Ecuador Update- June 2016

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It’s been just over a month since the earth shook coastal Ecuador to its knees with a massive 7.8 earthquake. The quake was devastating, completely wiping out many of the quaint fishing communities along the coast. To top it off, roughly one month later, just as people were finding the courage to start sleeping inside again, two more 7-plus Richter-scale quakes shook the same areas within a 24 hr period. The damage this does physically is obvious, but the psychological ramifications are shattering on a whole other level. The constant fear that the ground beneath you and the walls around you might crack and fall at any moment is a highly anxious frequency to be stuck in.

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I’ve seen it firsthand in other places we’ve responded, such as Haiti and Nepal. People are scared with acute PTSD that takes years to recover from. I even have it myself from all the years of working in these zones — in Nepal, for example, we had 5-10 quakes a day that were all 5.0 or bigger. You get used to it, but it’s unnerving… and still today when I’m walking in NYC and a subway goes by underneath my feet on the street, my first reaction is it’s a quake. My nervous system is now wired that way and always in defense mode for such an event. But at the end of the day, I get to go home to US and find some sort of peace and stability. I can’t imagine what the residents who don’t get to leave feel like living in a constant state of instability. It is truly a test of the human condition, and though ultimately we will always repair, rebuild, and move on, we will do it bearing the scars of these experiences forever.

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From a Waves For Water perspective, I am happy with the progress we have made. This has been a very tough one, mostly due to the geographic predicament of the quake zone. There is a very big area affected by these quakes and access is limited. In Haiti, for example, the devastation was pretty tightly focused to a few areas. This time, it’s spread out over hundreds of miles. So we keep chipping away at it, knowing that we can reach all the areas over time.

I often speak about our program from an empowerment perspective. In my opinion, the “teach a man to fish” metaphor is literally the only approach that should ever be taken in development or aid work — whether it’s disaster related, disease prevention, or long term development-style initiatives. This single notion, if properly implemented is what draws the distinction between a sustainable program and just the distribution of supplies.

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Since day one, W4W has put emphasis on the empowerment model for the simple reason that we ultimately want to work ourselves (the foreigners) out of the equation over time. This means spending however long it takes in the beginning phases of a program  — in Haiti, for example, I spent 2 straight years there developing our program that is still thriving to this day and entirely operated and managed by Haitians. Because at the end of the day, we are not just installing a well or rain-catchment system, or passing out filters. We are connecting a problem directly with a solution — by way of local networks and team building, through intensive education and training, so that these solutions just become new tools for the local players we’ve enlisted to be able to help their communities on their own.

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So, here in Ecuador, that is exactly what we’ve done. We have spent the better part of the past month building and cultivating local Ecuadorian teams in each of the hardest hit communities. These are individuals or groups that we’ve identified, enlisted, and empowered through our program are now the clean-water advocates of their communities — implementing water filter systems to families, schools, and tent camps, on a regular basis — with the proper follow-up thereafter.

 

We are just one small organization, but with this approach we can have a very wide reach. And it’s working… so much so that one of our teams went into a new community a few days ago and met with the local leadership, and before our team was able to share who they were and what they were doing the local leader proceeded to tell them, “there is a really great organization in the area called Waves For Water that is doing fantastic work providing communities with access to clean water through local networks”. As you can imagine, that is the best case scenario — hearing about the very work we are doing and the positive impact it’s having from the most grass roots ground level. It was a nice surprise for our team to then tell those same local leaders that they were in fact W4W, and were there to now help their community.

 

To date, our teams throughout the region have implemented 2500+ water filter systems, in over 10 communities, such as:

  • Esmereldes
  • Cojimes
  • Pedernales
  • Jama
  • Canoa
  • Bahia
  • San Vicente
  • Manta
  • Portoviejo
  • Puerto Cayo

We feel that with the support that came in for this first phase we have really stretched the funds, maximizing the impact, and are laying an incredibly solid and sustainable foundation for the coming months. That said, in order to do this we now need to set our sights on securing new local and international long-term partnerships that can help us scale the program.

