Friday, April 28, 2006

The School is Finished!!

ABC World News talked about the opening of our school on January 27th, during the Person of the Week segment. (Which featured me but should have been about ALL of the amazing people who came together to make this happen!!)

Congratulations to the whole TEN DAYS TEAM!!

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

KPFT Radio Interview

Welcome to anyone who's joining us as a result of our recent interview! We're still raising money for the school in Buduburam and appreciate any and all donations. If you'd like to donate, please make a note that you heard us on KPFT. All donations are tax-deductible. You can either use paypal (on our site) or email us and we'll send you our address if you'd prefer to send a check. If you'd like to sign up for our email list to learn about future missions, please send us an email at

Monday, May 30, 2005


“The time is always right to do what is right.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Ten Days... change a life. To change your life. To change the world.

This site is all about the upcoming Ten Days Mission to Buduburam Refugee Camp, in Ghana West Africa - a volunteer mission to build a resource center/school for 350 refugee children.

Feel free to look around. We welcome comments, words of encouragement, and of course donations. (All donations are tax-deductible through Creative Visions, a non-profit/501c3.)

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments section and we'll respond as soon as possible. You can also email us at .

Kids in the Camp

Children at the Camp
Originally uploaded by Coristern.
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
- The Dalai Lama

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A quick six hour flight from London – on the outskirts of the beautiful city of Accra, Ghana – is a place known as Buduburam Refugee Camp. Established fifteen years ago as a temporary camp for Liberians fleeing the civil war in their own country, it has now become an essentially permanent home to 47,000 refugees.

The people at Buduburam are survivors of what was a horrible, tragic conflict that took the lives of so many people they loved. Some people fled onto boats, and in many cases dodged machine gun fire as they were trying to escape the harbor. One boat was at sea for weeks, being turned away by every country they tried to seek asylum in. Finally, as people were dying, they were offered refuge in Ghana. What these people have been through is unimaginable to most of us.

Within the camp are 600 “unaccompanied minors” - children who are on their own, without parents. Some were orphaned by the war or AIDS, many were separated from their families as they were running, fleeing the conflict. Often a child will end up in a camp in one country, and the mother or father will end up in another – with neither knowing what became of the other.

150 of these children are so young they fall into a category officially known as "very vulnerable." None of these kids are in school. (There are schools within the camp, but shockingly to most Americans, school is NOT free in most of Africa – even in a refugee camp. Even though it may cost only a few dollars a month for the school fees, it's beyond the reach of many of these people, especially the unaccompanied kids.)

The UN does have a presence in the camp, but they don't provide school or food or even water, which must be trucked in and purchased by the refugees.

But when you travel through the camp, the most striking thing is that you can feel the indomitable spirit of the people there. Nothing about it looks like our Western idea of a comfortable living environment, but the people have made do with what they have. In mud brick huts, they’ve opened businesses ranging from photo parlors to cinemas and replaced the traditional emergency tents with small crudely constructed but brightly painted homes. It’s less like our traditional evening-news perceptions of a refugee camp and more like a vibrant, sprawling shantytown.

Kids at Buduburam

In the midst of all this is one incredible man named Karrus Hayes. With zero resources of his own, Karrus has started The Carolyn Miller School - a free school available for any child who needs it. The teachers are incredible. They are mostly volunteer, although Karrus tries to pay them a little each month when he has money. These people are well-educated and many people in the camp are teachers, lawyers, and other professionals.

Currently, the school meets in a small church. There are about 150 kids enrolled, which is beyond maximum capacity. The building is low-ceilinged and boiling hot most of the time. The children sit so close to one another that they sometimes have to sit sideways on the benches, crammed in with thin bamboo dividers separating the classes. If someone from the church has a meeting, school has to be cancelled for the day.

Karrus has raised a small amount of money and found an abandoned building on land just outside the official camp area, about a five minute walk from the current school. The owner of the building has agreed to a 99 year lease, if Karrus will pay rent and finish construction. To you or I the building would seem pitiful – there’s no roof, no bathroom, no running water, dirt floors - but to the eyes of the kids there – it’s the most beautiful thing they can imagine.

The kids took me on a tour of it, showed me where they hope one day to have a soccer field, their future classrooms, maybe even a library room with books. They don’t have anything material yet – not desks, not books – but they do have enthusiasm and big dreams. So much could be done at this camp with so little, to change the lives of these kids forever. That’s where you come in....

Big Dreams!The future school!

TEN DAYS: Sept 15-24, 2005

Our Ten Day Mission is to create a beautiful expanded school/resource center for 350 kids. With our help, the school will not only have a place for all of its 150 current students, but will have the space and resources to take on 200 more students – all of them unaccompanied minors.

