Harvesting for a Cause: Picking Olives in Mediterranean Malta

Strolling some Mediterranean sidewalks during the late-autumn months, it’s not unusual to see shriveling olives wasting away on the ground. There are, of course, locals who spirit away buckets of a forgotten tree’s olives, or the odd pigeon that might take a peck at the bitter fruit, but it’s been my observation that a considerable amount of urban olives go to waste.

Enter enterprising University of Malta Professor, Dr. David Mifsud. Late last year, Shawn received an email from the university inviting students and community members to participate in an olive harvest being led by David. As something that’s been on our must-do list for some time, Shawn and I jumped at the chance to spend a few hours as volunteer olive pickers. We were also thrilled to hear that this Mediterranean staple was being harvested for a cause. The olives picked would be pressed into oil, bottled and sold, all to benefit charities serving Maltese residents with special needs or illness.

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Laos: Legacies of War and a Promising Future

Riding through the countryside of Laos’ remote Xieng Khouang province, we spied verdant rolling hills, villagers of all ages escorting livestock on the dusty roadside, and giant craters disfiguring the landscape. For an instant, these cavities in the red earth evoked images of sand traps on golf courses. However, with Laos’ unfortunate distinction of being the world’s most bombed country per capita, not much golf is being played here.

Guided by a local father-and-son team, we had embarked on a day trip to visit the country’s mysterious archaeological treasure: the Plain of Jars. We would also visit two villages: Ban Naphia and Ban Tajok, nicknamed ‘Spoon Village’ and ‘Bomb Village,’ respectively.

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From Homeless Kitten to Swiss Prince: A Cocoa Update

Just one month ago, a 500-gram bundle of mischief and joy came into our lives on the streets of the stunning Ukrainian city of Lviv. As you may remember from my earlier post chronicling Cocoa’s adventures with us, the kitten’s story commenced in a sad fashion, when he was discarded behind a series of dumpsters right before our eyes. But I’m here to provide a very happy update.

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Homeward Bound: A Homeless Ukrainian Kitten’s Incredible Journey

As the golden leaves of autumn danced from the branches above, a man walked past us, a black kitten in his hands. Since there was an open-air pet market selling puppies in vintage playpens and kittens in birdcages just around the corner, we thought the man had just purchased a kitten. I had cheery visions of him perhaps taking it home to a jubilant family.

Instead, he walked behind a set of steel-grey dumpsters and dropped the kitten into a pile of mixed leaves and trash. Stone-faced, he then walked briskly past us, keeping his gaze forward and careful not to make eye contact with us.

My husband, Shawn, and I were speechless. Over several years of travel in many corners of the world, to include our home country, the United States, we’d likely seen hundreds, if not thousands of homeless pets on the streets. However, we’d never before seen one disposed of right in front of us.

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Passports with Purpose 2013: Help Build Schools in Mali

An overview of the 2013 Passports with a Purpose beneficiary, buildOn, and ways you can get involved with the organization's noble school-construction efforts.

buildOn school in Mali

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” 
― Nelson Mandela

Passports with Purpose 2013 kicks off today with the goal of raising $115,000 for buildOn to construct three schools and fund three adult literacy programs in the Sikasso region of southern Mali, Africa. Mali is the world’s fifth poorest country.

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Celebrating International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day, a commemorative day that’s celebrated in different ways throughout the world. In some countries, the focus is on women’s accomplishments, whereas in others, it is a day to merely show gratitude towards women.

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Celebrating the International Day of the Girl

International Day of the Girl Child
Indonesia.

October 11th is the first-ever International Day of the Girl Child –  a day dedicated to recognizing girls’ rights and advancing their lives and access to opportunities.

International Day of the Girl Child
India

In honor of this day, I encourage you to participate in your own way. Educate yourself about girls’ issues. (I highly recommend the powerful book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.) Support a nonprofit organization of your choosing. Visit the Participate tab for more ways to get involved, or search GuideStar – a directory of charities and nonprofits.

International Day of the Girl Child
Cambodia

To inspire you, I’ve included a collage of pictures of girls and young women that I have met during my travels from Cambodia to South Africa.

International Day of the Girl Child
South Africa

The world is not interested in what we do for a living. What they are interested in is what we have to offer freely – hope, strength, love and the power to make a difference! 

-Sasha Azevedo

International Day of the Girl Child
Tunisia

How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.

-Anne Frank

International Day of the Girl Child
Spain

We must become the change we want to see in the world.

-Gandhi

International Day of the Girl Child
Laos

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.

-Helen Keller

International Day of the Girl Child
Vietnam

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.

-Margaret Mead

International Day of the Girl Child
Cambodia

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

-Robert F. Kennedy

International Day of the Girl Child
Laos

Go out into the world and do good until there is too much good in the world.

-Larry H. Miller

International Day of the Girl Child

To him who is determined it remains only to act.

-Italian Proverb

International Day of the Girl Child
Laos

We have it in our power to change the world over.

-Thomas Paine

International Day of the Girl Child
Cambodia

I feel that the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.

-Dr. Jonas Salk

International Day of the Girl Child
Cambodia

Your thoughts, words and deeds are painting the world around you.

-Jewel Diamond Taylor

International Day of the Girl Child
Indonesia

It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little – do what you can.

-Sydney Smith

International Day of the Girl Child
Malta

We can do no great things – only small things with great love.

Mother Teresa

International Day of the Girl Child
South Africa

The mind has exactly the same power as the hands: not merely to grasp the world, but to change it.

-Colin Wilson

International Day of the Girl Child
Indonesia

If it is to be, it is up to me.

-Unknown

International Day of the Girl Child
Cambodia

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

International Day of the Girl Child
Cambodia

Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.

-Eleanor Roosevelt

What girls or young women have inspired you close to your home or during your travels? Please also share your ideas for making the world a better place!

 

A Landmine Awareness Photography Exhibition in Phnom Penh

While walking along Phnom Penh’s riverside, we happened upon a landmine awareness photography exhibition.

This child’s lively eyes and curious gaze caught my attention. His peaceful spirit contrasted sharply with the cruel creations depicted in the images at which his father was intently gazing.

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