Category Archives: Travel Tales

a joy I find nowhere else

It’s almost 5:00pm and I am on my way home from India and Nicaragua. I am feeling a little ragged around the edges, but it will definitely be good to sleep in my own bed tonight.

I am currently in Atlanta. My flight gets into RDU after 9:00. By the time I get my car and get on the road it will probably be around midnight before I see Lynchburg. Since we left the hotel just a little after 5am that makes for yet another long day, but nothing a good night’s sleep won’t take care of.

I thoroughly enjoyed my brief time in Bangalore. But, the time in Nicaragua was like a cure for all that ails me. Being back in the field brings a joy I can find no where else. It makes all the stress of long flights a long layovers bearable.

I’ll be glad to get home…but the truth is that I would far rather still be in the mountains of Nicaragua working to change the lives of the least of these among us.

Back where it all began

I left Bangalore, India on Monday morning a little after 4:00 after a full day and evening of events. After a mind-numbing flight through Dubai and Houston, Texas, I arrived in Managua, Nicaragua Tuesday night sometime after 8:00. I finally got to my hotel around 9:00 or so.

A driver picked me up Tuesday morning at 5:30 for the three hour drive up to Matagalpa where I met the Fill the Bowls team. We spent the day visiting two schools we support. Since this is the rainy season, we were soaked by the time we got back into the city around 4:30 when we all agreed it was time for a late lunch/early dinner.

It was a fantastic day and again demonstrated to me the immense power that is generated when we all work together. Fill the Bowls is changing the lives of hundreds of children in the four villages where we are working.

For me, this is a special trip. First, I am back in Nicaragua. Nica is the first country I visited when I started Stop Hunger Now. That trip was in January 1998.

Another reason for this trip being so meaningful for me is that I am here as a board member of Fill the Bowls, a nonprofit organization founded and directed by Chessney Barrick, a close and very dear friend, and a former member of the Stop Hunger Now staff.

Seeing the excellent work being done by Chessney and Fill the Bowls is just one more affirmation that we can make a real difference. Working together, we are helping to end hunger in Nicaragua.

I am back where it all started still working to end hunger in our lifetime. Life is good.

it might just be a long day…

Normally I have no trouble with jet lag and different time zones. Not so on this trip.

I got to bed yesterday at 3am. I slept until 11am. After a full day today I turned out the lights at 10:30pm. And…I still haven’t been to sleep. I blame the beautiful Bangalore full moon.

I stayed in bed until 4:30, but finally gave up, got up, and have been working ever since. Hopefully, I might get a short nap before this afternoon when I make my presentation at J.P. Morgan Chase. (it’s always embarrassing when the speaker is the first one to nod off.)

After my first presentation I have a dinner meeting and longer presentation to Stop Hunger Now India’s board and key volunteers. And, unless I miss my guess, that will be followed by a more informal time of getting to know one another and building relationships.

My good friend Dola, the Director of Stop Hunger Now India, has promised me I will get back to my hotel in time to get my bags and check in at 2am for my 4:30 flight to Nicaragua. I just hope I can stay awake long enough to make it onto the plane.

Back in Bangalore

I arrived here in Bangalore, India sometime after midnight this morning. By the time I had gone through immigration, picked up my duffle bag, cleared customs and exchanged some dollars into rupees, it was after 1 am.

The Palms, where I normally stay in Bangalore was full so my excellent staff booked me into the Taj Bangalore Airport. Since the Taj was less than a 10 minute walk that’s what I did. Even after one in the morning the heat and humidity had me breaking a sweat before I got to the hotel.

The staff was as courteous and friendly as I expected, and I got to my room around 2 am. After a hot shower, I still couldn’t get to sleep so I read until after 3 am.

Later today I hope to meet with Stop Hunger Now India’s director. Dola is a dedicated, passionate leader in the fight to end hunger, and I am really looking forward to some time with him.

Tomorrow I am to make a brief presentation at an event hosted by J.P. Morgan Bank, where I get the honor of thanking them for their continued generous support of our efforts to end hunger in our lifetime.

