Showing posts from September, 2008

DrAMa: The rise and fall of a community in Northern Uganda (part 1)

... and then there was the time I started a project in an African war zone.

My journey into the war-torn heart of Africa's Pearl began with an aim to motivate the members at Life in Africa's WE Center Kampala to join hands behind a cause beyond their own poverty. A community like ours could do something to help the children of Northern Uganda.

We held a great fundraising event, we got a contract making bracelets to support awareness of the plight of children in Northern Uganda, and we went to Northern Uganda in small groups to facilitate art therapy workshops with groups of night commuter children and former child-soldiers. After interacting with children at different organizations in Gulu, we'd developed the strongest bonds with one night-commuter center in particular. The volunteers that were keeping the place running were horribly under-resourced. We started thinking about setting up some of our adult community activities there, involving the volunteers and the children…

a ToASt to Stacey Monk @

There's a new kid on the block in my virtual wwworld who is making me smile.

I first noticed Stacey Monk when she started following me on twitter. Curious, I went to her site and was startled to find a former version of myself, all decked out with web 2.0 tools. Pangs of jealousy tinged my memories of starting to write online 10 years ago, sharing stories about the world around me in Uganda, and the impact that I was able to make by getting my wwworld involved in lending to the cause. Oh how I would have been lucky to have the amazing community building tools that Stacey has!

In the days when my "Letters from Uganda" were filled with Stacey's kind of ardorous passion, there were no blogs. Email lists, discussions and website forums were the interactive tools available, and on my Ugandan connectivity it was slow going to keep up. There were many days I spent 15+ hours online. But somehow, even though she has all these amazing web 2.0 tools available to make reaching th…

AdvEntURe: The Nile on Horseback and a Rainforest Lodge

My back (and backside!) have finally stopped hurting enough to confirm that I won't be going horseback riding again in the near future. I did earn a badge of adventurism from my near-teens, however, so I'm glad we went and we did have a really great time.

Nile Horseback Safaris is run by a lovely english woman called Natalie, who has a well trained Ugandan staff taking care of more than 15 horses and their various guest riders like us. Her house and tented stables overlook a lovely pool in an elbow of the Nile, not far from it's source at Jinja, at the edge of Lake Victoria.

Our 2 hour guided horse ride took us on paths through villages there along the Nile, past homesteads with their ever curious children, shouting and running to watch us up close as we passed. I noted that this time their shouts were not "mzungu! mzungu!" referring to our family of foreigners, but "mbabazi!" They were so excited to see the horses! (Horses are not indigenous to Uganda, s…

GAmEs 4 GoOd: the webbed wwworld game

where in the wwworld do YOU fit in here?

Take off the mask of cyber-anonymity, and say a quick hello!

Many who've been invited here know me in the real world as well as online, and many of you know each other as well. In this game we're going to try and map our online and offline relationships, to see who's here and how we fit together.

You'll have to get a blogger ID to participate if you don't already have one.
Start by saying how you know christina (that's me) in the real world and/or the wwworld online.

If you see others you know who have posted before you, tell us how you know them in the world and in the wwworld, too.Below are some examples of what your comment might look like:
"I know Christina from her time in Brussels, and now we connect through Linked In. I also see comments from Tom, Dick and Harry who I know from Brussels"

"I know Christina because she's my second cousin thrice removed, and I didn't even know she had my email addres…

cLiCk! and like magic you're already there

Christina lives in Africa.

She's having a party, and you've already arrived!

Isn't technology cool?!


Get ready to dAncE!

Get ready for AdvEntURe!

Get ready to LaUgH!

Get ready to crY

Brace yourself for christinaswwworld chALLEnGeS!

Enjoy yourself with global GAmEs 4 GoOd!

There will be ThiNkiNg and LeArNiNg

yUmMy TrEaTs galore, and fits of gLoBaL fAsHioN

Expect lots of DrAMa

Let's ToASt to HOPE for turbulent times


...and thanks so much for responding to the party invitation link! I hope you'll stay a while to explore the venue (ie, this blog), and subscribe or visit often between now and Christmas. The links above offer a sampling of what kind of content you can expect. Another excellent place to start exploring is the archive of everything posted so far, which appears somewhere on the right of your screen.

