Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 304

I'm sorry to have to use my BRONCHITIS/FLU-LIKE conditions as an excuse to stay in and volunteer online - But I promise we'll do better this week amongst our social circle.

I'm due at SHO tomorrow, so I figured I could get away with it.

Like Facebook, MySpace, Linked-In - is an online community. It is the Largest online community empowering people to lead a healthy and green lifestyle while taking action on important causes such as human rights, animal welfare, global warming, etc...

It's what Chandni stumbled upon earlier this year in an effort to make our challenge seamless and practical. I would LOVE for you all to take a few moments and sift through the website, because it's a wealth of information!

In clicking away for sponsors to donate and to save dolphins, baby seals, etc... I was redirected to a website that broke down the importance of living "sustainably".

I've NEVER been one to live green, eat organically, or even maintain a healthy lifestyle - but somehow as we grow older I think we all become aware of us losing time and seek ways to fight to turn the clock backwards.

So if you do find the time, check out the two websites I've highlighted in out blog today - and

Happy Halloween everyone, and find aa way to give back today!

Day 303

Between myself having the flu, Chandni leaving for South Africa, and it being Halloween weekend... We allowed ourselves a break and attended a fabulous charity event this afternoon.

My friend, David, had invited me to a charity flag football tournament last year, and I was simply ecstatic to hear that the event was annual.

The Iron Bred MC hosted its 4th annual charity football game to launch this year’s Juvenile Kidney drive. They collected donations for the "family of our adopted Princess, Little Ms. Serena Ramingum, along with “wearable” clothing to distribute to the Atlanta homeless population as admittance to the game."

David had spoken to us about Serena earlier, as he spoke to us about the event. But to attend the event, and to see a clan of men move mountains and accomplish so much for a little girl moved me.

I'd strolled in just in time to watch Iron Bred play their game (ahem... and lose )=

There were marching bands from local high schools, local radio stations and hosts, a ton of food, and GOOD GOD WERE THERE MOTORCYCLES everywhere!!!!!!

I'd donated a few clothes I'd collected around the house and donated what I could to a very beautiful cause!

Surprisingly, I'd run into a familiar face as well. I'm glad I was joined by Nidhi, who worked with another member of Iron Bred.

We had a phenomenal day, and cannot WAIT till Next October to support them again!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 302

It was a really really really cold night at SafeHouse! I don't know how people living on the streets make it through nights like this one. Many of them had big coats and jackets on, a lot of them were looking at staying at the shelter tonight, but there were still some people who would be sleeping outside - thinking of them tonight and hoping they stay warm through the night.

I hung out with two gentleman who hadn't been at SafeHouse in a long time. The first has found an abandoned home to stay in - he is looking for a job and slowly piecing his life back together. I asked what he's been doing with his time and he said he had been doing a lot of reading. We shared what books we were each reading, made recommendations on what the other should try out, and swapped favorite genres. He is one of those guys who faces the facts, he's realistic, and makes no excuses for himself. I hope he finds his way back to the life he wants, and that his small steps at change make an impact on his life.

The other gentleman shared that he is now off the streets, has a place to stay, a job, food, and clothes. He looked well, and better than the last few times I had seen him. He has always wanted to go back to work, and it seems that life may be coming back together for him. He told me that he did not want to be homeless again, and I'm hoping that is enough motivation to keep him going forward.

I spent some time talking to a lot of the regulars, most conversations were just "check-ins" since I'd been there twice this week already. I helped some people get different items that they needed, talked to one younger gentleman about controlling anger, joked around with the other volunteers, handed out tickets at the end of the evening, and had too much fun!

I'll definitely miss going there every few days, but I'll be back and will have lots of catch up conversations next time!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 301

It was another night full of conversations at SafeHouse! There were conversations about the weather, the aquarium, relationships, ginger beer and basketball.

I spoke to one gentleman about what he has been working on. He is helping people learn how to play golf and he shared that this is something he is really excited about. He is one of those guys who sets goals and finds creative ways to reach those goals. We always have great, positive conversations!

