Friday, June 20, 2014

Who do you think about when you're alone?

The view from my outdoor hotsprings water
"bathroom" this month in Pai, Northern Thailand
While my kids are away with their dad this month, I've rented a small house in the mountains north of Chiang Mai, near Pai - a lively and lovely small town that we've visited before. I am on my own with the intention to disconnect for a while. Since arriving 4 days ago, though, one lingering issue keeps disturbing my peace. 

Some dear friends of mine in Uganda are facing a serious crisis.  What remains of the Life in Africa I founded in 1999 is a tight-knit group of self-empowering war-affected women who live in Kampala's displaced Acholi Quarter. After years of working together to learn skills that would serve them whenever they managed to move back home to Northern Uganda, the land in the displaced camp/slum these women live on has now been sold for commercial development. They now need to move back to Northern Uganda urgently, which is causing quite a lot of unrest and fear. 

Some of them have nowhere to go with their families and not enough money saved to buy their own land. Some do have land to eventually resettle to but nothing to eat there in the countryside yet, and no shelter for their family to sleep under. Without an immediate place to go they will end up homeless - forcibly displaced again - which will greatly disrupt all the progress they've made over the years since the war, on getting their families lives back together. 

They are hoping to face this challenge together, through buying some land in the north jointly and establishing a Family Transition Center.  With 5 days left on the fundraising campaign that would enable them to begin, I find myself unable to sleep well - and fully disconnect - until I know that they've raised what they need to get started with. I have contributed what I can and helped them set up the campaign. I know they are also working on selling off some Life in Africa assets. But none of that will have been enough if they don't end up being able to buy the land - a measly $4000 seems so little, and yet for these ladies - most of them living on $2-3 per day - it's an impossible sum. 

Last year I visited Uganda to do some book research with the Life in Africa ladies about the organization they've built, their Acholi culture and their life stories. Over the past month I've been writing about some of them, to help promote their campaign.  These are real stories of people I know personally, and love. 

  • Jennifer Adoch: a small woman with giant shoulders - Jennifer's mom is looking after her kids while Jennifer works at a full time job, but her mom has leprosy and is being chased off of her land by neighbors. Jennifer now also needs to leave where she lives and is desperate to know where to go.

Right now there are 5 days left to raise just under $1500 more in pledges, so that the Life in Africa ladies can begin moving their families to safety together.  Try as I might to disconnect from the world for a while, their beautiful and kind faces are haunting my sleep. 

Surely this is doable - Can you help with even $10? Or maybe a tad more? 

Click here to pledge what you can to help build up some end of campaign momentum please. Even $10 counts, and you will be charged nothing unless their minimum goal of $4000 is met. 

Crazy how hard it is to disconnect from the world. Who do you think about when you're alone? 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Slowing down to see eye to eye

The Ci2i Global group never ceases to soothe and amaze. If we've done nothing else together in the past 3 years of regular working group calls, we have developed a beautiful culture of being together in community with each other, even if we are spread out on all continents of the globe. What we continue to learn from each other - about our work and about ourselves - is an important source of inspiration and energy for all of us as we make our respective marks in the world.  

I wrote about our most recent call at the Ci2i blog, where - among other things - we reminded each other how important it is to take each time for ourselves and slow down in order to maintain a sense of peace and presence.  See the post:

Enjoy the deep wisdom of these amazing social impact-driven women. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Milestones, eras, shiftings

It's just us 3 next year...

From my facebook:

So graduation festivities are over and much else has begun, or is in motion. My 3 boys are at this moment in the sky on their way to Holland and the US for the summer, marking the end of an era for our joy-hunting family - chances are high that we will never again all live under one roof as the 4 of us. Single mom of 3 boys is no longer part of my identity, as my first born leaves to live as a young man on his own, in another friggin' country, no less! I will see him again before he takes up residence in the Netherlands, but his stuff is with him in the air now - except his awesome sculpture class work, which just couldn't be packed

It feels milestone-like, happening in the midst of more shifts happening (and asking to happen) at different levels. Only hours after the boys were gone I was coming together back to back with the Evolutionize It Board and my beloved Ci2i Global working group in skype gatherings that felt productive in stabilizing ways. Feeling grateful especially to Alycia de Kraa and Christelle Van Ham and Jean Russell in the roles you played in helping those to go well. Milestones, eras, shiftings.

My own summer intention now is to get a day each in on and, and connect with friends (yoohoo!) for whatever Chiang Mai fun we can find this weekend, before heading 3.5 hours into the mountains for a month on my own at Hester's little house near a meditation center in Pai (a town you can visit in my photo albums). I'll be taking with me some deep thinking and inner listening to do around what my next 2 years in Chiang Mai could look like and what life-magic I might wish for after that.

Then it's off to the US for a graduation trip to NYC with Thomas Haitsma and a reunion time with family in Santa Cruz.

My gratitude to the universe for todays range of experiences and anticipations is lightening my heart enough to bear the inevitable melancholy. But grateful I am, indeed today - at the end of an era - for this one and only life that is mine.

A nice moment in the CMIS graduation ceremony
for Thomas and his class to thank their parents

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My belated birthday wish for a new Life in Africa

My birthday was yesterday, so today I am celebrating the successful launch of my 48th year on this planet, and the re-launch of a crowdfunding campaign for my dear sisters at Life in Africa.

These are some LiA Members who recently learned to grow mushrooms together. They're part of a group of 35 war-affected women who are now urgently seeking funds to help deal with  another forced family displacement.
Please know that your support to this campaign at any level will feel like an invaluable gift to me personally. If I could just give these ladies $15,000 myself, I would. I have known them for 15 years, and they are like sisters to me. They are soon to be homeless and really need the power of their networks to pull through for them now - not to mention that they are a wonderful group and their plan is a good on. This all means I'll be appealing more directly to everyone I know on this one than I normally do.  You're invited to a facebook event page where we can follow and nurture the campaign's progress together thru the campaign's 23 June deadline.

After a recently unsuccessful attempt at raising almost $9,000 toward the Family Transition Center last month, community leaders Grace Ayaa and Peter Ndelo have really rallied this past week to get the campaign back up and running with a lower tipping point of $4000. That lowered amount will at least enable them to buy land. Even if that's all they raise of their total $15,000 goal, they can start out camping together on the land - my Life in Africa sisters and their families will not be completely homeless when the bulldozers come.

If you think about it, $4,000 is such a ridiculously low amount of money, and yet a whole community of lives are at stake. Even the $15,000 total goal they are seeking is small compared to how they can leverage it to serve the enormous need for resources in starting over again after a devastating war. In truth, the LiA ladies always knew they would have to go home someday, and have been preparing for it for years in ways that will help them sustain life in the north once they get started. But now the stone quarry land that this war-displaced group has been living on for 20 years has been sold, and there is unrest among the affected Baganda (Kampala's local tribe) that's becoming increasingly targeted at the war-displaced Acholi families. The question to ask yourself about the Family Transition Center plan is not "is this a good idea?" but "can they hold on until they find the money?"

I am so pleased with and grateful to Peter and Grace, for pulling themselves up to relaunch this campaign right away; to Patty Simonton from for amazing support to the re-launch during her vacation; to my friends who have already contributed in the past 24 hours...

and to YOU for considering this belated but heartfelt birthday wish.

Make whatever pledge you can afford, large or small
(your pledge only becomes a contribution once the $4000 tipping point goal has been reached)

Help share stuff & cheer the campaign on thru June 23