Tuesday, August 16, 2011


~ this is one of my favorite bits of prose, one of the things that gives me faith in the end of a rainbow. It became my favorite poem about 5 years ago when it was being read at the end of the very first video from the hospital founders asking for help and encouragement. At that second, at the end of that video, hearing this poem, I decided I had to go. not to just any place, but that I had to go there. to chad. since that moment i never wanted to start anywhere else.


To laugh is to risk appearing the fool,
To weep is to risk being called sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk showing your true self.
To place your ideas and your dreams before the crowd is to risk being called naive.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure

But risks must be taken, because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow or love.
Chained by his certitude, he is a slave; he has forfeited his freedom.
Only the person who risks is truly free.

Often attributed to the poet and thinker, Leo Buscaglia, the real author of this inspirational verse is Janet Rand.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Excerpt from BBC News: Chad country profile.


  • Full name:The Republic of Chad
  • Population: 11.5 million (UN, 2010)
  • Capital: N'Djamena
  • Area: 1.28 million sq km (495,800 sq miles)
  • Major languages: French, Arabic
  • Major religions: Islam, Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 49 years (men), 51 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes
  • Main exports: Cotton, oil, livestock, textiles
  • GNI per capita: US $610 (World Bank, 2009)
  • Internet domain: .td
  • International dialling code: +235


"Tchad by the Numbers"

~ Stolen directly from www.missionarydoctors.blogspot.com.

(does "citing" it thusly forgive me for the plagiarism? its just so interesting....)

0- Physicians per 1,000 people (2.2 per 100,000, compared to Washington DC with 752 per 100,000)
1- Ranking on Transparency International’s list of most corrupt countries in 2005.
1- Number of TV stations in the country (government-operated).
1- Number of movie theaters in the country.
2- Ranking on Fund for Peace’s list of most failed states in 2010. (We lost to Somalia. Again.)
2- Percent of pregnancies resulting in the death of the mother (compared to 0.001% in Ireland), most world-wide.
2- Number of flights/day to get out of the country (one to Paris, one to Addis Ababa).
5- Number of Internet hosts, 225th in the world.
8- Number of paved runways in the country (46 unpaved).
8- Percent of population with HIV (18th in the world).
9- Percent of women who die while pregnant or within six weeks of delivery (compared to 0.02% in Ireland).
10- Percent of population who read well enough to use it to earn a living.
11- Number of radio stations (2 AM, 4 FM, 5 short wave).
12.4- Percent of infants who die at childbirth (compared to 0.2% in Singapore) (190th out of 195).
21- Percent of children who die before the age of five (compared to 0.39% in Iceland).
40- Percent of children suffering from chronic malnutrition.
65- Percent of population living on less than $1/day.
80- Percent of population living below the poverty line.
80- Percent of population relying on livestock and subsistence farming for survival.
105- Degrees for an average high in April (76 is the average low).
120- Number of distinct languages in the country. Distinct means one village can’t understand the next.
171- Ranking (out of 177) on UN Human Development Index.
267- Kilometers of paved roads (33,400 unpaved).
13,000- Number of phone lines in the country, 199th in the world.
40,000,000,000- Dollars required to give basic health/education to the world without it.
1,200,000,000,000- Dollars allocated to the military by the US for 2011.

Friday, August 5, 2011


What do you seek, so pensive and silent? What do you need, Camerado? Dear son! do you think it is love?

Listen, dear son--listen, America, daughter or son! It is a painful thing to love a man or woman to excess--and yet it satisfies--it is great; But there is something else very great--it makes the whole coincide; It, magnificent, beyond materials, with continuous hands, sweeps and provides for all.

Whitman, Walt (2005-06-01). Poems By Walt Whitman (p. 8). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

!!! Hallelujah


.feeling very grown up and world-traveler-esque.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


It is a strange thing - to know intellectually that your life is about to change, to think about it, to write about, to feel it marching nearer; yet to feel as if everything is the same. To sit in an easy chair, or sleep too late and go to bed to early, to eat delicious dinners and leave big tips, to drive away on a whim, to do nothing differently....right before everything is about to change.

I don't know how one mentally prepares for it. this big journey. this place of hardship. I guess some people read books. or memorize maps and customs. or learn languages. or study local handshakes. some people pray, they take long walks, or jog with excellent arch supporting footwear.
but that has never been my way.

