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Expat wanderer

Expat Teacher Murdered In Qatar After Night of Clubbing?

The prosecutor says violent crime is rare in Qatar.
If, by violent crime, the prosecutor is excluding abduction, rape in isolated sites in the desert, and expats who quietly exit the country when they discover the justice system is not going to prosecute Qatari citizens, only if those are excluded, along with the rape and abuse of local domestic workers, then he can say violent crime is rare.
Violent crime is not rare. It is not talked about.
This girl met up with people who seemed trustworthy. They were probably educated, and spoke English well. They might have even seemed gentlemanly. They offered her a ride home. They dropped off her friend.  But this girl never made it home.
One of the bravest women I ever knew, at 16, told me she was lucky to be alive. She accepted a ride home; they were brothers of a school friend. She reported them to the police. The boys were held – briefly – and she forced them to strip during the line-up to have them endure just a tiny amount of what she had endured. The prosecutor ultimately told her that they could not be prosecuted. Her family, shattered, left the country. It was a very common story, this ride home from a club turning into a nightmare, through which some victims live – and some don’t.
The 16 year old was very stoic. She said if she let it get to her, they won, they would be in her head. For most victims, the memories and the nightmares resonate for a long time.

Qatar expats shocked after UK teacher’s suspected murder

Yolande KnellBy Yolande KnellBBC News, Doha, Qatar

Lauren PattersonLauren Patterson had gone to a nightclub with a friend before she went missing

The suspected murder of a young primary school teacher from south-east London has deeply upset British expatriates living in the Gulf state of Qatar.

However, two weeks after Lauren Patterson disappeared following a night out in the capital, Doha, officials have given few details about her disappearance.

DNA tests have been carried out on the remains of a body found in a remote area of desert but the results have not yet been released.

At the Newton British School, where Ms Patterson worked, one mother paid tribute to a talented teacher who she said had been a favourite of her little son.

However, staff refused to comment, saying they had been advised not to.

“We’re a small, close-knit community and we’re all in deep shock,” explained headteacher Katherine Dixon. “We are dealing with small children here.”

Security camerasWhen 24-year-old Ms Patterson went out on 11 October she had just returned from a trip home to the UK for her grandmother’s funeral.

She and a female friend decided to go to Club 7 on the seventh floor of the luxury La Cigale Hotel.

It is a popular venue where all nationalities mingle on the dance floor as DJs play ambient house music.

High living standards and high tax-free salaries draw thousands of Britons to Qatar

Groups sip cocktails around low tables decorated with colourful, illuminated ice buckets.

Everyone entering the club has their ID checked and they are watched by burly bouncers and security cameras.

It is believed that in the early hours of the morning, the two women left with two local men they knew who had offered to drive them home.

Ms Patterson’s companion was dropped off safely but she went missing.

The alarm was raised by her friend who called the police the next day.

Arrests

Reports say a falconer found a badly burnt corpse shortly afterwards. Two suspects were detained although no details about them have been confirmed.

Mohammed Rashed al-BinaliPublic prosecutor Mohammed Rashed al-Binali says violent crime is “very rare” in Qatar

The case has been referred to the attorney general.

“Violent crime is very rare in Qatar,” public prosecutor, Mohammed Rashed al-Binali told me in his smart office surrounded by shining skyscrapers in central Doha.

“We are continuing to investigate the case. We cannot give more details at the moment but the Ministry of Interior did arrest the suspects within 24 hours.”

Alison Patterson has flown to Doha and is awaiting further news about her daughter.

She told the BBC she would only make a statement “when I feel the time is right and I have received all the information concerning Lauren”.

Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office says it is providing the family with consular assistance.

Qatar, which will host the 2022 World Cup, is generally considered one of the safest places in the Middle East for Westerners.

The tiny, but very wealthy Gulf state, which is the biggest exporter of natural gas in the world, relies heavily on its growing foreign workforce.

It now has some 17,500 British residents. Most are attracted by the high living standards and high tax-free salaries.

Yet work permits can be easily revoked and this makes employees from overseas very wary of upsetting the authorities.

