I’m in Harlem this weekend with five other family members in a leafy neighborhood, mostly very quiet.
Well, not always quiet in the middle of the night when, on more than one occasion, I’ve woken up wondering, “Should I be calling 911?” Fortunately, last night’s commotion didn’t seem like a true 911 issue. Her: ”Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me!” Him: “But I love you!”
I went back to sleep.
Margareta and Jimmy, mostly recovered from the jetlag caused by a long flight from Sweden on Wednesday, spent Friday afternoon wandering around Chelsea art galleries.
They got a kick out of taking the bus back north, watching as the mostly white clientele became the mostly black clientele, observing the people interactions, and trying to understand the rapid English conversations. (Of course, like most Swedes, they are great at English, and a whole bunch of other languages.)
Margareta was fascinated by one episode that took place as the bus approached Harlem. A boy of about 10 tried to sneak on behind his friend. It seemed that he did not have the bus pass that is routine for New York school children. Margareta was impressed that the driver was not too stern and just told him to have the pass next time. Meanwhile a woman on the bus, possibly from his school, told the boy not to worry, that the school would help him get a new pass.
A day in the life.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged antipoverty, bridesmaid dresses, good families, Ingrid Munro, jamii bora, kenya, Nairobi, nicholas kristof, poor, poverty, prostitution, swahili, swede, sweden, swedish, wedding gowns on September 29, 2011 |
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Nicholas Kristof writes in the NY Times about a Kenyan called Jane, who was pushed out when her husband took a second wife and who found herself supporting her children through prostitution. That is, until she joined a remarkable nonprofit and made a better life for herself through sewing. She takes used wedding gowns and bridesmaid gowns and cuts them up to create several smaller dresses that she can sell.
Kristof writes that in 1999, Jane was fortunate to find “an antipoverty organization called Jamii Bora, which means ‘good families’ in Swahili. The group, founded by 50 street beggars with the help of a Swedish woman, Ingrid Munro, who still lives in Nairobi, became Kenya’s largest microfinance organization, with more than 300,000 members. But it also runs entrepreneurship training, a sobriety campaign to reduce alcoholism, and a housing program to help slum-dwellers move to the suburbs.” Jane became an entrepreneur, was able to get her children into good schools, and rejoiced to see them thriving.
But as Kristof explains, the lives of the working poor tend to remain one accident or illness away from upheaval. Jane’s daughter was hurt in a traffic accident and treatment for the injury sucked up all Jane’s savings, affecting her ability to pay for school.
Kristof likes to go beyond traditional reporting in his columns and give readers a way to help, so you might want to check his blog.
More on Jamii Bora:
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged finn, finnish, midsommar, midsummer, stockholm, swede, sweden, swedish, switzerland on July 8, 2011 |
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Caroline A. and Suzanne met during the senior year of high school, when Caroline left her home in Sweden to spend a semester in the U.S. After graduation, we took Suzanne on a trip to Stockholm. We hit the tourist spots, hung out with Caroline’s family, and helped celebrate her birthday with a pig roast.
Sweden made a big impression on us all, especially Suzanne. Later when she was attending business school in Switzerland, she met Erik, and that was that.
Nowadays I have Swedes as Facebook friends, which forces me to rely a good bit on Google Translate. that can be fun but puzzling. When Caroline writes –
“Tack så mycket! Nu ska vi bara ta kål på det förbaskade viruset som belägrat min kropp och sen fira lilla mig. ” –
I can sort of understand Google’s “Thank you very much! Now we just kill the damn virus that besieged my body and then celebrate the little me. ” — I especially understand the universal emoticon.
With “Finsk midsommarsoppa: häll upp vodka i en blommig sopptallrik,” I barely need Google Translate to tell me it means “Finnish midsummer soup: Pour the vodka into a floral soup plate.”
But more often than not, I find myself skirting the edge of a dark intrigue. Consider “och inte lär de sig. Plattsättaren la ner jobbet direkt då uppdragsgivaren lämnade landet. Nu är det hot som gäller eftersom vädjan inte fungerar,” which means, says Google, “rather, they learn. Flat assembler put down the job immediately when the client left the country. Now is the threat posed by the appeal as not working.” Hmmm. I believe an international crisis is brewing. Hard to say where, though.
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