Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kafakumba Kitchen

Lunch at Kafakumba

The Kafakumba Center cooks lunch every day for its 114 employees at this site. When I think of the well-appointed cafeterias in American companies—even the kitchens in local church basements—I know we American women have it made. The half dozen ladies of the Kafakumba Kitchen are amazing. Their stoves are ground-level braziers filled with hot coals. Their roundness balances large or small cooking pots; their temperatures are controlled by the heat of the coals or the position of the pot. One smells all kinds of wonderful things cooking: there is always a large pot of “sheema” going—or maybe the boiling water in preparation for the white corn powder that will be stirred in to make a thick porridge. A second brazier may hold cooking cassava greens, beans, or meat. A third fire heats the teapot, a must in this part of the world.

Much of the morning is given to preparing the relish—greens such as pumpkin, rape, Chinese Cabbage, or cassava, tomatoes, onions, peppers--or maybe beef, chicken, or fish. Everything is prepared fresh, I have seen no cans. Not just fresh, the leaves are smashed in a large mortar and pestle standing on the ground. The sheema requires a large pot of boiling water and a large bag of ground white maize. Two women with large paddles (about the size of small oars) move around the pot in a rhythmic stirring that resembles dance. The sheema emerges after quite a long time as a very thick porridge that people shape into balls with their fingers and eat with the accompanying relish. Creating these little balls is quite an art form, it takes place so quickly in only one hand you hardly notice it.

The ladies’ work is not done when lunch is finished. The clean up is punishing. Large shiny pots cooked over a fire require a lot of elbow grease to keep shiny. Squatting in the dirt, the women keep a little pan of water and a bar of soap handy. Mostly, though, they gather up dirt in their fingers and scrub the pots with the dirt in their hands. A final dose of clean water reveals a sleek reflection and the pan is spotless. Add to that, the washing of 114+ plates, bowls, and cups in the one sink and you have a day’s work. But no, the women continue, cleaning tables and scrubbing floors on hands and knees. They probably go to bed at night and dream about cassava leaves and sheema and doing it all over again tomorrow.

The CROCS have it

The Crocs have it

We were at the shanty compound called Walale, making a visit to the feeding program of the local group of Franciscan Sisters. The room was dark and the smell of fish cooking, along with the acrid smell of sweat, confirms that one is in a very poor place. A woman pulled on my shirt and smiled as she pointed to my shoes. I looked down and saw two pair of Crocs—hers and mine. We shared little else, but we did share the same kinds of shoes.

I began looking around and lo and behold, I saw brightly colored Crocs on any number of feet—adults and children. When I think Crocs, I think Colorado, free spirits, comfort, gardening shoes—but not the abject poverty of Walale. Our Crocs were Alan’s and my Christmas gifts to each other, given for their comfort and what would prove to be enormous practicality in a Zambian rainy season. But these Crocs on so many callused feet? They were the gift of the Foundation associated with the Crocs corporation. They came by the container full to Africa and Sister Josephine gave them freely to hundreds in these shanty compounds. I wonder if the workers at Crocs even know of this generosity or if they could imagine the dusty brown feet that found shelter from ground parasites by wearing their shoes.

Rains cause flooding

I received this information from United Methodist sources regarding the rains in Southern Africa. You will note that Zambia is mentioned in the article as having declared a national disaster due to flooding. I haven't spoken here about the torrential rains we have been experienceing, but they are more than gully-washers. They are simply the heaviest and longest periods of rain we have ever seen. We hear them on our tin roof, especially at night. As rivers flood, roads become impassable, mosquitos flourish, we know that even a good thing like rain can be a problem in its excess. Remember those affected by the rains.