And at 4:30 am on Tuesday, I catch a flight to Managua, Nicaragua. Once there I will switch hats, and represent the board for Fill the Bowls, another life-changing nonprofit.

I’ll admit that the schedule is a little rough, but I wouldn’t change a thing. This is just too much fun.

burning daylight

Today begins a new era of my life. I start writing yet another a new chapter in my life history.

I awoke this morning for the first time in 35 years not actively leading an organization in the fight to end hunger in our lifetime. Even though I have been moving in this direction for a couple years, it’s still a situation that is going to take some major getting used to.

So, I am starting off the new year and this new period of my life by heading into the mountains for a 24 hour retreat. A little time alone in the woods has always been good for what ails me, and I have too long neglected the practice of slipping away for a couple days of primitive camping on a regular basis. That changes starting today.

I will reflect on this in more detail in the days to follow, but for now it’s time to get going. I’m burning daylight as my father used to tell me..

May all of you have a most blessed 2016, and may each of you do more than ever this year to help create a world without hunger.

Well Done SHN SA!

The end of my trip is at hand. Early this evening I am scheduled to leave from Johannesburg and fly to Atlanta and then on to Raleigh. There I will pick up a rental car, go to the Stop Hunger Now office for a couple hours to debrief and catch up on some back administrative chores. After that, I have a 3 hour drive back home to Lynchburg.

It’s going to be a rather long trip, but what makes it worthwhile is all the good work that has been accomplished during my brief time here in Mozambique and South Africa. In Maputo, Mozambique I helped celebrate Ma Machel’s 70th birthday as we packaged 70,000 meals for malnourished school children.

That event was also a milestone for Stop Hunger Now South Africa. It was the first meal packaging event they organized outside of their own country. And the Minister of Education  for Mozambique, who attended and spoke at the event, has already requested that more meal packaging events be scheduled.

Here in Johannesburg I have had a delightful time meeting new staff and new board members. I have also been able to help with some fundraising and to give an official thanks to some of SHN South Africa biggest corporate and faith-based partners.

It’s been a whirlwind of events, meetings and dinners, but I will head for home more proud than ever of the great work being accomplished here on behalf of the hungry. Stop Hunger Now South Africa is our first international affiliate, and it is leading by example. Saira Khan, our Executive Director, and her entire board and staff are demonstrating that we can end hunger in our lifetime. Kudos and “Well Done!” to all of them.

Happy Birthday, Ma Machel!

I am truly sorry I wasn’t able to post yesterday as it was World Food Day. I didn’t get an internet connection until earlier this morning.

However, we did have a wonderful celebration yesterday. In honor of Graca Machel’s birthday Stop Hunger Now South Africa partnered with her foundation, Barlowworld and the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Maputo to package over 70,000 meals in the first meal packaging event ever held in Mozambique. It was quite a wonderful day.

Ma Machel spoke, she shared birthday cake with dozens of children, and she inspired all those gathered as she joined in to help package meals for hungry children here in Mozambique.

She clearly demonstrated why she is so beloved as she tirelessly works to keep the spirit of her late husband, Nelson Mandela, alive. She is a beautiful lady and a true leader in the fight to end hunger in our lifetime. It was a true honor to meet her and work along side her to help change our world.

Happy 70th Birthday, Ma Machel. May God richly bless you, and may you have 70 x 70 more!

heading to a birthday celebration

It’s Thursday. That must mean I am heading back to good ol’ RDU, my second home.

This morning I will grab a rental car and drive down to Raleigh for a flight to Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. My first stop is Atlanta. Then it’s about 15 hours to Johannesburg, South Africa. The final leg  from Joburg to Maputo is only about an hour and a half, but by that point, who cares?

Although getting there is supposed to be half the fun, I think that’s the half I would love to skip. But once there, I know I will be glad I made the trip.

I have been asked to attend the birthday celebration of Nelson Mandela’s widow. It’s a long way to travel for a birthday party, but this is a most special lady, a good friend and a strong supporter of Stop Hunger Now in South Africa and Mozambique. She is a true champion of ending hunger in our lifetime.

So, it’s back on the road again. Stay tuned. There will be plenty more to come as the adventure unfolds.