Looking forward to spending more time there tomorrow evening! For now, fun times with the family :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 300

It's been an amazing day of giving! And I can't believe we're at Day 300!!! Time is flying by.

I was finally able to go back to SafeHouse this evening and had such a good time catching up with everyone. I plan on doing that for the next two days before I take off for a month :)

Hema also volunteered this afternoon through her work. Here's what they got up to:

"Today was a great day to be a employee at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. With the help of Atlanta Challenge Team Building, not only were we able to identify the behaviors of optimum teamwork, but we were also able to give back to our community. We started out by being divided into 4 teams: Gold Team aka Silent but Deadly, White Team aka Sons of Anarchy, Blue Team aka GPG, and the Green Team aka Superstars. The objective of the team building event was to complete a series of challenges to retrieve bicycle parts. After completing all the challenges and gathering the parts, we had to assemble the bicycle. The bicycles that we built then would be donated to the Georgia National Guard, who then would donate it to a child who has a mother or father in the armed forces.

All of the challenges that we completed today were tough, but very entertaining and interactive. All the teams completed all the challenges and successfully retrieved all the parts. As for the winner, I would say that the Gold Team won, but I am sure that the others teams might not agree :). The Green Team believes that were certain managing members of the Blue Team that might have swindled their way to get ahead. The Blue Team believes that they were just smarter and that they outwitted not only the Green Team, but all the teams. The White Team believes that they were awesome just because they were the Sons of Anarchy. Lastly, the Gold Team was the best because they had the best assembled bicycle with the most accessories. At the end of the day, the real winners were the kids. The Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead was able to donate 4 bicycles today and we are so glad that we could be apart of a great community event!"

 It's amazing that a company sponsored an event like this and got their staff involved - it makes giving back that much more fun!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 299

Happy Diwali!!

Dona hung out at SafeHouse this morning  - details coming soon!

We've been writing letters for the Bert Show's Big Thank You. On the show this morning they said that they had less than 200,000 letters (their goal is 400,000), so I decided to continue the letter writing to help, in my small way, to get them to their goal. I've written a handful and it reminds me how much I have to be grateful for :)

I also took a few moments to visit care2 and go through their click to donate tabs. That's all for today! Hanging out at SafeHouse tomorrow :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 298

Some days it feels like there just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done, today was one of those days! I returned to the Amnesty International website to write letters for human rights:

  • The first was to urge Syrian authorities to give strict and clear instructions to all public and private hospitals to accept and treat all wounded patients without delay. Also to ensure health professionals are allowed to perform their duty of attending to persons with medical needs or to exercise their right to freedom of expression or other peaceful activities without fear of arbitrary arrest and detention.
  • The next was to demand basic services and human rights for Kenyans living in informal settlements. On September 12, an explosion ripped through a Nairobi slum, killing hundreds of people. It was a horrific scene of destruction that showed the insecurity of daily life for Kenyans in poverty, who live without basic services and sanitation. Worse still, slum residents can be forcibly evicted from their homes at any time by the government, as they did last year in Kabete, leaving hundreds of families homeless and with no way to earn a livelihood. 
  • I then wrote to protect the basic rights of an Iranian actress. Marzieh Vafamehr was sentenced to one year in prison and a flogging of 90 lashes in connection with her appearance in the film My Tehran for Sale. It is unclear what the exact charges against her were. Several other members of Iran's film community, including actors and film makers, have been arrested in recent months, while Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof have been sentenced to six years in prison and bans on their artistic activities.
  • Last one I wrote was to stop forced evictions in Serbia. Roma people living in informal settlements in Serbia are being forcibly evicted from their homes without any form of legal protection. Many people affected by the displacements become trapped in a vicious circle, forced to move from one settlement to another, and denied basic human rights, including adequate housing, employment, healthcare and education.
That's all for today! Happy Giving!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 297

Out of town for the day so I volunteered virtually by visiting

I stuck to English vocabulary and remembered most of the words from previous times I have tried them. I donated 2500grains of rice in 30minutes.

