Friday, October 22, 2010


I haven't posted on this blog in forever - I've been spending a lot of time trying to update my crafty blog So you should read that, and maybe spare yourself from reading the whining post I'm about to let loose.

Anyway- this was a very bad week - and I felt the need to be be a very whiny baby and just complain about it here, so this is as good of place as any I guess...

1. Someone shoplifted $300 worth of my handmade hats at a craft fair. Jerks. How do you even fit that much knitwear in your purse??? If you must be a terrible person and steal, do it from a gigantic corporation that can handle the loss - not a college girl who does every stitch by hand. Seriously.

2. Due to the shoplifting distraction, and my general lack of motivation lately, I neglected to study for my microbiology exam until the last minute. Not my finest work. I hate doing poorly on something and knowing I could have done better.

3. I found out that an old pal of mine is very sick. I haven't kept in touch with this person - but she is truly wonderful, and knowing that she is handling her situation better than I ever could if I were in her place makes me greatly regret not getting to know her better and doing a better job of keeping in touch. Sometimes amazing people pass through your life - it's important to treasure it when they do.

4. I didn't get accepted to the Renegade Craft Fair. I really wanted to go. Sad Sara.

5. I watched a puppy get run over by a car. Yes I did. I'm still recovering from the shock of it all and truly hope I don't have puppy run over nightmares tonight. May I just say, that I looked into that puppy's eyes when it took it's last breath, and I still want to cry about it.

Thankfully, Samba Fogo played at Urban Lounge tonight - so an evening of great dancing, music, and people made the week a bit brighter.

I hope no one reads this whining post. I just really needed a vent session. These little things can get you down...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Am Because We Are

I've been meaning... for weeks now... to write about the poverty I saw while I was in Uganda. I stumbled upon this film - I Am Because We Are - and thought it's much better to show what Africa is like than to try and explain... After a month in Uganda, I feel like this film is spot on.

Watch it here.

Madonna narrates the film. People have asked me what my intrigue is with Africa ... why am I so intrigued by it. Madonna says, "Malawi needs change desperately, yet there are so many things I would never want to change. The people that live here are amazing. I often feel like we're the ones that have it wrong. In spite of all the hardships and devistation, they have a sense of community and extended family that I haven't seen anywhere else. Look around you, if someone on your street lost a member of their family, would everyone in the neighborhood get together to cook a meal? To make sure the children are looked after? Or to simply share in the burden of grief? When you travel around Malawi, you see how diverse the landscape is... couple that with the resiliency of the people. It's hard to understand why there is so much suffering. Life is a paradox and there is duality in everything. On the one hand you can come to Malawi, and think, "Wow, these people are so caught up in these traditions that are thousands of years old"... but on the other hand you can walk down the street and wave to people and smile and there is a sense of humanity that you can't find in places like America or England. It feels like modernization equals no humanity. You get trapped when you come here, you get caught up in this dichotomy where you think if they could only understand what I understand they could fix everything... but then I look at the way they live and I think Oh God... they have illnesses and they have cultural traditions, but yet they're happy... and you can drive down a street in Beverly Hills, you could drive down Central Park West and you don't see that kind of joy... you don't see that kind of happiness... so who's right? Being in Africa has made me understand that suffering is subjective - there is an enormous amount of suffering here that is really tangible. People are dying of illnesses, they're hungry, they don't have parents, they don't have a roof over their head... they don't have so many basic things that we take for granted and yet they have a joy and appreciation and a gratitude that we could never understand..."

Bill Clinton says, "People say why do you love it so much, and I always say it is because they have the highest percentage of people I believe anywhere on earth that wake up with a song in their heart..They sing through their pain and their need and the madness of the people around them... it's almost like an ingrained wisdom of more than a 100,000 years."

