Meet Edward and Christopher

Edward 500

This is Edward. He is the oldest of three kids living with a father who is intermittently ill and absent from the family. For much of the past three years he and his siblings have had to manage on their own.

Christopher and his older brother, Edward at the Hope for Youth School in Uganda.

Christopher and his older brother, Edward at the Hope for Youth School in Uganda.

Edward and his brother, Christopher, are just finishing up their studies at the Hope for Youth School in Uganda – a school that has been supported in several ways by the CanAssist African Relief Trust. Fortunately the staff and administration at the Hope for Youth school have been there to offer an element of stability to the lives of these kids and a bowl of porridge mid-day when food was scarce.

I have visited the school three or four times and have watched Edward and Christopher grow up. They both are involved with the traditional dancing and drumming entertainment that the school.

Christopher serves up some posho for lunch to visitor, Dave Kay, at Hope for Youth School

Christopher serves up some posho for lunch to visitor, Dave Kay, at Hope for Youth School

When I visited the school in September I asked the boys if they planned to go on to Secondary School. Their response was downturned eyes and shrugged shoulders. Their family has no money for them to attend secondary school (it would take about $550 for each boy to provide tuition and books for a year).

Their final exams are happening in December. The teachers at the school imagine that both boys will qualify for secondary school entrance.  (This little school is leading the pack in terms of grades for their district.)

Prossy

Prossy

I also met a girl named Prossy who has received top marks at the school but who has no money to continue her education. The teachers report that her academic performance has also been good but she lacks the resources to go on to secondary school.

What will become of these kids, I wonder.

This is a familiar story. African kids may get through elementary school but to go on requires some tuition, books and uniforms and this is often out of reach for a family living in poverty. Even fewer go on to post-secondary education. Most rely on outside support to continue their education. But there are so many pupils in this circumstance all desperate for some assistance.

Enjoy Christopher, Edward and some of their classmates as they do some Ugandan Traditional Dancing at the Hope for Youth School in Uganda. And realize how lucky we are that most of our students are able to complete secondary school with public funding regardless of their background or family situation.

A successful July for CanAssist

Our July 2013 drive to fund two water projects in East Africa went over the top!

Students at the Nyandema Secondary School have to walk about 5km every day to get water... and then it is from this muddy river.  CanAssist will fund four rainwater catchment tanks at the school to provide a clean accessible water supply.

Students at the Nyandema Secondary School have to walk about 5 km every day to get water… and then it is from this muddy river. CanAssist will fund four rainwater catchment tanks at the school to provide a clean accessible water supply.

Earlier in the month, we were challenged by the Sasamat Foundation, a charitable organization in Vancouver B.C.  with the offer that they would match donations received by CanAssist in July that were allocated to a rainwater collection projects at the Olimai Health Clinic and the Nyandema Secondary School in Nyatike District, Kenya.Well, our supporters rose to the occasion and as of July 31 we have collected $6708 in donations toward these projects through our 2013 Sasamat Challenge.   Donors will be pleased that the first $5000 will be matched by Sasamat. Even better, Sasamat has offered another $10,000 toward these projects.  Great news for CanAssist and the project partner communities in East Africa.

Putting guttering on this building and providing rainwater storage tanks will help the community to acquire clean water.

CanAssist will fund construction of  guttering on this building and provide rainwater storage tanks to help the Nakiwaate community  acquire clean water.

The good news doesn’t end there.  With the money donated this month toward rainwater collection projects, we are able now to fund THREE of our approved 2013  water projects at the Olimai Clinic in rural Uganda,  the Nyandema Secondary School in Nyatike District, Kenya and the T.A.Crusade Institute of Professional Studies in Nakiwaate Village, Uganda.

We are all excited.

We are in the process of signing the Memoranda of Understanding with the groups and will forward the money to them by mid-August so that the projects can be started as soon as possible (and before the anticipated rainy season in October and November).

CanAssist extends thanks to all who supported this effort and to the Sasamat Foundation for their generous funding and confidence in CanAssist to get this work done!

Here are some responses we have received from these groups when they were notified of this funding availability on August 1.

From Amuge Akol at Olimai Clinic : “I woke up to heart racing news. We are so hapi with the successful fund-raising drives. We shall write directly to supporters to express our our sincere grattitude. I will go to town tomorrow and
process the MOU and return it. Thx a million.”

