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Archive for July, 2010

Hello friends! Our latest blog post comes to us courtesy of our organization’s Public Relations Director, Jared Williams. We are inspired by his recent trip to Haiti and his work there and hope you will be too.        –Chris Sorbi

It’s been a week now since I returned home from an 8 day missionary trip to Haiti. What I saw in that time has clearly changed me and helped me to grow and coming home has been surprisingly hard. I long to be back in Haiti where I can see myself helping people directly and can see the faces of those receiving my gifts. However as I contemplate my trip and my contribution, I have wondered if that is truly the case, would I really help those in need more in Haiti or more back home?

I do not have that answer and perhaps it is not one answer for my entire life, but I will try to share with you some of what I experienced in Haiti. Each aspect perhaps reflects a lot on who I am and my personal story. For you to really fully understand the situation in Haiti and how it reflects on you and your life can not be done through my pictures, my videos or my stories. It would only happen with taking a trip to Haiti yourself and experiencing it in person.

My fulltime job involves large-scale planning and tracking for road and bridge projects for a 3 billion dollar 8 year program. I am used to looking at single projects and seeing how that interacts with hundreds of other projects working together as part of one large infrastructure program. My mind has been trained for years to break down huge construction projects to smaller and smaller pieces until they are manageable work activities then link them back together in a sequence and order to calculate how long it will take with a given effort to get to the eventual completion of the project. A simplification would be to say the greater the effort the less time it takes, and the smaller the effort the longer it takes.

While many on the trip saw the volume of destruction as insurmountable, I saw work activities that needed to be done. After temporary shelters, the road and transportation infrastructure immediately stood out as the first area needing focus in Haiti. This would help with the physical rebuilding of homes and businesses, but also aide the eventual economic rebuilding required to one day lift the country out of the immense poverty it is in. Unfortunately, throughout my stay I saw very little progress with a few curbs being made with hand-mixed mortar and stone and a stretch of roadway being placed with the only concrete mixer I saw, all ¼ yards of it. I even saw a single backhoe and loader along with a handful of dump trucks. The scale of reconstruction ahead of Haiti demands fleets of vehicles, massive transfer stations to break down the rubble into reusable aggregate, concrete mix plants and so much more that just isn’t present or available. Needless to say it was easy to see no end in sight for the cleanup let alone reconstruction with the current effort on the ground six months after the earthquake.

Once we got to the work sites, my trade experience as a carpenter kicked back in, and I felt good to be actively helping the people around me in a physical way. I got to meet the 26 children in Leogon using the orphanage we were putting walls up on; I got to see the 400 children in Laquil using the school that had no roof when we came benefit from finishing the roof over them, I got to see the 200 children in Foe Shea who would benefit from our trenching and wall building to keep their school above the flood level during the rainy season. It might be a postage stamp effort in a country that needs so much, but I could finally dig in and do work that was helping those in need.

Everyone we met in these villages was so thankful for us and our help but working alongside some Haitian workers I felt a sense of selfishness as what I spent to come to Haiti could pay for a crew of them to work for a month, helping both the schools in need and the workers and their families. This feeling was short-lived as they were so receptive and thankful, even the concrete crew I helped would say, “Merci Jared” after each pail of mortar I mixed and shoveled for them. The resounding message they all told me was simple, to not forget them and to share their story. They did not see me as taking their work but helping them as an equal and a brother that could take their story home to all of you reading this.

Now what touched me the most during my trip relates to my role as a father of three wonderful children. I saw so much faith and hope in these kids. They grew up in these surroundings and even with losing the little they had with the earthquake they retained a bright outlook on life when the rest of the world sees little to no hope for them. The faith they had reminded me of a Bible verse that has stuck with me for a while but came to new life in Haiti. In Mathew 18:1-6 it reads:

“1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”


We can learn a lot from these children and I saw the schools MissionE4 run as a direct and real tool being used in God’s name to support and further the faith these children have for their future. My personal sponsorship of Falonne is not just helping to feed, educate, and clothe her but is helping her to remain a child just a bit longer. This little gift by my standards is everything to her and directly helps her maintain that humility and faith through giving her a chance at a future in a country with so little.

As I was in Haiti and even coming home, I have struggled with how I can help best: is it being in Haiti and doing work on the ground, is it “sacrificing” a few luxuries I really don’t need to give a onetime gift towards rebuilding homes, or is it making a longer commitment to one of the many children still in need of a $30 a month sponsor? So as I ponder how best can I help my brothers and sisters in Haiti, I simply ask you to consider the same question. Do not let guilt guide you but only give what and how you are comfortable with. Is it a commitment to come on a future trip, or to give a onetime donation to the rebuilding effort, or to sponsor a child, or maybe all of the above?

Now in closing I ask you to consider the many options of who to donate to and where the money goes when you donate. While millions of donations are filtering through the government and other large aid groups its use and impact is hard to see on the ground right now. I pray it will be seen and real change will come but as I pray for that, I see smaller groups like MissionE4 as a direct and immediate channel to help the people in the most need. My reason for choosing to continue supporting MissionE4 is that they were in Haiti helping before the earthquake, they have the people and infrastructure on the ground to immediately put your dollars to work now, and when the rebuilding is complete, the sponsorship program ensures they will be funded to continue helping long into the future. I urge you all to consider the options, pray about it, and give cheerfully where and how you feel God will best use the gifts he has bestowed upon you to share with those in need.

