Filed under: Uncategorized
Taking a break from my usual content here just to wish my Florida Gators good luck in the BCS National Championship Game tonight. I’m a 2000 graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Health and Human Performance, and I bleed orange and blue through and through. Regardless of who wins and gets named #1, it should be an awesome game.
For anyone who will be in Columbus, Ohio tonight, I’ll be watching the game with the Columbus Gator Club at Average Joe’s, so if you’d like to come join us please do! Just make sure to cheer for Florida or you won’t be welcome (just kidding…kinda).
Back to regular programming after today!
Filed under: Uncategorized
If you haven’t yet, make sure to nominate your favorite tweeter for a Shorty Award: the deadline for nominations is Wednesday, December 31st.
Of course, I am shamelessly yet humbly soliciting your nomination 🙂 I have been nominated already for the categories of #PR, #business, and #other.
To add a nomination for me in one of these categories, just click on one of the following links:
Think about who some of your favorite tweeters are and start nominating them! Remember the top 5 nominees in each category will move to the next round of voting. Right now, I’m #5 for PR! Woo hoo! Even though this seems to be just another popularity contest, I think it would be cool to be part of it. Happy nominating!
Filed under: Uncategorized
Just in time for the holidays!
Join other Cincinnati area telecommuters for a day of working in a collaborative environment. We’ll meet at Crossroads Community Church – the church graciously offers free wifi and coffee during the week for the local community. The idea here is to have folks who work in many different job functions working together in an open environment. The expectation is that creative juices will flow and new friendships will be forged. Hope to see you there!
When: Friday, December 12th
Where: Crossroads Community Church
3500 Madison Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45209
I grabbed a little online time tonight after our day ended to reflect on our first work day here in Mamelodi. When I mentioned in my last post that this certainly is not a vacation, I was not kidding. It was in the mid 80s here all day, blazing hot sun with little cloud cover, and I must have sweated off about 10 lbs today. I am part of our gardening team and spent most of the day outside working in one of the formal settlements in Mamelodi. To give you a short overview of this area, there are incredibly wealthy areas contrasted by drastically poor areas. The poorest parts of Mamelodi consist of two types – in the formal settlements, homes are usually built out of concrete blocks or corrugated-type metal. There is sometimes a fence around a “yard” made of chicken wire or perhaps proper fencing material (ran head-first into one today!). In the informal settlements, also known as squatter camps, “homes” are made of pretty much anything that one can find – metal scraps, cardboard, blocks, etc. Below is a picture of what one of the squatter camps in Mamelodi looks like:
As I’m sure this photo made you shake your head in disbelief, imagine what it must be like to live in a place like this on a daily basis. There are no garbage dumps, often there is no running water or electricity, and no plumbing. In addition to that, some of these homes pictured house entire families – often more than 5 people. There is nothing that can prepare a person to see something like this first-hand.
On Sunday, we took a tour of the Charity and Faith campus, which includes a hospice center, a school, and an orphanage. The school has about 350 students that attend, and the orphanage can house up to 16 children. The hospice center has both a men’s and women’s ward, and there they care for patients with TB, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. The design of this campus was essentially to care for people from cradle to grave, and it is truly a blessing to the community it serves.
In the neighborhood we combed today, we planted approximately 6 gardens in the morning. Then, in the afternoon our team made home visits with a government hospice worker and a hospice caregiver from our partner church, mostly to AIDS patients. I did not think this would affect me as much as it did, but the folks whose homes we visited invited us in wholeheartedly and just wanted to be loved and prayed for. It blew me away that these men and women could be given so much happiness with such a simple gesture as a personal visit. It made me sad to think about how petty some things are that anger me after seeing this.
To give a little information about AIDS/HIV in South Africa, about 1/3 of the population suffers from HIV or AIDS. In fact, the woman at the first house we planted a garden at informed us that just day she had been diagnosed with HIV. There is a belief among some people here that if a man who has AIDS has sex with a virgin, he will pass the disease on to her and be cured himself. Typically when a person here is diagnosed with the disease, he or she is shunned by their family, as it is shameful to them. Because of this, many people do not get tested for fear that they might test positive. It is an epidemic in the country. We have a medical team here this week seeing sick people, and just today they saw over 300 patients, many of whom arrived at the makeshift tent clinic as early as 4am just to wait in line to be seen.
I have learned today that there is nothing like being able to see, touch, and experience true poverty to make your heart reach out to those in need. Reading about poverty-stricken countries, watching TV programs about them, or even sending money somewhere in the hopes that you make an impact cannot match what it feels like to see it for yourself. Standing in the home of a 56 year old woman who lives with her grown children, one of whom has AIDS, and who herself does not have a job because she cannot find employment, but hearing her ask for prayer not for herself but for her family’s health and financial situations, will strike a cord in the hardest of hearts. I understand now the purpose of bringing so many people on projects like this. Seeing for yourself the contrast in lifestyle between Cincinnati and Mamelodi is a sight that can never be forgotten. Being able to share the accounts of participating in a project like this with others helps to bring awareness to those we know. With that awareness comes sensitivity to the problem, and in that sensitivity, more can be done to help alleviate the suffering.
