STOPping Polio WIth Melis

100_1547STOPping Polio with Melis on National Immunisation Day (NID) in South Sudan

For a National Immunisation Day (NID) it was an unusually late start to the day compared with other countries I have done these campaigns and also considering the daily temperature in Juba, South Sudan almost always peaks above 40°C. In the short week I have been in South Sudan, I feel a strange sense of hope in the cooler two-hour window after sunrise before the sun gets high enough above the horizon to start baking the ground and demoralise most hopes for the day. But I am not here to talk about the weather!

100_1519It is day 2 of round 1 of 4 for the polio National Immunisation Days (NIDs) planned in South Sudan this year. I am with my counterpart, Melis, also from the CDC Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program working with the World Health Organisation on the ground in South Sudan. Melis has been a STOP team member in South Sudan since 2011 – a little longer than the week I have been here.

Melis is from Ethiopia with a history of public health work there. In October 2011 he took on his first STOP assignment in South Sudan and since that time he has worked with WHO South Sudan around the country with most of his time in the remote, often more fragile and certainly most challenging regions of rural South Sudan. Some of this time was spent living in emergency shelter tents in knee deep mud, or waiting anxiously for a flight out during an armed conflict, something for most of us beyond imagination. We then have to consider what it must be like for the locals living their daily lives in these conditions.

100_1541Melis knows the work as a STOP surveillance consultant is often in difficult conditions facing challenges, many of which don’t have quick solutions anytime soon. However he does this repeatedly over the years leaving his family behind to only see them for about six weeks a year. Some may think the culture shock for Africans within their own continent must be minimal but in fact it is huge – language, food, often no places to fulfil their faith needs, limited technology on assignment or at home to connect with their loved ones and coming from cultures where it is not common to choose to travel to new places and work in new cultures.

So what does Melis do on a typical work day that also consists of an NID? Firstly Melis, despite the cultural differences and challenges has to be a skilled communicator. His job is to essentially find faults and mistakes in current systems, to point them out and strengthen them. Luckily Melis has learnt to find the best in people and situations and offers alternatives that hope to add valuable contributions to their work and the work of the system. Melis also needs to have highly technical skills and cover many angles in an NID like today – tally sheets, the cold-chain process, house marking, Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) case detection, movement plans and maps, social mobilisation and more!

But here’s the thing…

Melis is just 1 of 22 other STOP team members in South Sudan, some who have been here for 5 years or more. These 22 include just a few of the over 100 STOPers trained by CDC and released for their first STOP assignment each six months. Those STOPers are just a handful of the 1000’s since the program started before the start of the new millennium.

polio STOP 42 group photoWhile we cannot all be STOP team members, as it is a highly skilled, competitive and deeply committed role to take on, what we can do is be in support of not only STOP team members but also millions of others in the world who volunteer as vaccinators for campaigns and the healthcare workers engaged to strengthen local, national and global health.

100_1538Any of us can join in to be an important link in the chain of polio eradication and better global health for all. If we support good people, like Melis, doing good things we become a part of that movement and bolster and expand good things to more people who need them.

You might like to think about any of the following actions to support:

  • Share this story or other similar stories with others to heighten their awareness and education in polio eradication and global health
  • Talk with your neighbours, friends, colleagues and share information, ideas and inspiration to encourage greater learning and understanding of development issues
  • Get involved in the CDC STOP program if you have the right background and skills in health, communications or data collation
  • Write to your local Member of Parliament or leaders about the importance of foreign aid to stop the unprecedented cuts that have been taking place worldwide. If you are new to this form of advocacy see RESULTS for more tips
  • Donate to any of the polio eradication partners in Rotary International, UNICEF, WHO, CDC, Gates Foundation and others working in global health
  • Sign up to join in an award and reward program for schools and businesses called Polio Points where people do good things and it translates into vaccines on the ground and
  • Add a message of appreciation and encouragement to this post to pass onto STOP team members, healthcare workers, vaccinators, volunteers and more…

Thank you Melis for your work today and every day and let us continue to see us get closer to seeing a polio-free world for everyone, everywhere, forever!


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Happy International Women’s Day to All!

100_0475Today is my favourite International such-and-such Day of the year. It is International Women’s Day 8 March.

A couple of reasons for IWD being my favourite International Day of the year:

  1. Women and in particular girls are one of the most significant and beneficial tools for developing communities (sorry already calling women tools)
    • If a girl has access to education and their right to safety and equality they will get an education, get married later in life, have significantly bigger chances of employment and have less children (in general)
      • Why is this of great benefit to us all? Because women on average give back more to their community than men creating more equality and opportunity for all
  2. Women are the most powerful weapon in gaining peace, in conflict resolution and reconciliation (sorry now calling women weapons)
    • Women reach compromise and heal scars for others faster and more effectively than men
  3. I know I wouldn’t have been able to ramble around the world in exactly the same ease if I was a women
    • Extra pressure, less recognition, denigrated roles and money and in particular more safety considerations. Not that women can’t travel around the world just they would have had to do it with more hassle just because they are female
    • I can’t begin to think about the trauma and experiences the women in South Sudan have faced in the Sudan war and now the civil conflict. They have been raped, murdered, tortured and suffered (along with the men) plus the extra atrocities that are specific and only women have to face
  4. IWD is the day before my big sister’s birthday and I get to reflect and feel how special the most important women in my life are – my two sisters and my mother and then all of those other brilliant and wonderful women who nourish and enhance my life and the life of others
  5. Too many more and we should always celebrate our mothers, sisters, female friends and the women and girls we don’t know…
judith selling mandazi

Judith – polio survivor, mother of three and the best mandazi (fried bread) maker in Kapchorwa. Not only supports herself but also her children and all of this not being able to walk or assistance from others…

I don’t pretend to know what it would really be like but I can acknowledge and advocate for more equality, justice and empowerment for women.


This photo is from Uganda last year as I don’t just go around the streets of South Sudan taking photos of girls in school uniform with a pen and notebook

I can tell you how much it warms my heart and hope for humanity when I see a girl here in South Sudan with a pen, notebook and school uniform knowing she will have more access and opportunity to moulding the future of her family, community and country.

To help summarise some respect, acknowledgement and appreciation for girls and women I’ll share with you a couple of quotes:

“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality. No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health — including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as powerful in increasing the chances of education for the next generation. And I would also venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended.”

Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary-General

Remarks by Kofi Annan at the opening of the forty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women marking Beijing +10, 2005, Press Release SG/SM/9738 WOM/1489, accessed Dec 2009

And this quote:

“My husband knows the importance of what I’m doing. He sees me as a very important person in the family. I have big expectations, the biggest is for my child. I would really like him to study at university. He could even become a lawyer so he can defend women like his mum.”

tukaejeTukaeje participated in training from the charity CAMFED, enabling her to start a small business and provide for her family.

Both of these quotes and the video of Tukaeje are a part of the Global Poverty Project presentation which I have been fortunate to deliver to audiences over 300 times. This is always my most emotional and favourite part.

Happy International Women’s Day to all!

If you want to support our third Millennium Development Goal – Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women then check out these wonderful people doing wonderful things to help us get there:

  • An excellent source of all things gender equality IWDA (International Women’s Development Association):
  • A special little project in the hills of Swaziland – Operation Hope and their Sister Act kits of menstrual pads and soaps to help girls continue to complete their high school education:
  • The fantastic Orchid Project to end FGC (Female Genital Cutting):
  • Australian domestic gender equality, check out the brilliant and effective Fair Agenda:
  • And awesomely is Global Citizen and their look at gender equality advocacy and action:
  • Plus you must read this book to learn more about women and development: Half the Sky…half the sky
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A Mirror in Juba

Good to be back on this blog in a travel sense of experiences, learning, perspectives, reflection and discovery. This one is a big reflection one :)

I’m currently back on the Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program for the second time. Previously I was in Uganda for 7 months in 2013 working with UNICEF and you can see a realm of blogs here from that time. This time I am in South Sudan working with the World Health Organisation and UNICEF for 4 months.