I Am Because We Are. It's an understanding that we are all interconnected... we are all children of the world... and we are all responsible for one another.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Once You Know Something, You Never Won't

I love Salt Lake summers. Just returned from a late night at the Arts Festival with my favorite people in the world - Diana, April, and Nina. Diana totally rocked it as the under the ocean sea queen in the performance with Children's Dance Theatre. After eating some yummy food and quickly realizing all jewelry and art were well beyond our price range, we sat down to watch a lil' something that I became hooked on at the art market last year... poetry slams. Just left a totally amazing poetry slam. The things that people write poems about are so remarkably touching... emigration, patriotism, trust, the love you place on others even when they let you down. I'm constantly getting the chills and sometimes brought to tears.

In much more eloquent words a line in the poem came up that touched me. Once you know something, you never won't. I thought about my trip to Uganda. Once you know what poverty looks like, you never won't. I can go into details about all that I saw... eventually I will probably write about it... but not tonight. All I know is that I hope I will always think about what I learned and saw on this trip for two reasons. First, it makes me think about how remarkable lucky I have been in my life and even though I've faced some difficulties, really my life has been easy, and I'm more fortunate than most. Second, I can't fix poverty on my own, I know this, but I can make small differences... and you can too. And even if you haven't seen poverty firsthand... hopefully you can imagine its difficulties after talking to me.

Because once you know something, you never won't.

Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup

There is a big game tomorrow - USA v Ghana... and as much as I love my home country, the good ol' US of A ... I'm totally cheering for Ghana. Black Stars, all the way baby!

I realize people might find me a bit unpatriotic here... especially given the fact that the USA team has made it much further than was expected, but I have some very valid reasons for my pick... and here are just a few of them.

1. I have a Ghana jersey.
2. I love the country of Ghana, and my trip there changed my life.
3. Out of the 3 television channels you can get in most of Ghana, 2 are entirely devoted to football (soccer) all day, all the time... not just when the World Cup is happening. Soccer is not a big deal in the USA - you rarely see coverage of it and I'm struggling to watch the World Cup right now without cable!
4. Ghana is the last African team still in, and the host continent is Africa.
5. All of Africa is behind Ghana. In Uganda people living in poverty gather in the streets to watch the games on tiny television sets... and cheers erupted when Ghana won their first game. (Ghana and Uganda are on opposite sides of the continent... but they still support each other... pretty cool... can't picture us supporting Canada like that...)
6. The people of Africa have a pretty rough go of it most of the time. Our lives are much easier than theirs. This is something that is important to them that they are good at... they downright deserve to win.
7. The USA is a world power that tends to dominate in everything. We have a lot of other sports that clearly keep us more entertained the rest of the 4 years... we can afford to lose one.

Don't get me wrong. I am very proud the USA has made it this far. And part of me will be very excited if we move on... But we don't care about the sport enough as a country to win this sucker. When we have a soccer 24/7 channel, and poor kids in our streets are making soccer balls from old plastic bags, and soccer stadiums start getting more packed than OUR football stadiums... then we can talk.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Uganda - a brief summary

OK, so I have returned. I have a full 8 hours of peaceful sleep under my belt sans stuffy bug net (first time in a while). I am also showered and smelling oh so fresh and so clean - first shower in a month with both decent water pressure AND hot water and no bucket involved! This is my attempt to do a quick sum up of the trip before I forget- although I have a feeling it won't be as quick as I intend. Here it goes.

Pics from my favorite ridiculous day... bus break downs and mystery creature poo in our room...

It all began with a flight to San Francisco and then a 16 hour flight to Dubai. (In the future I would much prefer two 8 hours with a layover- 16 hours is killer- my bum still hurts!) We were lucky enough to have a 10 hour layover in Dubai which allowed us enough time to take a 2 hour bus tour, some showers, grab some food, and snag about 4 hours of sleep in an actual bed! Our 2 hour tour took us to see some amazing architecture, wicked awesome buildings, the Atlantis hotel and aquarium,the largest mall in the world, a building that has indoor skiing, and a night trip to the beach to dip our toes in the water of the Persian Gulf. The flight the next day was an 8 hour process with a stop in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia and finally landing in Entebbe, Uganda.

