Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage on 60 Minutes 4/26/09

The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya, will be featured on the CBS "60 Minutes" program on Sunday, April 26. This will be the third feature they have done on the orphanage since 2006 (see the 60 Minutes web site to see the 2006 story).

Dame Daphne Sheldrick runs the orphanage as a way to care for fragile baby elephants whose parents have been killed or have become otherwise separated from the babies. We visited the orphanage in 2006, and fell in love with the place. We became foster parents to a baby named Zurura, and we get monthly updates about his well-being. He has grown up a lot in the past 3 years!

Currently, the Nursery (where the youngest elephants are cared for one-on-one by keepers before being re-introduced to the wild) houses 15 baby elephants, its most ever. More babies mean more expenses for the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, but you can help by fostering a baby for $50.

(The "60 Minutes" segment is scheduled for 4/26, but may be pre-empted if a more "newsworthy" event occurs.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day - Don't be a "Plooter"

Bhutan is a very environmentally aware country, and they strive to educate their children about conservation. In honor of Earth Day, we are posting a poem by Sonam Jobgay, one of the Class VI students at the Elementary School in the village of Shelmakha. We saw this poem hung up at the school when we visited Shelmakha in 2007.

We Are Plooters - Poem

We are plooters
We don't care
We make messes

We strip forests
Bare of trees
We dump garbage
In the Sea

We are plooters
We enjoy
Finding Beauty
To destroy

We intrude
Where creatures thrive
Soon there's little
Left alive

Under water
Under ground
Nothing safe
When we're around

We spew poisons
In the air
We are plooters
We don't care

Sonam Jobgay
Class VI

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New Photos from Guatemala

Humberto just sent us some new photos of 6-month Eddy Humberto and big sister Aracely (our goddaughter, or "ahijada" in Spanish). We can't wait to see them in July! It's amazing how much Aracely has changed in the past year. She's now 3 1/2 and looks like a big girl. She is really starting to look like a combination of older sisters Vanesa and Yasmin. And Eddy looks like a nice healthy boy - and look at that head of hair!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Habib Koité & Bamada at Somerville Theatre

Last night we saw Habib Koité and Bamada in concert at the Somerville Theatre. We had last seen them in January at the Festival au Desert in their native Mali. It was quite a different experience to watch them from the balcony of small theater as opposed to from a dune in the Sahara!

The band was excellent, and played tracks mostly from their latest album, "Afriki". They were dressed in mudcloth outfits and seemed to have a lot of fun performing. Habib sang and played guitar, and he was accompanied by Keletigui Diabati on balafon (similar to a xylophone) and violin, Souleyman Ann on drum kit and calabash percussion, Abdoul Wahib Berthe on bass and the stringed kamale n'goni, Mahamadou Kone on talking drum, doum doum, and caragnan, and Boubacar Sidibe on guitar and harmonica. They played with tremendous energy and enthusiasm. They danced around and even invited some women from the audience up to dance with them. The sound quality was great and you could hear every nuance of each instrument.

Habib remarked on the cold weather, saying that they are from the Sahel and they are not used to weather so cold that their nylon strings go out of tune. He also said that he just discovered a new state called "Maine", and that the name was misleading because it sounded like it was the most important one. He says that all he really knows about it now is lobsters and cold.

After the fabulous show, they were selling CD's in the lobby and soon Habib came out to greet fans. I was wearing my Essakane Festival au Desert T-shirt, and we brought a photo of the festival for him to sign. When it was our turn, I showed him the photo and said "We saw you in Essakane." He looked at the photo and said "What year?" "This year!" we replied and I pointed to my shirt. Craig said "You closed the show on Saturday night and rocked out!" Habib jumped up from his seat and gave Craig and fist-bump and handshake. He signed our CD and I asked if we could get a picture of him. He said sure, and then he also signed the festival photo. I told him that we had done some volunteer work in a Dogon village in Bandiagara and he said that they are trying to start a music festival in Bandiagara as well. He said "Thank you for visiting my country!" and gave us a big smile. Craig told him that it was a bit different to watch him from a theater than from a dune, and he laughed. It was an excellent night and it brought back happy memories of our time in Mali.

If you like world music, try to catch Habib Koité and will not be disappointed!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Rwanda - 15 Years After

This week marks the 15th anniversary of the beginning of the Rwandan genocide: 100 days in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by their neighbors and fellow countrymen.

In our travels to Rwanda in 2006, we visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, which stands both as a tribute to the victims, and as a reminder to the world that such atrocities are possible in this day and age.

Good resources for learning more about the Rwandan genocide include the films "Sometimes in April" and "Hotel Rwanda", as well as the books "We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families" by Philip Gourevitch, "Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak" by Jean Hatzfeld, "An Ordinary Man" by Paul Rusesabagina (the real-life inspiration for "Hotel Rwanda"), and "Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda" by Lt. General Romeo Dallaire, the leader of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR).