The Graceful Beauty of a Rainforest Flower

“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth”. –  Bradley Whitford

As I am filled with utter dread about the stark reality that our nation now has a leader who appears to be against every single thing that matters to me and my beliefs, I search the darkness for a shimmering light. A candle in the unknown that glows and grows within me.

I was not able to attend the Women’s March in DC yesterday nor the local one here in St. Paul, Minnesota. I doubted my choice over and over again but despite not physically being present I was there 100% in spirit. When I browsed over my Facebook feed late last night, I felt nothing but pride. There were all my amazing friends and fellow advocates, all around the world out there standing up for their beliefs. None of the protests that they attended were violent or disrespectful. They were all full of beauty and grace.

It restored my faith in democracy, and it gave me hope again in humanity. I fully believe that every person should be able to have their own beliefs, even if I don’t agree with them. However, I am not going to support a government that does not respect human rights and our planet nor am I going to become complacent. I have joined several causes -even more than ever before – to get educated on what I need to know and what I need to do. I am not going to give up quietly. There is too much at stake.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal”. – Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream, 1963.

In the meantime, I wanted to leave some photos of the gorgeous flowers I found in the rainforest of Costa Rica. Their graceful, fragile beauty symbolize the beauty of the women I know and have never met who have fought so hard to be treated as equals.

At yesterday’s Women’s March in Saint Paul, Minnesota (with record attendance of over 90,000 making it one of the largest political marches in Minnesota history) Newly elected State Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis (the first Somali woman in the United States to be elected to public office) poetically said:

“I hope to remind people that it is our differences that make our country beautiful.” 






“Sooner or later, even the fastest runners have to stand and fight”. – Stephen King

Global Issues Humanitarian SOCIAL GOOD TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY Weekly Photo Challenges Women and Girls
Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota

A light in the dark days ahead

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before”. –  Edgar Allan Poe


Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota


There I stood. Looking at the dark, painful world in despair. Not knowing how I would rise out of bed each and every day with the roar of ugliness that has suddenly filled my heart.

How would I look into those young innocent eyes of my children without sadness and despair?

How would I continue to walk this earth with gratefulness and love when it no longer was there?

Yet alas I’m a fighter. I cannot let it win. I must not let my voice be quieted, I must stand up and speak out loud and clear and let my voice sing.

I am a fighter. I will always fight for my beliefs and will be a voice for the voiceless.

I will not let hate bring me down.

I will not let tyranny rule my life.


I will stand up,

be tall,

use my voice,

and proudly wear those pants.

I will never ever let myself fall so low.


I will let light

and the promise of hope

for a better future for our children

fulfill my days with gratitude,

beauty and grace.

I will never ever give up.



“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” –  Carl Jung


Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”. –  Desmond Tutu


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”. –  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness”. –  Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota
“I  will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars”. –  Og Mandino

Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”. –  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning”. – Albert Einstein

Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own”. –  Michelle Obama
Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”. –  Barack Obama
Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within”.-  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“Now, as a nation, we don’t promise equal outcomes, but we were founded on the idea everybody should have an equal opportunity to succeed. No matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, you can make it. That’s an essential promise of America. Where you start should not determine where you end up”. –  Barack Obama

We shall overcome. Peace.

Mkuru Training Camp Maasai Tanzania

One Love for Humankind

One love refers to the universal love and respect expressed by all people for all people, regardless of race, creed, or color. —The Urban Dictionary

Anne McCarthy writes: “I realized that the universe is constantly whispering words of love: expressions of pure joy, respect, loyalty, and sacrifice for someone other than ourselves, and instructions on letting go and focusing on what is most important in this world”.

Her remark could not be more poignant today as we face an opportunity to either open the doors and embrace others different from ourselves or build a wall and shut the door. We are at a critical time in history in which more and more democracies including our own are struggling to keep intolerance, injustice and hate out of becoming who we are. With the rise of politicians and people breeding hatred and intolerance of others based on gender, religion, sex and ethnicity, it frightens me. I wonder what kind of world my children will live in. One of ignorance and hate or one of acceptance and love. It is a scary time in history.

Without getting too political or depressing, I wanted to share with you what my belief is in “one love”. Why I believe that we should open our doors to others instead of turn away. The world is an amazing place and a huge part of what makes it so incredibly magical is us. All of us. Not just the white, catholic christians. Everyone. Black, brown, yellow, white. Jewish, Muslim. Christian, Buddhist or atheist. All of us.

