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Learning from Traveling

November 15, 2019 — Leave a comment

It would be very difficult for me to itemize all of the different and surprising things I have seen and learned during my travels to Asia, but I am thankful for all to which I have been exposed. Some things were a little more expected and less of a surprise than others, but always interesting to see. Would you like to see some of the sights from a trip to India?

The photo above was taken in a small city in eastern India. I have no idea how this young lady could keep the sack on her head balanced as she wove through the traffic, but I was impressed — and I knew I didn’t want to do that myself! This sight became very common as I spent more time in India, and I have never seen anyone drop the load off their heads prematurely. 

Many times I saw a water buffalo or an ox pulling wooden carts in India, but I was not sure about what these animals were. They had the bodies of a cow, but I am not sure about their horns. I haven’t seen this combination before.

Being from the Atlanta area, you know I am a Coke guy when it comes to my cola preference. In India, Coke is called Thums Up, and I can’t say that it taste exactly like what we have in the States, but it is very close. Now, if I could just find some that were cold when it is 100 degrees and 100% humidity!

I was never truly into academia, but I can say that I do enjoy learning by traveling. There are many things you can learn through traveling that simply are not in books . . . but books are a great way to learn also. 

How about you? Do you have your next trip planned? This week I booked a trip, and I can’t wait to share with you about it! 

Recently I reviewed photos from a trip to China in 2014, and I realized the impact the donors of Global Partners in Life were having should be shared.  In a very short series of photos, I obtained some amazing young people struggling to have a healthier life.  Would you like to see them?

This little friend of mine just had the second of 3 surgeries for a cleft palate. He already had the surgery to close his lip, and this surgery closed the gap in his gums. The third surgery is to close the gap in the roof of the mouth, but it must be performed when the child is considerably older. He must have had lots of swelling, because I have never seen the breathing device inserted in the nose like that. Oh, and his cheeks are pretty plump also! This little guy has an incredible amount of energy, so it is unusual to catch him sleeping!

As you can see in the photograph above, this little boy is getting individualized care. Through the donations to Global Partners in Life, we were able to pay for a medical procedure which implanted a stint to allow drainage for this young boy with hydrocephalus. Again, through the generous gifts to Global Partners in Life, we are able to pay the salary for the lady providing care for the boy. Her name is Loa, and she is over 70 years old and she has a bad back. Her husband wants her to retire, but she says she loves the children too much to stay away from them. Loa and her husband have reached a compromise, and she has reduced the number of hours she works each week.

On behalf of the people in need, Global Partners in Life, and myself, I want to thank everyone that gives their time, talents, and funds to help others who can’t provide for themselves. Who knows, it could be you in need one day!    

There is continued good news from China! I know some of you may have heard negative things about China on the news, but there is something happening there that is an improvement. Would you like to know what it is?

The air quality in Beijing is improving at an amazing rate! The photo above was taken in the afternoon during the winter, so the sun was lower in the sky, and you can tell by the lack of leaves it was winter. The sun wasn’t brilliant and clear that day; rather it was dull from all of the air pollution.  Many times I have taken groups to China and our flight would arrive in the afternoon. While walking up the ramp (which had windows on each side) from the plane to the airport terminal, my friends would say, “Oh, it is going to rain today.” As I kind of chuckled to myself, I would explain to them the air in Beijing just looks like that on some days.

When I lived in Beijing several years ago, I lived on about the 20th floor of an apartment building. On some days it was difficult for me to see the telephone poles by the street from my apartment window. So, I am very happy to report that Beijing has done a marvelous job of improving their air quality. 

The photo above shows a building in Beijing. As you can see, now there is a beautiful blue sky!

Some industries have been invited to relocate outside the city, and I think that has had a positive and visible impact on the skies over Beijing. Public transportation is available and encouraged in Beijing, which has also helped control the air pollution. 

If you had considered travel plans to Beijing and were concerned about the air quality, I would encourage you to book your trip! Based on what I have seen, it would be surprising to me if you saw a return to the days of horrible air pollution. Maybe I will see you there!

If you have read many of my blogs over the last few months, you may have noticed many of them were about a group of rural elderly widows near Gumma, India. These ladies have varying degrees of health challenges, but they all have one thing in common; unfortunately, that commonality is a sense of hopelessness. 

Today I wanted to share the story of another new friend I met earlier this year during a trip to India.  Would you like to meet her?

The lady in the photograph above is Marthama Pani. We know she is over 65 years old, but we are not exactly sure of her age. Her story is a sad one for us to hear, but it must be a heart crushing one to live through.