Amnesty International mailed out a petition to sign, so I signed and mailed out:
  • in support of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which demands basic human rights for children and an end to global violence against children.
Lastly, wrote a final letter for the Bert Show's Big Thank You! Mailing them all out tomorrow :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day 296

It has been a wonderful and exhausting weekend and I loved every minute of it! I ended the weekend with an evening at SafeHouse. It's amazing how much energy I get from going there, no matter how tired I am, being there is re-energizing, tonight was definitely one of those nights.

I had a conversation with two gentlemen who really showed me the power of giving. It's starting to get colder and each of them, this weekend, gave away a coat to people who had no warm clothes. They both told me that they just needed one, happened to have an extra, and so gave it to someone else who was really in need. It continues to amaze me - they give when they barely have yet we sometimes find it so hard to give when we have so much.

Once service started most people went in to escape the cold. I put away chairs, cleaned up the lot and then got back to my basketball lessons. The gentleman teaching me is so encouraging! I am actually getting the ball in more times than not - today's lesson was all about technique.

After service I handed out tickets, had a few quick conversations: caught up with the gentleman who used to talk to me about the stock exchange, he is now considering starting a business; spoke to the gentleman who talks to me about his relationships and he gave me the latest on his situation. I ended the night with my cleaning buddy - we cleaned the lot and the street and enjoyed a catch up conversation.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day 295

At the finish line
Life's about reaching out, making connections, and supporting our community in positive ways.

Today, we were able to do just that.

Monica Tucker, a friend, reached out to us a few months ago to join her in the ALS Atlanta Walk, because the disease hit so close to home (ALS is a motor neuron disease that gained much notoriety when Lou Gehrig first brought national and international attention after being diagnosed. The cause of ALS is not completely understood (we know that it's a genetic mutation), therefore much work needs to be done to find a CURE). For more info - click here.

We didn't have to think twice, and we responded immediately with enthusiasm! From our perspective, we were honored that Monica would reach out to us. We were ecstatic to be able to make our efforts to give back relevant within our social circle.

To our fabulous surprise, Fay and the BFF's for MS, saw the opportunity to reach out to us and support us during our time of need as well!

I was happy to have Fay connect with Monica, because she was able to alleviate some of the apprehensions behind joining a walk and raising money to meet a monetary goal.

Between Chandni, Jiten, Hema, LaBlanc, Fay, Cecilia, Inga, and myself - we chatted and joked our way through the 2.5miles and joined Monica and her friend Divya at the Finish Line!

The weather was beautiful, and although we'd both been out and about last night till the wee hours in the morning, we came with a level of energy that matched that of over .. ummm... well, hundreds of people!

We're doing it again next year, everyone AND we're doing it BIG. Please come out and support us, help us support you, and let's make for one big, happy, hippie, family!

Enjoy the rest of this fabulous day!
Happy GIVING!!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 294

Each night I go to SafeHouse I feel like I don't have enough time there! There were so many discussions to have, it was amazing, as always!

My evening started with catching up with the gentleman who talks to me about cars. Then I had some basketball lessons - I'm surprising myself with the coordination! The gentleman teaching me also gave me some basic rules on playing basketball and showed me some different techniques. As the lot got a little more crowded I left to let the guys play some real ball.

I spoke with a gentleman I had not talked to before. He is such a sweet person! He is from Macon and used to work for the post office. He has been in the city for a while, is currently trying to figure out his SSI (with the help of an awesome volunteer) and is looking to get back to work very soon.

I had some wonderful, quick catch up conversations - one gentleman told me he just got offered a job! I am soooo excited for him; he'd been looking for a while and he seems really focused on getting back on his feet. I hope this works out for him!

After a wonderful evening of giving, I'm looking forward to a night in the city at my favorite spot :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 293

I have a full day today, so I am doing my giving first thing this morning. I visited Amnesty International and wrote letters for several different human rights issues:

The first was to stop the execution of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani who converted to Christianity at age 19. Freedom of religion is a basic human right guaranteed by internationally recognized human rights conventions to which Iran is a state party. I wrote to urge that any death sentence against Mr. Nadarkhani for choosing to peacefully express his religious faith be overturned.