From Ronald Lutaaya in Nakiwaate Village, Uganda: “We are so happy to hear this great news! Thanks so much for your effort in making this dream project come true. You have saved life in this poor community. I have just passed on the news to our Staff Members and some of our beneficiaries. They are all thankful and happy about this news.”

From Hellen Omollo, Nyandema Secondary School: “We are very happy indeed to hear from you.Once againwe do say THANK YOU for considering the life and health of our
Nyandema students and the local community a priority.
Good luck, good health and Gods peace and Mercy be part of you in yourdeserving work to East Africa.”

Canassist has had an ongoing relationship with the Olimai Clinic for the past three years. Here, some Canadian CanAssist supporters visit the clinic in 2012.

Canassist has had an ongoing relationship with the Olimai Clinic for the past three years. Here, some Canadian CanAssist supporters visit the clinic in 2012.

Downhill all the way

I started out yesterday morning in the White Mountains of New Hampshire at 2800 feet altitude and was, at times above the low-lying clouds, other times enveloped by them. By noon I was at sea level, enjoying scallops for lunch at Cape Elizabeth, Maine, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The misty morning gave me some great opportunity for moody photographs.

Today I will head north along the coastline to end up at Vardon Point in New Brunswick.
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A day in the White Mountains

I sit in Lincoln New Hamshire this morning having a McBreakfast. The truth is that MacDonalds seems to be the only place open at 7 am in this little town in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and they have coffee, a washroom and Wifi.

I am off on a trek to the East Coast to track down dead relatives who lived from Maine to New Brunswick in the 1700’s and to visit friends who are summering in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

I wakened this morning to the sound of birds but a grey sky and steady drizzling rain. So by 7, I was packed up and looking for a dry place to have some breakfast.

Lafayette Campground near Lincoln New Hampshire

Lafayette Campground near Lincoln New Hampshire

I have brought my tent and the Red Rider with me and yesterday camped at the Lafayette Campground in the White Mountain district of New Hampshire. After several hours in the car, we both enjoyed the bike path along the river and the trails to both The Basin and The Flume Gorge –good exercise and spectacular natural settings for photo ops.

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In search of a Ugandan Rose…

My 2009 safari in East Africa took me back to the edge of Kibale Forest, a high-altitude rain forest ( a jungle, in fact)  in Western Uganda. The forest lived up to its name with rain pelting down in dramatic outbursts most days. When the clouds cleared it became humid and warm and felt quite tropical.

I had been there a few times before so it was quite wonderful to see the villagers who live nearby, people I had smiled and waved at in past visits. They seemed to remember this white-haired mzungu with a camera around his neck who wandered along the road taking pictures of birds and butterflies and kids. I have tentative plans to return to Kibale for a few days in September 2013 and am very much looking forward to it.

On my daily walks, as I followed the red dirt road into Kanyawara village, I was aware of  being watched by several sets of eyes.  An old baboon sits in the grass, scratching himself and looking like he’s a spectator for a parade. A big brown cow stops chewing for a moment to look up as I pass and children peek from behind curtain doorways.   Some of the bolder ones run out to greet me with “How are you?” the only English phrase that they know. One little girl is dressed in a torn and dirty party dress and most of the children are barefoot.

MarkI stopped along the way to visit a young fellow named Mark who is a progressive entrepreneurial type. He had purchased a plot of land that sloped down into the valley.  He grows all of the food needed to feed his four children and has some left over to sell. As we chat, he hands me a carrot pulled from his garden and I munch on it as we walk.  He introduces me to his 9 year old son, Moses, as “Geddes, my friend from Canada”.

He  and his wife have been digging sweet potatoes and pulling up plants that have peanut-like clusters on the roots. Ground nuts, or G-nuts, are a staple here.  Mark also knows that they enrich the soil somehow so he intercrops them with other plants.  We walked under the banana trees and he pointed out various other crops – greens, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, cassava and arrowroot. Avocado trees form a border for his lot. He sells the fruits for less than ten cents each. He breaks off a fresh pineapple from a spiny bush and cuts it up for me to savour. There is no comparison in taste between a tender, sweet, fresh pineapple that is five minutes from the plant and the pale sinewy ones we often get in the super market.

I leave Mark with thanks for his hospitality and carry on. I’m on a bit of a mission.  I have with me a photograph of Rose, a waif who I have seen by the side of the road every year for the past four.