The plan was to spend our first night in Kampala, the capital city, to recover from a long journey but found that our hotel there had no water or electricity that day. So we piled ourselves and our luggage with impressive skill onto the bus and had our first drive with Mr. Baker, our amazing driver for the trip. He didn't speak much English, but was by far the most impressive driver in Uganda- reassuring since you are more likely to die in a car crash in Uganda rather than any type of Malaria/ Yellow Fever/Parasite you could catch. The drive onto Masaka took much longer than expected because we were so weighted down- and it felt longer since it was our first experience in the packed van and we were fresh off an all day plane ride. We finally made it and were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful Maria Flo hotel and the charm of Masaka.

We spent about 5 nights in Masaka visiting schools such as Byana Mary Hill, God's Grace, and Blessings of Joy. We mainly were grouping and organizing. We also took a night to go out and see Radio and Weasel - a very popular Ugandan band. This was also our first introduction to standard Ugandan foods like Chappatti (picture a tortilla with darker dough) and Matoki (boiled mashed bananas) along with lots and lots of rice, potatos, kasava, goat and of course.... pineapple (heaven).

After Masaka, we spent one night in Kampala to regroup and stopover on our travel. Then onward to spend 2 nights in Katosi - a small fishing village on the shore of Lake Victoria. Here we spent our time doing eye exams, handing out glasses, and conducting women's health seminars at a school just outside Katosi and on Bubwa Island a remote peninsula in Lake Victoria. We got to take a boat to Bubwa where our boat drivers were all too excited to carry us from boat to shore. I stayed completely dry!

Then we returned to spend another night in Kampala and regroup. After our very "primitive and rustic" hotel stay in Katosi eating entire boiled fish complete with eyeballs... we took advantage of the big city and made our first stop at Nano's for some pizza. Pizza never tasted so good! This was also the night we discovered Yovani- the mouse, complete with mouse mansion whose grand entrance was in my bathroom.

We woke the next morning and left as the sun was rising so we could make the long drive into Northern Uganda for some tourist fun... Murchison Falls National Park where the rich can go to Safari! We spent our first day there taking a casual boat ride down the Nile where we spotted hippos, crocodiles, monkeys, some elephants, water buffalo, and many many birds. The boat ride's grand finale was a stop at Murchison Falls- the most amazing and powerful waterfal I've ever seen! We hiked maybe a mile to get to the top. While it wasn't a difficult hike, the humidity killed us and we were all drenched in sweat by the time we reached the top... but that just made the spray from the falls all that much more enjoyable! At the top of the falls we met Mr. Baker and our van and drove back to our camp just as the sun was going down. Poor planning on our parts. This is when the Titsie flies are out... whose bite carries African Sleeping Sickness. For the first time, we had to pack all our hot sweaty bodies into the van with all our windows CLOSED. We joke that this was our unplanned spa day... the bus sauna... yum. It was pretty comical looking at all of us wilting away, the windows steaming up, and flies attacking at the outside of the bus... just another adventure.

The next day we loaded into a Safari van and drove through the game park where we saw many elephants and giraffes AND (drum roll please...) a leopard. Apparently leopard's are very very rare- we were lucky to see one! When our guide spotted it he became so excited that our van busted into off- roading mode as we followed this leopard around. Good thing we didn't make him mad!

After this we returned again to Kampala for another night with Yovani the mouse and some pizza!

From there we drove on to Iganga where we spent almost a full week devoting our days to making bricks for Hope Children's Center's new dorm and our nights at the Sol Cafe watching the World Cup! (Man do I miss having the games play in the evenings... and not needing cable to see them!) We took one day's break in the middle of the week to drive to the nearby city of Jinja where they have bungee jumping and class 5 rapid rafting for a hefty price. While my trip mates flew down the Nile I enjoyed a lovely day lounging in my swimsuit with a great book and the perfect view of the Nile... and amazing food- I'm now addicted to Kiwi burgers and plan on putting eggs on my burgers from now until forever! My friends returned with some nasty sunburns, but mostly in good spirits apart from one case of heat stroke!