The remainder of the week will be filled with more gardening, and I understand that a special Thanksgiving day celebration is in store for us on Thursday. It will be wonderful to share our traditions with the people here. They’ve already given me much more than I could have ever dreamed of…stay tuned for more!
As you may know, I will be going to Mamelodi, South Africa this November on an aid trip to help build homes, plant gardens, and bring some love and much-needed assistance to the Mamelodi community. To date, I have raised an amazing $2080 through the kind and generous contributions of many of you. However, my deadline for raising a total of $3000 is coming up QUICKLY – I must have my funds turned in within the first couple of days of October. I have $920 left to raise by then and I am working hard to get the remainder collected.
Jim Stroud, author of The Recruiters Lounge, is teaming up with BlitzTime to conduct a series of online networking events each month to support worthy causes. The first event that Jim is collecting for will take place on October 2nd and happens to be for my trip to South Africa! Jim is very excited to be able to donate the proceeds from this event (as am I) and I would encourage each of you to check out his post on the event, complete with details on what BlitzTime is and how this event will happen. To join this event, all you will need is a telephone and an internet connection. The cost of the event is $10.00 and all of the proceeds will be donated to the South Africa fudraising efforts.
If you want to make a contribution but don’t want to or cannot participate in this event, you’re welcome to make a donation as well. Simply click on this link and type ‘Hale’ into the search field that asks for the participant’s last name. Or you can mail a check; the address and directions are listed on the site as well.
Thanks for your continued support! I plan to blog my experiences here while I am in South Africa. Stay tuned!
Filed under: Uncategorized
My local colleagues Daniel Johnson Jr. and Barbara K. Baker coined this phrase yesterday and I think it’s funny, so I’m going to pilfer it for this post. For those who look forward to my semi-regular postings, sorry I haven’t updated but if you’ve been watching the weather, there was a hurricane that hit Texas last week and made its way up into the Midwest. Keeping things in perspective, my heart goes out to those in the Houston and Galveston areas who really got hit hard – I hope that things get back to normal for everyone there soon.
However, being that Cincinnati is a land-locked area, we do not have an emergency action plan for hurricanes and were not prepared to receive tropical storm, and at times hurricane, force winds on Sunday! As a result, close to 1 million homes and businesses in the Cincinnati area lost power on Sunday. We are being told that it may be as late as Saturday until some places have power restored. I personally have no power at home still, so I’ve been trolling the area looking for wifi spots so I can work. Today thankfully, my church is open and they provide free wifi and…free coffee 🙂 In the evenings, I am living on canned tuna and bottled water, and I have 3 candles and a little reading light that keep me out of total darkness!
So, here’s what happened – our local utility company had sent a fleet in the direction of Texas to help out with the massive power outages that were expected, not anticipating that we would have so many issues here ourselves! They recalled the fleet which I think returned back here on Monday night around 9pm. They’re working to restore power to the most critical areas first, so I would anticipate personally having power back maybe sometime tomorrow, or possibly even Thursday.
Having grown up in Florida, I’ve seen my fair share of hurricanes and tropical storms. While it was shocking for this area to get winds at times exceeding 70mph, it wasn’t as bad as some storms I’ve seen. When things like this happen, you see the best and the worst in people. Someone said last night that when it is truly a disaster, you see the best in people. But when it’s simply an inconvenience, you tend to see the worst in people. Unfortunately I’ve seen a lot of the latter in the past couple of days. I’ve heard about fist-fights over gas, I even saw a greedy guy in a minivan fill up his tank and then proceed to fill up 6 emergency containers full of gas – and right after this occurred, the station ran out of gas. People forget driving etiquette when the lights go out – intersections are supposed to become a 4-way stop and I’ve seen people blow right through with no consideration for others.
I hope that folks remember that while they are being inconvenienced with fallen trees, power outages, gas shortages, no ice, etc. that everyone else around them is also being inconvenienced 🙂 As I saw many folks trying to find places to plug in their electronics yesterday in the cafe I finally found open, I have brought a power strip with me today to share the outlets. Just trying to do my part!
Here’s a video of some of the wind and things that were going on around my neighborhood on Sunday afternoon. I hope to be “back in business” here shortly – thanks for being patient!
Filed under: Uncategorized
Thank you to all of you who have already sent support and words of encouragement for my upcoming trip to South Africa this November. Even though the trip is still 4 1/2 months off, I am getting more excited about it each day!
My first deadline is coming up on July 15th – I must have 1/3 of my total trip cost collected, which amounts to $1000. I’ve had good support up to now and I just have a little more to collect to get there! I realize that $3000 total sounds like a daunting number, but EVERY contribution helps. I do mean that – $5, $10, anything that you can spare is so much appreciated. Also, if you cannot help out right at this moment, I will be able to accept contributions up until November, so if timing is an issue there are still 4 months to go! If you are able and willing, please go here to make a contribution online or to find information for mailing in a check.
My goal is to have as many people involved within my network as possible. I’ve worked hard to grow this network for the past several years and I would love nothing more than to put it to work for a good cause.
For more information on this endeavor, please visit my Go Mamelodi! page on my blog, or you can go to the Crossroads site to read. Thank you for your support, and I hope to make my goal of $1000 by July 15th!