When I first encountered Rose in 2006, she was a sad little waif on the side of the road.

When I first encountered Rose in 2006, she was a sad little waif on the side of the road.

When I get to her village, Rose is nowhere to be found. Knowing that many children in Uganda succumb to malaria or malnutrition before they reach the age of five, I worry that she is OK.

I show Rose’s picture to a woman who is sitting under a tree as she weaves a basket from coarse grass. She shakes her head then points vaguely across the road but I can tell from the look in her eyes and absence of a smile that I won’t find Rose there.

Rose in 2007.  I knew she remembered me from the year before.

Rose in 2007. I knew she remembered me from the year before.

A man sitting in a doorway looks at the photo and tells me that this little girl is not here any more. Both her parents died within the past few months, her mother on Christmas Day. She has gone to live with grandparents in another village – the stereotypical African orphan story. He says he will try to pass the picture on to them.

Disappointed, but glad to know that Rose is alive, I start to head back to the research station. Soon I am joined by four young kids who have been following me around the village. The youngest, about four years old is dressed in a one-piece red pajama outfit, the dome fasteners up the legs and around the crotch all undone. She grabs my hand as we walk.

I think of how trusting and open these kids are with me, a white foreigner from the other side of the world.. In North America, we have scared our children so much with warnings about strangers that they have become fearful and suspicious. There must be a happy medium.

As we walk, the kids want me to go up a side road. I don’t understand their Rutoro language nor do they understand my English, but it is clear that they want me to follow them, perhaps to their home.  So, also in a very non-North American way, I let these kids drag me half a kilometre up a narrow roadway lined with tall grass and banana trees.

We come to a driveway that leads to a small house. Outside a mother is sitting with a baby on her lap. Beans boil on an open fire in a mud kitchen hut. Three other kids are playing in the yard.

One of them is Rose.

Rose in 2009. A happier chid living with grandparents and brothers after both parents had died, likely of AIDS.

Rose in 2009. A happier chid living with grandparents and brothers after both parents had died, likely of AIDS.

She looked happy and healthier than when I saw her the year before.  Shyly she came to greet me. She remembered me for sure and once again, I checked out the scar on her leg that reminded us both of our first meeting when I treated an open sore there. We were all smiles and I take a few more photos with promises to send them back or maybe bring them myself one day.

After a brief visit, I headed out, feeling relieved that Rose was still there – still alive – struggling, no doubt, to get day to day but looking like she will survive. Rose will never know and would never understand the influence her being has had on motivating me to help in Africa where I can. I have trouble, sometimes, really understanding it myself.

I will travel to Kibale Forest again this September.  Will our paths cross again in this little town near the Ugandan jungle? Stay tuned.

Rose in 2010. Look at those eyes. She will be a teenager now. Will I find her again? I am on a mission.

Rose in 2010. Look at those eyes. She will be a teenager now. Will I find her again? I am on a mission.

Carpe diem

As I headed home for lunch yesterday I had a carpe diem moment.

Shrub 1I am lucky to live a five minute walk to work through an old neighbourhood in Kingston. As spring has (gradually) unfolded I have enjoyed seeing bushes and trees and flower beds burst to life. It is really incredible that these same streets can be icy and cold and devoid of life in the winter months and then lush and green and fragrant in the spring.

I was startled by a cluster of great orange Oriental Poppies that were hanging over the edge of the sidewalk on Earl Street. I glanced at them as I walked by but continued on my way. They summoned up fond memories of similar flowers in my parents’ back garden 40 years ago. Twenty metres past the poppies I suddenly stopped. I realized that their beauty would be short-lived. Rain is forecast for the weekend. These stunning, delicate blossoms will likely lose many of their petals in the winds or rain or just with the passage of time. Their brilliance will be fleeting.

I returned to the flowers and stood for a moment to absorb their beauty and fragility and to recognize that this was one of those many delicious life moments that has to be savoured before it quickly passes, never to be relived like it was just then.

As I finished my walk home, I reminded myself to take notice of those moments more often.