That is what one love means.


Mkuru Maasai Training Camp

Mkuru Training Camp Arusha Tanzania

Mkuru Training Camp Maasai Tanzania

Me and Mary

Mkura Maasi Training Camp TanzaniaKilimanjaro Orphanage Moshi Tanzania

Moshi Tanzania

Of course I couldn’t resist getting my picture taken with these lovely girls.

Kilimanjaro Orphanage Moshi Tanzania

Holding a small child at the Kilimanjaro Orphanage Centre in Moshi, Tanzania.

IMG_2052-1Jamel, Haitipapier-mâché artisans Jacmel HaitiJacmel HaitiP1020353-1

Mosebo Village

In Ethiopia at Mosebo Village. June 2014

Our multi-cultural team to Haiti. How I wish these lovely ladies all lived here!

Our multi-cultural team to Haiti. How I wish these lovely ladies all lived here!

Condoriri Valley Bolivia

Cerro Austria Bolivia

Eugenia, our cook, inside the “kitchen” tent gives us a big smile.

Carnival Port au Prince, Haiti 2015Aymara Women La Paz BoliviaStreet Photography Havana

Sisters in Cuba

Hair Braiding in Havana

Hair Braiding in Havana

Cuban Street PhotographyLos tres amigos de Cuba

How would I have met and talked to Tomas if I was on the bus all day long?

Maria. Guatemala.

Maria. Guatemala.

Honduran childRoutan HondurasXela GuatemalaHonduras

Volunteering in Morocco, I get Henna done.

Volunteering in Morocco, I get Henna done.

Volunteering in Costa Rica

Volunteering in Costa Rica

The Great Wall of China

Entos Eyesu Monastery Lake Tana, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Smiling at her Polaroid of herself.

Bete Maryam Monastery Bahir Dar Ethiopia

I bought this small painting for my home.

Faces of Ethiopia

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: One Love.

Global Issues Humanitarian SOCIAL GOOD TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY Weekly Photo Challenges

Why is it so hard to talk about race in America?

“Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome”. – Rosa Parks

I’ve always been an avid reader and the more I travel, the more I want to read and learn about different cultures and perspectives around the world. Lately however I’ve been on a quest to learn more about our own country and identity, and reexamine my own personal beliefs and perspectives. What is the American culture and where is it headed? As a nation based on immigration and “life, liberty and justice for all” why does racism and other intolerances and hatred still continue to exist and why does it exist so strongly?

Recent events have made me question our country and the intolerance of some people who judge others based on race, sex, homosexuality, class and religion. As these issues come to a head and play in our minds, some are improved (such as gay marriage rights) while others continue to be ignored. The increased police brutality against black young men has been on the news 24/7 yet has our conversation really even begin to touch the real roots of racism? Are we as a nation truly able to speak honestly and openly about race and what it means to be black in this country? No.

In order to answer these questions, I’ve done a lot of soul searching and reading. I devoured Maya Angelou’s famous book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and just last week I completed the brilliant novel “Americanah” by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which brings the issue of race, class and status of immigrants in America to an entirely new level. Quite honestly, this book has really made me think about race issues in America and in a very different, unsettling way. It has also dismantled the American Dream quite easily but I’ve never been that naive to believe that simply coming to America would be a cure for all.

Our multi-cultural team to Haiti. How I wish these lovely ladies all lived here!

Our multi-cultural team to Haiti. How I wish these lovely ladies all lived here! All my friends in Minnesota sadly look like me. Although the population has become much more ethnically diverse over the last 20 years, communities are still segregated economically and racially.

Global Issues Humanitarian SOCIAL GOOD

Freedom of Speech and the Internet

It is unquestionable that the Internet has changed the world. It has opened doors and global pathways that never existed before and has made the world a smaller place. With the Internet, things once deemed impossible are possible. The Arab Spring, the rise of instant millionaires and celebrities of previous “no names”, the power of a voice to change and move governments, companies and people. The small ideas such as the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” a social media phenomenon that started with one person and went viral raising an unprecedented millions of dollars for charity. The Internet has become so engrained and so much a part of our lives it is almost unimaginable to not have access to it.