Heavy Rains Displace Thousands in Southern Africa

Torrential rains that began Christmas Day in Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe continue to force thousands from their homes in southern Africa, according to UM leaders in those areas. Flooding in Mozambique has particularly affected UM churches in Chemba, Buzi, Save, and Nova Mambone.
The UM Committee for Relief (UMCOR) is working with Action by Churches Together and the Mozambique UMC to assess needs and develop a plan of action. UMCOR will address the immediate humanitarian concerns as well as long-term recovery needs.
Urgent support is needed for the communities of Buzi, Chemba, Caia, and Machanga where many UMs live, according to the Rev. Jacob Jenhuro, director of the North Mozambique Conference Council on Ministries. Jenhuro said the government of the Sofala Province reported that 1,843 were evacuated in Buzui, 4,000 in Chemba,
2,313 in Caia, and 1,055 in Machanga.
“There are still reports of torrential rains in our neighboring countries,” said Ezequiel Nhantumbo, a representative of the UM Mozambique Initiative, an outreach of the Missouri Annual Conference. “Zambia, a country sharing the same Zambezi River, has declared national disaster due to floods. This river will still pump a lot more water downstream, worsening the already deteriorated situation of the people of Sofala, TeTe, and Zambezia provinces,” he added.
To aid emergency relief efforts, contributions can be made to “Mozambique Emergency,” UMCOR Advance #156500. –– A UMNS report, information supplied by the United Methodist Missouri Mozambique Initiative, UMCOR, and the Rev. Jacob Jenhuro

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Story of Artemisia


For those who are interested in natural medicines, tropical Africa can be a fascinating place. For one, the most horrific diseases prey on impoverished and immune-deficient people. For another, the abundant array of plants yields healing substances for many. This morning old friends of the Enright family (former missionaries from Switzerland) passed through on their return from Congo and held a lesson in raising Artemisia. Gathered around on the verandah were a university professor, shop manager, minister, German missionaries involved in an AIDS project, a variety of Kafakumba employees and the presenters, Rolland and Monica Baumann.

Artemisia is a plant whose leaves yield high levels of a substance found to be effective in the actual treatment of malaria. Drunk regularly in smaller doses in a tea, it has also been found effective against many other illnesses; its immune-boosting properties also help halt the progress of HIV/AIDS. The Baumann’s carefully explained the painstaking process of growing, harvesting, and propagating the plant, as well as how to process, store and make tea from its crushed leaves. Kendra boiled up some water and we all got to taste a sampling of the green brew. It smelled very green and tasted extremely bitter—after all it is medicine. The Baumann’s drink the tea regularly and no longer need sugar to mask its bitterness.

John instructed some of his workers to begin the process of planting a small amount of Artemisia in tiny peat cups, later to be transferred to a test plot. Loamy peat, plenty of natural fertilizers (chicken manure), a close water supply, and sunshine could make this a successful project. Hopes are that Artemisia could be grown along with Aloe Vera to provide these as food supplements both commercially and locally.

For more information about tropical immune boosters and natural medicines (such as Artemisia, Aloe Vera, Amaranth, Morenga, and others) go to Anamed--Action for Natural Medicine—is a European group of medical professionals, scientists, humanitarians, and others who are working to develop natural/herbal remedies from common plants, especially for use in the Developing World. You may be interested in the book “Natural Medicine in the Tropics,” by Dr. Hans-Martin Hirt and Dr. Kieth Lindsey, printed by Druckerei Bauer.
Even for this complete novice, the topic was enormously interesting, and I intend to check out the website. When one realizes how malaria and AIDS are simply devastating the people of Africa, it is hopeful to know that some of the plants that surround them could be used also to heal them.

Enough Already

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Today I am joining the Zambians in saying this about all the rain: enough already! In what seems to be the rainiest January in memory, people are grumbling about the excessive amounts of rain that fall continually. In one cloudy day after another, one gully washer after another, life just slogs on amidst the mud. That roads don’t become absolutely impassable is a miracle. People put great faith in their vehicle’s ability to somehow make it through—or their own abilities to find a path or pull themselves out of a morass of mud, water, ruts, and holes if all else fails. These are very optimistic drivers.

But the rains do more than make roads impassable. They herald the birth of lots of mosquitoes, who in turn carry the threat of malaria. Striking 36 million every year, malaria is a fact of life here. We are fortunate: Our house is fitted with screens. We have nets over our beds. We carry an insect repellant with us. We take a malaria preventative regularly. We stay inside after dark, and if we do go out we have the luxury of driving. We have access to good healthcare and to expensive drugs for treatment. We are healthy, well-nourished, and have strong immune systems. We are privileged. But the rains bring the real threat of malaria to those for whom poverty is their daily companion. Although bed nets are an important part of malaria prevention, it is easy to see that the disease is really more complex than that. Its roots in the conditions of poverty are much more difficult to address. Perhaps it’s why we are so fascinated by the work going on at Kafakumba—the creation of jobs that lift people from the misery of poverty, the life-giving emphasis of raising aloe vera and Artemisia to strengthen weak immunities, the strengthening of community, the continuing search for a way to provide regular healthcare in the local village of Baluba.

