Saturday, August 13, 2011

Walking for Action

Actions speak louder than words.  A phrase I've heard since I was little, but maybe could never put into context, now bears weight it hadn't before.  We're not unaware of crisis: Katrina, the earthquakes in Argentina and Haiti, floods in Pakistan, and I'm sure most of us remember the recently devastating tsunami that ravaged the Japanese coast.  I donated to all, knowing my resourses were needed more by others.  I wanted to leave and go volunteer.  I applied for habitat for humanity relief in Haiti and only recently I received an e-mail indicating that they were accepting volunteers, but with limitations.  I spent 2.5yrs living in Japan, the first place I have ever lived abroad, and after the tsunami, with images and videos burned in my memory, I thought about how I could help.


I've been fortunate to travel to the Horn of Africa; Ethiopia in particular.  It's one of the most untouched places on the planet, making it one of the most beautiful countries that I have ever traveled.  Over a span of 1.5wks Matt and I trekked though Addis, Bahir Dar, Gondar, and through the Simien Mountains.  There were days that I went without showering.  Nights spent wrapped like a mummy in my blanket to keep the mosquitoes away. All my daily routines became a struggle but still nothing compared to what the people of the Horn of Africa deal with everyday and what they are facing now.  Due to the worse drought in 60yrs, the displaced Somalian refugees that have flooded Kenya and Ethiopia will threaten to strain current conditions that were at a critical state beforehand.  I know that our trek across Michigan will not even come close to what some of the Somalian refugees experienced. Days without basic necessities, terrible heat; I even read one story of a women who walked 22 days and gave birth after arriving to a refugee camp (http://www.voanews.com/somali/news/news-makers-in-english/Somali-Woman-Gives-Birth-after-Walking-22-Days-Reports-on-Horrific-Conditions-125169869.html).


Matt and I were once told an old Ethiopian proverb during our trek through the Simien Mountainns. "The foot that is restless, will tread on a turd", said our tour guide.  Walking with a purpose seems an appropriate loose translation.  This may sound funny to a country where the majority of us are dependent on cars and have access to adequate transit, but walking is a way of life in Africa, often the only means of transportation.  This time, however, our walk has a purpose  - to support their walk, one they didn't choose...


Brian -
Hand Up 4 East Africa!!!

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About Hand Up 4 E. Africa

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We're a group of friends who need your help. Moved by the devastating conditions East Africans are facing, we decided to walk in solidarity with those walking in search of relief. We have a big goal of raising $10k for those facing the perils of drought. Funds raised will go to the relief and development work of Mercy Corps, an international agency working to build secure, productive, and just communities. As we walk 168 mile across Michigan, your support is vital to our success. Share our story, like us on Facebook, spread the word, donate a dollar, do what you can! The need is great, and we are thankful for your participation.