The pArtY @ christinaswwworld is an experiment, during which I am going to try to blast the ordinary blog out of it's box as a versatile tool for creatin…

Let's ToASt to hope for turbulent times

Wow. The stock market has just crashed, one major US financial institution has collapsed and others are only afloat because they are being propped up by one of the most indebted economies in the world. Economies around the world have only just begun to feel the impact of this week's events. It's official - the world we live in is broken. Most probably beyond repair, if maintaining our current lifestyles is our objective. I have found it fascinating that all of the East Africans who are playing the ourwwworld game are seeing the end of times spelled out in the google search trends.

But I have a secret weapon for remaining optimistic. I know that there are armies of people out there - all over the world - who are actively engaged in the Better World Building industry. (Some people call us changemakers, some call us social entrepreneurs, others call us the citizen's sector.) I've personally been an active participant in and promoter of what I love to call the Better Wor…

Expect lots of DrAMa

I could fill a book with the drama that my life has been here in Africa. Maybe someday I will. For now I'm more interested in developing the condensed version.

For the moment - in spite of having called off the marriage to N. and having no idea about what the future holds - the boys and I are comfortable, safe and at peace in our Kampala cocoon, enjoying some fun family pursuits while we develop our wings. Since January I've officially been on sabbatical, but it's only recently that I am beginning to feel the effects of taking a breather. It's amazing how perspective always comes thru time spent focusing on other things.

This evening there are auditions for the annual Christmas pantomime play (which is a british comedy thing very unlike the american kind of pantomime). We go every year to see it, and we've wanted to audition to be in it as a family for many years but it's never worked out. This year we are determined.

Eek - that means I have to sing. Wish us luc…

yUmMy TrEaTs galore, and fits of gLoBaL fAsHioN

There are some food experiences I plan to share at this party. Be prepared to expect any of these gastronomic delights if you ever visit me in the real world someday!

On the menu:
milky ginger teamombassa fruit saladorganic vegetarianism in Thailandour ugandan favorites: chapati, posho and beans, malakwan greens in sesame paste, Ugandan porkI also love African fashion, and over the years I have played with creating African fashion shows online (featuring ordinary models like people on the street and members of my own household). Now if i can just remember where they are, I can entertain you with an online catwalk, including:
African fashion for kids
Fashion 4 football albumZarina’s swahili fashion showLiA fashion designers on kivaI knew all that weird content would find a use someday! Now to find it in my messy archives when I need it... (I've done a LOT of weird stuff like this over the years, so it will take some doing!)

There will be ThiNkiNg and LeArNiNg

This just in from:
What if playing a game could make the world a better place? Playing Akoha missions can be fun and meaningful. As part of our play testing phase, we’ve adopted a school project with Room to Read.” read moreHooray! So I’m not alone in imagining that online reality games can play an effective role in generating social impact. Here’s where my thoughts lead: games are addictive, repetitive and fun. If meaningful numbers of people get engaged in playing games (and hosting online game parties) for targeted social good, the impact that the gaming communities make could collectively be really interesting.
I’ve sent off for an Akoha beta invitation. Should that come, I’d love to see about trying it out here at the party. Meanwhile, if YOU happen come across any other new and innovative social games for good out there, please share the link in a comment to this post.
Definitely looking forward to riding this wave of discovery and invention for a while. C
P.S. - d…

Enjoy yourself with GloBaL GAmEs 4 GoOd!

For years I've been trying to teach online communication skills in Africa. What I know very well, is that time spent online here is slow, expensive, and beyond providing a new venue for Africa to beg in, it does not provide any obvious financial return. In many ways, the ourwwworld game is yet another attempt, on my part, to try and crack that nut. Is there a way that participating on the internet can be made to happen sustainably - through online income generating mechanisms - for the African participants in my wwworld? (I've been working on this puzzle for about 7 years from various angles, so bear with me. )

The basic object of the ourwwworld game is to create blog posts that include terms listed in the google hot trends, and submit the posts to to get dugg by other readers. The players with the most diggs at the end of the month win cash prizes.

