Friday, October 29, 2010


Here's what I've learned about Malaria, some of it recently when a student became very ill with the disease: There are (at least) three strains of Malaria. Two of them are less dangerous and one can be very serious. In Malaria prone areas, many people develop some natural immunity. I asked about Malaria many times in Ghana and was told that Malaria was no big deal. Adults get it fairly frequently, get miserably sick, and get well. Much like a bad flu, especially with the less severe strains.

People with weakened immune systems, whether from malnutrition or another disease such as HIV, are at greater risk. Those with no immunity to Malaria, such as travelers from non-Malaria regions, and infants and children with little immunity, are also at a much greater risk. This is why the death rates from Malaria are so high among children under 5 years old.

We were also told in Ghana that most people use mosquito nets, at least in the urban areas because that's where there's education about it. In the rural areas, it is less common, and again, where death rates are high.

The education that NetsForLife is doing is very important. Malaria is only carried by mosquitoes, and by mosquitoes that are primarily active at night. One bed net can protect several people and save the lives of children and adults who are real risk of death.

Poverty around the world is rampant. Corruption in government is commonplace and taken for granted by many. War is all too familiar. Natural disaster - like the Tsunami and volcanic eruption that struck Indonesia this week - is unavoidable. Malaria deaths are one problem that can be interrupted.

Please make a donation to NetsForLife if you haven't already. This month your donation will be matched 100%, doubling it's impact.

Just $12 will buy a net and perhaps save a whole family the terrible grief of losing a child.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Still Sailing!

I know, I know! I'm way overdo on posts! More are coming soon. I'm managing to keep sea sickness to a low hum when we're at sea. But reading and writing is often unpleasant, and our time in port is PACKED! So I'm behind. We arrive in India tomorrow morning. The best part of this is that we will have several weeks of very short sea passages between ports - which is good for sea sickness.

I just saw a new e-mail from ERD announcing that ALL donations to NetsforLife between now and Nov 30 will be matched by a generous donor. SO if you haven't made your donation, yet, now's the time!

More pictures and stories soon!

Saturday, September 18, 2010


The ocean is as smooth as glass today and it feels like the tropics outside. Inside it’s freezing, thanks to the powerful AC system! I apologize for the long delay in posting. We went straight from Spain to Morocco and then back into classes and programs as we head south along the western coast of Africa.

I know words are inadequate to convey all we've seen in just a few short weeks, so I'm hoping I'll be able to upload enough pictures to tell the story.

Our first port was Cadiz, Spain, on the southern tip near Gibraltar. It was once the departure point for ships headed to the New World. Today it is a quiet coastal town with beautiful beaches, a dizzying maze of narrow, winding streets, and an ancient cathedral that served as our hub, thanks to the open plaza and free wi-fi!

Jerez de la Frontera is further South, so hotter and more deeply committed to the custom of Siesta! We wandered along the modern pedestrian mall, had lunch in an outdoor cafe, and then found the Alcazar - a former Moorish, then Spanish castle. The oil press in the Alcazar was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen! It was SO huge!

Seville was stunningly beautiful!

I don't have a picture of the Alcazar that does justice to the amazing tile and stucco work. I could imagine a royal family living in the castle, walking through the hallways, and escaping the heat in these courtyards situated around flowing water channels. It was like being inside a novel.

The cathedral in Seville was utterly overwhelming! I've never seen so much gilt in one place. I think I may have a better understanding of why the Protestant Reformers so eagerly removed all decoration from churches. This is a little over the top for my taste! Though I hear it's glorious at the Easter Vigil when the lights all come on and a dove flies down from the rafters in front of the golden reredos!

The next post will be about Morocco and our stay in a nomad camp on the edge of the Sahara.

Thank you to everyone who has made a donation to NetsForLife We are headed to Ghana and I am very aware of those who struggle to keep their families safe and healthy. It can all be undone by something as simple as a mosquito bite. That bite, and the potentially deadly disease of Malaria can be so easily prevented. $12 buys an insecticide treated need and provides education and awareness to communities at risk. Consider buying a net or two, or making a pledge for each nautical mile we're sailing. Go to NetsForLifeAfrica to make your donation. Put "Nets at Sea" in the business line to join our campaign!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Seasickness, Getting lost, and Getting ready

The seas have been rough! Our first morning out many faculty & staff were sick - including me - in spite of meds. We were assured that most people adjust, and we seem to be. More people are making it to meetings now and look less like zombies. Seasick meeds are free & the doc is carrying them around in his pockets! The sensation of continually rocking is strange - like a balance ball the I can't control & is never still.

The ship is confusing & labrythine! Wandering the halls trying to find which elevator goes to a particular deck or where a room is, is common. I keep getting half way down a hallway and then turning around to go the other direction. Despite all the rocking, it's surprisingly difficult to know which direction we're moving and where the front of the ship is from the lower decks.

While fighting seasickness, we've also been trying to get ready for the students, who begin arriving tonight. There have been a lot of long meetings about procederes, etc. We had a lifeboat dril before we sailed the first night. And we're trying to learn what our jobs are on tris floating campus.