The next was to release Maikel Nabil Sanad a 26-year-old Egyptian blogger who was sentenced on April 10 to three years in prison by a military court for charges related to criticisms he posted on his Facebook page.He is a prisoner of conscience arrested solely for the peaceful expression of his views so I wrote to ask that the government immediately and unconditionally release him. 

I think I have written in support of this one before, but it is one that I think is very important and would have a huge impact in the country. In 2005, Zimbabwe evicted 700,000 people from informal settlements. As a result, an estimated 222,000 children had at least some part of their education disrupted. Families were rendered homeless, poverty increased due to lost income earning potential resulting in an inability to pay school fees, and in some areas schools were demolished. So I wrote again to demand education as a human right in Zimbabwe.

The last one for this morning was to ask that former President Jean-Claude Duvalier faces trial in Haiti.  He returned unexpectedly in January 2011, after 25 years in exile. It is incumbent upon Haitian authorities to ensure that he faces a trial after being charged with embezzlement and crimes against humanity. Between 1971 and 1986 under his presidency, hundreds of Haitians, journalists, trade unionists and political opponents were forcibly disappeared or extrajudicially executed, tortured and arbitrarily detained or forced into exile. His crimes must be investigated to ensure that justice is done.

Fighting for human rights - the perfect way to start my day and make an impact! Hope you all have a good Thursday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 292

It was a cold day in the city! And the room was packed for service at SafeHouse with people trying to get a break from it. I started off my evening there with a conversation with the gentleman who loves cars. We talked a little about car colours and keeping your car clean. He then told me his dream car was an Aston Martin, which he described in detail :)

I had another conversation about the impact of technology on our social skills. This gentleman shared his views that people are becoming less interested in meeting other people face to face and that the norm now is to text,email, or facebook our friends and family members. He also shared a story about his ten year old son texting him instead of talking to him on the phone.

While service was on I hung out on the lot with people who couldn't make it inside because it was so full. There were a lot of catch up conversations; one of the guys just got back from visiting his family so we talked about his time with them. Its amazing how spending time with people you love relaxes you; he looked relaxed, refreshed, and had tons of positive energy!

After service we handed out tickets to the shelter, chatted to people as they got ready to leave, cleaned up the lot and called it a night!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 291

Its been a long day and I am exhausted! Thank goodness for!

I went through all the click to donate tabs; signed petitions to end hunger, save children, assure healthcare for pregnant women in prison, and to regulate pesticides in our waterway.

I then went to the and went through all their click to donate tabs.

Hope some of you have a better day of giving, looking forward to SafeHouse tomorrow :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 290

Today's giving was through

My first challenge was for Nourish America, an award-winning national charity that empowers Americans in need by improving their health and well-being with nourishing foods and nutritional supplements. Their challenge was for ideas on how to raise funds and spread the word on their mission. 

The next was for the Foundation for Agricultural and Rural Resources Management and Sustainability (FARRMS). They just redid their website and wanted feedback on the's actually pretty cool!

The last one was for Playworks SLC - they energize recess at public schools, teach conflict resolution and leadership through games, and support amateur sports.They needed info on how to set up a 5k race.

I also wrote another Thank You letter for troops overseas - taking a moment to think about each letter I write gives me a whole lot of things to be grateful for :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day 289

Service at SafeHouse was canceled so I resorted to for today's giving. I dabbled in humanities for a while before I realised that my correct answers weren't getting me anymore rice! So at 980 grains I had to stop and get some assistance from Jiten - he is the fixer of all technical difficulties.

After switching browsers I moved on to English vocabulary and donated 1500 grains of rice before my game froze on there. So I stopped at 2480 grains of rice and Jiten donated 2000 grains of rice.

