Thursday, January 9, 2014

Characteristics that Make Humanitarian Efforts Exceptional

I found this video explaining how TIFIE a humanitarian non-profit has worked in Africa to help eliminate poverty.  This organization functions differently than other non-profits in that it creates self-sustainable profitable situations.  For example, they help the Congolese create companies that help fund education in orphanages.  People are taught to be self-reliant but they are ALSO taught to donate their profits and talents to help others such as schools and orphanages. 

TIFIE has partnered with Robert Workman, founder of Goal Zero to distribute tools and solutions to the people of Congo.  One of the tools that Goal Zero created is a solar powered charger that provides electricity for various appliances throughout the villages.   Workman explains here that he took on the project when he realized that there weren't any suitable solutions already in the market, so he decided to create his own solar powered charger.

I love these efforts!  The idea of sustainability is something that Care for Life also focused on.  Many organizations come into the African villages with solutions without considering whether or not these solutions are sustainable.  Will the people be able to sustain the solution?  Will they be able to teach it to future generations? Do they understand the solution?  Do they understand the limitations and constraints and side effects of this solution on the individual? on the community?  All of these questions are extremely important if we want to teach a fisherman to fish.  On the flip side, how much are these companies understand the people of Congo?  Do they understand the culture?  Do they understand the traditions?  Do they understand the aftereffects or consequences of introducing these new technologies into such villages?  Is it all good aftereffects or might there also be some negative consequences?  Overall, it just makes me so happy, SO HAPPY, to see that people are helping in sustainable ways and that the Congolese in these villages are finding solutions and feeling empowered.  I especially feel overjoyed to see that the children are reaping a lot of the benefits and that the people are being taught to share their wealth and talents with the future generations of the country.  What a powerful principle to teach! 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Be Still and the Elephants May Begin Speaking To You

It's been a few years since my whole Africa adventure.  This week I went out to the store, and inadvertently met a woman from Malawi.  She was beautiful and it only took me about five seconds to click with her and feel so much love towards her.  Then, later that night I came home and found this video clip, in which Martha Beck, a life coach who works with Oprah, spoke about how to feel more happiness and joy in life.  Her very first point is to Stand Still.  The idea that if we truly listen, there is a higher power that steers us in the right direction and leads us.  She recounted her own adventure in Africa, and how at one given point she felt like the elephants spoke to her.  Immediately I thought of how true that was in my own experience.  Especially because I was still learning Portuguese and all my technology gadgets died, I had no choice, I had to be still.  It's almost impossible not to be still in Africa.  It's that stillness that put me in harmony with myself and with the world around me.  It DID bring me joy.  And I could feel the earth, the people, and the animals speaking to me.  Thinking about Africa again kind of crept up on me.  I've been so worried about other aspects of my life that I'd crowded those sweet experiences out of my mind.  These two encounters made me wonder if perhaps I'm not meant to close the chapter on Africa quite yet.  Perhaps there's still more the elephants need to share with me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Elder Scott Testifies in Mozambique

This post in Prophets and Apostles Speak Today put a smile on my face. I have been lucky enough in my past to have had the opportunity to hear Elder Scott speak in a Q & A completely in Portuguese. I can just imagine how he spoke in Mozambique. He is right, the people of Mozambique are some of God's most precious children on Earth.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Day of Evaluation Completion Has Arrived

I traveled to Mozambique during May 2008. Almost two years later, I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I printed out all 121 pages of the completed evaluation and turned it in to Dr. Williams for review today. This project was huge. I put in so much work, and at times, the work seemed insurmountable. I learned so much from this project. I learned and improved my quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. I learned Portuguese. I learned how to be a better evaluator. I learned that it is important to have good communication with your stakeholders and to create an evaluation plan that takes all the necessary evaluation resources and conditions into consideration. I learned that there are strengths and weaknesses in doing an evaluation as a one man team. I learned how to discipline myself and to keep moving forward even if I didn't know where forward would be. Above all, the most important thing I learned was to love the beautiful people of Mozambique. They brought and continue to bring so much joy and meaning to my life. I will never forget them and I hope this evaluation is a step closer to a better way of life for them.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cellphones in Africa