This is a pretty standard model for us in terms of disaster response programs:

  1. Phase one is very time sensitive and focused on mitigating the immediate suffering due to the earthquake itself (by implementing our water filtration program).
  2. Phase two, which we are embarking on now, is looking more at the long game — designing programs that are self sustaining and cover every aspect of need in each community. This includes rain-water harvesting systems, the installation of new wells and/or bore hole pumps, and filtration systems for every household. This is the comprehensive approach we have taken in virtually all the countries we operate in, around the world.

The hard work has already been done — our presence and the impact it has had throughout the region is undeniable and firmly in place. And we already have the data and testimonials to showcase this. So now, all we need are new partners that can provide the necessary resources to help us scale this already proven model.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this program is a real, viable way forward in the discussion of access to clean water for Ecuador. What’s at stake here is not just giving a family or village access to clean water, but rather an entire region, or state, or even the entire country over time. This is a solvable problem. Period. It just takes a collective consciousness and effort to make it a reality.

Lastly, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank some of the players who have helped us get this far down here: Ecuador Earthquake Recovery Fund, The Pamela Anderson Foundation, Airlink, The Waterbearers, World Ventures, APE, among others… In addition I’d like to throw a special shout out to a couple of our local “boots on the ground” partners that we have been fortunate enough to plug into — Proyecto Amor 7.8 in Puerto Cayo and Alfredo Harmsen and his Sathya Sai School in Bahia. Keep up the good work guys!

Thanks and should any of you want more info about the situation down here or how to support our program through the coming phases please contact - caitlan@wavesforwater.org

 

Cheers!

Jon

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Mission Nicar-Drinkable-Agua Recap

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We’re back from our trip, and it went great! Our surf guide helped us find and teach the local families how to use the filters, and we had no problem finding people in need.  We distributed the filters in a split between using the faucet adapters, and connecting them directly to large water bottles, and the locals were very receptive of both methods. We gave the filters out in a few different towns: Playa Santana, El Astillero, El Limon Dos, and El Chacocente.

Check out our mission.

 

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Sam Church – CWC

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Kook on a Bicycle: Canada to Mexico Waves For Water Fundraiser!

Trip Summary…

Wellll I’m not too sure what to say other than it was fully wild. Camping, riding over crazy terrain and through some hectic weather. The scenery was out of this world, I saw a lot of wildlife, I met some awesome people and I ate more food than I ever have in my whole life. I have done my share of travel and this was definitely a new way to travel for me and possibly the best way to explore an incredible coastline.

I was not into cycling at all before this ride and a trip like this had never really crossed my mind until I met another Australian dude living in Canada who goes by the name Sausagerowlz. I lived in Fernie, BC with him and learned how he had arrived in Fernie by bicycle from Miami. He rode with no underpants and his stories are classic. He said he would give me the bike and all the gear for next to nothing if I’d take it on a big ride and I was down. The bike is an old giant mountain bike hybrid. It was not pretty and the suspension did not lock out. But it was comfy and it was perfect for me since a proper touring bike set up means you are not as upright and my only real concern for the trip was my neck that I hurt snowboarding in Fernie. Also, It was the last bike anyone would want to steal. Perfect.

I got the idea for the fundraiser after watching WSL events and seeing W4W advertisements. I have surfed all over Central America and I am planning to drive down there in my Van in the next few months. I was considering being a Clean Water Courier originally then the bike ride idea came up and it was a good opportunity to raise some coin for the Nicaragua Project.

All of my mates in Fernie and mates back in Aus backed the idea and have been generous with donations. The crew at The Pub in Fernie organized a fundraiser night without me knowing until it was already planned and the whole town got behind it.

Then I got a message from someone (legend) who wishes to remain anonymous who said they would donate $1 for every km peddled, but only if I made it the whole way. So I planned to take just about every scenic route and detour I could find, and I did!

