Happy Belated Earth Day!

I'm a day late, that's what happens when you are on African time, but I hope you all took a moment yesterday to celebrate Earth Day.  Working in a third world country (correction: developing country) has made me so aware and grateful for how considerate we are as westerners (especially Texans- Don't Mess With Texas!) of the world around us.  No, we're not perfect, but we are trying and that counts for something.  In the developing world however trash is tossed on the ground without a second thought and there is no city government program to collect and dispose of the trash.  While visiting Juba I had an empty water bottle taken from my hand and tossed in a ditch because the girl I was walking with could not understand why I would hold onto it to try and find a trashcan, a task I quickly learned is next to impossible in Sudan.  Again, on the drive to Yei I was laughed at for my refusal to roll down my window and throw my empty soda can out.  I explained to them I would rather not contribute to the pollution of their countryside even if it doesn't bother them.  Nairobi does not have a city trash collection system either and you will see some trash littering the roads, but, for the most part, people collect their own trash and burn it to keep their city from looking like a landfill.

I believe it's the little things that count.  This year think of ways you can cut down on waste.  I for one have started using cute reusable bags for my grocery shopping instead of accepting plastic bags at the checkout.
Photo credit: stylehive.com
They're stylish; you can fold it up to fit in your purse; they make it easy to carry many smaller packages; and for someone who walks to and from the grocery, it is much more comfortable to throw this over my shoulder rather than lug 4-5 plastic handled bags home. 

Recycling is practically unheard of here but you can compost from anywhere.  Check out this super cute ceramic compost bucket from World Market for a stylish way to collect your kitchen scraps.
Photo credit: http://www.worldmarket.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3597599

Buy green while supporting African women!  Ugandan beaded necklaces are made of tightly rolled paper beads – from recycled magazines, calendars and scrap paper.  Click on the link to check out how to purchase these necklaces and raise support for African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries' programs.

Photo credit: womenspeacecollection.com

How to Gate Crash: A Guide by Captain Awesome

1. Choose the target and scope out the situation.
  • We drove past a gathering on the side of the road and our curiosity was peaked.  Hundreds of women in red and white were sitting in lawn chairs in a field.  We continued on our way.
2.  Don't tip off the party-goers/hosts of your interest in their gathering.
  • We casually drove past and followed our original plan to visit the Juba Bridge.  It is the only bridge in Juba and traverses the Nile.
3. Casually return to the event once more invited guests have shown up and try to slip in unnoticed.
  • As we drove back past the event we noticed traditional dancing taking place in the field and that a larger crowd had gathered.  We pulled over and decided to stand inconspicuously behind the crowd.  
4. Be ready to adapt your plan if you are discovered.
  • We were quite stealthy and would have succeeded in our mission had two of us not stuck out like two glowing white thumbs.  Fortunately they spotted Captain Awesome amongst the group and we were ushered in and given seats up front and center along with a translator to make our experience more enjoyable.
5. Once your cover is blown (if you are awesome enough to remain at the event) immerse yourself in the experience and be gracious.
  • After watching the celebration that included traditional singing, dancing, and drumming from our primo seats the attention turned to various speakers.  
  • They explained why they were outside celebrating this day.  They were a group of Anglicans who had been fasting for the previous 21 days in remembrance of the 21 year civil war.  They fasted and prayed during this time for peace during the presidential elections.  The previous day the church leaders met with the current president of Southern Sudan regarding their hopes for a peaceful and fair election process.  After the group leaders spoke to the gathered masses at the rally they invited representatives  from our group to speak.  Pastor Steve Roese, from Irving Bible Church in Texas, thanked them for their hospitality and explained our interest and support for them.  He was followed by Dr. Celestin Musekura, ALARM's president and founder, who spoke a few words of encouragement as well.