These are my thoughts today as the rain continues to pour upon the tin roof. The din made holding church today impossible—the noise makes it too hard to hear. We have spent the day quietly-- reading, walking, preparing lunch. Tonight we will join others for a hymn-sing in the Enright living room. We will return to our cottage, tuck the mosquito net in tightly around us, and sleep well. I wish the same for the villagers of Baluba.

What's a Braai?

What’s a braai?

The back of the bottle of Knorr’s creamy ranch-style dressing says this: “Texan style! Bring adventurous American Ranch spirit to South African braiis. Top your burgers or steak with Knorr Creamy Ranch dressing and drizzle generously over hot chips. Yee-hah!!!!” Yes, there are four exclamation marks after that last word. So what’s all this hyperbole about? And what in the world is a braai?

The dressing is pretty good, but I think the exclamation marks are over the top. However, a braai is a really good thing. Pronounced bri--with the i being long—it is simply the (Afrikaans-based) South African term for a barbecue, or cook-out. We went to our first one Saturday night. Jay-Jay, Kafakumba’s South African director of the woodworking businesses here, had the Enright family and us over for a braai South African style. Their home is located in a very beautiful setting, with a long lane edged in Jacaranda trees, a wide front lawn, a welcoming verandah, and surrounding flowering trees and bushes. The grill was hot and we smelled the succession of chicken, beef, and sausage being cooked. Inside, Jay-Jay put his hand to creating a beautiful fresh salad (feta cheese and huge olives are popular here), arranging Kendra’s potato salad in a bed of parsley, heating the fragrant loaf of fresh bread. The table was set elegantly with china and very tall stemmed crystal. All together, the atmosphere was sumptuous. In the setting of their South African styled home, the effect was simply beautiful.

Added to the good food were the people, not only invited guests, but Zimbabwean friends who stopped in to see them also. A group played games on the verandah, seated at a stylish table and chairs of Rhodesian Teak. The lushness of the natural surroundings, the beauty of their home, wonderful food, and the fellowship of friends, made this a special evening. Don’t think we’re suffering here. I’m telling you the truth: a braii is a wonderful thing.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Shanty Compound

Sister Josephine, of the local order of Franciscan nuns, took us to one of their seven nutrition centers in the Luanshya area. We bumped along on a rutted, red-dirt road for several miles, all the while passing little homes of such obvious and abject poverty. Always there would be children outside. Africa gives a whole new definition to “dirt poor.”

On the drive we learned that the Sisters feed over 2,000 children every day in these isolated areas the nuns call shanty compounds. The one we went to, Walale, feeds about 695 every day, with special attention given to the younger, more vulnerable children. All are AIDS orphans, primarily being cared for by extended family in the area. This noon meal will be their only meal for the day. Funding for the project primarily comes from an organization called Charity Without Bounds, a Catholic charity in Italy. With the $4,000. the nuns receive each month, they not only feed the many children, but also provide basic schooling, life-skills training, hygiene, rudimentary health assessment (weighing and tracking of at-risk infants), simple clothing, and more. Two coordinators work on-site along with a novice nun here from Kenya.

In addition to feeding children, this program seeks to work with whole families in the village setting. From what I understand, the Franciscan Sisters have given small plots of land to families to work. Sister Josephine makes trips back to Italy to speak and raise money; however, it is becoming very hard to sustain the levels of giving needed to make a difference here. The Sister must often make some hard choices about priorities—really wrenching decisions considering the level of poverty. Because of the difficulty in sustaining funding from the West, the Sisters are partnering with projects at Kafakumba to develop a stream of funding that can be generated locally.

On our drive back we passed three funeral processions. This was the first that we had seen cemeteries and there were several along the road, generally with fresh graves obvious. The processions were made up of four men carrying a simple wooden coffin, followed by a small group of people. Because of AIDS there is a steady procession of these sad journeys.

