Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Giving From Your Heart


Monday, August 29, 2011

We Ate That Elephant!!!

This is what I said with the biggest smile on my face in my video addressing all who contributed, just before catching my flight to Cameroon after 2 years. It always amazes me to see what can be done when we all come together with pure hearts for something good. In just 3 weeks, we raised over $1600, reaching our goal to complete the Light in Sight project with the Kentaja orphanage in Bandjuidjong, a small village in the West province. People tell me that they are inspired, but I am inpsired the most from this! It never fails that whenever I put myself out there for others, it comes back to reward me much more than I ever thought it would. The words that Ernest spoke to me as a Peace Corps volunteer are very alive:

"Think of others; God will think of you."

Please see more information and photos at www.peacetreeafrica.org or by visiting our Facebook page!

Monday, June 13, 2011


We are currently carrying out the Solar Power project, to be funded and coordinated by Peace Tree Africa in collaboration with Kentaja Orphanage. We intend to complete this project in July 2011.Currently, there is no electricity available for use in the small, poverty-struck village of Bandzuidjong, located in the West province of Cameroon, West Africa. This project will allow for the orphans of Kentaja to spend more of their day studying!!

My sincerest THANKS to all of you who have volunteered your time and provided support to Peace Tree Africa Nonprofit and the Kentaja Orphanage Solar Power project this weekend. There is only one way to eat an elephant- one piece at a time (Desmond Tutu), and a few pieces are out of the way! There is absolutely no way I could do this without you; thank you, thank you, thank you.

We are now $ 245 closer to our goal to provide light for the orphans of Kentaja!! Just $ 1255 to go! Any donation that you can make would be much appreciated at peacetreeafrica.org . You can very easily make a donation via Paypal on our website within minutes. Every dollar counts!

We are also in search of a Country Director to serve as a contact for the artisans and to assist them in producing artwork that will be distributed in the USA. I am looking for a volunteer, preferably a female, who has business acumen, who is driven to work for sustainable development in Cameroon. Are there individuals that you know personally whom you feel would be right for the position? Please contact me for an application. Find more information about this role on our website, peacetreeafrica.org.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Eating an Elephant

"There is a word for taking more than we need- Cancer."

Looking at the list I made for myself, I'm happy to say that I passed the certification courses and exam; I am now officially certified to teach French in Texas! I'm also making my dreams come true, and little by little, seeing Peace Tree Africa take new steps, and became a Business owner in the process! Oh, how we learn as we go...after talking to various business advisers and seeking out all the info that I could, my application was turned in and my fees were submitted to the IRS; I received a call not long after that informed me that Nonprofits are not allowed to have a large source of revenue that comes from the selling of merchandise- et voila, Peace Tree Africa Partnership was born!!

And somewhere in my blindly having faith in the universe, a surprise gift was given to me, and I re-connected with a friend from college. In college, Ryan was... let's just say eccentric. We talked and talked, every time that we ran into each other on campus. He claims it was flirting whenever he would ask me to coffee to help him with his French; I never noticed his glances into the Study Abroad office while I was working there, nor did I realize that he thought so highly of me. I just thought he was a really nice guy. Little did we know that our lives would end up in the same exact direction, and that coming together 5 years later would only create something wonderful and collaborative, and that we would share the same sentiments when it comes to Africa, sustainable development, political status, and values. I was casually dating someone else earlier this year, but when Ryan and I started talking more and more on the phone, it was clear to me that this was something big and that I had better make room for it. He brought a rose and a bone for my dog on the first date! I knew it would only get better from there, and in the past 2 months, it has...he's a better partner than I imagined was ever out there for me, from fabulous dates to making breakfast to making phone calls for my business. He is 110% there for me, and I can only hope that I treat him as well. We are still getting to know each other better, but if I told you that we didn't have plans for Peace Corps, resorts in Africa and grad programs in the North, I would be lying. ;-)

I recently watched a film that I MUST mention. The I AM documentary. I wish that the entire world would sit down and watch the film, and then act accordingly. I've seen it twice, and everyone I have encouraged to see it has loved it. I referenced it in my exit interview when I quit working for the ATX Telematics Corporation just last week. It's THAT good! Some of the messages that I love from the film are:

* The universe provides us with enough. We should take what we need and give the rest to others.
* There is a word for taking more than we need- Cancer.
* WE are the problem. WE need to BE the change.
* Competition is an evil that has made Americans very selfish, so much so that in the same cities that we live in, there is poverty and hunger. If everyone cared, the problem would not be.
* Our energy actually has an impact on the universe, and therefore the simple breath that we breathe out into the universe does change it, in some small way.
* Only one thing can save us- LOVE.
See more about it here: http://www.iamthedoc.com/thefilm/

I quit working as a BMW Response Agent with ATX Telematics, in protest against the machine that treats people like they're robots, and to satisfy my need to do something filled with purpose, dignity and respect, and where my talents & experiences are appreciated. Working 2 jobs that I love, even without benefits and whatever else adults feel like they are supposed to have, makes me much happier. It's not about the money. It's about filling life with as much love as possible. I will also now have a little more time to work toward Peace Tree Africa's goals.