While Qatar has recently supported opposition movements pushing for greater freedom across the Arab world, the nation itself remains very conservative and tightly controlled.

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October 31, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Circle of Life and Death, Crime, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Law and Order, Lies, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Qatar, Safety | , | Leave a comment

Rare Hybrid Eclipse Visible This Weekend

Frpm Weather Underground News

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The cosmos have saved a special treat for the final eclipse of 2013.

On Sunday, Nov. 3, a “hybrid” solar eclipse will be visible from the eastern coast of North America to Europe all the way to parts of Africa and the Middle East, according to an EarthSky.com report. The eclipse will begin over North America at sunrise and will move east through sunset on Sunday evening.

This eclipse is known as a hybrid because it will start as an annular eclipse before the Moon’s orbit gets close enough to Earth to become a total eclipse, reports Universe Today. Of the nearly 12,000 solar eclipses that have occurred since 1999 BC, fewer than five percent are hybrid eclipses, the report also states.

You can see an animated image of the eclipse’s shadow below.

Hybrid Eclipse

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

According to the Washington Post, Washington, D.C. residents can expect to see the annular eclipse begin at 6:38 a.m. and will last for about 30 minutes. Areas to the east can expect the eclipse to last a few more minutes, and they will see slightly more of the sun’s area covered by the annular eclipse.

As for the solar eclipse, only the easternmost points of North America will briefly see it, which excludes all of the United States.

Also, remember to turn back your clocks on Saturday night with Daylight Saving Time ending early Sunday morning, before the eclipse begins, to ensure you don’t miss the celestial event.

This will be 2013’s fifth eclipse overall and the second solar eclipse of the year, Universe Today says.

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Technical Issue | , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Women Drive, No Problem

For your delight of the day, please go to YouTube and watch this hilarious Saudi video, No Woman, No Drive! Click on the blue type above 🙂

 

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From The Guardian:

Dozens of Saudi Arabian women drive cars on day

of protest against ban

Activists say at least 60 joined call to allow female drivers – making it country’s biggest ever demonstration against the ban

More than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheels of their cars as part of a protest against a ban on women driving in the kingdom, activists have claimed.

A Saudi professor and campaigner, Aziza Youssef, said the activists have received 13 videos and another 50 phone messages from women showing or claiming they had driven, the Associated Press reported.

She said it had not been not possible to verify all of the messages. But, if the numbers are accurate, they would make Saturday’s demonstration the biggest the country has ever seen against the ban.

Despite warnings by police and ultraconservatives in Saudi Arabia, there have been no reports from those who claimed to have driven of being arrested or ticketed by police.

A video clip of a protest by May al-Sawyan, a 32-year-old economics researcher and mother of two, was uploaded on the YouTube channel of the October 26 driving for women group, along with several other videos of women purportedly driving in defiance of the ban in Riyadh, al-Ahsa and Jeddah. It was not possible to verify when they were filmed. Another video to feature on YouTube was the spoof No Woman, No Drive.

“I am very happy and proud that there was no reaction against me,” she told AP. “There were some cars that drove by. They were surprised, but it was just a glance. It is fine. They are not used to seeing women driving here.”

Sawyan said she had obtained a driver’s licence from abroad. She said she was prepared for the risk of detention if caught but added that she was far enough from a police car that she was not spotted.

“I just took a small loop. I didn’t drive for a long way, but it was fine. I went to the grocery store,” she said.

Her husband and family waited at home and called her when she arrived at the shop to check on her, she said. She drove with a local female television reporter in the car. They were both without male relatives in the vehicle.

“I know of several women who drove earlier today. We will post videos later,” one of the campaign organisers told Reuters.

The Associated Press reported that a security official said authorities did not arrest or fine any female drivers on Saturday.

Youssef said she and four other prominent women activists received phone calls this week from a top official with close links to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, warning them not to drive on Saturday, the day the campaign set for women’s driving.

She also said that “two suspicious cars” have been following her everywhere all day. “I don’t know from which party they are from. They are not in a government car,” she said.