Dagama Home

Thursday, January 24

Dagama Home

Today we went with Sister Josephine, the Franciscan sister in charge of some Catholic charities in this area. First we visited Dagama Home in the nearby town of Luanshya. This is a boarding school for 150 children, most of whom are crippled—and some profoundly so. These children, if left in their villages, would be dead. At Dagama they find love, security, food, education, even their medical needs are cared for. They return to their villages only for school holidays. The home was clean, orderly, and the children seemed happy and playful. Although the school was formerly only for disabled children, the Sisters have also taken in AIDS orphans and integrated them into the program.

While at Dagama we met two doctors from CURE International in Lusaka (the capitol) who came up to assess the orthopedic needs of children and arrange for their surgeries in Lusaka. One doctor was from Congo and the other a retired British doctor out volunteering for several years now in varied African countries. Eighty-eight children were accessed this morning and 14 will be going for surgery. We had lunch with the Sisters and the medical team at Dagama Home, which is where the Sisters also live. This work began years ago with a small post of the Knights of Dagama caring for miner’s children in the Copperbelt region. In 1965 it changed its purpose to caring for handicapped children.

I was able to take pictures at the Home and so I am posting a couple. It was really kind of funny at times. A little group of boys with stubs for legs were just tussling about in the grass and hamming it up for the camera. It was obvious the children can be quite independent in spite of some serious deformities; we often saw them helping each other.
All in all, it was really quite a pleasant place.
Some of the AIDS orphans who live at the home receive special instruction as they are being integrated (in English, for example). The Sisters have turned steel shipping containers into classrooms; we overheard lessons in “English Dictation.” Their pink and yellow interiors were very bright—and I imagine very hot at times, too. All the children were polite, standing when Sister Josephine came by and saying “Good Afternoon” with their (very accented) new English skills.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Radical Hospitality

I have been struck by the practice of radical hospitality here at Kafakumba. It was obvious from the first day that John and Kendra Enright live out a unique hospitality that seems to include just about everybody. Meal time is a good example. The day we arrived there were two gentlemen here from an African church; we all sat down to a wonderful meal at the Enright’s table. Around that table have been a simple stream of people over the last few days: Jay, the young Indian man who seems to be almost part of the family. The Enright’s two grown sons, Brian and Nathan, who obviously love their mom’s cooking & the conversation. Anjulie, the lovely young Indian-Portuguese-Malay-German girl who is engaged to Nathan. Fred, the importer from South Africa up on business, whose faith and gentle spirit play themselves out on the piano and in conversation. Two wandering souls from Indiana who have come to learn. These meals have been a really special time as conversation seems to range across the most amazing topics—literally from birds and bees, to how emeralds form, to dance, to theology, to raising fish, to American policy, to living out one’s faith. If you know the Enrights, you know that we have participated in lively conversations! It feels good to take the time to talk.

Hospitality here is based on a generosity of spirit that extends to more than food. The front porch is open to anyone, and many, many meetings take place there. When we arrived John greeted us with a smile and these words: “Welcome to the circus. You’ve been warned, but you have no idea.” We don’t. What we have observed is a rather amazing gathering of all sorts of people. One never knows who will be on the front porch. Leaders, workers, friends, beggars, kings-- I wouldn’t be surprised at this point who might show up there. The large front porch is central to life here and is a combination conference room, living room, verandah. A lot of serious discussion seems to take place there. It is true, the Enrights just attract a lot of people.

John and Kendra are building a home here. I am fascinated by how the design of the house is driven by their commitment to hospitality. They have planned for only a small space to be theirs; a bedroom, bath, and study. The rest of the house—large living-dining room combination, kitchen, and two guest rooms are planned for common space with the people who will come. Another large porch is already evident.

One of the lessons we will take away from here is a renewed commitment to hospitality. As a child I experienced it growing up in a small Mennonite community. We experienced it in our years in the military, especially in association with Overseas Christian Servicemen’s Centers (now called Cadence International). We have grown away from it, however, as years have passed. It would be good to find it again.

