Meet Febby. She is a Community Health Promoter here in Zambia. She teaches her neighbors about how to improve the health of their community. When I took her portrait she struck this pose that is filled with all the wonderful, life-filled attitude that she takes into her community. As I prepare for the 30 hour journey home, I could not help but share this with you. May your Sunday be blessed.
As I was walking through the village of Alobo Rom in Northern Uganda, I met Janet, not far from an unprotected spring that I was there to check out. She had a small pile of laundry in front of her and was washing her clothes by hand. When we started talking, she said that she did not go to school that day because her clothes were dirty. So, at age 13, Janet was washing her clothes rather than sitting in the classroom.
There are a lot of things that ran through my mind at that point. Why she would be kept out of school for dirty clothes? Why were her clothes not washed the night before? Was there no one to help her? When did she stop being a child? But, this is part of life here. I know that the rest of her day is likely full of other chores, including carrying water for her family’s needs. I hope that some day this is not her reality, that nothing will keep her from school – not laundry, not carrying water, and not illness. But on the day that I met Janet, all I could do was share a smile and wish her the best when she returned to the classroom.
This time a week ago, I was surrounded by family and friends as we celebrated my brother’s marriage to Lauren. It was a non-traditional wedding filled with thought, intention, and creativity. Which should surprise no-one who knows the two of them: bio-electrical engineer and graphic designer who both love being surrounded by family.
The weekend began with a small rehearsal followed by a lovely dinner at a Decatur steak house. The most mentionable point here is that this dinner was the only event not held at Lauren’s parent’s house (though yes, in case you were wondering, the food was excellent). The wedding (and rehearsal) was in their small library and the reception in their grand room.
The wedding was home grown, whimsical, lovely, and perfect. The house was decorated, or I should say, the stage was set, by Lauren. Everything was dreamt and created by hand – elegance meets whimsical. Remember I mentioned non-traditional? Matt had a best-man (Chris, my brother) and a grooms-maid (me), and Lauren had a maid-of-honor (Cath, her twin sister) and a brides-man (Nate, good friend). My mother performed the ceremony. The total wedding party consisted of 20 people – the people they celebrate holidays with. All people I readily hug rather than shake hands with.
Appetizers? Middle Eastern fare and martinis. Dinner? Southern barbecue complete with home-made bibs to protect our wedding attire. The beer was brewed by my brothers and made elegant by Lauren’s special labels. The cake was made by dear friend Elizabeth and was divine. The party favors were home-made pop tarts. There were brilliant toasts by the maid-of-honor and best-man. Matt & Lauren got married and our families happily grew. That was the wedding in a nutshell.
I wish I had brilliant photos to share with you, but I was in the wedding and loved celebrating every minute of it. You can see more photos at Lar & Cath’s website or on the photographer’s blog. If any family photo’s come in, I promise to share them with you in the coming weeks. For now, I am going to go sleep under my mosquito net in Northern Uganda.
It is not that often that I feature non-water projects or ask you to think about giving money to something when I write here, but this is an opportunity I could not pass up. Before I moved to the United States to attend university, I spent 9 years in the Middle East, including my high school years in Jordan. I still have friends based there, and one, a wonderful young woman I babysit many years ago, wants to do a violin tour this summer in Jordan and Palestine. Lauren and her friend Holly will be doing a violin “Tour for Peace” including performances, lessons, and workshops through Jordan and Palestine. They have just 28 days to raise the money for their project – will you please consider reading what they have to say, donating, and spread the word? (Click HERE to donate and find out more.) And yes, I already signed up to back this project. Here are is the beginning of what they say about this project on their site:
“We believe that music is a powerful force, capable of effecting positive change in individuals and society. It’s transformative power transcends race, religion, politics, concepts of nation-states, borders and education; thus through its exoteric nature, music realizes humanity in its most basic form. Through our music, we hope to move audiences toward a greater understanding of their place in their communities and cultures. Although we continue to learn, discover, and educate ourselves as students and artists, our purpose and aspirations as violinists go much further than creating prestigious careers. We hope to influence people through our playing and help them to more fully realize their identities as part of the human race. The youth of the Arab world have risen up to call for change in their societies and governments – change which will promote justice and a progressively peaceful existence. Their innate yearnings are portrayed in our music.”
Inspiring, isn’t it?