Yet out of the estimated 2.7 billion users worldwide of the Internet, a shocking one-third of these users do not have free, uncensored access per Google’s Senior Policy Analyst Ben Blink. Millions of people are denied the basic human right of the freedom of speech on the Internet. They can’t comment, they can’t “like”, they can’t post pictures, they can’t write, they can’t blog, and they can’t freely search the Internet without censorship.

Global Issues SOCIAL GOOD
Levi Resort, Lake Hawassa Ethiopi

Pesky Monkeys and Lake Awasa

We arrived in Hawassa (also known as Awasa), a city located 270 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, around late afternoon to beautiful weather. Our hotel was located right on Lake Awasa, a beautiful, pristine lake set against the mountainous backdrop of the Great Rift Valley. Our group of journalists were staying two nights in Hawassa where we would visit the Regional Hospital, a Health Center and a Health Sciences College to learn about their maternal and newborn care in the region. It was our first visit to Southern Ethiopia and I was excited for the meetings and interviews ahead.

I had been warned about the monkeys from our Program Director who told me stories about their bravery at jumping from the trees and snatching your breakfast right out of your hands. Although they were rather pesky I still enjoyed watching them play with their humanlike fingers and features. They were a fun photo subject while I passed away a free Sunday afternoon.

Hawassa, Ethiopia

The monkeys greeted us as we arrived at our hotel. This one enjoyed watching us from atop a parked car.

I was thankful to have a room with a beautiful view of Lake Awasa where I could get some writing done and relax a bit after a rather exhausting trip. It was my first two-week journalism trip away from home and although it was incredibly exciting and fascinating sleep was something that was lagging. I had to admit I was exhausted.


Blog Action Day 2013: Human Rights and Genocide

Today is Blog Action Day, where thousands of bloggers from around the world use their voice to advocate change. This year’s topic is Human Rights, and if you’ve read my blog you know I write passionately about my belief that all people should be granted the same universal rights.

Before I begin my post, I wanted to share with you the history behind The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (to read the declaration in full click here):

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, was the result of the experience of the Second World War. With the end of that war, and the creation of the United Nations, the international community vowed never again to allow atrocities like those of that conflict happen again. World leaders decided to complement the UN Charter with a road map to guarantee the rights of every individual everywhere.”

Source: United Nations 

I have always been a strong advocate of human rights. I believe that everyone is created equal and this strong belief is why I spend so much of my time writing and advocating on social good. The world is a highly inequitable place and human rights abuses are happening every single minute of the day. Human rights abuses range from poverty, lack of safe water and sanitation, food insecurity, lack of education, and inequitable global health services to the terrible impact of war, human trafficking, violence and rape, and genocide. Human rights abuses also include lack of freedom of speech, religion, sex, race, color, language, political views and so forth. The dark list of human rights violations is  difficult to comprehend.

Save the Children distributes bread to residents of Za'atari refugee camp

Save the Children distributes bread to residents of Za’atari refugee camp. Photo credit: Nicole Itano/Save the Children

In my opinion, all human rights abuses are equally horrifying and wrong. Yet one that has stuck a chord in my heart is the continuation of genocide.  When you look at the history and timing behind the Declaration of Universal Human Rights, you see that it was created to help avoid further tragedies like the Holocaust. Yet, have we truly stopped genocide? Over 60 years later after the mass genocide of the Holocaust, I am struck by how these unspeakable horrors continue to happen today. The dark, devastating tragedies of Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur, and now Syria to name a few remain a raw reminder that not much has changed.

Rami*, two, at her home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. *All names have been changed to protect identities. Photo Credit:  Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

Rami*, two, at her home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. *All names have been changed to protect identities. Photo Credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

Although genocide can be extremely difficult to stop, we do have ways to ease the pain of the millions of victims trapped within a civil war. Look at Syria. As millions of Syrians are fleeing the country trying to escape the horrors of the war, they are overflowing into refuge camps in neighboring countries with little or nothing to eat and drink. Relieving refugees’ plight is a human rights issue and a legal right per Kevin Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.* The UN and various NGOs are working to get aid delivered within Syria as well as to the millions of children and adults living in camps. If we can’t stop the war within Syria, can’t we help the people survive?