From Iganga we drove to Kaptorwa- more of a mountain town where there is a lot more rain and many waterfalls. What an experience we had getting there! On the way our van kept overheating. They don't use coolant in Africa ... just cold water... good thing we were near so many waterfalls! Ever half hour our so we would have to pull over and give our van a 30 minute break- so it was much slower going than expected. Finally we stopped again to check the engine... just as we opened it up... the radiator blew sending hot water and steam everywhere... while we were inside. Quite the startling experience. Once we finally all trouped out of the van we wondered over to chill with the cow figuring he had a pretty good chill spot on the edge of this mountain. As Ashley walked through the grass to take a picture of Mr. Cow she was attacked by a swarm of massive ants biting her feet. She was fine after we dumped some water on them and deet-ed her pretty well. After that we were all a bit jumpy. Finally a bus came to rescue us and we spent the next day without Mr. Baker as he tried to find a place to get the van fixed.

At our hotel in Kaptorwa we had a pretty decent sized walk through massive amounts of mud to get from our room to the restaurant's dining area. As we were walking back that first night (never have I ever been so grateful for my headlamp!) the hotel bus drove by offering us a ride. We all preferred to walk. As the bus drove off it got horrible stuck in the mud. It took all of us plus some very kind gentlemen just walking past to get that sucker out. When me and my awesome roomie made it back to our room we discovered poo on all our stuff... what animal made it we had no idea. (Since we've been home I google imaged it and am nearly convinced it was a bat.) Oh what an adventurous day.

We spent two days in Kaptorwa in the hospital interviewing women who had complications from female circumcision leading to problems with incontinence (inability to control your urine). The hope is to bring a doctor or two back next summer to work with the doctors at the hospital and find a way to treat these women either with prescription medicines or surgery. The saddest cases were when you saw young girls who suffered from the problem and were then made fun of in school. School is already so difficult... it shouldn't have to be that hard.

On the way home from Kaptorwa we stopped to eat in a place with a beautiful view of Sippi Falls. MM MM awesome! Then we headed out for the very very VERY long drive home to Kampala. We spent 3 more nights in Kampala packing up, regrouping, eating pizza, and doing lots and lots of shopping at the Kampala craft markets!

Finally we headed of the the airport in Entebbe and spent a few hours there before our flight to Dubai - about 8 hours with a stop down in Ethiopia. We then had an 8 hour layover in Dubai where we opted to stay in the airport and give up sleep in an attempt to beat our jet lag. We spent the night exploring the airport spa we could not afford, trying to sweet talk our way into the first class lounge, buying a few things, and taking full advantage of the first Starbucks we'd seen in a month! We also braved the public showers... and not one of us slept! Mission successful. We then made it on to our 16 hour flight from Dubai to San Francisco, had an 8 hour layover there and made it into Salt Lake City just before midnight last night... phew. All around... about a 48 hour process trying to get home.

I've completely hibernated today... unsure if I'm ready to face a slew of Salt Lakers yet... but I'm thinking I'll have to venture out to the grocery store some time soon! I'm just pumped I don't have to worry about buying all my water any more! WOOH!

So that was my trip to Africa in a nutshell. Of course many more reflections are still to come!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Ok, so I've mentioned a few times now I'm doing this medical anthropology project on people's views on healthcare in an attempt to understand why people are against reform.... because I honestly didn't understand. I've gained a lot of insight... understand more of the economic consequences... still haven't changed my view on the matter - but ultimately have a better understanding of the opposition. I suggest all people take on this project for things they care about- it's been incredibly helpful and increased my understanding.

One thing I have learned while working this project is just how ridiculous the bipartisan divide has become. I feel like politicians, Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers... whoever you are... we are all arguing just for the sake of arguing and it is getting in the way. Honestly- even if you HATE Obama- do you REALLY think it's ok to deny someone who can AFFORD health insurance (and works hard for that money) coverage because they have a pre-existing condition??? Do you honestly think that's ok??? Do you honestly think that it's ok for insurance companies to put a limit on your coverage??? As in, once you get sick in a really big, bad expensive, way--- the reason you have insurance--- they can just drop you because you've reached the limit of what they will cover??? REALLY???