It's been a wonderful week of giving! I'm on the road again so more virtual volunteering coming up.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 288

What an adventure this morning has been!?! My directionally dysfunctional self took to the streets of Atlanta ALONE to deliver meals for Open Hand. So of course there was a lot of getting lost, going around the same building a couple of times, looking at directions and still being in the wrong place, calling gate codes at the wrong apartment complex, but it was so worth it because my route had some fun stops.

My stops were downtown, around Auburn Ave and Decatur Street. I got to chat with most people about the weather and their plans for the day (one lady was headed out to rehearse with her choir). I made friends with people who lived in the same building and were sitting outside soaking up some sun. There was one gentleman who I almost missed delivering a meal to because he was hanging out with his buddy in another apartment, but his neighbors told me where I would find him and I was able to deliver his meal.

I eventually made it back, on time surprisingly! A big feat for someone who can't even tell left from right without looking at my hands :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 287

Another SafeHouse evening...I started off talking to the gentleman who I always clean the lot with. He spends a lot of time looking stuff up at the library so we had a lot to talk about: the weather, Africa, global warming, growing up in New York, growing up in Botswana. He talked some about the holidays and how people sometimes get depressed around the holidays. We talked about our shared fear of heights and swapped our horror stories.

While service went on I talked to a gentleman who is indecisive about moving to another city to start over. We talked about where he would go, the pros and cons of each location and of moving in general. I asked about what he would do there and the barriers that kept him from doing the same here. He explained that being in a new place might make him more open about trying opportunities that he would normally pass up here. By the end of the conversation he sounded more sure about moving and so we went on to discuss how he needed to prepare to move.

The rest of the night was made up of quick catch up conversations while handing out shelter tickets. A good end to the week :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 286

I hung out with one of the ladies at SafeHouse today. She had all kinds of stories to tell me! She caught me up on which couples are arguing, who's doing what, and her opinion of others. We then talked about her primary concern right now - housing. She told me she was hoping to find something soon because she does not want to have to sleep outside this winter. We talked about her options and she said there was a church group also helping her out, so hopefully she'll be indoors in a few weeks!

While service went on one of the guys showed me how to shoot hoops (I got 4/6 in  - I was ecstatic!). Once service ended I handed out tickets for the shelter and had quick conversations with people as they left. Back there tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 285

This year has been all about giving. It's up there on my list of priorities. But my first priority is, and always will be, my family because that's where I think giving truly starts. And so today, as on many occasions, my family made it to this evening's event, and it was a wonderful feeling to have them give with me!

We attended the monthly 11 for 11 SafeHouse fundraiser at Tin Lizzy's in midtown. We had the usual great conversations, lots of laughter, and a fun, relaxed evening. I got to meet an awesome SafeHouse staff member who told me about the Teen Mentor program they offer. It is a year long mentoring program for teen mothers where they learn valuable life skills. She shared some stories about some of the teens and it sounds like an amazing program. I shared some thoughts on maybe providing work/internship experiences to help them choose careers/educational goals. We talked about different ways to bridge the gap between SafeHouse and the larger community.

I am so used to just seeing the nightly impact service (which will probably always be my favorite), but its refreshing to sit down and hear about some of their other programs. All donations go towards keeping these many programs running. Visit if you would like to make a donation. If you'd like to donate items, there's always a need for: socks, water bottles, hygiene kits, disposable razors, deodorant, hand sanitizer, gloves, blankets, coats, umbrellas, and ponchos. So many ways to make a difference :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 284

Well...tonight was interesting. I attended the 'ATL Live at the Park' event at Park Tavern. The event was held to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the promoters as well as Park Tavern did a fabulous job to promote awareness...on paper.

The staff were dressed in pink, there were performers, and they had specialty drinks, of which 50% was donated to support the charity. And my was that chocolate covered strawberry martini amazing!!! However, the event left me with a little something to be desired. For the entrance fee we paid at the door it was a slight let down. The atmosphere wasn't very welcoming and it was more an event for friends and not newcomers.