I have never been one to prepare. to study every aspect of the situation. To arrive informed. every thing in my life, the good and the useless, i have just jumped in. its a heady brew of folly and staunch belief in myself. I want to be the preparer. The writer of neat lists and calm stacker of manilla folders, but I'm not. I'm chaos. Not the kind of chaos that impedes progress. not a procrastinator either.... but chaos nonetheless.

and maybe i'm not as lackadaisical as I think, or maybe I'm too audacious. but I think this time, i have to jump in. I can't think rationally. I know only that I've always wanted this. always. That I've done hard things to be at this moment. that i have no idea what doing hard things means. I have to go because the alternative would be hell. to bury a dream that is so cherished. nothing could be so choking and insidious as the rational death of the dream that kept you breathing every moment.

and the dream wasn't Chad. not specifically. it started out as wanting to run an orphanage (then i stopped liking children) and turned into wanting to be a social worker perhaps... and then I wanted to do humanitarian work, and then it turned into using nursing, and the dream has been gray, but it has been EVERYTHING. it has been everything to me. my religion even.

And I don't think i have to go to Africa and save someone. I'm painfully aware of how cliche that sounds. But its also not enough for me to be in a comfortable routine.... to do good within that realm. For many, it is what they love. what they are good at. what they SHOULD do. it is their truth. but its not mine. and maybe its selfish and it sure is naive and idealistic, but i believe in the power of one life. Of helping that one person. Of making a difference in that moment.

and I also believe that we will be held accountable for the suffering of our brothers and sisters. In the final reckoning, whatever we concieve that to be, we will charged not only of direct crimes but of the crime of indifference. What does it mean to love your brother or your sister? We live in a global world. people are dying all around us. in this, our civilized world. children are starving in a world that sent man to the moon. people are dying for lack of the most basic medical care that is so hotly debated in the west.

How is that alright? And I want to do something. I want to bring medicine to those who would not have it otherwise. Is this selfish. yes. But I don't know another way to live with myself. And I don't know a better way to learn, to pound and sift and refine all these theories except by going. And I expect to be miserable. and I expect to get sick. And I expect to be jaded. I expect to get Malaria. and worms. But I also expect to find what I have been seeking - the fulfillment of a lifetime of dancing screaming shadowy dreams. And I don't just want to go once. (I say this now.) I want this to be a lifestyle. This is the beginning. This is where I test myself, my theories, my ideals. This is where I stand it all beside reality. Where I strip the wool from my eyes.

I don't just want to go for a year and come back gushing about the dancing children and oh they are poor but they are happy. what swill! and then we stand up in church proclaiming that we are now grateful for what WE have. yet we don't feel guilty about it anymore....because they are happy. you know you've heard everyone say it. Is it enough that some little potbellied kid who could eat for a year on your monthly car payment smiled and did a jig. Does that mean he likes to be hungry? I don't want to come back like that.

I don't know what it is really. But I am not going to teach anyone. I don't plan to enlighten a soul. I plan to learn. I plan to open my heart to suffering and to be taught by it. I plan to be schooled. I know i'm ignorant. I know I have an abundance of flaws and chaff. And I'm going to walk through the fire. Because I want to be better.

maybe this is just an elaborate scenario I have concocted so I can fancy myself at peace on my death bed. is that so wrong if it were true?

If you wait for the right motive, for the right time, for the right place, you will never go.

I'm not going to wait until I'm right with God. I'm not going to wait until I'm in shape. I'm not going to wait until I speak French fluently. I'm not going to wait until I'm ready. I am going to go.

I read a poem once, i don't know the author, and barely remember it...but i do remember this...

"women wait, when they should turn to journeys."

I've been waiting for 5 years.

and I'm going. I'm leaving a stable job. I'm leaving good friends. I am leaving something far dearer also - the love of my life. At my fingertips is marriage. children. a house. a life. a love that would burn until i died. People spend their lives dreaming of what I am throwing away.

and i have never been so terrified. and i have never been so sure.

so i'm going.

If i can stop.....

I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Dickinson, Emily (2009-10-04). Poems by Emily Dickinson, Three Series, Complete (Kindle Locations 56-57). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.