How you can take a break and help others

From How you can take a break and help others.

Travelers who want to infuse their trips with service to others may be outnumbered by sun-seekers lounging on the beach, but the trend of volunteer vacations is spreading fast.(…)

"People are seeing all these natural disasters around the world … and they want to jump in and help out a little bit, as well as enjoy their vacation at the same time," says Amy Kaplan, a spokeswoman for i-to-i, a British company with offices in the United States that coordinates volunteer trips in 30 countries for about 5,000 people a year. (…)

African countries are popular choices for i-to-i volunteers as well. One project in South Africa that fills up fast involves animal conservation work with lion cubs. Volunteers play with the cubs and bottle feed them. They also tackle less glamorous tasks such as cleaning. For beachgoers, there’s a trip in South Africa where people learn to surf and then teach that skill to children who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity. [continue]

The masked man

This is utterly fascinating. From The Province: The Masked Man.

For several centuries, the Chewa men of Malawi have reaffirmed their brotherhood through a secret masked society.

But Doug Curran is neither Chewa nor anything remotely approaching African.

He is a twice-divorced white man from North Vancouver. He grew up a military brat, photographs publicity film stills for a living (working with the likes of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner), and drives an Audi.

So how is it that this middle-aged British Columbian ended up a member of a closely guarded African fraternity?

That he’s not only privy to a world where men become wild beasts and speak in riddles, but is also a guardian of its secrets?

Curran ferrets around in the recesses of his mind for an answer. [continue] has a page you might like to see: Douglas Curran: The Elephant Has Four Hearts Nyau Masks and Ritual. That page has a few photos.

Homeless by choice, student learns self-reliance

From the LA Times: Homeless by choice, O.C. student learns self-reliance.

After a long day of film classes, working at the Apple Store, rock climbing at the gym and finishing homework in the student union, Cal State Fullerton senior Andy Bussell heads home — to a white Toyota Tacoma with a twin-size mattress in the truck bed, a camper shell for protection and black curtains for privacy.

The 26-year-old has been living in his truck for nearly 19 months, skirting rules against sleeping in vehicles while otherwise living the life of a mainstream student. What started out as a way to save some cash has turned into a journey of self-reliance and independence.

(This post used to link to an article on the LA Times website, but that article is no longer there. Alas!)

Floating shelter opened for Prague’s homeless population

From Radio Praha: Floating shelter opened for Prague’s homeless population.

Prague city hall came up with the innovative idea of a floating shelter for the homeless, when it found it difficult get the permission to build a facility on land.

In just three months, the city has managed to turn an old houseboat into a state-of-the-art waterborne hostel with 250 beds. For just 20 crowns, or less than a dollar, homeless people can now get a bed for the night as well as some hot food and access to sanitary facilities.

Besides these services, Prague mayor Pavel Bem says the facility will also provide comprehensive care to a significant portion of the city’s homeless. [continue]