In the local culture, the oldest son should take of his widowed mother. Unfortunately, there are not many consistent employment opportunities in the area, so many guys are day laborers. The expense of having his mother in his home was more than the son could afford; so when he kicked his mother out of his house, he gave her a bowl and said, “here is a bowl, now go and beg the rest of your life!”

Global Partners in Life is in the process of building a facility in Gumma, India to provide housing for 20 elderly widows! We have actually broken ground in July, and the progress is continuing. This facility will have an industrial kitchen, which will provide three meals a day for the ladies, and it will have clean running water and restrooms for them. Additionally, the facility will have a dining hall, sick room, bedrooms, and a conference room for meetings and counseling. 

If you would like to help us complete the facility, please visit our website at https://globalpartnersinlife.org/ and make a much needed donation. I would be extremely grateful for any support you could give for this worthy project for these truly needy elderly widows!

The Daily Market

September 13, 2019 — Leave a comment

Please allow me to take you on a brief tour of a daily market in eastern China. This city is not considered a large one, but it has grown extremely fast in the last few years. Even though the vendors are busy, they have always been kind, patient, and fun to be around. Would you like to meet one?

Obviously this guy is a butcher, and he said he would give us any cut of meat, just tell him what we wanted. He did, however, take time to let us know that his sausages were the best in the city. He was very good at marketing, and laughing at his obvious selling techniques. 

As you can see in the photo above, cleavers are VERY common in China. I can’t imagine going to a market and not seeing them. Additionally, the hard wood cutting blocks are frequently used by the butchers. 

From what I could see, there was absolutely no way this chicken could have gotten out of the cage, but it looks like somehow it did. It kind of looks like he is the boss looking down on his workers. Yes, at this market you can buy your chicken alive or already dressed. It is your choice! 

It is quite common for a Chinese family to go to the market each morning to get the food for the day. This way the freshest food will be served, and you get great prices at these markets compared to the big grocery stores . . . usually! Often the farmers will get up very early in the mornings and drive their products into the city. Many of the markets are only opened in the mornings.

If you have an opportunity to visit one of these daily markets, I strongly encourage you to partake. Remember, you never know what you might see! 

Happy traveling!

Where It All Started

August 30, 2019 — Leave a comment

For those of you that have followed Global Partners in Life and the work we are doing in Asia, you know that the first group of orphans we supported were from a rural area in China. There was a horrible fire in an illegal fireworks factory in this rural area called Junan, and 20 students became orphans that day. 

Through the support of our generous donors, Global Partners in Life had been supporting these orphans before I had an opportunity to meet them in person. Would you like to meet them also?

As I said, this was a rural area and you can see the roads were not paved. We visited the orphans at their school, and even the school’s band showed up to welcome us. I felt very sorry for the students in the band, because it was 105 degrees that day and they had to wear their band uniforms.

The orphans we were supporting were allowed to come to school that day without wearing their school uniforms. We had a formal ceremony, and those particular orphans were given some gifts and sat in the front row.

As you can see in the photo above, the students in China wear uniforms to school. I have more photos of the orphans, and as you can tell, they were different ages. Global Partners in Life made a commitment to them that, regardless of their age, we would pay for their school fees, school supplies, uniforms, books, and lunches until they graduated from high school. I am thankful to report that 19 of the 20 did actually graduate from high school. One boy ran away one month before he graduated, and we have no idea what happened to him after that.

I am so thankful the donors of Global Partners in Life enabled us to meet the needs of these 20 orphans. Through their contributions, we were able to change the trajectory of these children’s lives by helping them receive an education.

We would love for you to partner with Global Partners in Life also!

Bathhouse

August 15, 2019 — Leave a comment

When I was teaching at a university in China, most of the dorms were located in the northwest section of the campus. The dorms were heavily populated, and to be honest with you, poorly illuminated in my opinion. At the end of each hall there were bathrooms with several sinks, mirrors, and toilets. There was one very important thing missing — would you like to know what it was?

The dormitories didn’t have any showers! To shower, the students would have to leave their dormitory and go to the nearby bathhouse. Check out the bathhouse in the photograph below!

Obviously this building has more than one floor, and that is good for separating the males and females. I believe the boys are on the first floor and the girls were on the second floor. Another interesting thing about the housing involves the teachers. If you were a single teacher, you were given a room in the dormitory. On the other hand, if the teacher was married, they were given an apartment. For the single teachers in the dormitory, they didn’t like going to the bathhouse with their students.

Many of the students had plastic basin that they would take to the bathroom to fill with water and then bring to their dorm room and wash up a little before they went to bed. By the way, the photo below is from one of the student’s room that had 13 people living in it! Did I mention earlier the dorms were heavily populated? This particular room was on the end of the building and larger than the other rooms. 