Oriental poppy

Carpe diem is a phrase from a Latin poem by Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 BC – 8 BC), more widely known as Horace, that has become an aphorism. It is popularly translated as “seize the day”. Carpe is the second-person singular present active imperative of the Latin verb carpō, which literally means “You pick, pluck, pluck off, cull, crop, gather, to eat food, to serve, to want”, but Ovid used the word in the sense of, “enjoy, seize, use, make use of”.[1] It is related to the Greek verb (carpoomae) καρπόομαι, (I grab the fruit, profits, opportunity), (carpos) καρπός=fruit of tree, of effort, etc. Diem refers to “day”. Thus, a more accurate translation of “Carpe diem” would be “enjoy the day” or “pluck the day [when it is ripe]” Wikepedia

What would you do?

Peter Singer starts a recent TED talk with a dramatic video of a small child in China being knocked down by a car on the street. As she lies there, injured, three passers-by totally ignore her. The incident is reminiscent of the Good Samaritan story from the Bible, where a priest and a Levite ignore the plight of the injured traveler on the road before the Samaritan stops to help.

Singer asks the audience – “How many of you would have stopped to help?” Not surprisingly, most of the hands go up.

African Child - can you overlook her needs?

African Child – can you overlook her needs?

Singer then says something like “Well, there are children all around the world who live in poverty, vulnerable to preventable violence and disease – millions of them. Are you paying any attention to them?”

“Unicef reports that in 2011 over 6.5 million children under age 5 died of preventable poverty-related diseases.”

Singer is an Australian philosopher and humanist who writes and speaks out about many ethical issues including poverty and animal rights. In 2009, he wrote a book called “The Life You Can Save”. In the book he encourages readers to commit to helping developing communities with a small portion of their income. If you can afford to pay $2.00 for a bottle of water that is free from the tap, do you not have money to spare – to share, in fact, with others who are living without many of the necessities of life that we take for granted?

His message is not a guilt trip. He encourages us to enjoy the fruits of our labours and our good fortune at living in a community where there is law and order, fresh water, social responsibility and enough food but to share a portion of that with others who must live without those amenities.

We are constantly bombarded in the media with photos of children in North America who have perished in the natural (or unnatural) disasters like the recent tornado in Oklahoma City or the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Our hearts go out to the families of these children and we feel sad and that these deaths seem unfair. These are a very few children whose stories touch us because they are in communities like ours.

Nairobi slum

Nairobi slum

But what about the mothers of the 19,000 children who die in the developing world every day from preventable poverty-related problems? Do we give them much thought? Do we pour money into the developing world to help these 19,000 like we do to help families of the few North American families touched by tragedy?

Think about this for a minute. It is sobering. 19,000 per day.

The CanAssist African Relief Trust is attempting to so something, however small to help these families in East Africa. Rather than pick a few children for special attention, CanAssist funds community infrastructure projects like school classrooms, water and sanitation improvements, food security through local agriculture and health care facilities. We have funded around $300,000 in projects since 2008. Our Canadian community helping communities in Africa.

If you are interested in what we do, please look at our website http://canassistafrica.ca We are always happy to receive support, moral or financial, for the work we are committed to do to lessen the effects of poverty for vulnerable East African families.

(If you would like to participate in what CanAssist is doing to help communities in East Africa you can donate using the Canada Helps link below.)

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Here is a link to the Peter Singer TED talk. If you have 15 minutes please listen to what he has to say.

What famous figure, alive or dead …

I am sure that you have all played this game. “What famous figure, alive or dead, would you like to meet?”

I keep this at “famous” figure as there are many deceased relatives that I would like to visit with again. I would really love to meet my grandparents, now, as an adult. How different it would be to relate to these people and see them for who they really are rather than through a child’s eyes.

And when I look online at the choices people make they range from Jesus Christ to Lady GaGa.

Today my choice is Angelina Jolie.

Apart from being incredibly beautiful, this woman intrigues me. I know very little about the Brangelina stuff that I see on the tabloids as I check out of the grocery store. I have not seen the Lara Croft movies (or any of her movies, in fact) nor do I have any desire to do so. I have, however, seen television interviews in which she has surprised me with her insight, intelligence, eloquence and general “down to earth” demeanour.

I have been impressed that Angelina Jolie has used her celebrity to promote awareness of problems in the developing world and has even adopted children from these areas. She is a United Nations Special Envoy for Refugees and has worked for the UNHCR for some time. In some ways her adoptions have followed the principles espoused by Peter Singer in “The Life You Can Save”. Enjoy the fruits of your work and privilege but also share some of that with others less fortunate. She has three kids of her own and has balanced that with three more that were adopted from the developing world. She has struck a chord with me as I think she has made a genuine effort to use her celebrity to help others.