Activists said they have 16,600 signatures on an online petition calling for change. Efforts to publicise the issue have been described as the best-organised social campaign ever seen in Saudi Arabia, where Twitter has millions of users and is used to circulate information about the monarchy and official corruption.

Previous attempts to promote change fizzled out in arrests for public order offences and demoralisation. In 2011, the activist Manal al-Sharif made a YouTube video urging women to drive their own cars, and was imprisoned for more than a week. But the signs are far more positive now.

Three female members of the shura (advisory) council – among 30 appointed by the 90-year-old King Abdullah – recommended this month that the ban be rescinded, though no debate has yet taken place.

Latifa al-Shaalan, Haya al-Mani and Muna al-Mashit urged the council to “recognise the rights of women to drive a car in accordance with the principles of sharia and traffic laws”.

The three – praised by supporters for “stirring the stagnant water” – framed their argument with careful references to religious edicts banning women from being in the company of an unrelated male driver. Other ideas designed to reassure critics are appointing female traffic police and driving instructors. Cost is another big factor, with families having to employ chauffeurs, as is convenience.

Though no specific Saudi law bans women from driving, women are not issued licenses. They mostly rely on drivers or male relatives to move around.

Powerful clerics who hold far-reaching influence over the monarchy enforce the driving ban, warning that breaking it will spread “licentiousness.” A prominent cleric caused a stir when he said last month that medical studies show that driving a car harms a woman’s ovaries.

October 28, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Interconnected, Saudi Arabia, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | 3 Comments

Scam Letters are Getting More Upscale

I hope you enjoy this scam letter as much as I did. Grammar and phrasing – actually not bad. Punctuation – dead giveaway. Addressing it to “Beneficiary” – just stupid.

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Attention Beneficiary,

How are you today? Actually, you may not understand why this message
came to you. We have been having a several meeting and investigations in
Africa base on a series of petitions received from some beneficiaries like
you, which just ended two days ago with the former secretary to the
UNITED NATIONS, Mr. Kofi Ana, European Union, Arab States Rep,
Asian Nations Rep, World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim and with
acknowledgement of USA President Barack Obama. This message is to all the people that have been scammed in any part of the world because of
contracts, inheritance, award payment execution, This includes people
that may have not yet received their payment or people that had an
unfinished international businesses transaction that failed due to
Government problems, both for People that lost their relative’s in Middle
East War/natural disaster victims also with people that has spent time in
contribution to growth of humanity and less privileged. The United
Nations Compensation Commission Board of Trustees in Affiliation with
World Bank Auditors has agreed to compensate each with the sum of
US$150,000.00 Dollars.

We found your name in the list of those who are to benefit from these
compensation exercise and that is why we are contacting you as an ATM
Cash Card Valued at US$150,000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Thousand
United States Dollars) has been accredited in your favor, this have been
agreed upon and have been signed. Note, You are advised to contact Mr.
Martins Jonathan Jr. our appointed United Nations Representative in
Africa at the given contact details below: Your Payment file code is: 2125:
Call him now that you received a message from me to contact him for
your ATM CASH CARD.

Contact Person: Mr. Martins Jonathan Jr:

E-mail: martinsjonathan1957@yahoo.es Tel: +234 816 6635108

I apologize on behalf of my organization for any delay you might have
encountered in receiving your fund in the past. Thanks and God bless you
and your family. I look forward to hear from you as soon as you confirm
your ATM CASH CARD. Making the world a better place. We the peoples.
A stronger UN for a better world.

Yours Sincerely.

Screen shot 2013-10-27 at 3.06.07 PM

Mr. Jim Yong Kim
World Bank President
U.N Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon FOR: Auditor General to the Committee USA
WORLD BANK
AUDITORS
SIGN………… DATE……

October 27, 2013 Posted by | Crime, Lies, Scams | Leave a comment

El Tenampa in Kissimmee

“So where are you eating tonight? asked Alessandro, and we told him El Tenampa. His face lit up with a huge smile. “You’re going to love it!” he said. “Do you like spicy food?”

Oh yes. Yes, we do.