After all of that build up and support for the fundraiser I was so psyched for the ride. I didn’t really train other than getting my neck feeling strong as my mate had said “if you look at it on the map, it’s all down hill” so I figured it would be easy! Haha I had a few days of strong headwinds that were draining and I hurt my Achilles and knee early on in the ride mainly from not knowing how to set up my bike properly and use the gears efficiently. I sorted out my bike set up so my legs would last and other than those set backs it was smooth sailing. I didn’t even get a flat tire.

I struggled through the cold of Washington looping around Olympic National Park and then basically stuck to the coast all the way south. I planned on stealth camping a bit but that was a fail. On my first attempt I got a friendly warning shot from someone. I later found out I was probably trying to pitch my tent near their weed plantation. My other failed attempt was under a bridge but I was soon evicted by the bridges more permanent residents. After that I settled for State Parks which are epic in Washington and Oregon. $5 for a site, hot shower and bench if you are a hiker/biker. I was usually the only one there, particularly up north, which was rad.

The Oregon coast was mind blowing. If I had stopped to take pictures every time I wanted to I would still be in Oregon. Northern California was equally picturesque. I got to camp in the redwoods, ride through Big Sur, ride through some iconic surf towns and ride along the coast on some crazy roads that I would definitely have missed if I were to drive the coast. Getting through LA was chaos but not as bad as I had anticipated. The ride ended with two days of insane rain and even some flash flood warnings in Southern California. I was soo psyched to hit the Mexican border and do what I had set out to do that it didn’t phase me at all. I was smiling like a full on mad man in the rain on the final leg of the ride.

In the end I rode 2,880km in 28 days from Vancouver to the Mexican Border. I can’t really express how awesome the whole experience has been. I got to have an epic adventure while raising money for a charity that is doing great things. Once my anonymous sponsor pays per km the fundraiser will have made close to $6000US. Stoked!!!

Attached are some of my favourite pics I took on the ride. Cheers!!!

Becky Mendoza – CWC

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Becky Mendoza, from Encinitas, CA started her Clean Water Courier mission to raise money for her second trip to Nicaragua. Click here to see her fundraiser . After her trip in 2013, Becky returned with a purpose to serve. A great example of doing what you love and helping along the way.

Thank you Becky!!

See video of Becky’s experience.

Here is a recap of her experience.

CWC Project: Clean Nica-Agua

Well, I’m back from my 3 week surf expedition through Nicaragua, and I’m recharged, rejuvenated and more inspired than ever. After a month of fundraising through the W4W CWC Program, I raised just over $2,700 which was enough to purchase 54 water filters.

On October 30, I flew to Managua. With the help of my friends, Aura and Sarah, who are both living in Hacienda Iguanas in Southern Nicaragua, I was able to distribute about 28 filters in the area. I was lucky that Mark & Dave’s Surf Camp had a shed full of buckets with lids that they told me I could help myself to. Through Aura and Sarah, and some other friends in the area, and through speaking with people everywhere I went, I came to know of a few of the workers at Iguanas who lived in communities in the area that all had wells, but no access to clean drinking water. This was the story, time and time again, so we built and hand-delivered several filter buckets in the surrounding areas.

We also built the buckets and gave them to some of the workers at Iguana’s who expressed a need. I handed off 6 to Kristin from Surfari Charters who knew of an area in need that was challenging to get to, and gave one to the Iguana’s school and one to Aura for her land and her newly built well. Catherine from W4W had put me in touch with Lance and Kristin of Surfari Charters in the area. I would surf 2-3 times a day, in the mornings and evenings, and some days I would go into the communities and distribute. My heart was overflowing with love!

On November 8, Aura, Sarah and I made the 6 hour car trip to Northern Nicaragua, to Hotel Chancletas. Catherine had put me in contact with Ben and Jamie who run El Coco Loco Resort and have a foundation called Waves of Hope. Ben and another El Coco Loco employee, Lester, arrived to pick me up and we went home-to-home distributing filters. We distributed 10 that day before running out of buckets. I left the remaining filters with Ben. What I learned that day about the work the Waves of Hope is doing for the community was the most inspirational thing I’ve ever learned. They are doing things that are bigger than most of us could imagine and they are doing it with such grace and humility. They have teamed up with W4W in the area to make sure that each household in the community has access to clean drinking water.