I am anxious to see In The Land of Milk and Honey, a film that will be released in North America next month – one that Jolie wrote and directed. The plot revolves around a love story of a Serb and a Muslim in Bosnia during the war in that country. I worked in Bosnia for several years and heard horrible stories of violence, rape and ethnic hatred that tore families apart. The film is fictional but the setting real. So real, in fact, that Jolie ran into problems getting permission to shoot the film in Bosnia as originally planned and had to move filming location to Hungary. The film was shot in both Bosnian (with subtitles) and English. I want to see the Bosnian version. I admire Jolie’s gutsy decision to tackle this subject and put her reputation on the line at the same time as writer/director rather than actor with a film that will not be a blockbuster but will explore a delicate topic.

But today’s news was the topper. Angelina Jolie has revealed in the New York Times that she has had a bilateral mastectomy in order to reduce the risk of her acquiring breast cancer after finding that she carries the BRCA1 gene for the disease. Her mother died of breast cancer in 2007 and she is at significantly increased risk herself, being found to carry the genetic mutation that will elevate her lifetime risk of breast cancer significantly. She has made this decision so she can reduce her risk and be available for her children. This must have been a huge decision for a movie celebrity to make. By being open with this Angelina Jolie has also done a great service to other women who face the same risks. Once again today’s revelation by this celebrity also strikes home to me as my wife died of breast cancer at age 48 and one of my daughters, already touched by breast cancer at a young age, has elected bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction to minimize her risk of recurrence. I was proud my daughter for making this difficult life choice and I can relate to the angst that Angelina Jolie must have suffered as she made the same decision (at almost the same age).

We often look at celebrity through a very tainted lens. We see them through Hollywood gossip columnists and papparazzi. But under the movie star veneer live real people who live with personal challenges just like the rest of us.

Today my celebrity hero is Angelina Jolie. I am free for lunch tomorrow if she is.

Fifty Years ago – 1963

It’s strange how the mind can wander. Or at least mine can.

I had a brief Facebook interaction yesterday with friends in which I referenced Mohammed Ali with his well known “floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee” comment. It immediately called up a memory of being on holiday with my family in Western Canada in July 1963. I was a month away from turning 16 and Sonny Liston had just beaten Floyd Patterson to become heavyweight champion of the world. But Cassius Clay (he changed his name to Muhammed Ali a couple of years later) was able to immediately upstage Liston with a challenge and prophesy, “Liston’s not great, he’ll fall in eight.” I was not at all interested in heavyweight boxing at the time but I still remember being in the car and hearing this on the radio as we travelled through Manitoba. I also remember watching a solar eclipse through exposed film two days earlier and having vivid recollections of listening to 13 year old “Little Stevie Wonder” singing Fingertips Part 2. I bought the record – a “45” – when we got home.

Rehearsing for my role as Mr. Spettigue in Girl Crazy-1963

Rehearsing for my role as Mr. Spettigue in Girl Crazy-1963

I started wondering what else was going on in 1963. I was going into Grade 12 at London Central Collegiate Institute. I was a nerd. I wore corduroy flood pants and sweaters with designs on them. I was into many extracurricular activities, including playing the role of Mr Spettigue in Girl Crazy and dressing up as Quack version of Bess the Landlord’s Daughter in an election skit for my friend Daphne Ward (now Bice). Her campaign theme was centred around Daffy Duck. She didn’t win. The Daffy Duck approach has not been used by politicians since.

I remember sock hops in the gym. I wonder what became of teachers like Hunk Wyatt, Miss Wyanko and Mr Webb who all seemed absolutely ancient (they taught my mom, in fact) but who were all likely younger than I am now.

imageThe Beatles released their first hit, Please Please Me in early 1963 and this was followed by other singles and an album…in stereo. They had not yet appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show but Beatlemania was sweeping the UK in 1963. Their long hair verged on scandalous.

Gasoline cost 29 cents a gallon (not litre) and a loaf of bread was 22 cents.

Alfred Hitchock’s “The Birds” was a popular movie along with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Cleopatra. Ron Howard was Opie on the Andy Griffith’s Show.

You will be familiar with Bob Dylan’s song, “Blowin’ in the Wind” made popular by Peter Paul and Mary in 1963 but you may not have heard Eydie Gorme’s “Blame it on the Bossa Nova.” Does any body do the bossa nova any more? Blame that on Eydie Gorme.

