Friday, May 30, 2008

Lalitpur India " A Gallery of Faces"

All of these women are an amazing example of empowerment. It was an incredible experience to see how their lives have changed.

I'm sorry folks I don't know how this picture got in here.

Continuing on our Journey of Understanding through India, we found ourselves in Lalitpur. Lalitpur is located towards the central part of India in a very arid, dry region of India. We took the overnight train from Delhi to Lalitpur, led by Mission Worker Scott Smith (Community Development), who has been serving in India and Nepal for several years. Unfortunately, I did not sleep on the train due to a bad case of Delhi Belly. After a short rest, the health team boarded a couple of all-terrain vehicles and headed out on a dusty road to what seemed like the middle of nowhere. We were on our way to visit three villages that had begun women’s co-ops.

When we arrived at the first village we were surrounded by women of all ages, adorned in beautiful sari’s and eyes that lit up with a smile when we greeted them. Scott was speaking to them in their native tongue “Hindi” and asked them about their progress since his last visit. Scott told us that when he first visited, all of these women had their faces covered by veils and were very shy and submissive. Over time, the women became empowered by working with the women’s group. As the women gained confidence, they began to remove their veils, revealing their faces. You could see the confidence in their faces and in their body language. It was amazing to see what empowerment can do to change one’s outlook in life. India can be a very difficult place, especially if you’re a woman. Culturally, women are not regarded in the highest esteem and are often treated like second class citizens, particularly in the rural regions.

As the women spread blankets on the ground and sat down for a discussion, we learned that they had started a co-op and had begun an income-generating project by selling honey. Three young girls then came out and performed a skit on how to solve problems in the community. It was very encouraging to see the next generation embracing the values and confidence of the women’s group.

The second and third villages proved to be less inclined to participate in the women’s groups. Perhaps this was due to the dynamics within the village or the cultural dynamic with husbands not allowing their wives to participate. In either case, these groups seemed less cohesive and many of the women had veils covering their faces, had minimal eye contact and appeared less confident.

We hope that the women in the first village can serve as an example of what can happen in a community if the members are committed to positive change. By gaining empowerment, the women can begin to take charge of their lives and their own bodies. With increased self-confidence and peer support, they can lead healthier lifestyles and insist on protective measures thereby decreasing their chances of contracting HIV/AIDS.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Shillong India

The illustrious Dr Les Morgan. Les and his family have lived in Bangladesh for the last 18years as mission co-workers for the Presbyterian Church USA. Unfortunately, Les' son has "Ewing Sarcoma" and is receiving treatment in Houston Tx, so the whole family is now in Texas supporting Everett. Les is one of the most compassionate Doctors I have ever seen. He was amazing to watch during our trip in India. He has a special gift of really connecting with people on a deeper level. He also likes to joke and goof around which help lighten some of the sad situations we witnessed. Thanks Les for the wonderful insight and advice you gave me. I'll be praying for your son Everett.

This is a "De addiction" place set up by the Presbyterian Church in Shillong India. We talked to many of the patrons and also the staff running the place. Apparently there is a big alcohol problem in Shillong.
We had several meetings in Shillong with the Church of North India, with people coming from all over India to meet with us. These three gentlemen on the right drove 38 hrs just to visit with us for about an hour and a half. Shillong is up in the mountains up curving, winding roads. WOW!!!
Out in the street in Shillong. Very cold at night. I always pictured India in the stifling heat, but this place was freezing. I was totally unprepared with my clothing.
Hello....... Can't you read, it says "only fooding". It's not like it is a hotel or something!
Visiting the mission hospital. We met and talked with several of the staff and received the Grand Tour.
This is the room they hang dry the latex gloves after they have been cleaned. I wonder what my nurse friends think of this? This is life here. They don't have many options.
One of the many units we visited in the mission hospital. I liked talking to the nurses and I shared a little of my experiences with them as a fellow nurse. They all seemed a little shocked when they found out I was a nurse. It is similar to the states in that there are few male nurses. Even fewer in Shillong.

Some local kids ham it up for the camera during our walk around town. Kids are great!!! You gotta love em!!!

Friday, May 23, 2008


We participated in Sunday service at this beautiful church in Calcutta
This is the PCUSA Health Team
Washing day in the streets.
One of the several beggars that we encountered while on our way out to visit a hospital.
A nice serene stroll by the river.
This unfortunate baby was orphaned shortly after birth. His Mother died of complications and his Father died of AIDS a couple months prior to his birth. He is now in an AIDS hospice called Arunima AIDS hospice. He is only 2months old and will eventually be tested for HIV/AIDS when he is 6months old. Very sad!

This young woman is also a patient and Arunima AIDS hospice. I'm not sure how long she has been there and what her status is.

Walking along the streets of Calcutta you are sure to run into plenty of beggars. So many of them have missing limbs and so many of the children are used as a form of sympathy to get more money.

Calcutta was an incredibly congested and dirty place that was worse than I ever imagined. I've never seen so many people living on the streets in my life. It really makes me appreciate all that I have. I had an incredible opportunity to see another side of India other than the touristed places I've been. It was an eye opening experience. I also saw how truly caring other people can be despite the conditions they live in.

Stay tuned for more posts from my India trip with the PCUSA Health team. Also check out my newsletter at for more stories about India and our life here in Thailand.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Songkran is celebrated every year on April 12-14th. It is basically Thai New Year, but they celebrate it by having a country wide waterfight for the weekend. I think this was incorporated into the festivities because it also is the hottest time of the year. Thai's love to have fun. We however, decided to skip this mayhem and head for the hills. We hiked up a mountain called Doi Khun Than along with 10-12 other families trying to beat the heat and the crowds down in Chiang Mai. Missionary Families have been coming to Doi Khun Than for years and years and it holds a special place in their hearts. It was great to be up in the cool mountains with nothing to do but relax. In fact it was the most relaxing time we've had in Thailand so far. We were able to just sit and read for hours while our kids played with the other kids for hours on end. They were great baby sitters. I almost felt guilty, but then thought, nah!!! We went on hikes, played horseshoes, swung on two tire swings, bonfires with roasting marshmallows,smores, water fights and lots of games. We spent five nights up on Doi Khun Than and loved every minute of it. We think this might be a yearly ritual. Maybe one of the years we will stay in town for the waterfight. We hear it is quite the spectacle to see.