As Queen Noor of Jordan said to a large audience of youth in Minnesota about the tragic war in Syria:

“As in every war, the most vulnerable victims – no matter who wins or who loses – are young people. Their dreams, their hopes, their childhoods are being stolen in a war they had no part in creating, in which they have no voice. This is above all else a children’s crisis”. *

Just like the millions of families killed or left to try to piece back together their lives after the destruction of WWII and the Holocaust, isn’t it time we gave these children some hope for a better life? Hope that they will not only be alive but also have the tools and strength to help someday rebuild their war-torn country?

Related posts:

The Children of Syria: Hunger in a War Zone

The Power of We (2012 Blog Action Day)

*Jordon’s Queen Noor lays out Syrian refugee situation via Star Tribune/John Rash

Author’s note: During my years at University, I studied French and International Relations with a focus on Western Europe. I studied a lot about the Holocaust and while I lived abroad in France, I had the opportunity to visit a concentration camp in Germany which was utterly heartbreaking. Today, I continue to read quite a bit on this time period and here are a few of my recommended reads. Also, if you are ever in Washington DC, the Holocaust Museum is a must.

Recommended books on the Holocaust

-“Sarah’s Key ” by Tiatiana de Rosnay   

The Invisible Bridge” by Julie Orringer

-“Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl”

-“La Nuit” (The Night) by Elie Wiesel

-“The Boy in Striped Pajamas” – by John Boyne

Resources to learn more:

A friend and fellow blogger Jennifer Prestholdt is the Deputy Director at Minneapolis-based The Advocates for Human Rights who has a fabulous website and publication detailing Human Rights. To read it click here. Jennifer blogs at The Human Rights Warrior.

Founded in 2007, Blog Action Day brings together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included water, climate change, poverty and food with thousands of blogs, big and small, taking part. This year’s Blog Action day is October 16th and the theme is “Human Rights”. 

To view other Blog Action Day posts, search the following hashtags on Twitter: #BAD13, #HumanRights, #Oct16

Global Issues Humanitarian SOCIAL GOOD
First Day of the Social Good Summit

Highlights from the 2013 Social Good Summit

At the start of this week I was fortunate to attend the 2013 Social Good Summit in New York City. Held at the 92nd Street Y in partnership with Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, Ericsson and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Social Good Summit is a three-day global conversation on how we are using social media and technology to change some of the world’s most pressing issues.

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 11.27.02 AM

This year’s theme was #2030now and basically asked the global community one thought-provoking question: In a global digital landscape that focuses on the now, where do we want to be by 2030 and how can digital tools help us reach our goals.

The highly intense three-day summit covered a broad range of today’s most urgent issues such as climate change, global health, poverty, energy and education, and pulls together some of the most prolific, influential thinkers and global change-makers in the world.  We got to hear from such amazing visionaries as Melinda Gates, Al Gore, US Ambassador Samantha Power, Malala Yousafzai, Sir Richard Branson and more. Furthermore, the global reach of the Social Good Summit was huge: It was livestreamed in 120 countries and translated into seven languages making it truly a global event.

For me, it was the second year in a row that I attended the Social Good Summit and it was amazing, inspiring and extremely overwhelming. I learned so incredibly much and was so inspired over the past few days that it is going to take me quite awhile to process all the information I learned.

I wanted to share a few highlights of the Summit below and look forward to sharing more in depth stories over the new couple of months on my blog.  Highlights of the Summit included my first visit to the United Nations Headquarters where I got to listen to a panel called “Africa Rising”, attending an intimate roundtable hosted by Save the Children, ONE and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the crisis in Syria, and also catching up with my growing number of wonderful online social good bloggers and friends.

Some of my key take-aways from this year’s Social Good Summit include:

  • The power of our voice via social media to be heard and make change. It inspires and encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing by covering social good issues and stories.
  • The amazing power of technology to make change: There are 3.3 billion people in the world that currently have access to cell phones and this number is estimated to hit 95% of world population by 2014 which is an amazing opportunity for change.
  • The opportunity of future “millennials” in the world. We must get the youth empowered and inspired to make change as they will represent a large part of the world’s population.

The Social Good Summit made me realize that there is hope. Covering such tragic social good issues for the last year sometimes seems like it is a daunting, unachievable dream to end poverty, suffering and preventable deaths. Yet, after listening to these amazing people who are changing the world as we speak, I’ve realized that positive change is possible and there is a tremendous amount of opportunity to make the world a better place. Of course we can’t change some of the evils of mankind. There will always be fighting and bloodshed and war. Yet we do have the tools to end poverty and preventable deaths. I left feeling inspired that someday the world will be a better, more equitable place for all.


