. As I write this post, Michael and I are on an eight-month trip around the world. We took off on February 1, 2013 (see more about the trip on our travel blog). We have had some incredible and eye-opening experiences. Here are a few inspiring individuals and organizations I have discovered so far on our journey.
When we visited Thailand in February, I was saddened by the abundance of stray and neglected dogs. In Koh Phangan I saw an ad for an organization that helps the soi dogs (street dogs), Phangan Animal Care. I said hi on Facebook and they invited us to stop by. We spent about an hour with Laura Taylor as she showed us around and told us about their accomplishments and challenges. Laura and the other staff work in hot, rugged conditions with limited resources, and they make a big difference for dogs and cats in distress. See the post on our travel blog about Stray Dogs in Thailand.
We took it easy in Singapore because Michael was recovering from dysentery (he got sick in Cambodia; see the post on our travel blog Stomach Gone Amok). So, I watched a lot of TV in our flat. One day, I saw the 2011 movie Love Hate Love about people who have been affected by an act of violence or terrorism. The show profiled five families that turned their pain into something positive; all were memorable, but one particularly stood out. Elizabeth and Stephen Alderman lost their son Peter in New York on 9/11 and created the Peter Alderman Foundation. The foundation’s mission is, “to heal the emotional wounds of victims of terrorism and mass violence by training indigenous health workers and establishing trauma treatment systems in post-conflict countries around the globe.” Two of the countries we visited, Cambodia and Uganda, have clinics.
On an airplane in Tanzania I saw an article about a social enterprise in Zanzibar, Fahari, that provides an opportunity for local women to learn job skills and earn an income.UK accessories designer Julie Lawrence used her knowledge and experience to create Fahari. The organization offers free training on handcrafts production, business administration, and marketing. At the time of this post, 54 women have received training and 14 work at the store. I have made jewelry as a hobby for years and recently became interested in social enterprises. So it was really exciting to visit the store / workshop, see the beautiful jewelry and handbags, and do some shopping of course. Julie was there and we got to meet her and chat. Although Zanzibar was not our favorite destination, it was great to visit Fahari (see the Zanzibar post on our travel blog).
I volunteer with an NGO, COBATI, that creates cultural tourism opportunities in rural Uganda (I do their website). One of the highlights of our trip was a ten day visit to meet the people who are involved with the organization. Betty Kahima and her husband live in Masheruka village in southwestern Uganda. Although she is retired, Betty continues to offer much-needed midwife, female health, and family planning services at her clinic, Tuhwerane Domicilliary Clinic, (which is onsite at her home). She provides convenient, quality services in a safe, caring environment. One group that especially benefits is women with aids because of the stigma they face. Betty gave us an unforgettable welcome and tour of her home and clinic. See more about Betty Kahima >
In Istanbul, I watched the 2007 movie Freedom Writers about an English teacher in a tough southern California high school. (I only watched it because it was one of the few English language programs available). At first, I half paid attention as I caught up on blogging. But then I got caught up in the storyline and started to wonder if it was a true story. At the end of the movie, I found out that it was (I guess I could have checked online during the movie). I went to the Freedom Writers Foundation website and read about Erin Gruwell and her students. Erin had the courage, patience, and intelligence to break through to the students and empower them to succeed. I love the title they chose for the book! Coincidentally, I lived in Orange County California at the time the movie took place.
As we continue on our world adventure, I imagine we will encounter more people and organizations that inspire. So hopefully I will have more to share in a future post. In the meantime, it would be great to hear what inspires you. Leave a comment below and share your inspiration…