On the widespread use of cellphones in Africa. One man charges his phone with his car because he has no electricity at home.
Image taken from

Monday, August 17, 2009

One Year Later

It's been a year since I got back from Mozambique. During the last year I have done lots of reflecting on the condition of the Care for Life participants. I also thought about what I could do to help in the best way possible and what I should include in my evaluation report to help those changes happen. I have tried to keep myself updated on the issues and the writing of many people who are also interested in the improvement of non-profits in Africa and I have learned some interesting facts. In addition to my research on non-profits I have learned more about the method of phenomenology and the opportunity of learning from lived experience. One of the greatest eye opening articles I came across was one conducted by the New York Times with Dambisa Moyo a native of Africa who feels strongly against fostering dependence by giving people handouts. She believes in microfinance. This interested me since what she said completely aligned with what the Care for Life stakeholders believe as well. Education is also a great way to help people get out of their current condition. I am so grateful for being led to these answers and I will definitely use them in my evaluation to provide some answer for Care for Life that will hopefully benefit the people of Mozambique, which I learned to love very much.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

From Toilets to Fertilizer

Image retrieved from:

Anecdotal evidence that the environmental toilets used by people in Haiti are creating fertilizer that is helping farmers grow crops.

I love this! I love that people are trying to think of ways to help under developed countries move out of poverty by improving sanitation and agriculture. This exactly where it needs to start!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Proposition 8

Lately there has been lots of talk about Prop 8 in California. This issue is a very controversial issue. Many people are defending rights and feel strongly in favor or against Prop 8. It is rather interesting that if you ask anyone- for or against- that feels strongly about this issue they probably do because they are trying to defend "rights". The problem is that in the name of rights many people are trying to redefine truth. What is truth? Is marriage between a man and a woman the only truth? Who defines truth? Who has the right to define truth? Who has the right to define marriage? I think that we each have the right to seek truth and to find it for our selves. This life is a pursuit of truth. Nobody has the right to redefine truth for everyone. People that think gay marriages are correct have the right to think this way and so do people that think that it is incorrect. The problem is that we are all fighting for "rights" and in so doing we are overstepping each other's right to finding truth. There is only one truth. If 1+1=2 it cannot =3. So what is the truth? and How can we settle this issue?

It took me a while to understand how proposition 8 affected me and why I feel passionately about it. At first, it was simply a matter of politics, but now, after more careful consideration it has become a more personal matter. As I have considered the issue I have thought much about truth and rights. I believe that there is only one truth. God is truth. God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman. He also intended life to be an experience where we come to know God and come closer to knowing truth as individuals and in our own experiences. When we try to redefine truth in the name of rights, we are taking away the rights of humanity to come to know that truth that was redefined. People who are fighting for "rights" of gay marriages are taking away the right for the rest of humanity to come to know truth, for children to grow up knowing that truth that was in existence since before the world came to be, the truth God gives us and that he meant for us to come to know- marriage is between a man and a woman.

I feel very passionately about this because I come from a family in which my mother and father did exceptional jobs with five children (of which I am the eldest). They loved us and each cared for us in the ways God meant them to care for us. Fathers have qualities that allow them to provide and nurture children in a way that mothers cannot. Mothers have qualities that nurture in ways that fathers cannot. Each gender has been endowed with qualities for the job of being a mother or a father. God created our bodies this way and our personalities or inner qualities. If this was not true then God wouldn't have created us the way he did. The family is such a critical unit in our society. It is because of the love that me and my siblings received from my mom and dad that we were all able to come to know the truth for ourselves, to receive peace and joy in our lives, to get an education and to become the people we now are. The happiest moments of my life come from being with my family, serving my family and learning with my family. I believe in the right for all children that come into this world to have that support and stability. I also believe in the right of people to choose for themselves in what they believe to be true. The reason I am blogging about this on my Africa blog is because the mission of the Family Preservation Program which I evaluated this summer in Mozambique is to strengthen families. When the family is strong, the individual is strong, the community is strong, the city is strong, the country is strong.

