Friday, June 12, 2009

Food for Zimbabwe

Times are desperate in Zimbabwe, where AFCA works. You can see what is happening by clicking here. If you'd like to be part of the solution and to help girls like these, please go to our Global Giving page and make a donation. Any amount will help!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Global Giving Challenge

It is so exciting to see people coming together to help the little ones in Zimbabwe! We are soooo close to reaching our Global Giving Challenge goal of $3k in 3 weeks by over 75 different donors. Once we reach that goal, we will become a long-term partner with GG, which will be GREAT! If you want to help us reach that goal, click hereand help us out.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thanks to great supporters

I just want to thank the folks at Larabar, Merrell, Gramicci, Adventure Medical Kits, Rock and Ice, Ahnu, Solio, The River Inn, Brooks, Skyline Inn, Mountain Khakis, Black Diamond and Women's Adventure Magazine for being FABULOUS and for supporting our work through Climb Up So Kids Can Grow Up.

There is no way on earth we could do it without them. Thanks, friends.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Namibia Travels - Co-sponsored by CheapoAir and CrissCross Safaris

As parents of two young daughters, our involvement with the American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA) began with an interest in supporting a cause focused on helping children impacted by the global AIDS pandemic. We joined Team Maisha and participated in the worldwide “Climb Up so Kids Can Grow” annual fundraising event. For Team Maisha, this event included an amazing hike along the Greenwater River followed by a most enjoyable gathering of friends for a BBQ.

Of course, a few weeks later we were stunned when we heard that we had won the Grand Prize of the Namibian safari donated through Criss Cross Safari and CheapOair. We had no expectations of what was ahead of us, but even as we began to set the plans for our trip we were treated wonderfully. Through the efforts of Tanya Weaver of AFCA and the graciousness and tolerance of CheapOair and Criss Cross Safari, our logistics were set quite easily and we left in April for our adventure!

After a loooong 15 and ½ hour flight from DC with connections through Johannesburg (including a welcomed upgrade on the last leg!), two bleary eyed travelers were met by the wonderful Thinus Blaaew, owner and operator of Criss Cross Safari. We were shortly thereafter introduced to the Namibian custom of morning tea (yes, latte’s can be substituted) which hit the spot and got us off to a running start.
Three days and three game reserves later, our list of animals spotted included rhinos, giraffes, zebras, and numerous varieties of antelope.

Thinus from CrissCross was able to add immense color and educate us on the history of Namibia, while we were exploring the treasures of his country. Our travels took us through places such as Etosha Park where we added lions, elephants, jackals and hyenas to our list. By now we were beginning to appreciate the vastness of Namibia, along with the challenges of travel in an area with limited infrastructure - all of which was countered by the incredible accommodations we experienced at each lodge. Each night was a different setting with a unique blend of culture (even though we were warned of potential baboon intrusions into our room at one of the lodges, it was still a bit for us to process!) and cuisine, and each were wonderful. Somewhere in this part of the trip we also discovered Pinotage wines of Africa that made our nightly discussions even richer.

The next phase of the trip took us to the mountains and coastal regions of Namibia, highlighted by the evening at Grootberg lodge at the top of a mountain with stunning views of the surrounding valley and a spectacular sunset. We also got a healthy respect for four wheel drive vehicles on our way up to the lodge. This part also exposed us to some of the cultures of the people of Namibia by visiting a Himba tribal village, and then through Damar land, which is close to where Thinus had grown up.

It was then on to the coast for quad riding in the dunes, hiking on the dunes, canyon views and more incredible sunsets. Then all of a sudden, we looked up and 10 days were gone! All we had left was a drive back to Windhoek which brought us challenges of the Namibian road infrastructure – and two flat tires at the same time.

Looking back at the trip now, two things leap out at us. First, we cannot say enough great things about Thinus and what he brought to the trip with his experiences and knowledge of Namibia and its people. His personal stories of his family who homesteaded a region of Namibia, his experiences as an educator, politician, and working with the vast variety of Namibian people – all incorporated into the different locales that we visited, brought a unique and exciting perspective to us. We will always remember the lunch cooked over an open fire in a dry river bed while searching for elephants!

The second takeaway is the amazing diversity we experienced. The diversity of animals, topography, cultures, and people that make up Namibia is tremendous. Diversity like this does indeed make you stop, look, and think about the world we live in and what is happening outside our individual lives. It was fascinating to learn how similar we all are in this world – and to consider our differences and explore the reasons for both aspects. This was a real life experience that can only be appreciated first hand.

For the opportunity of a lifetime and an experience that we will never forget, we wish to thank Criss Cross Safaris, CheapOair, American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and Team Maisha.

Chris and Mike Hughes