I had expected a little more warmth and a welcoming attitude from the hosts of the event, especially since they had reached out through social media. While I respect the organization, the event, and the intent of this evenings event I would definitely do one thing differently. From the few events we've hosted I think it is important to have an actual host to greet, welcome, and mingle with the guests. It makes a huge difference!

I stepped out of my box tonight and I was slightly disappointed. I will, however, continue to support these events and hope to be able to use these experiences to be aware of and grateful for the support we receive when we host such events. That being said, I wish the event planners much success tonight. They worked hard to put this event together and they deserve our support for their noble cause. Good luck to them! And good luck to YOU! Support your community, support your cause. Happy giving!!
~ Dona

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 283

I took advantage of the Columbus Day holiday and went to volunteer early this morning. I made it back to Books for Africa - Jiten has been going here a lot more than I do, so I figured I'd go back :)

We had a small group of about five volunteers this morning. But the staff there were still so thankful that we would choose to volunteer first thing on a Monday morning. He gave the usual tour and info about what they do and then we got to unpacking and sorting books. I worked on a pallet of college level books, most of them were computer programming books, but I had a few other subjects too. It was an easy sort especially since I didn't have to figure out the grade level. I ended up staying a little later than scheduled so I could finish off my pallet.

I enjoyed volunteering there this morning, and prefer the smaller volunteer groups here because it doesn't get too chaotic. Hopefully I'll get to go back soon!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 282

Conversations about relationships and advice on dating; discussions about books, the classics, Shakespeare; movies - sometimes they capture the details of a book, but most times they don't; music - old school versus music today, lyrics, early rap; we talked about children, discipline, and raising kids in today's society; ended the evening with a conversation on good deeds. All of this with people who are homeless and were at SafeHouse for the evening. Some of the best conversations happen out on this lot!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 281

The weather was just perfect for about 200 or more ATLiens to "Influence Culture through LOVE in action"!

Chandni and I had the opportunity to join Drew Benton and an amazing group of people at yet another Project Live Love Event.

This time around, however, we had the opportunity to lead a project at SafeHouse Outreach. Our group of 20 people from Echo ministries were absolutely fantastic.

We rallied at The Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta, and then headed over to Safehouse with soup and socks. While some of the group stayed behind to cook and setup, most of the group went out to gather people from local parks around SafeHouse.

We did things a little differently at SHO today - instead of serving the meals out on the parking lot, we set up tables inside! Our group had set the tables and even brought these beautiful orange roses! We served soup, chips, and water. We talked to everyone, and had great conversations from video games to favorite football teams!

We did good. We had fun. And everyone walked away with just a little more understanding of how a simple conversation and just a little kindness can elevate someone's entire day!

We look forward to seeing you guys at the next Project Live Love Event on January 7th!

Happy Giving Everyone!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 280

I spent a couple of hours at SafeHouse today and had a good evening of conversations. I caught up with one gentleman and we chatted about the weather, global warming, polar bears, and cars; he told me that if he had the money he would build a place for the polar bears to live and that he would take care of them :)

I spoke to another about relationships and priorities. He also shared gun laws of different states and talked about the effects of drugs and cigarettes. He always has an interesting story to share and today was no different.

I spent the rest of the evening talking to some of the regulars and getting more letters written.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 279

Another day of virtual volunteering on

I visited the click to donate section and signed off on today's most popular petitions:
  • to end the sale of animal-tested cosmetics in the EU
  • stop the GOP war on planned parenthood
  • to help stop the hunger crisis in Africa
I also went to the to visit their click to donate section. Clicks on the hunger tab help fight famine in the Horn of Africa and combat hunger in the US; on the breast cancer tab they help fund free mammograms for women in need; on the animal tab they help fund food and care for rescued animals; on the veterans tab they help fund meals for hungry and homeless veterans; on the autism tab they fund therapy to help children with autism; on the child health tab they fund healthcare for children in need; on the literacy tab they fund free books for children in need; and on the rainforest tab they fund the protection of vital wildlife habitat. 

That's it for tonight! Happy giving :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 278

Back on the road and giving back however I can. I started with writing my thank you letter for the Bert Show's Big Thank you. I then visited Amnesty International and wrote some letters for human rights.