We arrived in Halifax this morning, though it's too foggy to see anything. It was a surprising relief when the engines stopped! We have meetings onboard most of the day, but will hopefully have some time in port this evening. If nothing else, we need to stock up on snacks, now that we know wat we can and can't get onboard and how expensive it is!

The NetsForLife camping is growing! We have another $140 dollars from members of St. Anne's in Stockton!
We'll start counting nautical miles tomorrow evening when we sail from Halifax and begin the (rocky) passage across the Atlantic to Spain.
If you want to join the campaign, leave a comment. You don't need to leave the amount if you don't wat to. But be sure to go to and make your donation. You can place "Nets at Sea" in the business line!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Traveling with a Purpose

In 3 weeks and 2 days I will leave Stockton to head to Virginia (via Houston) for Semester at Sea! I'm spending August through December traveling around the world as a residence life staff member and coordinator of religious & spiritual life for 650 college students from across the country. We will visit 11 countries (not counting the US) over 108 days. It's going to be amazing and I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!

I love to travel and this is a dream trip. I don't want it to be only about my having a good time, though. I've been thinking a lot about the places we'll be and what our visit might mean to the people we'll meet. As a scholar and practitioner of mission I'm hoping to learn a lot about how to respond to the disparities between rich and poor in more effective ways. I don't want to wait until I get back, though. I can't carry medical supplies or cases of Plumpy'nut. But I know that I can take you - at least virtually! So, starting today I am collecting pledges of donations to NetsforLife based on the number of nautical miles we sail.

is a program of Episcopal Relief & Development and a host of other partners that is working to prevent malaria in Africa, largely by providing mosquito nets to people who don't have them - much less the anti-malarial medications I'll be taking. It's an easy fix for a disease that kills a million people every year - most of them under the age of 5.

Our voyage will be about 21,000 nautical miles. A pledge of 1 cent per mile for the whole voyage would amount to $210. So, start thinking about what you can pledge! During the voyage I'll post our progress in the box on the right and we can watch the pledges grow - for the whole voyage or portions of it between ports of call. If you're ready to pledge now, say so in the comments section and encourage others to do the same. I'm going to pledge 1 cent per nautical mile for the whole voyage. Who wants to match it?!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

An Appeal for Haiti from the Sisters of St. Margaret

The Episcopal Church and the Sisters of St. Margaret (an Episcopal religious community) have concentrated on helping all the faithful in Haiti since 1927. The Sisters run programs with the elderly and do work with the poor people throught the area. They also are involved at two schools the order founded, one specifically for the handicapped and the other for children within the neighborhood.

The Sisters of Saint Margaret’s mission in Haiti has never been more needed.

The most recent news received is that Sisters Marie Margaret Fenelon, Marjorie Raphael Wysong, and Marie Therese Milien are alive. They have lost their convent, but are committed to continuing their mission of working iwth the elderly, poor, indigent, and young.

Your urgent support is greatly needed. An unfathomable catastrophe like this in a place that has already known so much hardship is a true tragedy. We are asking for your prayers, donations, and service.

Faithfully yours,
Carolyn H. Darr, SSM Superior
Adele Marie Ryan, SSM Asst. Superior

Donations to the Society of St. Margaret may be made online. Please send donations by mail to: The Society of St. Margaret, 17 Highland Park St., Boston, MA 02119-1436. For updates and more information about the Sisters’ work in Haiti, go to

The Sisters of St. Margaret are an Episcopal Religious Order of women called to glorify God and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ through our worship and work, prayer and common life. Their commitment to God and to one another is expressed through vows of poverty, celibate chastity and obedience. The Sisters maintain a presence in Haiti, and the three working there have been accounted for. They are staying in a tent on the football field at College St. Pierre (which was heavily damaged). Above is a picture of the convent before the earthquake.

Friday, January 15, 2010


We heard yesterday that the children from St. Vincent's are safe. And there are reports that the school was not as damaged as first reported. The sisters are unsure which reports to trust. The women from the Foyer, the sisters' home for the elderly indigent are safe. Several of them are with the sisters at the fields of a nearby college. They have food and water. It is too dangerous to be inside the damaged buildings as aftershocks continue. It sounds like all of Port au Prince is living and sleeping outdoors.

Continue to pray. And give all that you can.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Episcopal Relief and Development

I have spent much of the day frightened and grief struck over the devastation in Haiti. The entire Episcopal compound around the cathedral was destroyed, including the convent of the Society of St. Margaret. I was a postulant at St. Margaret's in Boston ten years ago, and I know two of the three sisters in Haiti, who are miraculously alive and uninjured. There are still hundreds of children from St. Vincent's School for Disabled Children and Holy Trinity School, both started by the sisters, unaccounted for. Haiti is a diocese of the Episcopal Church. These are our neighbors as truly as the people who live on my street. They are our own.

Pray for the people of Haiti. And give what you can. At this moment every dollar will be needed. Episcopal Relief and Development works through local diocesan leadership and has a strong relief infrastructure in Haiti. They have already provided money for Haiti and are prepared to be there indefinitely. Because of the support they receive from the Episcopal Church, 92% of every dollar given will go to Haiti.


Ten years ago this month I became a postulant in the Society of St. Margaret. I decided that