We’ll be raising money, traveling to Ghana, and working with Karrus’s group of local volunteers (refugees themselves). The bulk of the physical labor will be done before we arrive (none of our team will be roofing!) but we’ll be doing everything else to makeover the school and get it ready for the kids. Activities will range from painting walls and murals to shopping (in Accra) for needed school supplies, to outfitting each classroom with everything they need.

Additionally, there are many writers, artists and musicians in the camp who have offered to teach the children through the arts. The war decimated the country – and the kids in the camp have learned little of their once-amazing artistic culture and traditions. Art, drama, and music also offer a way to heal the pain and trauma of what these people have gone through. When I was there, a group of the unaccompanied children serenaded me with an impromptu song – with haunting and heart-wrenching lyrics along the lines of “Mother, Mother, please come for me.” To offer them a beautiful place to come together and explore their feelings through art would be a gift beyond comprehension.

As for logistical issues, Ghana is a completely safe and very very friendly country. I’ve been there several times – and in January helped shepard a group of American volunteers there to teach a workshop on preventing AIDS in infants. The camp is located about 45 minutes outside Accra and there are flights on KLM and British Air from the UK.

Each volunteer will raise $5,000, which will include their airfare and accommodations in Ghana. (Each volunteer will have to pay for their own visa and all necessary shots. This could range from $300-$600.) All donations are tax-deductible through a US-based non-profit corporation. It may seem like big amount to take on, but in the past, my volunteers have been amazed at how quickly they’ve been able to raise the money through friends and family, fundraising dinner parties, email campaigns, etc. People are often VERY excited to give when someone they know will be involved directly in seeing how the money is spent. Additionally, some things (school supplies, etc) can be raised as “in-kind” donations and can be taken out of the budget, reducing the amount needed by the volunteer who gets the item donated. If anyone wants to use their own airmiles, that would reduce the amount they need to raise as well.

As for requirements, you need to have: generally good physical health, an open heart, a willing spirit, and...ten days to spend changing our world.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Ten Days Team

Cori Stern, Team Leader -
St. Augustine, himself an African, said "Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those, who by accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you." It is my joy and thrill to share this mission, not only with all of our Ten Days volunteers, but with all of the Liberian volunteers who live in the refugee camp that are coming together with us to create this school. I look forward to getting to know all of you - and having you get to know them.

Kristi Manning, Team Logistics Leader -
My favorite thing to do - travel. My least favorite thing to do - talk about myself. But because Cori asked... My background is event management (ESPN X Games, World Cup Soccer, Atlanta Olympic Games) and non-profit project management (Starbright Foundation, The Painted Turtle). I've been without steady employment for the last year and a half and it has been a great adventure. It helps to have traveled and have some realization of how little you need to get by. My first trip to Africa was in January of this year and I knew then it was just the beginning. I'm excited to be working with Cori to coordinate this trip and meet a whole new group of amazing people.

Rayann Aziz -
Ten Days Mission involves 2 of my passions: Africa & children. As a South African of Indian descent, I claim both Nelson Mandela & Gandhi as part of my heritage :). (Gandhi's Satyagraha non-violent resistance movement has its roots just outside of my hometown, Durban, where as a young lawyer, Gandhi began to fight apartheid. Gandhi spent almost 20 years in South Africa.) I found myself profoundly moved & inspired by Cori's work inAfrica. I believe I can make difference, albeit in a small way. I am the director of Passport Health Los Angeles, a travel immunization clinic in Los Angeles.

Jazmin Y. Eckenberg -
Why am I going? Not really sure if there is one sole reason I am going, but maybe I'll find out along the way. But I know that in my heart, it is what I'm supposed to be doing. I live in L.A. And was born in Mexico City. I work in production.

Anne Butler -
I'm going to Ghana because I've been interested in doing some kind of humanitarian aid work in Africa for a long time and this is a great opportunity to begin that dream! I am a photographer living in Austin, Texas- originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I will be documenting the work we do in Ghana with my camera, as well as photographing some of the work that Cori did last year in Jos, Nigeria. I will travel there before meeting up with the group in Ghana. I'm very excited to be a part of this group and I look forward to meeting and working with everyone involved!

Doug Stern -
I'm 38 and I live in Los Angeles, working as a screenwriter and music video producer. My wife, Cori, is one of the driving forces behind the Ten Days project and I have been inspired for years now, by her energy and love for the people of Africa. I look forward to taking my first steps on this journey!