We sometimes take our access to education for granted. But not everyone has the same easy access that we do. In 2005, Zimbabwe evicted 700,000 people from informal settlements. As a result, an estimated 222,000 children had at least some part of their education disrupted. Families were rendered homeless, poverty increased due to lost income earning potential resulting in an inability to pay school fees, and in some areas schools were demolished. Amnesty International believes Zimbabwe’s mass removal of citizens from settlements where they had access to education, and the subsequent failure to provide for the children’s education, amounted to a deliberate violation of individual rights.

In 2009 Australia endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a commitment to its Indigenous People. However, the Australian government plans to strip funds from homeland communities. Traditional homelands are home to nearly one-third of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. Research shows that with proper services people can be healthier, live longer and contribute valuable work on homelands, all with their identity and connection to the land intact. Yet the government's policy of stripping funding from essential services will effectively force people into hub towns and cities.  

The last letter was to help stop the harassment of Syrians abroad. Syrian authorities’ crackdown on dissent is not just confined to Syria. Syrian peaceful protesters in other parts of the world have also been systematically monitored and harassed by embassy officials and others believed to be acting on behalf of the Syrian regime.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 277

I had an amazing night at SafeHouse! I dropped off socks, caught up with some people, got some more letters written and got some promises of letters on my next visit.

Spent most of the night talking with one gentleman about the retreat I just got back from, mindfulness and meditation, nature and beautiful places. We also talked about services provided to people who are homeless, whether it be assistance with housing or getting a child into a school that works with them and their circumstance. There's one young boy in particular that I always see - he has been raised on the street and has not been in school. It's not too late to help turn his life around but there are so many barriers to cross in order to do that, including his family. So the cycle of homelessness, in this particular family, will likely continue. How do we make a difference? How do we, as a society, help?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 276

I'm back from retreat, feeling completely relaxed, and hoping to be more mindful :)

Started off the week with a visit to SafeHouse. I started the evening in a long conversation with a gentleman who told me about his relationship with his fiance and with his son. We talked about friendship and love, and he talked about how difficult it is to define love. He also shared that he is getting closer to being able to go home, hopefully that works out for him!

I also saw a gentleman from my early days at SafeHouse - hadn't seen him since about April/May, so that was a pleasant surprise. He filled me in on how he has been doing and shared that he joined a three month program and that he has been focusing on school. We talked about burn out and keeping boundaries when working in a social science type field.

I also spent some time asking some of the guys to write letters to troops for the Bert Show's Big Thank You. Hoping to get a few more over the next two weeks.

A big thank you to everyone for covering while I was away!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 275

Today is Chandni's last day out to town. She returns tomorrow - YAY!!! We have missed her so much!
We did another day of virtual volunteering today. Jiten and I played free rice through out our day, while watching football. Jiten donated a total of 4800 grains of rice while brushing up on some of math and english skills, while I donated 6500 grains of rice while playing math, english, french, and some chemistry. 

A total of 11300 grains of rice in just a couple of hours!!

90 days to go.....

~ Hema

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day 274

A local radio station in Atlanta is doing a project called Bert Show's Big Thank You and we decided to participate. The radio station is trying to collect 400,000+ hand written letters of thanks so that every 
single soldier stationed or deployed outside the United States can receive a letter of gratitude on Thanksgiving Day. Since the soldiers are away from family and friends during the holiday season, we hope that the letters we wrote will bring some holiday cheer to their faces. They are risking their lives everyday so that we can have an easier life back here in the US.  If you would like to help and please visit for details. Lets help them reach their goal of 400,000 letters. :)

So today we planned on having all the kids over but due to having back to back soccer games. So we had to change up the plans.

It was just Shini and I who colored. We made a couple cards for the troops. It is an easy way to give back and to teach kids to give back. Although her friends couldn't make it they were looking forward to it. I told some of the parents to do it with their kids.

Hopefully next week we can get all the kids together to do the cards!

~ Giselle