25 Feb was day two of the National Immunisation Day (NID) for polio which usually lasts 3-4 days, and in the case of South Sudan they have these campaigns four times a year.

Here is more of a pictorial edition of events from the day as I think the pictures do justice on the incredible work, efforts and challenges the people face as well as the tireless work of vaccinators and healthcare workers.

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My reflection at the end of the day having been back out on the ground and integrated with African life once again was this:

I am sure to replay this day back slowly for a while… It was a great day in the field and tapping into the intimate and raw substance of humanity when you interact and learn from people who live with very little in the most human way I can imagine – for good and bad, actually mostly bad.

I always tend to look into a mirror of myself on theses days thinking if I was born and grew up in the wild with nothing as a primitive animal. I certainly wouldn’t degrade and dehumanise the people I meet who live in poverty in Africa but the reflection that hits me is how far removed from being human I am when in the west and how artificial we can make life with everything except humanity.

As for the way of life here in South Sudan I don’t want to patronise the people here and I know I will never have to face the challenges of hunger, sickness and resilience as many of them do here daily but I am moved by a lot by people here, I admire them in an uncomfortable way of me getting all the benefit of their way of life and them not have the access and privilege I have20150221_112600.

I’m inspired by people here and deeply saddened, confused and guilted because I am the one who has the upper hand on the interaction most of the time because I am the one who can choose simplicity and good health care when I want where I want.

I can only endeavor to live more human from all I learn from this place and these wonderful people and to try and be of service for them to have access and opportunity to at least the basics in life and be able to make decisions like clean water AND medicine, not clean water OR medicine.100_1540

It is almost impossible for me to explain the nourishment I get from these experiences almost at the expense of the people I get them from but I don’t know how to be humble, appreciative and not patronising at the same time so I hope you get the gist of my words and the bottom line for me is: I (and I think the west) has more to learn from the people here in South Sudan and most of Africa about living than we do ‘helping’ them…

I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to experience and learn from these days and these programs. Sorry I was going to go light and fluffy with a few pictures but seems my head is elsewhere…

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Putting it All Together (with bumps)

Hi Folks Far and Wide!

It has been a cruising start to the year with youth empowerment work in Malaysia, family and fun in Australia, creative conversations for Polio Points, dengue fever throughout my body and also in preparation for departure for Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program in South Sudan very soon…

This blog post is an attempt to pull all of my blogs into one central spot but to still maintain all the other blogs, each with their specific train of thought and purpose. So if you are a follower of any one of these blogs:

I will now be blogging on each of those blogs but they will always be doubled up on this blog site ( ) .

Therefore if you wish to follow all of these blogs at once I suggest you subscribe to the Teaspoons of Change blog ( )!

Lastly I was very lucky to be on a podcast interview with a great guy and purveyor of interesting people doing interesting things – Joel from Smart and Simple Matters and SimpleRev. Our nearly hour-long conversation was a nice chance for me to lay out the patchwork of diverse and passionate things I get to do in life from polio eradication to youth empowerment to living in tiny houses when possible and to anything and everything to ensure I do what I can to see an end to extreme poverty…

Here is a link to the podcast if you are keen and it is a good chance for me to try and tie a few things together and put them in at least one funnel where they can then splash and land as they need from there…  Be sure to check out the other amazing podcasts on there as well!

Will be in touch next from all things polio eradication in South Sudan from next week! Hope to add more experiences (and photos) for the next 4 months…

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Thanks and Resolutions for 2015…

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New Year’s Resolution and Message – 2015

Dearest Wonderful Humans whom I know in the world!

A happy Christmas (if you do Christmas) and a very merry New Year (if you do calendars).

Firstly a big massive huge THANK YOU to all the support, generosity, kindness and hospitality I have received this year (and every year). I continue to live off the kindness and generosity of others to be able to do meaningful and effective work being of service to others.