Grocery Shopping

Shoprite in Ndola. This is the closest thing Ndola has to our grocery stores. Perhaps you could even call it the Super Shoprite, because it also had household goods in it. Overall it just had a gritty, bedraggled, somewhat messy feel to it. One would not buy the food and items on display if they were in this condition in America. I started in the fresh food aisle. Well, fresh is not the right word. Tired. Droopy. Overripe. Those are better words. Vegetables and fruit sit out on open shelves without refrigeration or the regular little showers of cool water that we have in the U.S. I bought a shriveled green pepper but then the potatoes, onions, and carrots looked good and made it to my basket. The bananas were most pathetic; later an announcement came on that the bananas were marked down. Evidently they were just too far gone even for this market.
It takes a long time to go grocery shopping when the measurements, names, money, packaging, and foods are just different. For example: Would you know to look for “mince” or “minced meat” if you just wanted hamburger? Would you think that “Chip Potatoes” are the bag of whole potatoes you have to cook yourself and not a bag of potato chips? Would you know that milk is not refrigerated here but sold in little boxes off the shelf—and that you are looking for “long-life Parmalat?” Would you think “Jik” when you need bleach? Would you know that you want 300 grams of shaved ham for sandwiches? Or that mince at 20,900 Kwaches per kilo is the same as .454 kilos or 454 grams, or just about the same as 1 lb. of (fatty) hamburger for about $2.50 a pound? Yes, going grocery shopping became a dizzying experience.
One is surprised by the high price of food in Zambia—at least any food that is imported or favored by foreigners. In other words, if you aren’t able/willing to eat only the maize (corn) mush of the natives, eating will be expensive. Here are some examples of prices just to compare:
One, 12oz. can of green beans: $1.45
One small jar of salsa: $6.95
One small bag of Muslix cereal: $5.02
One small butternut squash: $1.89
One small box Italian salted crackers: $6.16
One small (6-8 oz?) Mozarella: $4.53
One pint size milk: $.87 (figure out the gallon price)
All totaled I spent about $167. for about one week’s worth of food for the two of us. Today I spent some time poring over my sales slip to figure out prices and measurements. It was a good, practical lesson in economics.
Now I have another lesson: washing locally grown produce so that it is safe to eat. I think I have safely washed 3 bunches of lettuce in mild bleach water. Tomorrow we’ll eat salad. By Thursday we should know if I learned how to do it right.

P.S. We went to the Bureau de Charge-or bank-to exchange money. The Zambian dollar, called a Kwacha, is about 3,780 to $1. Evidently the American dollar is falling as the exchange rate used to be closer to 4,000 to 1.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The road less travelled

Picnic at Lake Kashiba

Saturday was quite an adventure. We joined John & Kendra, one of their workers and his family (wife and two small children), and his parents who were here visiting from South Africa. The plan for the day was to drive to Lake Kashiba and picnic and swim. Oh my goodness. Those were the roads less travelled. At one point Kendra drove while John and Alan pushed--we were going down a sharp edge that was creating a rock-lined waterfall in the middle of the road. On our return the guys had to literally build a bit of a road with rocks and then we all moved to safety while John (fondly called Johnny Rutherford) gunned a careening car up over the barrier. At one point part of the group's Land Rover nosed into a deep hole and had to be winched out. Another rut tore our tie rod, which required stabelizing the car and then guys crawling underneath to repair it. The pot holes, ruts, water, and general poor condition of this "road" defy description. The pictures hardly do it justice. We brought 5-year Beatrice into our car for part of the ride; in the middle of some of the commotion she piped up with "This has turned into a bit of disaster. Don't you think?" You must say that with a good English accent to get the effect. It wasn't a disaster at all. The day was really a wonderful one. The sun shone hot and bright on a day that had been predicted for heavy rain. Families and friends picniced and swam in a beautiful natural crater. The children played and got really dirty, having the best time. There was water everywhere from the rains, so Olie had great fun with his big Tonka in the mud and water. A little fire on which to cook sausages, circled up camp chairs, hot coffee--it really called for a toast. All three cars made it safely back--dirty--but none the worse for the wear.

P.S. There are no bathrooms or changing rooms at Lake Kashiba. It's been a long time, but I managed. :)

Friday, January 18, 2008

From there to here

There's no quick way from there to here. Even with airplanes it was a long and exhausting journey that began Tuesday in Indianapolis at noon with check-in and ended with our arrival at the Kafakumba Training Center on Thursday afternoon about 2. London's Heathrow is one of the most interesting airports in the world; the travelers journey from everywhere to everywhere. We had two overnight flights, so we remain very jet-lagged.