Susanna Jolly-
I am been working as a producer and film executive for about four years in Los Angeles. For a long time I have felt a connection to Africa, and have wanted to lend assistance, and for a long time, --despite my traveling widely and having a wide range of experiences --- I did not feel I was "ready" or had the skills that I could be of great help. Now i realize that thinking was ---how shall we say? - not on course.
These are some musings I wrote in my own journal at 15, and just came upon it the other day. Somehow, large chunks of it
seemed apropos to our upcoming experience:
"Organic, cataclysmic, primitive, ethereal.
I feel like radar, catching catch-phrases, ideas, and a warm thought or two.
Could the world have begun in such a way?
Discordant motion becomes smooth, and the harmony of ways paves the path for powerful kingdoms.
The beginning of something great, the beginning of life in motion.
Cut off from each other --
our particles are encased in isolation tanks. One blooms, the other falters.
One is nowhere near as powerful as many;
Let us build a world of sand, sky, and earth." /sj
- i look forward to meeting you all.

Hannah Halliwell -
I grew up traveling, and ever since I was old enough to do it on my own, I haven't stopped. Well, not by choice anyway. Current home town: Los Angeles, CA. It is one of my many dreams to travel the whole world, and I've never been to Africa. Also, I am an actress: I love people, I love stories. But, I especially love children. At times as a child, I remember so distinctly feeling like I was on a ride I didn't agree to get on myself. And once I realized I was on it, I also realized that I was there all alone. I am unsure of a lot of things, but one thing I have always been sure of is that for a child to feel that way just isn't fair, and injustice toward a child is the greatest wrong I can imagine. So, I also have a personal mission to be open arms, a warm smile, a safe lap to sleep on, and altogether available to as many children in as many different places as I possibly can in my lifetime. This trip is a perfect opportunity to continue on with my dreams. Thank you, Cori.

Jennie Weiss -
I just did this thing, I quit my job, without having another one.....and it has left me with all this time, to think.

When Monika, my best friend (since tap class in third grade), told me that she was joining Cori's trip, I knew I was going with her.

I know who I am by the company I keep, the music that moves me and the parts of the world that make me feel at home. But, I've never done anything like THIS. This seems bigger than me, bigger than the breakups I've been through, the jobs that are gone, the apartments that will or won't be there when I get back.

This finally doesn't seem trivial, irrelevant or unnecessary. Africa seems important, wonderful and I can't wait to get there.

I am looking forward to meeting everyone, being with the children, and having another, in a VERY long list of stories to share with Monika.

Monika Bustamante-
I am looking forward to Africa in at least twice as many ways as I fear it, so I think that must be a good thing. I love doing things that take my attention off of myself. I love being "handy." I love working with kids. I love Cori, and am sick of only admiring her work from afar. I love Jennie, and am always up for another amazing adventure with her. Really, the only thing I'll be sad to leave are my sweet pets, and luckily they are suckers and can be appeased with hugs and treats.

Dani Hartmann
I am a creative services buyer for (I plan photoshoots for images on the website)My husband and I have been married for 20 years, our son Tyler is 18 and daughter Tessa is 15. Now that my kids are older and I have paid my dues on the soccer mom circuit, it's on to the next thing for me. And that would have to be travel. I have always been a sucker for volunteering, love kids and especially love to travel. I have been inspired by my sister, Kristi (logistics leader for this trip) and
her non-profit causes for a long time, and finally the timing is right for me. I am so looking forward to this trip. I found a quote I like from Eleanor Roosevelt she said; "One thing life has taught me; if you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Visa Info

Prior to applying for your visa you must have your passport and a return airline ticket.

You will be applying for a single entry, tourist visa ($50). If you plan on doing additional traveling that will take you out and back into Ghana then you should apply for a multiple entry visa($80). Single entry visa's are valid for 3 months from the date of issue.

You can apply for your visa directly from the Ghana Embassy or you can use a service ($40) that walks your papers through. I used a service last time but I was in a rush and thought it was a safer way to go. The Embassy says they process in 1 to 5 days so it is still a pretty quick turn-around.

Ghana Embassy
Passport Visa Express
Travel Document Systems

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me.
Kristi Manning

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Deadlines for Fundraising

We have set up deadlines for fundraising to keep us all on target. Once you have met your goal and the complete amount has been received we will be able to reimburse you for your airline ticket. Contributions can be made on the website. Be sure to tell people to include your name in the “payment for” box when they make an online donation. If you are receiving checks please have them made out to Creative Visions. CV is a 501-C3 so all donations are eligible for a tax deduction. Collect the checks and send them to me weekly at the address below. Please keep a personal log of the donor, amount and check number before sending them to me.

due by July 15: $1250
due by August 15: $2500
due by September 5 $1250

Of course you are welcome to surpass these goals! If you have any questions or would like some fundraising tips please don’t hesitate to ask.