I provide you with such a personal recount of all that I am doing, because I believe that peace SHOULD be personal to all of us, and every choice that we make reflects our values. If nothing else, I will die trying to make the world a little better, even if it takes the rest of my life. As Desmond Tutu says in the I AM documentary film, "There is only one way to eat an elephant.. one piece at a time!"

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hello, 2011!

"Small multiple moves are favored over big leaps, they mount up and you go just as far."

Dear 2010,

How quickly and slowly at once this year has gone by! I'm excited to say goodbye to you, and hello to love in my life in 2011. Goodbye to culture shock, Casey, any tolerance for bad communication skills, goodbye to full time at ATX! Hello to love, love, love! The only law this worls needs, what Jesus actually said was the single most important law to follow. It makes perfect sense, doesn't it? If everyone did everything with love in their heart, this world would be perfect. I'm nowhere near perfect, but Dear God I will continue the fight to make this place just a little better.

I learned a lot from you, 2010.. I've learned that no matter what ideas we have, they are modified to the rules and regulations of this world if you want them to be successful. No matter what expectation I have, or what ideas I wish to bring to life, it must always be modified accordingly. Things this year seemed to take longer, and I'm still learning to accept that, and not stress when it doesn't go just as it happened in my dreams. Age is just a number, I've realized..I spent so much of my time "getting ahead", only to feel like I sunk into a hole of some sort, but it is what it is- my past, and I move along, look ahead. I'm lucky enough to know what I want, and to continuously have the drive to go for it. It wasn't a waste, because I learned a lot: that I'm very forgiving, I go crazy if I stay still for too long, that the way one uses words is important, but much more so are our actions, and finally, I've learned that one cannot rationalize how they feel. 2010, you brought me Amie, and I am so thankful for this precious dog! She is sweet and considerate by her very own nature. You taught me that this crazy world still produces some beautiful, loving souls. I am not alone. And then you have surprised me, much sooner than I thought life would, with people that inspire me again.

Hello, 2011!

I want to become closer to who I truly am with you. I'm willing to make the necessary steps, and I want to be better.

* Amie's vet told me that his resolution was to leave all negative energy in 2010, and not bring any into this year. What a good one! I will take that one for myself too, and while it can be so tough at times, I think I have the perfect support system for it. I am surrounding myself with people that laugh, that see how great life is, that choose to see the good rather than the bad, who actively pursue their happiness.

* I want to complete teacher certification, another way to make a difference in the world.. and obtain a teaching job that allows me to collaborate with a great school, students, secure, peaceful, loving, joyful. And oh how generous you are to have already given me this! Last week I was hired on as a part-time French teacher with a private school!

* I want to look objectively at my relationships, realistically, positively, take my time to trust. Move slow, is the goal. To be honest, patient, supportive.

* To keep in better touch with Alicia and Sarah, my dear friend who I've been blessed to have since studying abroad to France in 2005.

* Go to Mexico!

* To finish reading "Angry and Controlling Men", a book that my sister believes in so much, that she bought a 2nd copy so that I could borrow and read.

* I will choose a day of the week to focus in on PTA's objectives, as this is my ultimate goal, to see Peace Tree Africa flourish. We are currently under review by the IRS for tax exempt status! We will now look for sources of aide and funding for Kentaja Orphanage's solar panels. We need to get a broker, and apply for grants, and to obtain supporters and sponsors.

* I want to visit Cameroon. I miss my brilliant son, Franck (who was THE first in his class this year, and who passed his BEPC Exam with flying colors into the next grade!), and the part of me that thrives when I am IN Cameroon. While I am there, I want to
* Complete Franck's adoption.

* I want to never not be thankful for what I have; enjoy the moment.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

661 Square Feet of Bliss

“To love is not to look out for one and then the other, but is to look and work in the same direction.” – Cameroonian proverb

Another season begins and I feel that some things are meant to be, and some are meant NOT to be. The direction I was heading with Casey, even just living with him, was not the direction I wanted my life to go in. I am disappointed with myself for not having realized that earlier, for ignoring the signs and red flags that would later destroy my happiness. In the words of my friend Jessica Jackson, “You allow people to treat you the way that they do. If you don’t like it, get away from it”. These words are forever engraved in my mind. I won’t go into the details here, but we will just say that the relationship was unhealthy. I have questioned and questioned relationships, trying to figure out what they ought to be (and still am researching), and while I obviously don’t know all the answers, what I have learned from this experience is this: It’s all about how you feel. If you don’t feel good with the person you’re with, it doesn’t matter what logic or twisting of perspective you rationalize with – you’re selling yourself short, and are not getting what you deserve. You deserve to be happy.

We just moved into my new apartment, Amie and I. Oh yes, I have a puppy.

