How a pile of compost taught this man’s wife how to write her name

I drove into the southern mountains of Haiti in the back of a Toyota Landcruiser, the vehicle used by most relief agencies. The sideways bench seats, as uncomfortable as they always are, still perfect for bringing us up into the hills. We arrived in Duchity, where over a few days with our partners from pcH […]

How language almost starved a 12 year old boy.

When I was a kid I went overnight camping with a group of other boys. We got into normal shenanigans. Lit fires. Chopped down trees. Got into fights. Our leader had enough of us and at one point in frustration he shouted his threat “if you don’t shape up you won’t be getting any mail!” Strange […]

8 key comforts you should take on a plane

A few years ago I was flying overseas when I was suddenly hit with a wall of stench. My eyes watered. It smelt like some hellish mix of ammonia, cat pee and pinesol. I instantly bonded with the stranger sitting beside me as we searched for the source. Was it a spray? No one looked […]

Say Hello - Creole

How to say Hello in Creole

I am on my way to my 5th visit to Haiti and I am totally embarrassed to say that I don’t know how to say ‘hello’ in Creole. Seriously. How lame is that?   I know how to say ‘bonjour’ of course, and knowing a bit of French can get me by. But in Haiti, […]

You have an appetite for Aid Work …

… but do you have the stomach for it? This was the question a friend posed to me a couple of months ago in Haiti. It made me stop and think. I teach people about patience in community development, but if I am honest, my first impulse is to come up with a brilliant solution.  I […]

I stood at the spot of the murders

This week marks the 20 year anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. During the week of national mourning I have listened to many of the stories of incredible pain, survival and forgiveness from the victims and the perpetrators of the 100 days of horror. I was there, I saw the sites. I remember again. I […]

How to know if you are a traveller or tourist

I don’t hear anyone saying that they want to be known as a tourist. If anything, when I find out someone has just got home from a cruise, they sometimes feel the need to explain themselves. They explain that they got away from the group every chance they got to have a ‘real local’ experience. […]

Propaganda goes both ways

Very interesting video about propaganda.  It takes the idea of propaganda and uses it against itself.     Click MORE for the rest of the story …

The 11 people you meet in the boarding lounge.

Sitting in the boarding lounge before a trip to haiti. We are on travel time. Not real time. A portal to elsewhere. Flight crew saunter in and wait in the no mans land between the gate agents desk and the security doors. Flight attendants read People magazine. Captains and first officers brightly chat as they […]

How to tell the story of poverty without exploiting poor people … again

A few years ago I talked with a person who wanted to volunteer overseas. As she spoke she gushed about her love for the poor in Africa, and at one point actually said these words, “I just love those chocolate babies!” I am not joking. Those words actually came out of her mouth. She meant […]

The #1 Change That Haiti Needs

I recently had lunch with a friend and we talked, as I often do, about international relief and development work.  He asked about my travel over the next year and I mentioned that I was planning another trip to Haiti in about a month. He asked, as most people do whenever I mention Haiti, “So […]

3 secret rules to learn a new language quickly and easily.

I once sat with a guy in Guatemala. For over 30 minutes we talked about our lives, our families, where we came from and where we were going. The funny thing is that we didn’t actually speak each other’s language! He spoke Spanish, and I didn’t. How do you learn a foreign language? Ever wonder […]

6 Expert tips to land a job in a Disaster?

After every disaster, I will often hear from people that they are interested in helping out during the disaster. Many are hoping to find an agency that will pay for their trip and they will volunteer in turn. Aid agencies are usually hammered with volunteer requests when a disaster strikes. Not all Aid Agencies work […]

Aid worker, survivor or journalist?

There are many tensions in Aid work – a significant source of tension is the desire to help the most affected in the best possible way as soon as possible. This tension will frequently test our resolve to great practice. You may have the appetite for aid work, but do you have the stomach for […]

East Meets West

Great pictorial infographic here at this link on the differences between Eastern and Western culture … do you know what the animals mean? check out yang Liu’s work here

how poor is poor

How Poor is Poor? Comparing personal wealth

How poor is poor? It is a tough question to answer. Does it come down to an amount in a bank account or something else? I think that a meal I had in Sendai, Japan helped me understand what it means to have enough wealth to make a choice I like to eat out. I […]

How to Start a Movement in 1 Step

We are not given a map. We are invited to go for a walk.  We are not given a direction. We are given a desire.  We are given choice, not a coordinate.  

Why I Refuse to ‘Just Help Out’

  Many people ask me what I actually do when I show up in a new country. Do I pick up the tools and help out in a garden project, do I build the walls or hire people to build? Am I training people on how to start a new business? Handing out food, water, […]

This beautiful woman has AIDS

When I think of HIV and AIDS the last image I normally associate with the disease is beauty, but this video turns that idea upside down. Have you ever met a person with HIV or AIDS? Mark Crocker

How to skip travellers diarrhea

Dukoral … I just took my first dose.  This is supposed to help prevent all kinds of intestinal parasitic problems, I hope so.  I leave for DRCongo again in about 10 days and I sure don’t want a repeat of my last flight home! This time I head to Uvira, into a remote area.  I […]

Haiti Rubble and Rebuilding

Michel drove us through the heart of downtown Haiti. We were left reeling by the complete destruction. CNN images only supply a small slice of the reality. Through the busyness of our documenting, observing, and evaluation; we stopped in the realization that people lived here, died here and still remain under the concrete. We paused for a moment. A child’s photograph lay on top of the rubble outside of a broken prison wall. A Christmas tree, white with dust, lay wedged under the weight of two floors collapse.