An important component of the ourwwworld game is revenue sharing - in addition to a chance at prizes, each player gets pa…

Brace yourself for chALLEnGeS!

Announcing: the Do-Good Dream chALLEnGe @ christinaswwworld

Respond to the Do-Good Dream chALLEnGe before 1 December, and you could win $150 in extra holiday season cash!

Submissions including thoughtful and complete responses that follow the challenge guidelines below will be voted on in a christinaswwworld reader poll that will be open at during the first 2 weeks of December 2008. When the poll ends on 15 December, the individual who posted the winning response will receive $150, to be awarded by christina (that's me, and here's why link coming soon).

Here's your chALLEnGescenario

Imagine for this challenge that after many years at your current career, you've come to a point where you are ready for a dramatic change. Your family of 4 is onboard with heading out into the great global unknown, to spend the next 5-15 years exploring the world and doing what you can to give back to the planet.
You have an angel who thinks this is a great idea, and has agreed to pay …

Get ready to crY

Sometimes it seems like it's a national sport to be horrible to each other here. People will go to extreme measures to hurt each other badly over the most ridiculous things.

My friend Margaret's husband used to beat her senseless for giving birth to girls. Even after she had a boy, he continued beating her for having the first girl. When her third child was a girl, it got so bad she had to leave him.

My friend George's brother was recently poisoned by his stepmother when he came to prepare a home at his father's place for his new wife. This isn't the first time she's used "witchcraft" on the family. There have been other siblings who've died. She doesn't want them to have their father's property, so she's been trying (with some success) to just kill them off.

There is a jealous streak in society here that's very destructive in how it plays out between people, especially at the family level (but certainly not only there). I have been h…

Get ready to LaUgH!

When he was still three, my four year old was telling me a dramatic story one day about something that had happened to him.

I didn't recognize the story, so I asked him, "When did that happen, sweetheart?"

Without batting an eye he replied, "When I was black."

Get ready for AdvEntURe!

We've had some great family adventures in Uganda.

But when we were in the USA a few weeks ago, I was SHOCKED when my kids were shocked that I got on a horse. Upon further inquiry, I learned that my kids' image of me did not include adventurous.

WHAT? Me, who has lived my life bouncing from one foreign country to the next, not adventurous? Me, who has been river rafting on the Nile at least a dozen times not adventurous? Me, who has worked in an African war zone? Over the next few weeks of our US vacation, I took every opportunity to show them an adventurous side of me that I imagined 11 and 12 year olds could understand. I went on roller coasters, I body surfed in the ocean, I played with the Wii, and I even let them go to the movies by themselves.

Lord knows, I can't stop with the adventures now - with near teens in the house, my reputation as a mom is at stake!

So I'm planning some fun family adventures during our last months in Uganda, including some of the wonderful wi…

Get ready to dAncE!

I will never forget the dancing in Africa.

One of the most inspiring successes I ever had in online community fundraising was at the community, when we needed $700 to transport night commuter children from Gulu to Kampala for a performance at a Life in Africa fundraising event called Solidarity in Style. The money to transport the dancers was raised from individual Onet members ($10-$100 contributions) in one breathtaking week.

As we all watched the dropcash campaign overflow, Solidarity in Style became the Onet community's event. My friend Lars managed to have a peacetiles mural delivered for the dancers. Invisible Children - who I'd discovered through Onet - was involved. I later posted pictures and reports from the Solidarity in Style event for the community to see. In a subsequent peacetiles workshop, the kids from Gulu made a thank you mural of tiles that I delivered to the people who contributed at the Onet community conference in Chicago. Lots of good stuff, …

My Own Way: the global life of evans the atom and old yeller

Dear friends,

I've just been at enjoying I WONDER: earthquakes today, white plague, and The World's Best Places to Live (w/PICS). In my own cool way I've been stressing big time lately over where the best place will be for me to start building a new nest. After 10 years in a country where only one of us was born in, my 3 sons and I have decided to head off sometime soon, into the great global unknown.