Information on going on a future trip to Haiti: http://www.missione4.com/expeditions.htm
General information and rebuilding donations: http://www.missione4.com/index.html
Child Sponsorship information: http://www.missione4.com/sponsorachild.htm
As a volunteer for the child sponsorship program you can also contact me directly at JaredNWilliams@gmail.com with questions or information on children looking for sponsors.

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July 16th, 2010 - The American Dream

I have received the following question:

“Please, I hope nobody takes offense to this. I’m not trying to start any arguments but I have to ask, “How many mouths could have been fed with the monies being used for this crusade?” When talking about raising awareness, I don’t believe there are too many people around that don’t know about world hunger.”

Thanks for tuning in and subscribing to the blog. This question is valid and no offense taken. My response is an open letter to you and those with the same curious mind.

I used to make fun of an organization called “Bladder Control Awareness Group” and I used to say well, if you have a bladder control problem, I’m sure you’re aware of it! It was funny then, but I really didn’t know squat about that issue.

Awareness is not just knowing, but doing. When I was a kid, my mother always told me that if I don’t finish my food, some kid in Africa will die, and I used to think how preposterous that statement was. We as individuals are responsible for what we do, whether it’s what we do at home or at large like voting to elect our servants (AKA government).

We have neglected and for most parts forgotten our rights. Our rights have become temporary privileges that our so-called servants take away whenever they feel like it. If you ask 10 people what their political views are, 9 out of 10 will claim to be either Republican or Democrat. This is a country which was supposed to be ran by the people for the people, but it’s being run by Corporations for the Corporations.

When you go to a supermarket, there are over 100 brands of cereal, 50 different types of soft drink, 200 different brews and there is even a whole aisle devoted to tampons. But when it comes to political parties, we are only allowed to choose between two. This is not a freedom of choice; it’s an illusion of choice. The illusion that you have the right to choose between Pepsi and Coke, Captain Crunch or Corn Flakes, but in presidential debates there are only two parties to entertain the American public while they forget how badly they are getting screwed with red, white and blue bullshit being shoved down their throats.

I have no problem with Democrats or Republicans or any other party as long as they do their job which is serving the people, but do they? I’m probably coming across as a hippy dreamer or a tree huger but I’m not. I’m not against guns (I have quite a collection myself), hell I’m not even against killing people. BUT and this is a very important BUT: when it’s justified, not by the greedy corporations, but by our constitution, our true civil laws and our morals.

Let’s put the rest of the world aside for a minute and concentrate on our own country. There used to be activists who stood up to corporate greed, wrong doings and out-of-line politicians; that was 40 years ago. Speaking of politicians, in the Roman era, being a politician was an honor, a noble position to be a servant of the people, but now days, being a politician is worse than being a crook – because they ARE.

There are over 50,000 lobbyists on Capitol Hill as we speak, lobbying for their corporate bosses. They don’t care about you, they don’t care about me, they don’t care about us. All they care about is their own pocket and their own power.

People of modest means, poor, middle-class, hard working people of any race continue to elect these rich crooks to the office with hope of CHANGE but refuse to question their integrity and qualifications.

Change: \ˈchānj\. a) to make different in some particular b) to make radically different c) to become different

Maybe my dictionary is wrong or I can’t see the “change,” but I’ll let you be the judge. Have you seen any? Change for greater good that is.

One in every six adults in this country doesn’t have health insurance including me, or perhaps you too. There are 13 million children suffering from hunger in our own country. We have 680,000 homeless in this country. We have a 64% obesity rate with over 80 billion dollars in medical expenditures. The unemployment rate has rocketed to 9.5% in 2010 and that’s just the federal figures conducted by our trustworthy government, the more realistic figure is 16.6% nationally. We handed a small chunk of change, 700 billion dollars, on a silver platter to our financial criminals no question asked. If that wasn’t enough, our heroes of the auto industry took 17.4 billion dollars back home on their private jets to “save the auto makers jobs”, visit Michigan and Illinois to see how many auto workers are left. Journalists, bloggers or any schmuck with a reputable voice is forbidden to say another word about the Gulf fiasco, yet we concentrate on our “biggest issues”: abortion, gay rights, gun control and foreign policy. Good thing we have figures like Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro to pick on, otherwise the American people would actually realize there was something beyond wrong in their own homeland.

Our system has and will continue to produce a generation of obedient workers who are just smart enough to push the buttons and run the machines and dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. That’s against their interest. We are dedicated to fight street crimes given that street isn’t Wall Street. So it’s not “change” that we are seeing, for lack of a better word, it’s diversion.