Here are some quick first impressions. Green and vast. The land stretched out like a plane of emerald beneath the airplane. The four hour drive north was through long stretches of undeveloped land, only occasional farms, and green from the rainy season. The rain poured down for part of the drive, creating white-out driving conditions.

John & Kendra Enright welcomed us warmly at their home here at Kafakumba. We are staying in a small apartment attached to Enright's large home that belongs to John's mother. We feel so privileged to be cared for so well. So far we have eaten our meals with John and Kendra and their sons (and anyone else who happens to be here), but within a couple days we'll be cooking for ourselves. That means I'll have to learn about how to get foods and cooking from scratch and learn it quickly.

So we have arrived safely. There is so very much going on and we are jet-lagged. You will hear much more in the future.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Seven Little Reasons

We're leaving in the morning and there are seven little reasons it is hard to leave: grandchildren. Six year old Gracie crawled up in my lap a couple nights ago. "Grandma, do you have to go? Grandma, to you want to go? How long will you be gone? How long is 9 weeks?" The answers are easy-no, yes, 2 months, and forever-yet hard to say and harder to hear. Who would have guessed that kissing seven little children goodby would tear your heart right out. God bless you little sweethearts and remember to pray for grammy and grammpy in your bedtime prayers-- as we will you.


If you looked in our closets you would never guess that we have just removed 125 lbs of clothing from them. Yikes, I just didn't remember I had so much stuff. Of course it doesn't help to have "fat" clothes and "skinny" clothes--the ones I'm in and the ones I hope to be in when we get back--you know what I mean. I always admire those who really do live simply and keep only a bit more than necessity. Alan does that and has a much easier time packing; he puts in the important things first--like any tools he thinks he might need --and fills in around them with a few clothes that will turn out to be just the right amount. Whether we have too much or too little is moot now. We've packed and closed the lids and hope it'll be just right.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Here we are at Alan's retirement party! It's only the beginning of the rest of our lives. So many friends and family joined us that day; we hope you are following this venture with us.

Individual Volunteers

Baby Boomers. What can one say? "Whiny, narcissistic bunch of paunchy, corporate losers...fakes, hypocrites, cop-outs and, in many cases, out and out dorks," said Joe Queenan in Brent Green's book "Marketing to Baby Boomers." Maybe there are corners of our culture that believe this; I have seen something VERY DIFFERENT!

Baby Boomers, early retirees, and others are doing something different--and in the United Methodist Church it's called Volunteers in Mission (for groups) and Individual Volunteers (for singles and couples). Alan and I are going to Zambia for 9 weeks as "Individual Volunteers," a classification of volunteer missioners who serve at Methodist sites around the world. And it's a big world at that, with about 12 million members worldwide, and many locations offering an opportunity to serve in the Global Church.

Individual Volunteers go as volunteers: invited by the Church leadership in a particular area, paying their own way, working to fill the needs and requests as determined by the receiving site, trained by the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM-the mission arm of United Methodism), and serving a minimum of 2 months (some people go for a year or two--or even a lifetime). We will be at Kafakumba Training Center in Ndola, Zambia with long-time missionaries John and Kendra Enright and Ken and Debbie Vance.

Alan and I attended our training in New York City under GBGM trainers. It was great. There were about a dozen in our class (these classes are held quarterly around the U.S.). An ER doctor and his wife are looking for hospitals in Africa to serve 6 months each year, with the other 6 months at a hospital in the U.S. Another couple is going to Haiti for several months, a young woman to China, a newly retired gov't worker to W Africa, a woman alone to Chile. I've met other Individual Volunteers serving in Cameroon, Tanzania, Bolivia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Zimbabwe, and varied places in the U.S. Each of them have a terrific story, an incredible sense of humor, courage, and a determination to make a difference as they live out their faith. There are 325 Individual Volunteers serving now....and the number is expected to skyrocket as Baby Boomers begin to retire.

So I'm back to those Baby Boomers again. We are they. Fortunately, we live in a time when travel and communication make such an adventure possible for us. Sometime down the road we hope to do more of this, but for now two months in Zambia is all we can manage. "Whiny, narcisstic losers?" I hardly think so.

P.S. Check out the website for Individual Volunteers at You can check out stories coming from the field and see a listing of sites all around the world (including the U.S.) that are looking for volunteers now. Also check out the Volunteers in Mission website if you are interested in going with a team somewhere: