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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

What Comes Next …

So, I have some news and now that it’s out of the bag at work I figure that it’s time to tell the world that …

… I’ll be leaving my job at CHAI in November. I haven’t figured out what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be next. In the meantime I’ll be doing some traveling and then staying in Lesotho a little longer until I do (or winter comes around again, whatever comes first …)

There. I thought that writing this for the world to know would make it feel more real. It does not. I am both sad and excited, but right now mostly sad. If I think about leaving what has been my home for the last 6 years I get weepy. At the same time I know that there’s a great opportunity out there for me, now I just have to find it. It’s a very strange feeling.

As I mentioned above I plan travel a bunch after my last day with CHAI as it happens to correspond to a return trip to India for the wedding of more friends. (Yes, my third wedding in an 8 month period. All friends who I met in Lesotho, 4 of whom met their partners in Lesotho.) I all of a sudden realised that I had free time to travel and then couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then there was decision paralysis when the number of options started to overwhelm me. In the end I decided to tack on a trip to Nepal and Bhutan at the end of my time in India. It will be a little chilly, but no worse than Lesotho in winter. Altogether it is going to be the longest trip I’ve ever been on and the longest time I’ve spent traveling by myself. It’s going to be pretty awesome.

In the meantime I am very actively looking for my next opportunity. So, people, shoot me an email if you know of anything! I would love to find something in South Africa but am pretty flexible geographically as long as the job is challenging.

I’ll leave you with some cheesy sayings that I pinned on Pinterest awhile ago but that have even more meaning to me at this phase in my life. There will be a lot to process in the coming weeks so I imagine that I’ll be writing here more than usual. Stay tuned 🙂

26973-how-lucky-i-am-to-have-something-that-makes-saying-goodbye-somondayquotebegginingsss 2015-10-09 18.34.49

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World Blood Donor Day

Did you know that today is World Blood Donor Day? Thanks to a friend who works at the UN here (and who are having a blood donation drive today) now I do. Honestly, I am not normally a fan of these “World (Health Issue) Day”‘s because they are typically just an excuse to spend money on food and t-shirts. This, however, is close to my heart since I made a pledge to become a regular blood donor as part of my 17 Before 2017 list. Unfortunately I waited too long to go back since the first time I donated in January and was recently advised not to since I am so close to climbing Kilimanjaro and I need all the red blood cells I can get. For those of you who can, however, go out and donate!

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RIP Sargent Shriver

I was saddened to learn of Sargent Shriver’s death yesterday (via FB, of course.) Meeting him was the starting point of my Peace Corps journey, and ultimately how I ended up living here. I volunteered for his son’s (Mark) campaign for Congress in 2001/2002 and at a community parade was assigned with others to keep Sargent Shriver company. Honestly, at that time I didn’t know why he was important except for being President Kennedy’s brother-in-law. I remember clearly the next week at work Googling his name, reading that he established and was the first Director of Peace Corps and following a link to the Peace Corps website. The rest is history. Eight years later I’m a RPCV living abroad – a direction I never would have imagined for my life when I was assigned that day of volunteering. Thanks, Sargent Shriver, rest in peace.

R. Sargent Shriver: 1915 – 2011 | National Peace Corps Association.

Edited to add: Here is a particularly good piece about his life by his biographer Scott Stossel in The Atlantic. Highly recommended.

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Getting back on the bandwagon in 2011

I was inspired by my sister to get back into posting on my blog, and ignore the fact that I haven’t posted for a number of months (*ahem* 8?). I aspire to be as entertaining and emotional as my friend Patricia Sully whose blog entries I have grown to really look forward to, but really I’m just hoping to record a bit of everyday life. No pressure on brilliant writing. Let’s see how this goes.

With that said, did you catch The Sing-Off over the holidays? I watched the first season when I was in SLC for Christmas in 2009, but admit that I lost interest towards the end because I thought they were picking all the wrong groups to move forward. This year, iTunes had the first episode available for free and after I watched it I was totally hooked and paid $5 for the “Season Pass.” It’s on my mind right now because I’m actually re-watching the last couple of episodes in the background as I write this. I thought the audience was a little too eager to give standing O’s, but the groups were so great! I may or may not have downloaded some of the individual performances too like Come on Eileen and Down on the Corner by Street Corner Symphony or Landslide by The Backbeats. I was also inspired to download the original of Grace Kelly by Mikka after watching the Wiffenpoofs performance on the first episode. Now that I’m writing this I realize that I am the reason they have this show, because I am a sucker for great performances and totally go out and buy them!

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Glee premier tonight!

I am sooo stoked for the premier of Glee tonight on Fox. I was in love from the first promo ad during American Idol. I’ve watched the pilot episode (first aired in May) about 5 million times. And THEN they came out with this Gold Digger clip and it was all over. I mean, I even PAID to download the Director’s Cut even though I had already downloaded the Pilot episode for free on iTunes. I am deeply, madly in love. Can’t wait to download tonight’s episode when it’s available! (Oh, and I will be disappointed haholo if the President’s speech preempts the premier …)

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Stayaway update

I thought this story from the local paper describe the outcome of the stayaway perfectly:

Workers let us down: Thabane : Lesotho Times.

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I found this pretty interesting so I thought I’d share. Also interesting is the fact that the Government of Lesotho is already starting people on HAART if they have a CD4 less than 350. So obviously they’re ahead of the times from a lot of other country programs out there.

SOUTH AFRICA: NEW LEASE FOR PMTCT
http://allafrica.com/stories/200907210693.html
ALL AFRICA

JULY 21, 2009

Returning the focus to an HIV prevention method that has been known to work for over a decade holds the key to not just eliminating pediatric AIDS, but putting South Africa on the road to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, reducing deaths among mothers and children, uplifting health systems and drawing men into HIV services.

The Prevention of Mother to Child transmission, or the prevention of vertical transmission as it is now known, has been given a new lease of life at the 5th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2009) taking place in Cape Town this week.

A passionate Stephen Lewis, co-Director of AIDS-free world and former special advisor to the United Nations, fired the first salvo while speaking at the opening ceremony on Sunday when he turned his attention to the issue “commonly known as PMTCT – prevention of mother to child transmission.”

“This should have been the easiest intervention of all, instead we’ve had a panorama of unnecessary death for both the mothers and their children. So-called PMTCT has been a colossal failure, subjected to twisted linguistics, lousy science, governmental chicanery, and astonishing delinquency on the part of the United Nations agencies. Only now is the political establishment coming to its senses. But it needs your help so that it never goes off the rails again,” said an emotional Lewis.

Lewis pointed out even now a dreadful double standard prevailed – “In the industrial world we used full HAART (antiretroviral therapy); in the developing world we still use, in the majority single dose nevirapine”.

“You’re the scientists, you know what that means in terms of unnecessary infant infection and death,” he told the more than 5 000 delegates, mostly from outside of Africa.

Figures presented at IAS 2009 by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation’s Dr Christian Pitter showed that the vertical transmission rate (from the mother to child during birth) was over 30% when the mother’s CD4 count (measure of immune cells in her blood) was below 200.

This is compared to a transmission rate of just over 5% among mothers with CD4 counts of above 500. Those with a CD4 count of above 350 transmitted HIV in less than 10% of births.

By one year, over 25% of these HIV infected children are dead, with hospitals in South Africa recording rates closer to 40%.

“There is no doubt in my mind that if a women’s CD4 count is less than 350 that she needs to be put onto full antiretroviral therapy immediately,” said Dr Francois Venter of the Reproductive Health Research Unit in Johannesburg.

Lewis also accused the world of abandoning mothers. “In 2007, only 12 percent of pregnant women living with HIV identified during antenatal care, were assessed for their eligibility to receive ARV treatment. That’s an unconscionable neglect of women that smacks of vestigial misogyny,” Lewis said.

Nicholas Hellmann, Executive Vice President of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation said that too many women were slipping through the cracks and that the critical message of keeping the mother alive beyond the PMTCT program had to reach everyone from politicians to the ante-natal clinics where women access services while pregnant.

Lewis also turned his outrage to the confusing messages being sent out around infant feeding and he called on the United Nations to mount a massive global education campaign to replace myths with facts.

Speaking at yesterday’s plenary session Dr Louise Kuhn of Columbia University in the United States showed that 84% of postnatal HIV transmission happened among mothers with CD4 counts of less than 350 while they were breastfeeding – the transmission rate among this group is 12%.

If these mothers were to be placed on full antiretroviral therapy the transmission rate could be reduced to 1%.

Kuhn’s research also showed that by promoting formula feed, the transmission of HIV was virtually eliminated, however the mortality rate among the HIV exposed babies remained unchanged.

Both South Africa’s health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe have made strong commitments towards improving South Africa’s floundering PMTCT program which is lagging behind much lesser resourced African countries.

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