El Tenampa is a challenge. It is the highest rated Mexican restaurant in the Kissimmee/Disney/Lake Buena Vista area, but commenters on Google and Urban Spoon have complained about the service, the waiting time to be seated, the long wait for dinner, not understanding what was on the menu . . . as good as the food is, there were a lot of complaints.

It’s Orlando. Running a restaurant in Orlando must be a nightmare. Thousands of people from all over the world, and everyone wants service. What incentive is there to provide top-notch customer service when you know these people are passing through and you will never see them again? What incentive is there to be first-rate when many of them are poor tippers – by US standards – or just plain cheap? We went to El Tenampa fully aware that it might be problematic.

It was anything but.

It is hard to find, even though it is right on the main drag, it has poor signage. It shares a building with La Hacienda Meat Market and is next door to the India Diner and the Rodeway Motel . . . it all kinda looks low rent.

“Don’t mind how it looks from the outside,” Alessandro warned us. “It’s different inside.”

00ElTenempa

Marco, at the door, greeted us warmly and sat us right away. There was a lot going on, family parties, one of nearly twenty people, several large groups, but lots of booths and tables. The place LOOKS chaotic, but we got our drinks and menus right away, chips, salsa and guacamole very shortly and our dinners within a reasonable time. The wait staff was hopping – very busy – but we never felt slighted or neglected.

The menu was inclusive, and the food was fabulous. Marco told us it was a slow night, which meant that you could walk right in and have a table, no waiting.

AdventureMan ordered a la carte, a carnitas tostado and a tamale and salad; I had the pescado Veracruz, steamed in foil with spices and vegetables, oh wow.

00ElTenempaALaCarte

Well worth the trip. Great food, great service and a great atmosphere, all decorated for the day of the dead/Halloween.

Our bill was a shock. All that great food, and the bill was under $25. Amazing.

00ElTenempaPescadaVeracruz

00ElTenempaInterior

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October 25, 2013 Posted by | Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips | , , , | Leave a comment

God-With-A-Sense-of-Humor at King O Felafel in Orlando

After driving seven and a half hours to get to the convention hotel, AdventureMan and I needed dinner! We settled in to our hotel and took a quick look at the menu – nope. We needed something comforting, something familiar. And there it was, just one minute, I am not kidding, from our hotel, the King O Felafel.

God-with-a-sense-of-humor had plopped us splat down in a hotel in the middle of Middle-Eastern-Land. Minutes from Disney, minutes from all the shoddy tackiness of Orlando, we find ourselves “home.”

The King O Felafel’s shop was full of regulars, including one very large family taking up about five tables all put together, and having a wonderful time. The King himself makes his own felafels, using that little felafel making tool, he was so quick. The was clean clean clean, and service was quick.

We started with lentil soup, and I ordered the Vegetarian Platter (which was like a mezze) and AdventureMan ordered a Felafel Sandwich.

Oh, how we have been yearning for the simple joy of a felafel sandwich done right. The King O Felafel was heaven for us.

00KingOFelafelExterior

Thank goodness I remembered to take a picture before we demolished the entire platter!

00King O Felafel Mezze

So simple, so good. A homemade felafel. Perfection.

00King O Felafel Sandwich

00KingOFelafel Salad

This shop is not undiscovered. He has a large clientele of all kinds of people who appreciate superb food, beautifully and tastily prepared.

Across the street from the King O Felafel is a mosque which also has a gym and a meeting hall. There are several other ‘Mediterranean’ restaurants nearby, and several hookah lounges. There are so many shops in this little area of Kissimmee with ‘halal’ foods and even groceries selling halal meats. Wow.

Mosque – my photo was blurry, so I grabbed this from Google Maps. I guess it used to be a computer shop; now it has arabic writing on it and a sign that says it is the AMYL Center (Masjid Shadi)

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00Jerusalem

00LayaliHookahLounge

October 25, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Eating Out, Food, Humor, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | 15 Comments

Seville’s Palace Cafe for Breakfast

We had a favorite place for breakfast, Adonna’s, but first they discontinued AdventureMan’s favorite – Biscuits and Gravy – and then they discontinued mine, which was Cinnamon Roll French Toast. What to do? Where to go? We go often to The Scenic Diner, but we wanted something different.

We checked out a few places but nothing felt right. Then we remembered the Palace Cafe at Seville, a place we had wanted to try for breakfast for quite a while.

They had a good crowd, but we were seated immediately and coffee and tea arrived within minutes. As we ordered, AdventureMan said “oh! We haven’t had beignets here; let’s have those!” and I applaud the waitress, who didn’t bat an eye, didn’t say a thing, not a single thing about all the times I have been there with GCCDC groups and ordered beignets for all the tables, because they are so good.

When they arrived, I told AdventureMan how often I had them before; I just couldn’t let him believe a lie. These beignets are like the ones we ate in New Orleans, a little like the lightest deep fried donut you ever ate. So much air, and powdered sugar – that can’t be all that bad for you, right? Right? Aren’t they beautiful?

00PalaceBeignets

I had the Palace eggs, which comes with grits or hash browns or fruit, and it was perfect:

00PalaceEggsAndFruit

AdventureMan had the breakfast croissant. He said it was a pretty good croissant – he still misses our breakfasts in France.
00SevillePalaceCafeBreakfastCroissant

There were families there, children playing while the adults visited. There were adult groups, there were buddies. It was active without being noisy.

It was also one of the best breakfasts we have had in a long time. We love this place.

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October 24, 2013 Posted by | Building, Character, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant | , , , | Leave a comment

. . . Red Fish, Blue Fish on Pensacola Beach

I remember reading the book, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to my son – maybe about a hundred thousand times, you know how kids love Dr. Seuss. This was a restaurant people started talking about months before it ever opened. Great location. New concept, re-using metal shipping containers, very environment-friendly – what’s not to like?

00RFBFExterior

Our son and his wife got there first, not too long after it opened. Their experience was less than stellar. They loved the ambiance, sitting out by the lapping waves on Quietwater Sound (except when hit by an errant bean-bag, one of the risks you take sitting near the bean-bag toss section, but hey – when you’ve already waited 45 minutes for a table, you take what you get.) They loved the food – when they got it. It took them fifteen minutes, and tracking down a waitress themselves just to get a menu, more time to get their orders placed. All in all, they said, a great evening with some annoyances. That is not a stellar recommendation.

00RFBFOutdoorLoungeArea

We tried it a week or so later, at lunch. No crowd, but neither was there a hostess, people just kind of wandered in looking around, a little lost, and some waiter or waitress would holler “just seat yourself!”

No sooner had we seated ourselves – every table has a great view – than our waitress appeared. We have NO complaints about the service; the service at lunch time the day we were there was great. It was one of those perfect Fall days in Pensacola, temperature maybe 75° with blue blue skies, a Blue Angel takes a whirl over us as we are sipping our iced teas, the waves are lapping, breezes breezing – lovely.

00RFBFIndoorLoungeArea

The wait staff wear Tshirts indicating they are “CREW”
00RFBFWaitstaffCrew

AdventureMan ordered the BLATT, bacon lettuce avocado tomato and tilapia, which came hot and fresh and tasted . . . OK. Fine. Nothing special. Sort of small by Pensacola standards.

RFBFBlatt

Fries are a side. You pay extra for fries, they don’t come with the meal.

00RFBFFrenchFries

I ordered Asian Slaw with fish on top. When it came, I was delighted that the fish was not deep fried, but grilled. The fish was delicious. I was not delighted that the Asian slaw was barely there, and had a Caribbean lime flavor. The waitress brought me some soy sauce. Not the same. Tiny portion – by Pensacola standards.

00AsianSlawWithFish

Great location. Nice, beachy, casual ambiance. Lots of local groups trying the place, having a good time. We had great service, but date nights you might experience slow service.

Here’s the thing. Just a short walk up the walk is Flounders, with great french fries, truly superb, so crispy delicious that people who are not supposed to eat fries have to succumb to the temptation to try a fry or two or three or . . .