While teaching at this university, I was always impressed by how clean the students were and their clothes. You guessed it: they didn’t have a place to wash their clothes on their hall either!

Please allow me the honor of introducing you to my new friend Bini Singh. Bini is one of the 20 elderly rural widows in India with health problems whom Global Partners in Life is trying to provide for and encourage. She is not exactly sure of her age, nor does she have any shoes! Would you like to meet her?

Originally, our meeting was scheduled to be on the second floor of the building where we met. But we realized that due to her health condition, Bini could not climb the stairs, so we relocated our meeting to the first floor.

Bini lives in an area where 55% of the females are illiterates. Day labor is the most common work for the males, and the husbands aren’t able to — or simply can’t afford to — make any financial arrangements for their wives, in the event of their dying before their wives. Their only hope is the oldest male son, and if he isn’t able to or won’t provide for his mother, then she is in a horrible situation. 

Unfortunately, Bini has a curved back and bad legs, so she struggles just to walk. She uses a bamboo stick to stabilize herself.

I will add another photo or two of Bini as she was giving up hope of attending our meeting on the second floor. Hopelessness is a common emotional state for the widows we met and are trying to assist by building a facility where they can live, have meals prepared for them, have a medical room, get counseling, and have a meeting room where they can have fellowship with others.

As you can see in the photo below, Bini couldn’t climb the stairs, so she just laid down to have a rest. She was exhausted from traveling to the meeting and she had a cool floor to lie on, so she took advantage of it! The photo was taken from the second floor looking down the stairwell. 

Global Partners in Life, along with the help of our partners in India, plan to break ground on the above mentioned facility this summer. We are trying to raise additional funding to complete the building and give these poor widows a roof over their heads, running water, and a place to call home! 

If you would like to contribute, please visit our web site at globalpartnersinlife.org.

The Community Cup

July 15, 2019 — Leave a comment

If you ever think you have traveled enough in your life so that nothing in a new culture will surprise you, don’t be shocked when it does happen. At least that was the case for me! 

During my first trip to India, I was very surprised to learn of something they do in their culture that was unexpected, and caught me by surprise. Would you like to know what it was?

In the photo above, you can see a normal looking street-side restaurant in eastern India. The people would place their orders and wait for their food to be prepared in an outdoor kitchen. Once the patron had been served their order, they would eat their food standing around the restaurant amid the hustle and bustle of a busy street — but did you notice something in the foreground of the photograph?

In India, it is common for a restaurant to have a cooler setup with water in it and one glass for everyone to use! Now that alone may shock you, but there is a little more to it, and it isn’t as bad as germaphobic people may think. There are cultural norms for using the community cup, and the rules are very simple. Would you like to know about them?

The community cup is there for everyone to use; but when using the cup, it can never touch your lips! It is very interesting to watch people holding the community cup well above their mouths as they have their heads tilted and never spilling a drop. Honestly, I am relatively sure I would pour water all over my face and probably my shirt as well until I had some practice, but I never saw anyone using the cup ending up looking like they had a quick shower with their clothes on!

I found this little nugget of culture both interesting and entertaining. So, are you ready to drink from the community cup? 

In my last blog about the work of Global Partners in Life, I shared about how we have a vision to build a facility for 20 elderly widows living in a rural area of India. On the day I got to meet the ladies in desperate need of assistance, they got to share their stories; and out of the 20, a few of them truly stood out and touched my heart. Would you like to meet one of them and hear her story?

A Sad Situation for My New Friends

This is Khanjagini Singh, and she is over 65 years of age, but we are not sure exactly how old she is. At one point after her husband died, she lived with her son. Unfortunately, must husbands don’t make any financial plans for their wives, so she had nothing when her husband died. In this rural area, there are not many good consistent jobs for the men, so most people are common day laborers when they can find work. Taking care of his mom was an unwanted financial burden for her son and his family. 

When this situation was at the worst it could be, the son punched Khanjagini in the mouth and knocked out one of her teeth. That was the day the son kicked his mom, Khanjagini, out of his house!

As Khanjagini was telling us her stories, her facial expressions changed and she cried almost the entire time she spoke, so I know her son’s actions hurt her soul as well as her mouth. Some of the things we take for granted are a huge struggle for her, as she looks for clean water, food, medical care, and hope.

I will share a photo with you of Khanjagini as she told us about her son beating her and throwing her out of his home.

A Sad Situation for My New Friends | BeauSides.com

These ladies are in truly in need of assistance, and they live day to day not knowing where their next meal will come from or who is going to assist them. That is why it is so critical for Global Partners in Life to come to their aid. 

Will you help us? Please visit our website and donate to such a worthy cause!