Amie was found in a shelter, in a cage with 6 other dogs, including her brother, all who were attacking her if ever she approached the food bowl. Her bones poked out of her skin, her tail had been cut too short by someone awful, and her eyes were the definition of sad and neglected. When my hopeful mom saw her, she demanded that they let her take Amie home. At this time, she was called Lucky; everyone, including the vet, was hoping, but doubtful, that she would survive. A few weeks later, my mom had nursed her back to health, and her heavy head that once hung low was raised higher. She started to play. My mom told me that she thought she would be a good dog for me, and when I saw her, I wanted nothing more but to give her all the love that she hadn’t received in the past. While she is great responsibility (that many disapproved of at first), she was a great encouragement for me to completely move on. She is a great companion that I prefer to share my life with! She’s loyal, she’s a great cuddler, she is always in a great mood, and provides me with an outlet for my affection and love. That’s why I named her Amie – French for “friend”.

Right now, I am on a positivity, peaceful energy, freedom, new life with Amie, joyful at my own discretion high. I moved, I moved, I moved. I am moving on. It worked out in a way that I can rejoice about, and I am thankful to all my friends and family who have helped me. As I feel I had taken a bit of a step back, I feel that life is pushing forward, for there are too many things for me to discover and appreciate, there’s still so much to love in this life. People I have yet to meet, places I haven’t been yet, ideas I don’t yet understand- I cherish it all.

Peace Tree Africa’s current step involves market research for the DFW area, and calculating the costs and specifics of an importation of products. It’s tedious and exhausting, but nonetheless it’s a step forward.

We have also partnered with KBI, a fellow nonprofit that supports development in Sierra Leone. The organization was actually founded by a dear friend from college, whom I used to tutor in French!! Who could have imagined that we would have both lived in Africa and started nonprofits by this point? Life is quite amazing. With this partnership, we are able to work under their 501 (C) (3) status, that is still pending IRS review (this process is known to take 6 months to a year). So if there is anyone out there that feels it right in their heart to make a donation, provide a grant opportunity, or fund our first importation trip, or if you want to know more about our mission, please go to www.PeaceTree Africa.org.

Friday, August 6, 2010


To those of you out there that read along these lines, to simply the internet space out there, to the energy of the world.. After so long of not keeping up with this page, I want to take just a moment to share how Peace Tree Africa is doing. This is me, this is my focus, this is what I have been called to do. And so here you are, a witness to the roots that I spend most of my free time nourishing.

It's such a time-consuming, learning, fulfilling, lovable process. There is always something to do, but as Will Smith says it, "It takes an obsession about what you're working for to really bring you to success" (by the way, I just discovered a beautiful video that sheds light on his philosophy, and I encourage you to look up Will's Wisdom whenever you return to youtube). We are at the Business Plan phase. In other words, if you thought that form 1023 would break down every aspect of the business, this document demands details broken down from those aspects, and you're asked to consider everything that a potential donor might consider. Milestones and goals. The vision! We have a Vision!

"We envision a sustainable Africa, free of hunger and poverty."

Isn't this wonderful, the fact that I get to put it all out there, the idea that one may find unrealistic, but what we are ultimately striving for?! I feel like a beauty queen behind the scenes, writing out things like that! Yes, behind the scenes, on the ground, getting my hands dirty, with ink for now, LOL... behind chapters that are about to unfold, because I know so-and so do several Cameroonian villages, my parents, the Small Business Development Advisor of Dallas, and Will Smith!

I'm inspired. So often I work my ten hour shifts, miserably, and in between calls I complete a task or two, or I go home at the end of the night and I ask Google to tell me what this business jargon means, and then my mind twists and turns until I figure it out. All this feels good, but when it's validated, and you're sitting there with your 22 page baby, in front of a knowledgeable expert in the field that gives you some hot tips and tells you you're on your way, you feel phenomenal. Like, Okay, I'm getting somewhere!

And you know how the universe sometimes will conspire with you to get what you want? That is happening too, in more ways than one. Some really great fundraiser ideas have been thrown into my lap, which will bring us to the NEXT phase- Funding that tour to Cameroon.

And how I miss it!! I am so emotionally tied to this business, it's ridiculous. The motivational speaker who spoke this morning mentioned the things we hear before we start work every morning. Well, I hear Ernest telling me that this will work because it is God's will, I hear the teachers of CEBEC telling me that they will always pray for me in life, I see Franck's smiling face, I hear gospel music from Sintia's church, and I feel the love and gratitude of the Badzuidjong people, for carrying out the water well project; and I feel a huge responsability to keep on loving this family I've been so lucky to have, and to help them in a huge way.

Ernest e-mailed to let me know that Franck is advancing into the next grade (4ieme) with what's an equivalent to a high "B" !! Proud mother here!!! And I called my good, dear friend Bakari last week. He's saving money for college again this year, working back in Manjo. This makes me a bit sad, as he's such an intelligent kid, who would contrbute so much back to this world if he were only given the opportunity. When I return for business, he is going to be one of my key coordinators to get the shipment together.

When I asked about everyone in my village of Bare, he ofcourse told me that most of them are mad at me, because I haven't called them or returned yet. This is what Cameroonians do, and I love them for it. What's better is, they are very quick to let go of grudges. I know that once I return, with a few gifts ofcourse, everyone in my Cameroonian family will open their arms to me. For now, I work obsessively toward that very vision.