Favorite Quotes/Tweets from Social Good Summit that inspired me

“Youth are the next generation leaders. They are #2030NOW”. On stage right now @stacymartinet@CrownPrincessMM@HelenClarkUNDP

“The price of inaction has become higher than the cost of action. Enough is enough.” – Paul Polman #2030NOW

“There usually comes a moment in our lives when we all decide we need to believe in something” – Ben Keesey, Invisible Children #2030NOW

“Remind people that they are more powerful than they think, engage them to create change” @BenKeesey #2030NOW @plus_socialgood

“It doesn’t have to be money, it can be your voice. Just give back @HelenClarkUNDP #2030now #SocialGoodSummit

“Photographers tell the story of who we are today & can inspire who we become tomorrow” @marcusbleasdale #2030Now

“Theme this year of #2030now because today’s children will be tomorrow’s change makers”. #ActOnClimate

“Social media is changing the world, and we’re all here witnessing it.” -@iansomerhalder #2030NOW

There will be 1 billion mobile phones in #Africa. ‘#malaria will be the first disease to be defeated by mobile’ -@MNM_Martin at #2030now

“Citizens have the capacity to put an issue on the map.” -@AmbassadorPower #2030NOW

“Without peace there is no development, and without development there is no peace” Jan Eliasson #2030NOW

‘Water is peace’…2000 children under age of 5 die everyday due to problem of sanitation. Eliasson at#2030Now

3.3 billion ppl have access to mobiles – furthest reaching tech in the world #2030now

“20 million children under age of 5 were dying per yr in 1960. Today that figure is 6.6 million.”@melindagates #2030NOW

In 2014, 95% of the world will have access to cell phones. How do we use this technology to make the world better? @melindagates#2030now

“The course of civilization is going to be shaped by us. Make your voices heard.” @algore on the#climatecrisis #2030NOW#SocialGoodSummit

@algore at #SocialGoodSummit – the 18 year olds today are the ones who will change our future. Take action. #2030NOW

20 millions NY consume just as much energy comparable to the 850 on the continent of Africa.#2030NOW #EnergyResponsibility

We cannot succeed if half of us are held back. Women must speak, must raise their voices. – Malala #MalalaFund

In just one day, the amount of time wasted by women collecting water could build 28 Empire State #2030NOW

50 million girls are victims of sexual abuse & exploitation around the world – UNICEF’s Anthony Lake on #ENDviolence at#2030NOW

We must start conversations young to combat gender inequality, especially with boys. The responsibility must not only be on women. #2030NOW

Related Posts:


Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises SOCIAL GOOD
The children of Indira Kalyan Camp

UNICEF on “Committing to Child Survival”

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 10.10.01 AM

One area of development that is near and dear to my heart is child survival. As a mother of two children and a world traveler, I’ve seen firsthand the poverty and pain that many mothers around the world face by protecting their children and giving them everything they can to help them survive.

Often when I work with these children and their mothers, and I learn more about some of the devastating obstacles that stand in the way to raising a healthy, happy child, my heart gets broken. You see, my children were born in the United States to two educated parents who have the ability to ensure they receive good nutrition, safe drinking water and proper sanitation, education, immunizations and health care. Sometimes I scratch my head in disbelief realizing how lucky we are to live in a place where we take these fundamental rights for granted.

I believe strongly that it is our moral obligation to ensure other people around the world have the same opportunities at a healthy life as we do. Yes, the task is incredibly daunting and immense. But we can change things.

Child Labor, Marriage, Education and Survival Global Issues SOCIAL GOOD

Moms advocate for safe water: Recap of World Water Day 2013

Last Friday, March 22 was World Water Day 2013, a powerful day of advocacy and awareness worldwide about the importance of safe water and sanitation. As part of the Global Team of 200, a group of social good mom bloggers from across the country who concentrate on women and girls, child hunger, and maternal health, I wrote my piece titled “Coming together for World Water Day“.


Photo credit: WaterAid

Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good and The Global Team of 200 wrote this piece today on the popular blog site Babble called “Mom Bloggers in the Importance of Water” which documents the work our volunteer team of social good mom bloggers did for World Water Day 2013. I was honored to read it and wanted to share it with you all.