Aside from all the reasons that have been offered by many on why to vote yes on prop 8, the best reason of all to vote yes is because of your belief in the right to protect truth.

Let us not loose sight of what we really are fighting for. Instead of fighting for rights, lets remember what our founding fathers fought for- they fought for freedom. Freedom to choose, freedom to believe, freedom to seek truth.

For more information visit the following sites: and . There is a group on Facebook named "Invite People to Protect California Marriage" (you can search for it by clicking groups and performing a search and adding it to your facebook groups)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What is Truth and How Can We Come to Know It?

Some of you know my little brother is on a mission in Portugal. He is loving it! He loves the people there. In his last email to the family he wrote this:

I don’t really have too much to say but I will share a spiritual thought. Lately as I have been studying the scriptures of the word of God I understood one of the many things Brother Christensen shares in his talk. I learned a bit about truth. The scriptures state, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). So if we know the truth it will set us free. That is why Satan doesn’t want people to find the truth. D&C 93:24 then reads, “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” So truth is consistent. As they are, were, and are to be. This relates to the plan of salvation and to the stages of live before, now, and after. Then we gain greater insight when we study John 14:6. It says, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life”. So we know that Satan is the father of all lies. And all truth is circumscribed into one great hole. That is it all comes from Christ. So when we know the plan of salvation and you know Christ. You are free. You see Christ is the truth when we know about Christ and His Fathers plan before this life, now, and after life; we are made free. At that point anything can happen as it did to Joseph Smith. But even after his death He was made free because he new the truth and it set him free. He didnt just know about Christ, he knew Christ. There is the difference. Let us not just learn about Christ but come to know Christ.

In response to his post I wrote:

I really like your insight. I've been thinking about truth a lot lately because I am taking a class called Qualitative Inquiry in which we have to give spiritual thoughts. The topic of truth has come up many times, especially now that I am doing my doctorate. I love that through our knowledge of Christ we can come to know truth. Christ is truth. One thing that I have come to understand a lot more in my life lately is that all truth is one. Spiritual truths, scholastic truths, personal truths, they all come together because Christ is truth. And like you said, if we get to know Christ we get to know truth. This has been true as I have progressed in my education here at BYU. The more I learn, the more I feel like I know Christ better. It doesn't just apply to spiritual truths but also to school. I am so grateful to know that in this crazy world where many people claim to say they know truth and where we as humans are limited in our knowledge of truth (because we are limited in our knowledge of God) that we can know that there is one truth, and that even though we don't know it because we don't know Him completely, we can get closer to it by knowing Him. I love that!


It has been some time now since I returned from my trip to Mozambique. I no longer have dreams in Mozambique. Instead I know have dreams of being in Dr. Yanchar's class and learning about pragmatism and positivism. It's quite a difference from one world to the other. I still daydream about Mozambique and all the beautiful things I saw and experienced there. As I'm trying to make sense of life I often use my experience there to inform my philosophies and theories on life, teaching and learning.

Before I continue I would like to thank anyone who contributed to Care for Life as a donation for my birthday. I will continue to seek out ways to encourage people to donate to Care for Life.
Did you know Mozambique has the lowest life expectancy of all nations of the world—only 34 years? It is one of the poorest countries in the world, with over 80% of its people living in
“extreme poverty” (defined as under $1.00 a day). I often ponder these facts as I am on my way to the mall or to the store to get food. Anything you can donate can help alleviate someone's suffering.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to tell people about Care for Life. How lucky we are that we can share our riches with those who are less fortunate! How lucky we are to be able to help. This experience changed my life. I can understand happiness better now.

