Friday, April 30, 2010

Tweet this!

As some of you know, I’m madly in love with Twitter.

It is, by far, the best networking tool I have ever used. Full stop.

I’ve benefitted in so many ways – everything from hiring consultants and web designers, to connecting with advocates passionate about the same topics that I am. I've been offered a couple jobs, and I’ve even helped host two “tweet-ups”; one for the Canadian Red Cross, the other for my friend Cecile, who is a career coach. I’ve also made tons of new friends – really, REALLY great people.

Twitter works. But it can be a little tricky for some people when they first start out. Stats show that so many people log on, don’t get it and don’t go back. I think it’s because they didn’t take the time to learn it and reap its benefits.

All this to say that every week I am asked (and sometimes I offer) to do free twitter tutorials for people. I’ve had to start saying no to this, simply because I don’t have enough hours in a day.

But, now I’m saying yes! But, it’s not free. If you’re keen to have a twitter tutorial – someone to lean over your shoulder, walk you through the basics and get you going on it, then I’m happy to do so. In return, I ask that you make a donation -the amount is your choice – to the orphanage.

Looking forward to sharing Twitter with you!
Karen - - please put Tweet This in the subject line

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why World Malaria Day Matters

In the weeks before I arrived at the orphanage, the worst happened. Three boys; two babies and one 10-year-old boy died in December, all of them had malaria.

The children had just moved into a new home on 30 acres of land where soon they will learn to farm and become self-sufficient. But, at the time, there was a major problem with mosquitoes that they didn’t know how to control.

The deaths were a shock to the orphanage – never before had they lost so many children at once.

The orphanage hired a nurse to help keep watch of the children on a daily basis and provide them with anti-malarial medication. It prevented any more children from dying. But, it did not stop the illness.

When I got to the orphanage, the women and children were still struggling with the loss of their boys.

There was no question that the mosquitoes were bad in the area. We all slept under bed nets, but the real problem was that the children have their play time at the end of the day when the chores are done – usually at dusk when the mosquitoes come out.
They play soccer in the field with no protection from the bugs.

I honestly don’t know how the babies contract it – they are kept inside almost all day long and they sleep under bed nets.

What we learned while I was there was that the mosquitoes were breeding in the latrines at the back of the buildings. The orphanage, quite simply, was not putting enough of a special solution down the drain to kill them. So, they started adding more to kill off the bugs.

Even still, it’s a problem they will struggle with always. The best we can do is raise funds for the orphanage so that they can purchase the medications they need that prevent malaria from becoming deadly.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Special Post for the Grade 4 class at St. Bernard Catholic School

I had a very nice surprise today. I came home to an envelope stuffed with letters written by the children of Mrs. Berardini’s Grade 4 class at St. Bernard Catholic School.

A few months ago, Kira Neves heard of the orphanage and decided to draw some pictures for the kids in Uganda. I posted a blog about it. Kira printed off that blog and brought it to school to show her classmates during a “Current Events” session. Mrs. Berardini and the other children loved the idea of sending letters and pictures to the orphanage, so they decided to make it a class activity.

Most of the letters are addressed to “Dear Children of Africa.” (I love that!)

In the letters, Mrs. Berardini asked them to include some questions for the kids.

Here are some of the questions:
“What is the temperature outside?” “What is it like in an orphanage?” “Who is taking care of you?” “Do you like to play basketball?” “Are you happy in Africa?” “Does it rain a lot in Africa?” “What part of Africa do you live in?” “What do you like to play?” “What food do you eat?” “Is it hot in Africa?” “Do you go to school?”

All really great questions!

I visited the orphanage in January, so I can tell you a bit about them. The children range in ages from newborn babies all the way up to teenagers. Many of them are the same age as Mrs. Berardini’s Grade 4 class. The children do go to school. Their classes are large – sometimes there are up to 90 children per teacher. The children don’t play basketball, but every night after their chores are done they play soccer in the fields.

The orphanage is in a country called Uganda, and it is hot in Uganda, but not too hot. There are four houses at the orphanage – two for girls and two for boys. In each house there is a woman called a House Mother who looks after the children. Most importantly, the children are indeed very happy!

Thank you to Kira, Nathan, Tonya, Teresa, Alexander, Tevron, Michelle, Aaron, Freddy, Zachary, Elvis, Tiago, Moises and Kassandra for your beautiful drawings and letters. We will be sending them to the orphanage later this month! I know they will enjoy reading your letters and appreciate that they are being thought of.

And a special thank you to Mrs. Berardini for taking the initiative and teaching children to think globally.