Overall, I can say this experience has left some major footprints on my heart and has inspired me in ways I could never have imagined. I recently read this quote which resonated with me: “The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is” –Jim Carey. There is no way that this journey ends here for me, it is only the beginning. Like the W4W motto says: “Do what you love and help along the way.” It was so simple, a small labor of love made my life so rich! I hope that you will be a part of future projects by donating and sharing!

 

Chloe Simpson – Clean Water Courier

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Waves For Water would like to thank Chloe Simpson for her Clean Water Courier mission in Nicaragua. This story is a great example of how the program works.

Chloe Simpson  – 22 Filters Donated in Nicaragua.

 ”I just wanted to share photos from my trip to Nicaragua last week. I first learned about your program at the Hurley Pro Trestles in 2013. It was great timing, as I was considering what to do for my 8th grade project. I fundraised 22 filters within a month and with the help of my mom, Ben Edwards and Kimi (from Mark & Daves in Hacienda Iguana), found locations in Nicaragua to donate. We have made five water filter drops in total. This has been a very meaningful experience and I’ve learned so much from it. The support from others to jump in and help, in so many ways, was amazing. Thank you for the inspiration for this life changing experience.”

Sincerely,

Chloe Simpson

1st Water Filter Drop 1/26/14.

We donated our first 5 filters to Bo Fox, founder of Project WOO (Waves of Optimism). He’s opening a clinic in Gigante this month and had not figured out a clean water source at the time I contacted him. These will be utilized in the staff room, waiting room and any other areas of need at the clinic.

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2nd Water Filter Drop 1/29/14

5 filters donated @ Centro Escolar El Malinche, a school outside of Hacienda Iguana.We donated 1 Filter for the school and 4 for the neighbors to share.  Liz Todd and Kimi Tasker were awesome translators!!

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3rd Water Filter Drop. 1/31/14

5 filters donated in Limon Uno.  All filters will be shared by the village residents.

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4th Water filter Drop. 1/31/14

2 filters donated to Gabriel Devic, for his afterschool program at Una Esquelita, serving approximately 40 students.

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5th Water Filter Drop. 2/2/14

Last 5 filters were donated to “Building Love”/ “Helping Hands with Hearts for Christ”. The couple (Mike and Joan Vilasi) that runs a school for the hearing impaired, on Ometepe Island will use one or two filters at the school and the others will go to schools and homes outside the Rivas area. These exchanged hands at the airport, on our way out. drop5

 

Random Acts of Kindness

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We would like to share an email we recently received to show the random acts of kindness connecting all of our efforts together.

“Hi my name is Robert Barr. I am a retired state of CA investigator, and have lived in El Salvador for 7 years.  On a recent trip to California, a friend and I went to the Hurley Pro contest at trestles and came across the Waves For Water booth. Good guys and after explaining the bad situation we have in El Salvador, I was given a filter kit to try and watched all of the youtube videos that night. In the morning, I saw your contest crew was having jetski problems, so it was my pleasure to help fix them. Immediately after returning home, I set up the filter system at Punta Roca with the locals, and we drank filtered water out of the dirtiest river around.  I am happy to say I did not get sick and since then, the locals have set it up in the community and are producing water right now!  Waves For Water has helped save 100 more kids, very easy, very fast.  Punta Roca, El Salvador is a stop on the WQS, and just 100ft from the contest is one of the hardest slums around. The neighborhood has no fresh water supply and the kids are paying the price by drinking and bathing in basically, sewage.  We need your help because Punta Roca is just one spot.  Every town and community on the coast here is in poverty, 2/3 of the water you can’t even put on your skin.  Birth defects and infant deaths are wide spread, and many people feel contaminated water is the cause. With a community rooted in surfing, I feel the beaches of El Salvador are a perfect place for Hurley and Waves For Water to save lives, get some good waves and change the future.  After all that’s what we’re talking about, right? The surf industry uses Punta Roca for contests, photos, team tours, magazine spreads and I might add, the best waves on the WQS tour. I look forward to working with Hurley and Waves For Water to help make a difference in El Salvador.”  – Robert Barr