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's Not Over

So I've been back from Africa for a month. Wow! How fast time flies! I am still having trouble sleeping at night, but I'm so much more grateful about my blessings and so much more involved with people in a selfless sort of way (or at least I'm trying to be). I highly, highly recommend that you go to Africa. It is a singular, life altering experience everyone should have. What many people do not understand about Africa is just how diverse and beautiful it is and just how personable the people are there. So many of you might have thought that my Africa adventure is over. Well, I have news for you. Part 2 has just begun! I am currently figuring out ways to get the word out about this program. I will be hosting charity parties to give people chances to donate and am looking into starting a "Donate Your Computer or Camera to Africa" initiative. Any suggestions or comments on this would be great! I am open to ideas that you might have for me. I believe that the education, technology and Care for Life are and can offer the people in Mozambique can change lives and strengthen families.

I think one of the reasons why I'm still having trouble sleeping at night is just having the knowledge that I am sleeping in a nice cozy bed while there are people in the world suffering things that nobody should be suffering in this day in age with all our technology and knowledge. Much of the poverty is really a lack of selflessness from us who have and who know. It is very easy to get sucked into your life as I have once again been sucked into mine after getting back. With finishing my thesis and beginning my PhD, I am just as sucked into my life as anyone else. Let us not forget the power of stepping out of our own reality and stepping into another's reality. Let us help in any way we can to improve the education and the lifestyle of people less fortunate than us.

If you are interested in learning more about Care for Life and possibly donating please go to Even donating a dollar is a great contribution. If you have change laying around your house, donate it to someone who might not even have a house. That way we can all sleep better at night ;)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye is the hardest part of any adventure. I will miss Mozambique terribly when I get back to the US. Why must all good things come to an end? I am not looking forward to saying goodbye tomorrow. The people here have taught me so much and I am a better person because I got to know them. I hope to come back to Mozambique. I have promised myself that I will never forget this experience and that I will always remember to serve others who have less than I do. I think it is important for each of us to step out of our daily routines each day to experience someone else's reality and to learn how to help them better. This is where real happiness lies.

Pessoas Lindas

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Amazing Technology

It amazes me how technology finds its way into the darkest most poverty stricken places. The sewing machine this man is using is an extremely old Singer. He makes excellent men's collar dress shirts. They looked almost store bought. I was amazed at his talent. This is in the middle of nowhere! No patterns, and very limited materials. The boy in the first pic placed that light above his front door. I asked him how he figured out how to power the light and he said he figured it out on his own. These kids can't even speak Portuguese! They don't read or write, but yet they figured out how to create light powered by a battery on their own! Amazing!

Good Times

This is a picture of us going out to the fields to work with the people in the communities. The second pic is one I took of a scene in the middle of the street. The last pic is of a little school I found. The kids loved the video camera I showed them and the teacher took a picture of us together. I don't think she had ever seen a video camera because I had to teach her how to use it. It was a great technology moment!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Just a Reflection

I took this picture because when I saw this man's feet it reminded me of the story of Jesus washing his disciple's feet. I'm sure he would have washed all of our feet. This trip has truly made the Atonement much more meaningful to me. I can't believe that Jesus took upon him all the calamities and sins and physical infirmities of the world. I just cannot comprehend it, but I am grateful for it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Adventure of My Life!

This was the craziest weekend I have ever had! On Friday night we left Care for Life headquarters to visit the Gorongosa National Park ( . We left home on Saturday at 3am. It was really early. On our way to the park we encountered a car coming the opposite direction from us with only one head light in the fog. By the time we noticed it was a car, we had almost all crashed. It was a close to death experience! Once at the park we started to see animals. Suddenly, we saw a huge elephant that almost attacked us! Then we ran into some people who's car got stuck in the mud. We had to pull them out of the mud trap they were in. Finally, just to top things off, our car died in the middle of this huge wild animal park (with our windows rolled down). We were glad we hadn't seen any lions.... yet. Well, and so we had to stay the night there. No toothbrush, no clean anything, no nothing. It was great! Then in the morning we found out a helicopter was going to take us back to Beira. So we flew in a helicopter! The footage is great. I will show it to you all when I get back. You can't ask for a greater adventure than that!

