increase Portuguese reading capacity among 2nd and 3rd graders.
Oh Mali, how I still love you...despite your sub-Saharn lands
covered in black plastic "flowers."
While the main purpose of my 10-day trip is to provide technical assistance to the multi-million dollar malaria prevention project I’ve been supporting from the home office back in Washington, you may be wondering why am I really here? How did I begin down this path of international development, hopping among what you laymen would call “third world countries,” travelling to neglected corners of the world where there are open sewers, tropical vector-borne diseases, and where Westerners are advised to even brush teeth with bottled water??
It was gold-hunting from that point on. After our early morning first-aid and breakfast shifts, and before we devoted our evenings teaching English to Calcutta’s slum children, Penny would drag me around town like we were following the new gold rush East. We were treating ourselves to gold after treating leprosy patients, wrapping bug-infested train-related injuries, hand-delivering white bread and boiled eggs to hungry, broken families. And our Indian patients and gold salesmen alike loved Penny for the better because of it, “giving back” to the Indian people and economy with her skillset, warm personality, and wad of cash.
So, what I DID take home from this roller-coaster trip – what is now referred to as the blessed “mother-daughter bonding trip” in the aisles of grocery stores throughout Lafayette, Louisiana – is that wherever you go and whoever you’re with, you can just do you. My mom was her definitive self, across the world on the outskirts of Calcutta, India, fraternizing with anyone she could talk to. Flashing her smile and sweat bib to anyone she came across, playing her favorite game, Scrabble, during monsoon season, and not being ashamed of treating herself to some nice 22K gold after opening her heart to street kids and drug addicts each morning and night. Penny was drinking tea in the back alleys of Sealdah train station and in generator-produced airconditioning of gold parlors the same way she drinks coffee with clients back home, whether they’re buying a $40,000 townhouse or $4M home. And everyone loved her for it.
In thanks, here is the beginning of a new set of blogs. Because, for whatever reason, Mom seems to like these stupid things as much as she likes that 22K gold!