People have this manipulated view that we have the best healthcare in the world - but we are ranked 37th! 37TH!!!!. We have the best doctors and the best health related technology in the world, it's true - but we have a downright shitty way of delivering it to the public. According to the World Health Organization when ranking countries based on the FAIRNESS of their healthcare we rank 54th!!! So we are just ahead of Rwanda (a country recently ravaged by genocide) and just behind Bangladesh (a country that is known for its poverty and sweatshops). No on can deny that we need some kind of reform.

We live in the most amazing country in the world. Those statistics are ridiculous when you take into account the privileged lives we all lead. So you hate Obama? You hate big government? You think socialized medicine is evil? Good for you... come up with a better idea, then, instead of sitting there being negative and childish.

And for goodness sake... Obama is not like Hitler. Hitler was not thought of as a bad person because he wanted socialized medicine- he's bad because he happened to commit one of the most horrendous genocides ever seen... hate to break it to you.. but Obama's not into that, so your comparison is a little bit off. Also - there are big important people in Washington DC that probably took it upon themselves to make damn sure that Obama was born in the US before they let him take office. We have a pretty decent intelligence system, so yeah... I don't have anything more to say about that. AND ... how crazy is it that Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks had her career nearly ruined, was accused as a traitor and received DEATH THREATS for making a comment like, "We're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." ... but facebook groups that say, "Dear Lord, This year you took my favorite actor- Patrick Swayze, You took my favorite actress- Farah Fawcett, You took my favorite singer - Michael Jackson. I just wanted to let you know, my favorite president is Barack Obama. Amen." are ok??? SERIOUSLY???? Seriously?

Stop being childish and using the excuse that someone is a liberal, conservative, or whatever as a reason for hating them. Our country has some serious issues and all of us throwing insults and death threats back and forth BELIEVE IT OR NOT is quite unproductive. GRRRRR... FRUSTRATION!!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Perfect Day

Oh man. I've had a very interesting week filled with thoughts I've been meaning to write a blog on, but I will save such a heavy subject for another day.

Today was one of those perfect days you just want to keep talking about. It was a classic day in Salt Lake City- one that makes me love living here!

1. Woke up early to go snowboarding with father dear. It was our last day of the season (it closes tomorrow) so it was a little bittersweet. I always have fun with him, and hate to admit that my 62 year old father is totally kicking my ass at snowboarding. Today he told me about how he wants to start using words like "pow." Haha... I love it!

2. It was a beautiful day in the Salt Lake Valley (and mountains too). Total T-shirt weather and EVERYONE was out on their bikes enjoying the sunshine and the mood was generally cheery.

3. Finished up snowboarding with some soup made by my father dear that is positively delicious.

4. Had a great phone call with my mother dear.

5. Cleaned my apartment- which is never fun to do, but now it's oh so clean and oh so nice. And the weather is such that I can leave my windows open which always makes the air so happy and fresh.

6. Grabbed a salad with my bestie, Diana, and took a ride in her beautiful new car! HOLY COW SO EXCITED FOR HER!!!!! WOOH!

7. Went to my first Real Salt Lake Soccer Game with my buddy, Nina, and met some fellow Coloradoans, which I always love and cheered on all the Salt Lakers that went to the olympics at half time.

8. Coloradoans+Nina+ Me meet up with my lovely pal April for some cheese pull -aparts and a beer at the Pie.

9. Late night outdoor chat session with my ladies because the weather is that lovely.

I love Salt Lake, I love my friends, and I love my life... just a few more weeks of hardcore studying and then my dear Colorado besties Emily and Emma will be visiting SLC, my little sister finally turns 21, I'll be spending a month in Uganda, and having an all around awesomely fantastic summer!