A Picture's Worth 1000 Words

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Masherua (Means Hi in Sena)

The lady at this house taught me how to make "masa" today. I went into her little kitchen and totally invaded her privacy. I took my camera with me and she was a little embarrased at first since she'd never seen a camera before. Then she started warming up to me when she realized that I was trying to speak her dialect, Sena. I learned a few words in Sena today and the people at the communities love it when I say something in their dialect. The kids call me "Muzungo" which is their nickname for anyone that is white. I'm not white but they think I am. It's really funny to me. The wooden object on the bottom right of the picture is used to pound corn. They use the big stick laying on the ground to pound the corn. I helped them do that today and they loved it!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Life's Simple Pleasures

Many people glamorize traveling, but I must attest that there are hardships that come with it. What amazes me about human beings is that no matter how bad the conditions get, we always find a way of dealing with it. There are many commodities people here don't even know exist, and I have to admit that I haven't really needed them. The only commodity I have been missing a bit is my shower. Here are two pictures (inside view and outside view) of what the people in the communities consider a great shower. Today we woke up to no electricity or water (running or drinking). It was hard getting ready for church under those conditions, but we did it. People here wear the most simple things to church. It definitely is not a "fashion show" or beauty contest. That has been a relief because I centainly am in no condition to enter one of the those at this point of the trip. I am also attaching a picture here of the lizard that lives with us (unwelcomed guest he is). I worry about waking up with a lizard in my bed everyday. So far, so good. So far I have had many encounters with "creatures". I almost stepped on a dead rat the other day, and yesterday I sat down on a step and got ambushed by a swarm of red biting ants. They even got in my hair and I had to get some assistance getting them out. The really funny thing is that I love being here. I love Mozambique. I don't need entertainment, makeup, nice clothes, or any other commodities here because nobody expects them or cares if you have them or not. People here value people. Everyone says hi to everyone on the street. People are extremely nice and peaceful. People enjoy the very basic simple things life has to offer us. In my opinion, there are so many beautiful things we can enjoy in life, but the very best simple thing life has to offer us is our connection as human beings to each other.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Care for Life

Today was a celebration day in Casa Banana (one of the communities Care for Life works with). They completed some of their goals so today they received their prizes. The people celebrated with dancing. The dancing was awesome! The people received cement and roofing to make their little houses better. The really diligent people who completed more goals got chairs and a couple even got skinny versions of what we could consider a mattress. It kills me to see the conditions these people live in. We are so lucky to have a house to live in and food in our stomach.

Where's Waldo?

The people got a kick out of seeing me wear the capulana (skirt) I am wearing in this picture. I still need to go buy a lenso (a head scarf). I'm trying to blend into the crowd but it's harder than I thought. Ha ha! I love being here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Singing and Ridin' Dirty

This is what I woke up to this morning. It was great! This is how the Care for Life staff begin their meetings every Monday and this is how we do transportation in Mozambique... well... that is if you are lucky enough to get to ride on the back of a pickup truck. Otherwise you have to hitch a ride on the local mini vans (which are usually very packed), walk, or ride on the back of someone's old bike. Riding on the back of pick up trucks here is an adventure in and of itself. This camper we are in gets really hot and uncomfortable. One time we saw about thirty people crowd onto the back of a truck. When they jumped off the truck it was like the circus had come to town!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Africa is Beatiful

It is amazing to me how beautiful this place is. Today we went to the Praya Savana. It is a beatiful beach and it was the perfect beach weather. I felt like I was back in California eventhough I was enjoying the Indian Ocean. We took a boat to go out to the island where the beach was. On the way back, when we waited for the boat to take us back, I took this picture of the sunset. It was a testimony to me that God is no respecter of persons. He gave us all, white or black, big or small, healthy or sick, rich or poor, the same beautiful sun to enjoy.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Creativity at its Best

The kids here are very creative with their toys. They find ways of making them. Here are some toys I have seen kids playing with...

The kids are even more creative than the adults! (Picture 1) I love this little wire car. The wheels are made out of soda cans and they turn too! Any of these kids would be happy to own a ball some day. (Picture 2) The little rock toy with the door was full of little insects. I think it's like a little insect farm the kids play with. (Picture 3) A hopeful bike with only one wheel.