2014 was ridiculous for me in doing as I desired and learn from it all. In brief:

  • I interacted with people and learn more about humanity in a new and profound way on my 1000km Teaspoons of Change walk in Japan
  • I now have a wonderful new community in South Australia where I built my second Happy, simply home
  • And I’ve been very privileged to co-inspire and learn with over 10,000 people from 120+ presentations throughout Asia and SE Asia on global citizenship

Looking at my learning and growth from this year is far more significant to me than any achievements. I have been able to continue to live an active and effective life with attention to intention and I now know less about what my job is, where I live and how I earn money -which is wonderful!!!

If you want to get a good snap shot of where this year has put me and life until today you might like to catch a podcast interview I did with a prolific podcast broadcaster in the US called Smart and Simple Matters:

I’m also now using one blog and website to combine all of the various blogs I write on various topics – and this will include blogs on my travels, polio eradication, Happy, simply home and more…

As for the stats that don’t matter this year I’ve been very lucky to:

  • Experience Rwanda, South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia, Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Cambodia, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore (15 countries taking it to around 66 in total)
  • Built a second Happy, simply home
  • Walked 1000km and then cycled another 1500km in Japan and South Korea
  • Give 120+ presentations to over 10,000 people in 9 countries in 6 months

Stats don’t matter but it is nice to see and hear what people do in their year between their annoying yearly updates ;)

See below on how I went on my 2014 New Year Resolutions and what gems I’m looking forward to in 2015!

Have a super year and if you are in South Sudan, Europe, Asia or Australasia (sorry Americas) in 2015 I hope to see you!!! See below below to see a little more specifically on when and where I hope to be…

Cheers, d’Arcy.

New Year’s Resolutions – 2015 and review of 2014!

The resolutions that (don’t) matter for 2015…

  • Sunrise on the 29th of the month, as usual
  • Hi-5 a random stranger on Tuesdays each week
  • Find a fish-shaped cloud after relative success with an elephant
  • NO more Happy, simply homes!
  • 10 push ups a day (not specific to 5-6pm this time)
  • Sit once a week to breathe like a tree and meditate for 5-15 minutes (I’m nervous about this one…)
  • Memorise all the countries starting with M (18 of them!)
  • Learn to crack an egg with one hand
  • With my first step outside each day take a big appreciative lung full of air and say thank you for another day
  • Pop more monos (wheelies) on bicycles
  • My favourite colour for 2015 will be pink!
  • Write postcards to family and friend’s kids each month
  • Meet someone from Georgia now that I have Armenia done
  • Buy Nothing New Month once again in October

Continue to surround myself in good people doing good things!

The resolution results for 2014…

Sit still and listen to a 30 minute podcast or similar once a month, lets say on the 29th of the month – either with sunrise or at a stage throughout the day Epic fail, didn’t do it once but did do sunrise each month as per usual
I WILL do 10 push-ups everyday at some stage between 5-6pm Good for 9 months and some strange places for 5-6pm
Write postcards no matter where I am to my donor child in Australia and to my best friend’s children in Germany and Tasmania on the 15th of the month – as I did in 2013 Got slack second half of the year… Revisit again this yr.
Having seen two decent monkeys as clouds in the sky in the past two years I will aim to see an elephant this year Pretty good, see attached
I will do Buy Nothing New Month again this year in October – make sure you do too, it’s a beauty Did it, loved it, doin it again!
Appreciate the colour aqua as it used to be a favourite but gone off it a little these days… Tried but aqua is not my colour…
Going savoury this year and will make chapatti on the 15th of each month in honour of wonderful chapatti eating in Uganda for the past 6 months Fail as cooking not easy on the run
I will try and meet someone from Botswana as I will miss going there on this trip Nup…
I will learn off by heart the countries starting with J (3), K (8) and L (9) Yep!
Each week I will learn a word in German so at least I have 52 more words to use when I am there next – suggestions for my vocab list welcome! Fail. Got as far as schweinehund (arsehole)
My favourite vegetable for 2014 was… bread. Not a veg but it sustained me a lot throughout the year and others on the Happy, simply project! Bread for the win!
Six weeks of living just above the line ($3 a day) and then the official week of Live Below the Line ($2 a day) to see and feel the difference a dollar can make in the world… Didn’t even remember making this one till reading it again now…