And we know what happens when some brave souls stand up to these fascists, they get imprisoned, beaten and disappear. This is not a conspiracy theory, this is reality. Look back to Pittsburgh just a year ago. Water cannons, sound cannons, tear gas, batons, these are the instruments I am quite familiar with; it’s a daily life in Iran. But Pittsburgh is not in Iran, it’s in the United States of America. That’s what they got for trying to voice themselves peacefully around the G20 summit. Maybe it is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.

Next time your friendly neighborhood senator comes around for more votes, don’t be fooled by their label, Democrat, Republican, Independent, whatever he is, hold his feet to the fire. Put away your political brand loyalty and be loyal to your family and community. Demand your rights, your hard-earned money, your freedom. They are your servants not vice versa. Demand equal opportunity to live, demand a shelter over your head, demand three meals a day for your kids, demand free healthcare for all. If you don’t, they will happily give it to their friends and supporters on Wall Street and Capitol Hill. Know your rights, demand and take them with vengeance.

Some of you might say mind your own business, ride your damn bike and take care of the hunger issue, don’t get involved in politics. Hunger doesn’t come out of nowhere, it comes out of poverty and poverty is a bastard child of this fascism. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: imagine all the money spent on nuclear weapons and meaningless wars each year, all the embargoes and sanctions imposed upon innocent people – trillions of dollars. If we spent that money feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, not one soul excluded, it would pay for itself many times over.

Awareness is knowing and doing, otherwise it’s just a headline. A trendy buzzword. Meaningless. We are too concerned with our daily lives and the so-called “American dream” that we forget to look behind the smoke and see the fire. To see that in our own neighborhoods, there are hundreds of kids going hungry every night while we fill our shopping carts with useless gadgets and imitation food to feel better and get closer to the dream. We don’t have the power; we ARE the power.

You ask questions, I admire that. This is what everyone should do. No one should be afraid to ask. It is with questions that we get answers. Give us a helping hand. Let’s make it happen together. I hope to see a day that we shouldn’t have to call it awareness anymore. We will call it reality.

~To know and not to do is not to know

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July 13th, 2010 - Short Way Round

What I heard the most in past few weeks was the question: “Are you back already?!!!”

I never thought that I would see Montana again, at least not for a long, long time, but here we are, back to where I started a year ago. Since I started this journey on my motorcycle, I have covered Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Alaska, British Colombia, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. It seems like forever ago but such a short distance, more like a shakedown ride to me.

I learned a lot about riding and more importantly living on the road. I met some amazing people, saw some beautiful places, and built a sophisticated touring machine out of a 1982 Suzuki. But my true discovery came in the form of a dawning comprehension of the struggles that go on every day on every corner of this planet: in particular, the travesty of extreme poverty and malnutrition.

Well actually that wasn’t it. I discovered that I’m not the only one, and there are hundreds if not thousands who share the passion to help bring relief to those suffering from hunger. This journey evolved beyond the scope of my one-man band, and eventually I founded and incorporated the Transcontinental Humanitarian Corp., a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization to bring together those with a similar passion and desire to give a helping hand to ordinary people during times of extraordinary tribulation.

This is not an impressive resume for a so-called adventurer. From the minute I got back to Montana, I had the itch to get back on the bike again and head out for the unknown. But you know how it goes, when the bike is ready, I’m not, and when I’m ready the bike is not. Since I had a warm dry garage, I figured to fix everything I could possibly fix and with that in mind, I tore up the bike to pieces again.

I had some problem with the steering head bearings (which turned out to be far more gone that I thought), the rear brake needed new pads, the headlight wiring had to be redone to fix the voltage drop, wire the new fog lights, add some reflectors to the boxes for more visibility, add more lights to the back to mark the width of the bike, hardwire my GPS, Install the new camera mount, sand and clear-coat the side covers (cosmetic only but they had been bothering me for a long time), fix the oil leak form the cam-chain tensioner, head gasket and oil pressure switch, Install an alarm system,  change the gearbox and drive shaft oil and grease everything.

The bearing races were in awful shape; no wonder this bike wobbled a lot in low speed. I could run my fingernail across it and dig in deep in the grooves made by the roller bearings. The rear brake pads were almost to the metal, and they were so far down that I could barely see any brake fluid in the reservoir. After adding 5 relays, the electrical system is now in tiptop shape and the headlight is as bright as it can be. I also added a security system with a screaming siren to ward off bored and crazy kids in third world countries; it also gives me a peace of mind while sleeping as I know it will go off the second a bird lands on it.

By the time I was done with all these chores, the bike looked and felt so good that I didn’t want to ride it anymore! In the meantime, Cynthia went back to California to give her two week notice and quit her job for the long run. She has come a long way. To be honest I didn’t think that she would make it more than 3 days, but she braved the road for 3000 miles and 40 days and she was eager for more. She quit her job of seven years as a social worker to join a crazy expedition on a motorcycle around the world. I did the same thing, but this was my dream. She wasn’t a rider, nor had she ever camped out more than a couple of nights at a time in her whole life without being close to her familiar surroundings. That’s adventurous in my book.

I picked her up at the airport in Missoula, and we are packing again, this time even smaller. We’ll be on the road before you know it, and this time no return for at least five years…

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