Huggamugga to keep warm

I make terrible coffee. A lot of people do. But it’s just one of those things; unless you know it yourself, no one will ever tell you — kind of like having bad breath or navel fuzz showing through your dress shirt. So we go through life drinking bad brew, smiling weakly.

There’s hope for me. Confession is a start, and I know people who can help me. To get through winter, it’s time I learned how to make good coffee.

Read on, or continue to drink crappy java.

Be glad. Celebrate sacrifice.

Tonight I’m reading about Zambia, preparing for a client meeting in the morning. The facts are stunning. Horrible. The land-locked southern African country of 11 million people has a HIV infection rate of 50%. Life expectancy is 37 years. One in ten babies born today will die by the age of five. And because so many of the adults are dying so young, there are four million child orphans living in the streets, many having to turn to prostitution to feed themselves and their siblings. And the cycle of decline continues.

These statistics are nearly impossible to grasp. Just an hour ago, I was feeling a bit Sunday-evening blue and somewhat bloated after gorging on chicken quesadillas and a couple of beers after an afternoon of skiing. Today was the most beautiful day. Sunny, not too cold, and brilliantly clear. From the top of Mont Cascade in Quebec the horizon stretched right across the national capital region. I was able to blot out all of Ottawa with my thumb extended at arm’s length. I thought of all the lucky people who live there. Me. My little nearly-four son. Most of the people I love.

We are so blessed in this country. Blessed is not a word I use a lot. It’s loaded and heavy like a crucifix. But it’s the best word I can think of. And it would be so easy to be smug, and constantly “blue”, to forget those people who are ending their lives just as I reach my pre-mid-life angst.

Fortunately, there is good news — if you are willing to look for it. And I’m feeling better lately because I’ve been hired to help spread it. I’m spending a few weeks interviewing and writing about individual Canadians who are out there helping. And so I will share these stories here too — but not tonight. I have to get back to my research!

OK, just one: Check out Susan Bellan. She lives in Toronto, but she has turned the traditional potluck dinner — a simple Canadian evening gathering of friends — into a year of learning for Afghan children. Her web site includes a kit that helps anyone hold a dinner. Invite 9 friends, who bring a dish and a contribution, and raise enough money to pay the salary of one Afghan teacher (just $750!).

Want to make a difference in the world? Have a potluck. Quesadillas and beer would be fine.

Visit Breaking Bread for Women in Afghanistan.

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