On top of this I will be doing my continued best to see a world with more equality and happiness through promotion of Teaspoons of Change, Happy, simply, Polio Points, and global citizenship education and interacting with JUMP! Foundation, Global Poverty Project, Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program and more…? &

2015 by date and place (note all should be written in pencil and subject to (frequent) change:

  • 1 Feb – 15 Jun – South Sudan
  • 15 Jun – 15 Aug – Europe for Polio Points (UK, Ireland, Germany, other?)
  • 16 Aug – 1 Sept to Asia – Georgia, Armenia, Iran to Tajik?
  • Sept arrive Asia – Tajik, Nepal?
  • 2nd week Sept Asia – Thai, HK 3 days, Thai
  • 3rd week Sept Asia – Thai, KL
  • 4th week Sept Asia – Singapore, Brunei
  • 1-9 Oct – Australia, set up in Melb till 10 Oct
  • 12-18 Oct SA Adelaide, 19-23 Eyre Peninsula
  • 26-30 Oct QLD (Townsville, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane)
  • 2-6 Nov NSW
  • 9-13 Nov VIC
  • 16-20 Nov NT
  • 23-27 Nov TAS
  • 30 Nov-11 Dec VIC
  • ??? Paekakariki, Aotearoa New Zealand? – I hope so…!

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Privileged and Passionate in my 35th year – What about this year…?

Wow, year no. 35 was another in the line up awesome years that seems to be trend over the past 14 years…

Do I feel guilt – yes, selfish – yes, privileged – hell yes and I believe I owe the world because I am privileged but I don’t see that as a burden I see it as a passion and a joy.

Sunset, beer & happy reflections

Sunset, beer & happy reflections

In the past 14 years I have been allowed to live my passions – daily and my 35th year was no different. I travelled, learnt, shared and experiences 11 different countries in North America, Africa, Asia, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand; I’ve influenced and been inspired by another year of beautiful people, cultures and communities – some known and some new; I’ve been able to contribute to meaningful work that sees better health and education for others and I’ve been able to interact and connect with nature on many different levels.

I do what I do because I love it. I love shooting for giving maximum effective help to the world and I strive to do minimal harm in the world and can’t think of a better pursuit in life.

I am always at the receiving end of incredible hospitality, kindness and generosity and I can only attempt to pay even just a little bit of that forward.

Looking towards my 36th I have things mapped out pretty well for next set of 365.

  • In June I will finish building a second Happy, simply self-sufficient home with a community of volunteers in South Australia
  • July – who knows but hopefully some time in Asia – Thailand and China working on youth leadership and active global citizenship
  • Aug – prepare for a walk in Japan
  • I FULLY DECLARE NOW in Sept/Oct I will be walking 1500km in Japan from Nanporo (Hokkaido) to Nagoya – where I have lived in both places and the walk will be called Teaspoons of Change – personal choices, decisions and actions that have a positive impact on people and the planet creating teaspoons of change - Facebook: Blog: Twitter: @Tspoonsofchange
  • Nov/Dec ??? but plenty on offer
  • Christmas with my family in South Australia
  • Jan-June Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program somewhere…
  • And with any luck from July next year I will be doing a Masters in Peace Studies under a scholarship program (fingers crossed…)
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As the sun sets on this beautiful evening on the first day of my 36th year I am happy, proud, privileged and passionate about the days of 35 years till now and will throw myself at the world just as willingly and energetically in this coming year. Cheers!

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Living the Happy, simply life…

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Originally posted on Happy Simply – a sustainable lifestyle model & education project:
I have finally had the opportunity to live what was once a feeling, that turned into an idea, that turned into a concept, that turned into a poster…

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