Beach food isn’t cheap, but at Flounders, fries are included with the meals. Service is almost always pretty good. You rarely have to wait longer than 20 minutes at a really really busy time to get seated. Larger menu, more entrees than Red Fish Blue Fish.

It’s a tough comparison, but it’s a reality,and inevitable, especially when you are almost next door neighbors. Red Fish Blue Fish is going to have to step up its game.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Restaurant | | Leave a comment

“I’m Sonny’s Granddaughter”

AdventureMan and I have had a small adventure, filled with unexpected moments of fun and interest. Returning yesterday from a four day conference in Orlando, we knew we needed to stop for some lunch, and did not want to repeat our experience on the way down, when we said to ourselves that we weren’t going for great; adequate would do. It was just a pit stop, get off, get gassed, get food, get back on the road.

“There’s a Cracker Barrel,” I said, and it was just off the road, easy on and off.

Never again. Service was great. Our meals were worse than OK. The menu was full of things I never eat. The salad I ordered had a very weird tasting salad dressing. I couldn’t wait to get out of there, and we both felt a little sick later in the day – it was awful. Never again.

Yesterday, on our way back, AdventureMan did the spotting, and saw a Sonny’s BBQ sign. It was easy on and off, and Sonny’s is always predictably good.

“We don’t normally like chains,” AdventureMan said, “but Sonny’s is really good, and the food is real food.”

“It’s a small chain,” I amended, “not like Chili’s or all those others.”

“I don’t think it’s that small,” AdventureMan said, as I parked.

We were seated immediately, ordered, and chatted a little with our waitress. AdventureMan asked her how many Sonny’s there were, and told her how we’ve been eating at Sonny’s since we lived in the Tampa Bay area several years ago. She told us – it was over 150 – so not a small chain, but a good sized regional chain. Then she added the kicker:

“I’m Sonny’s granddaughter.”

What a delight! We were able to ask he to tell her grandpa how much we enjoy his food. We were actually near, but not at, the very first Sonny’s BBQ ever. At Thanksgiving, as you know, we go out of town, but we always have a Sonny’s smoked turkey to pick up when we get back – they are so good.

We really like barbecue. There are so many good BBQ places in Pensacola, and we hit them all 🙂 but Sonny’s has a level of comfort that finds us heading back time after time. Meeting Sonny’s granddaughter was just icing on the cake.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Florida, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , | Leave a comment

Where is Terekeka, South Sudan?

Harvesters-map-1024x837

Today the church prays for the diocese of Terekeka, in the South Sudan. I have never heard of Terekeka – have you?

When I looked for it on Google Maps, it didn’t have any information. When I went to The South Sudan and then googled Terekeka, it came up with a reference, and I had to go to this website to find it – they had a map.

The organization who put up the map, Harvesters Reaching Nations, has two locations in the southernmost part of South Sudan, the newest nation on earth. They are building hospitals, and taking in orphans. If I hadn’t gone looking, I would never have heard of the good works they are doing, saving lives, changing lives.

This is what they say:

We currently serve more than 190 orphans in two locations in South Sudan – Yei and Terekeka. Our school in Yei provides a Christian education to more than 500 students. In addition to our school-age orphans, more than 400 children from surrounding villages attend our school.

The Harvesters campus in Yei consists of 90 acres of land donated by the South Sudan government. Since our beginning in 2001, we have built homes, dorms, classrooms and other facilities within a fenced-in campus. We use the land we own beyond the fencing for planting and growing corn, tomatoes and other vegetables for use in the orphanage.

Harvesters’ campus in Terekeka, South Sudan opened in 2010. At this campus, we currently provide care for 44 orphans, but will grow to 80 in the near future. We have built homes, dorms and a clinic within a five acre, fenced-in campus. Additional facilities, including a church and school classrooms, will be built in the near future as the needs and resources dictate.

To do this, they sold everything they owned, and moved to the South Sudan, and used the proceeds from selling everything to build the hospitals and schools. I bet they are the happiest they have ever been, and the most thoroughly engaged in life they have ever been.

October 17, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Charity, Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Lectionary Readings, Living Conditions, Values | , , , | Leave a comment