By far the most memorable event of 1963 was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I remember the moment that news broke. I recall where I was sitting, the teacher and in the classroom I was in when the principal of the school broke into the lesson over the PA system. I spent the rest of the dreary November weekend glued to the black and white TV that was in the corner of my grandparents’ living room as the rest of the drama, including the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald, unfolded.

imageEarlier in the year, Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech and racism and civil rights were paramount in the news. Civil rights movements were being met with violent opposition and it took policemen to allow two black students admission to the University at Birmingham Alabama. Fifty years later the President of the United States is African American. A significant change for the good within my adult lifetime.

It is weirdly wonderful to me that I can remember these events from 50 years ago so vividly. Lots of images and experiences filed in there somewhere.

Oh, and just in case you think I am showing my age, Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt were both born in 1963 which makes them 50 this year. Time marches on.

My grade 12 class in 1963. I am in the top right with the V-neck sweater.  Over the years, my head has grown into my ears.   At the far right in the first row is Lorna Harris . Lorna and I are still great friends after these 50 years, corresponding regularly by Facebook and email.  An enduring friendship. Could we ever imagine what the next 50 years would bring?

My grade 12 class in 1963. I am in the top right with the V-neck sweater. Over the years, my head has grown into my ears.
At the far right in the first row is Lorna Harris . Lorna and I are still great friends after these 50 years, corresponding regularly by Facebook and email. An enduring friendship. Could we ever imagine what the next 50 years would bring?

Grandmother’s Breath

It is 15 years, almost to the day, that I first went to Sarajevo to start work with the Queens Family Medicine Development Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina.   I find it hard to imagine where those 15 years have gone.

I remember arriving in Sarajevo, flying into the airport over houses whose roofs had been destroyed by the recent war.  The city had been devastated and in the dreary spring weather looked particularly tired.

On March 24 we had a light snow and a cooler dip in temperatures to about 2 degrees.  The locals called it “Grandmother’s Breath”.  I always wondered why that might be the nickname for this last burst of winter.  I always had associated grandmothers with warmth and comfort. Maybe it was grandmother winter saying “I’m not done yet.  There is still breath in me.”  Just when it looks like spring is on the way, there is a brief and surprising turn to the life of old winter.

photoThis past two days we have experienced Grandmother’s Breath in Kingston. We wake up in the morning to a fresh whallop of snow.  As the day goes on the sun quickly warms our spirit however and melts much of the snow on the sidewalks and streets.  Winter saying, “Don’t give up on me yet, I am not through.”

This reflection made me look through an old journal entry I had written on March 25, 1998.  It was the start of  an adventure in Bosnia that lasted for 11 years and my foray into International Development that has taken me in a direction I would never have imagined.

It is also obvious that digital photography has come a long way in the past 15 years!

 Sarajevo. March 25, 1998.

The apartment where we are staying is very interesting. It is an old, high-ceilinged place on the top of a hill. It has a great view from the balcony overlooking the main part of the city and the mountains beyond.  There are several places in the wooden floors that are splintered from bullets that would have come through the windows during the war and the outside of the building is pock-marked with the shelling from grenades.  Buildings nearby remain totally gutted.

The view from our Sarajevo apartment in March 1998 after "Grandmother's Breath" had dumped a bit of snow on the city.

The view from our Sarajevo apartment in March 1998 after “Grandmother’s Breath” had dumped a bit of snow on the city.

There has been a light dusting of snow. The locals call it Grandmother’s breath, the last winter’s snow. It is about 2 degrees. Today the sun is shining. There are a lot of funny things about living here. The water is often shut off during the middle of the day or at night which makes flushing the toilet a bit of a problem. You have to plan your washroom activities around the water or let it sit there until the water comes back on.

Many of the buildings in Sarajevo had been destroyed by the recent war.

Many of the buildings in Sarajevo had been destroyed by the recent war.

The food is great. The Bosnians tend to be meat and potato people. Lots of Lamb and Veal but they have some other great vegetable dishes as well. Today for lunch we went to a little restaurant to have Cevapcici, a sort of pita  thing made a local bread called Somun filled with grilled sausages, vegetables and onions. This is a popular meal like a hamburger in North America. Last night we went to another little restaurant that was like a deli with lots of good selection of local foods. The local beer (pivo) is called Lachka (or something similar) and I have had a few cans.