Global Health Global Issues Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises SOCIAL GOOD

Being Half the Sky

“Women hold up half the sky” – Chinese proverb 


Exactly a year ago today I was in Xela, Guatemala on a week long volunteer and spanish immersion trip when I heard the noise off in the distance. It sounded like a parade. I asked my teacher Lilian if she knew what on earth was going on and she replied with a smile, “It’s International Women’s Day!” and asked if I’d like to go see the festivities. I had never heard of International Women’s Day before yet it sounded spectacular. I packed up my school work and Lilian and me were off in a flash to the main square.

There I watched in awe and joy how a community could come together as one and celebrate the rights and beauty of women. It was so incredibly touching that I rushed home and instantly wrote a post on the experience titled “El dia de la mujer in Xela, Guatemala“. Even a year later, the memory of that day will forever be engrained in my heart. It was beautiful so heartbreaking yet also so full of hope.


Violence against women is an enormous problem in Guatemala and sometimes women are victims of abuse and even murder. Lillian told me that this was the first time she remembered having so many men participate in International Women’s Day and was hopeful that it would lead to change.

Global Issues Guatemala SOCIAL GOOD TRAVEL BY REGION Women and Girls

Help Save the Children: Petition for A National Commission on Children


Photo credit: Save the Children

“It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.” – Barack Obama

One of my favorite organizations to work with is Save the Children. Save the Children is one of the leading organizations of helping children worldwide. Their vision is “a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.”

Perhaps because I’m a mom, I feel this innate need to protect children from harm. For children are so innocent and are the future of our world.  That is why I use my voice to advocate for children worldwide whether it by through writing and educating people about children’s issues on my blog, using social media to tweet and share facts and statistics about children or conducting face to face meetings with my members of Congress either here in Minnesota or on Capital Hill.


Photo credit: Save the Children.

However, you don’t need to do all that to be an advocate for children. In fact, you can help out by signing this petition below for the creation of a National Commission on Children. Here are the details:

Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 1.18.17 PM

Petition for a National Commission on Children

1)      The Situation:

  • Every child deserves a happy and safe childhood and an opportunity for a bright future.  But for too many—including the 20 young lives lost in Newtown, CT and the 16 million who live in poverty—that isn’t a reality.
  • The challenges for this generation of America’s children are unlike any we’ve seen before. We cannot stand by and let fear, violence and poverty become pervasive parts of childhood in America.
  • While Save the Children endorses the President’s proposal to curb gun violence, as well as measures to expand mental health services, these are just the first steps toward addressing a very complex issue: the safety and well-being of all children in a country where nearly 1 in 4 lives in poverty.

2)      The Solution:

  • Proactive policy initiatives that protect our nation’s children are critical not only to a child’s development, but to the health and stability of our country.
  • In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Save the Children, together with Children’s Health Fund, Every Child Matters, First Focus, Harlem Children’s Zone and Share Our Strength, has launched a petition urging the Obama Administration and Congress to establish a National Commission on Children. The partner organizations will send their signed call for action to the White House prior to the President’s State of the Union address on Feb. 12.
  • The new Commission should be tasked with creating a national policy on children and setting goals for reducing childhood poverty, obesity, illiteracy, and violence.
  • The support for the petition continues to grow, with more and more prominent organizations joining the cause every day, including the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, Catholic Charities USA , Child Care Aware® of America, Girls Inc., KaBOOM!, National Association of School Nurses and the YMCA of the USA.
  • The first National Commission on Children was formed by President Reagan and Congress in 1987 and ultimately led to the enactment of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, among other important initiatives.  Twenty-five years later, it’s time for another Commission to develop bold, new ideas to tackle today’s challenges.
  • Child protection has been a top priority for Save the Children throughout its nearly 100-year history. The organization’s programs in the United States and across the globe focus on the needs of the most vulnerable children, while aiming to keep all children free from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence.
  • Immediately following the Dec. 14 tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Save the Children—headquartered in nearby Westport, Conn.—deployed staff to provide emotional support to the children and parents in the affected community. 

3)      Call to action and what you can do to help:

  • Now, the entire country must come together to find bold, new ideas to ensure all of America’s children are safe and protected. We can do more, and we must do more. We’re asking everyone to join our urgent call for a National Commission by signing this petition today.

Together let’s make the world a better place and give our children the future they deserve. One of life, liberty and justice for all.

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