Big Thanks to Eddie Stern and The Broome Street Temple

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When I first came to the East Coast on Nov 2, 2012 to launch our Hurricane Sandy Relief Initiative I had no idea what to expect in terms of support. I knew that we had a good network that would likely get behind us but they were just assumptions at the end of the day. In the following months we would see an incredible outpouring of support organically come in, both financial and in-kind donations. We saw the surf industry join hands and send all types of support for the surf communities hit hardest in NY/NJ. We also saw musicians like Jack Johnson, MGMT, Mike D, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, My Morning Jacket, and Mos Def come together to support our initiative. It was amazing to watch it unfold and see people from many different disciplines band together for the greater good. I have always looked at Waves For Water as  an “outside the box” organization – meaning everything we do, from the implementation of our programs to our lean infrastructure. So naturally I would expect our supporters to also be “outside the box” type entities.

That said, I’d like to take this opportunity to throw a special shout out to a group in New York who has been a huge ongoing supporter of our Sandy Initiative – Led by Eddie Stern, the good folks over at the Broome St Temple (http://www.broomestreettemple.org) rallied and truly rose to the occasion when Sandy hit. Many of their loyal supporters looked to Eddie as a guiding light to funnel their Sandy related support through. Stern, founder of Ashtanga Yoga New York, is regarded as one of the top Yoga Guru’s in the world. After the storm hit, he and his network were immediately out in the Rockaway’s helping in any way they could. When I met him he was looking for a good program to start funneling some of the financial aid he had collected via Broome St. Temple. Since then the Broome St temple has helped fund four rounds of candidates through our monetary grant & restore/rebuild programs – helping over a dozen NY/NJ families get almost entirely back on their feet.

Their support has been genuine and tireless and on behalf of the W4W crew and all the families who directly felt their support, THANK YOU Broome St Temple!

Sometimes in this line of work we get to see the brilliance of humanity, in it’s purest form – the full circle. Below, rounding out the circle, are a couple thank you notes we received from recipients of Eddie/BST’s ongoing support…

“I am writing to you, asking you to please forward this note of gratitude to the donor.

Because, without them there would be no light at the end of the tunnel. The grant we received from them made it possible to hire a good electrician to help us get power back on at our home. Lucky for us there was a small amount of plumbing damage, and we were able to fix that as well.

The things we take for granted everyday, just to turn on a light, or shower, and even get a glass of water, were a huge undertaking. But now thru the grace of a perfect stranger, these things are now possible.

I thank God every night for the love of my family and friends. And now for the overflowing heart of a perfect stranger. The person who made my life easier, they are now on the top of my list.

For those non believers’ Angles do exists, because mine flew into my life, and gave me hope where there was none.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

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Duaine McGrath and Family

“To All Those Who Have Helped Our Family,

You have given us encouragement and hope in a difficult time.  We are grateful for your support.  The donations that were given to us were an immense help to our family.  It allowed us to secure a rental property and pay a security deposit for the home we will reside in during the next year.  We were able to make a trip to the Disney store to replace some of Gia’s favorite toys and take Nicholas to the mall to replace some of his favorite gadgets.  Purchasing clothing the first few days was difficult, but we needed enough to get ourselves started.  Having the donations made the thought of replacing things a lot less stressful for us.  It’s amazing how it feels to have strangers help you in your time of need.  It makes the world seem like a smaller place full of love and goodness.  We are looking forward to getting back on our feet and paying it forward.  Thank you again for being there for us!”