I had thought for a while that we would stay where we are forever. I thought I wanted that. But after 10 years, maybe I have learned what I was supposed to learn about myself here. I've caught rare glimpses of possible life after LiA before, but now the boys and I are all seeing very clearly that something else is looming on the horizon for our family - we are excited about it, we just don't know what or where it is yet. I personally see it like a speck getting closer somewhere there beyond the fray of tangled mental threads, near the core of my patched up hea…

COMMON THREAD: mccain palin bumper sticker, palin speech video

TALK2ME: boeing strike, boeing strike vote 2008, boeing machinists

Digg1: ourwwworld pilot game: player welcome
Digg 2: Top 10 Ultimate Rivalries

Talk 2 me about the boeing strike, boeing strike vote 2008, boeing machinists searches that I am seeing i the google trends.

Without even knowing what it's about, it's clear that more pressure of any kind is not going to do the airline industry much good in the near future. It's pretty amazing to think about how much control those boeing machinists have over my global lifestyle.

In the part of the world I live in, second hand boeings are the airplane of choice for most national airlines. If boeing production is down, that means our planes will get replaced less often. And in my own country, the airlines continue to buckle under all of the repeated blows they have faced in the past decade. I was extremely impressed with the employee owned SouthWest airlines for national flights, however - having started out offering nothing but the basics, they now remain one of the …

MY OWN WAY: tropical storm hanna, sarah palin bikini, dive in underwear

digg1: OurWWWorld Blog
digg2: Study: Smiling Now Primarily Used To Communicate Anger is asking for donations at to help shelter those displaced from the hurricanes; james whitey bulger is an even more wanted man today; and I'm going to blog this MY OWN WAY because I have a cousin in the gulf states, and I've no idea whether or not he's received or needed assistance during tropical storm hanna 2008 or her brother Gustav.

There's another search storm brewing for natural gas cars, just as a newspaper in McCain's home state reports Enthusiasm runs low for natural-gas cars. Did I miss something? I guess they forgot to ask me. Probably because they were too busy looking up bristol palin alaska, sarah palin bikini, sarah palin hot pictures and (my personal favorite) sarah palin social security number.

But as long as the beige book says there is enough�…

I DIDN'T KNOW: amantadine poisoning, house

Dig 1:I DIDN'T KNOW: ourwwworld pilot game sample play

Dig 2: The 7 Most Retarded Ways Celebrities Have Tried to Go Green

I DIDN'T KNOW what amantadine was before today. Google is showing related searches for amantadine poisoning, huntington, huntington's disease, house, wilson's disease. I couldn't find anything at digg. So I decided to look up amantadine using goodsearch .

Aha! Goodsearch gives me the reason why people are looking for this today. It seems related to a Fox television show called House. But I still don't know what amantadine and amantadine poisoning mean, so I decide to try out the wikipedia links.

Not only did I find it mentioned in on wikipedia pages devoted to the House TV show, but it also appears on Wikipedia:WikiProject Pharmacology/List of drugs. Wouldn't you know, there is also an amantadine page at wiki, where I found the following information.

"amantadine is the organic compound known formally as…

I WONDER: bristol palin drinking, sarah palin legs, palin secession

DIGG 1: TALK2ME play: ourwwworld pilot game sample (a.k.a talk2me: palin pregnancy)

DIGG 2: Palin linked to group wanting vote on Alaska secession

I WONDER, when I see that today's googlers are looking for bristol palin drinkingsarah palin legs and palin secession, what on earth were the republicans thinking?! She's a dream for the press to tear apart, and googlers are obviously hungry for whatever pieces of the story they can find. I don't know anything about the lady except what I'm reading in the digg headlines, and ain't none of it good.

I also wonder at how many people are looking for, louisiana state police and anarchists today.

my home country is just a mess!