With Love,

The Farrell Family

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Vans Warped Tour / W4W Day of Service

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Lavallette Bayfront Park Restoration Project with Vans Warped Tour
About 40 tour buses rolled in the sleeping town of Lavallette about 515am, lining almost 10 blocks. We had about 450 assorted musicians, techs, crew, Camden Boys and Girls Club, Lavalette Volunteer Fire Department, our W4W NJ Team encompassing the entire coast, almost all of our local grantees and a few locals.
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Breakfast was provided by local eateries both severely affected by Sandy.  Bakin Bagel’s – Ortley Beach breakfast and the Crab’s Claw for lunch.
The Vans crew emerged about 6:30am for breakfast at the Fire house (W4W Restore and Rebuild Project) then transitioned over to the park. Hadley Magaziner, age 13 and daughter of one of our Long Beach Island Grantees totally rocked the National Anthem.
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Jon, Kevin VWT and Mayor of Lavallette said a few words and everyone
started on various projects.
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We wrapped about 11 with lunch and the buses were locked and loaded for Asbury
Park afternoon of rest.
***JETTY created and donated 850 “Lavallette Stronger Tee’s, all volunteers received one and the remainder were gifted to the Lavallette VFD to raise money. We start on the VFD next week for our rebuild and restore project that will allow them to resume feeding the Senior Citizen breakfast every morning since they have not been able to do this since the storm.
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Lavallette Bay Front Park
**Planted 5 blocks of erosion prevention grasses and plants rebuilding berm destroyed from storm. (7,500)
**Cleaned and power washed 120 cement and wood benches full of mold and storm residue
** Cleaned and power washed all walkways and Gazebo
**Debris clean up bay front 5 blocks long and 1 block wide
**Weeded entire area
**Planted 5 blocks of erosion prevention grasses and plants rebuilding berm destroyed from storm.
**Cleaned and power washed 120 cement and wood benches full of mold and storm residue
** Cleaned and power washed all walkways and Gazebo
“I just wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you to everyone who came together this morning to help the Town of Lavallette feel special and a little more “normal” today. Watching the buses roll into town, the hundreds of volunteers pouring out, our W4W teams who have been so integral in restoring and rebuilding these communities and our grantees who have become part of our extended family. Today was pure magic, where
working together and doing what we love we are able to transform adversity into community. Together we really do make a difference. “

Liberia Distribution

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Bold orange earth and the sweet smell of sap dripping from tall, green rubber trees set up the candy-coated contrast that is Liberia. Banana yellow dresses against the midnight of she skin. Red-headed Agama lizards perched chest puffed on concrete block walls painted blue.

Happy to have my boots on the ground again. It’s hot in equatorial Africa. Have you heard!?

Today we did a distribution in the worst slum in Liberia. A dark and heavy place called West Point. Muscle and threat everywhere. Black-skinned predators lining the unpaved paths while others dart this way and that on motorbikes honking horns. The thick stink of feces dried by mean sun clashes with babies’ innocence on resigned mommas’ backs. Pregnant teens walk slowly dragging their worn sandal heels aware at once of women’s power and vulnerability in the ghetto. Children are much the same as anywhere running and playing and staring curiously. Cute and yet untarnished by hardships of a hard life. These wear more dirt than clothes and show no concern that most of them will never make it past 15.
We did our benevolent deed and made a few friends before moving on. There were many smiles and much appreciation. Some were shocked that we chanced it in there but could tell we go without fear.
There’s no guard like intention. When you legitimately come to help, animosity is confused and diffused. It’s always a profound confirmation that head-to-head good beats bad.

We made way back to the hotel sweaty, sun-cooked and silent..in our heads about the day. Driving along a stretch of rural highway I saw a man wearing only a loin cloth walking on the side of the road. He gently forked the ground with a skinny tree branch-for-walking-stick as if pacing himself for a million steps. His blackest skin smeared grey over chest and shoulders with a muddy shield. I thought to myself how tribal, wild, fresh out the bush he looked – like a scene in Africa. Then it hit me that this actually is Africa.
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