Kristi Manning
2109 Castilian Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90068

Airline Ticket

Airline ticket:

To insure that everyone is able to get an airline ticket we would like you to purchase your ticket by June 30th. If you are unable to do this please let us know as soon as possible. Our travel agent, Consolidatorwebfares, is able to book us on a “missionary discount” because we are doing volunteer work. We recommend that you book through them; Kammy, our contact, will have your name on a list. In order to receive the discount you must call them directly at 678.462.8737. They are open Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm eastern time.

Alternately, you can book your ticket through your own means: use your own agent, buy on the internet, use airmiles. EITHER WAY, please check with Cori or me FIRST BEFORE YOU BUY or BOOK to insure your fare, route and schedule are correct and it is an amount we have agreed to reimburse. We don’t want anyone to end up with a $6000 ticket to Zimbabwe, when you really need a $1200 ticket to Ghana.

We would like everyone to depart on the 15th and arrive in Accra, Ghana on the 16th. If you are traveling on Lufthansa you will most likely fly through Frankfort make a brief stop in Lagos, Nigeria before arriving in Accra one hour later. Most people will be departing Accra on the 24th and arrive back in the States on the 25th. When you land in Accra you will be met and transported to the hotel where we will be staying the first night (more info to come on that).

Letter to Our Ten Day Team

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, nothing else ever has."

Dear Small Group, :)

You're taking on something that may seem overwhelming at the moment but in the long run will be one of the most rewarding experiences you've ever had. Welcome aboard.

After this email, I'd love everyone to take a moment to email me back with a line or two about why they've decided to go on this trip - as well as what city you're from and anything else that feels pertinent. I'll compile them and send them out to you guys as a group. Here's mine:

Cori Stern - I'm going because I love Africa and love sharing the experience of breaking past our usual geographic and mental boundaries with other people. I'm from Los Angeles, by way of Texas. I'm a writer.

I'm looking forward to getting to know each of you, so send out your intro when you can. Don't worry about crafting the perfect statement. First thought, best thought.

I'm compiling a fundraising tips email that will go out separately from this one so be on the lookout for that. Any emails I or Kristi (our logistics leader) sends you will be posted on our blog as well. Feel free to email me or post questions on the blog.

The blog address is

Also - all questions are important - so unless you request otherwise I may share yours with the group. This is unknown territory for most of you guys and I'm sure you're going through similiar experiences.

Kristi has just posted info on your obtaining your visas on the blog. Definitely check that out. If you've never had to get a visa before, you should know that you'll have to actually send your passport to the Ghanian embassy in Washington, DC and they'll send it back with the visa affixed inside. Few things are as exciting as opening your passport to see a new fancy stamp inside. Keep in mind that we are officially going as "tourists" over there, so you'll be checking all those boxes on your forms. Kristi has given detailed instructions on how to go about everything.

If you don't have a passport, let me know. I'll help you figure out the most efficient way to get one.

Talk to you all soon!


Friday, May 06, 2005


From The Whole Foods website: (DISCLAIMER: I'm not a doctor but this seems to help me!)

Melatonin is widely used to relieve the symptoms of jet lag. Unlike many other sleep aids, melatonin isn't addictive.

Fight jet lag and restore normal sleep patterns. If you're traveling across time zones, melatonin may help your body to overcome any disorientation and quickly reestablish a normal sleep pattern. Recent studies of airline personnel and others who travel long distances found that melatonin supplements significantly relieved jet lag symptoms. This was true regardless of whether they were flying eastbound or westbound.

Dosage Information

To prevent jet lag when flying from west to east: (US to Europe/Africa)

* On the day before the flight, take a small dose (about 0.5 mg) of melatonin in the middle of the afternoon.

* The day of the flight, take 3 mg two hours earlier than you took the melatonin dose the previous day.

* Upon arrival at your final destination, spend some time in natural sunlight as soon as possible.

* For the first three or four nights of your stay, take 3 mg before bedtime.

To prevent jet lag when flying from east to west: (Europe/Africa to US)

* On the day before the flight, take a small dose (0.5 mg) in the morning, and the same amount again on the morning of your departure.

* Upon arrival at your final destination, wait until morning to take another small dose (0.5 mg, for example) and continue to do so for the next few mornings.

* In the late afternoon of the day that you land, try to spend at least half an hour outside without wearing sunglasses.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Carolyn Miller's Story

Below is a letter from a wonderful woman named Carolyn Miller. Karrus Hayes, who founded the school we are going to build, was able to get an education in Liberia as a result of her efforts. The school is named after her. Here's her story:

Dear Cori,

So nice to hear from you....with similar interests for helping others, esp. Liberians I know we would have a lot in common.

I went to Liberia as a missionary with the Lutheran Church in America (now known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America ... E.L.C.A.) in l966. Phebe Hospital located in central Liberia was then less than a year old. And they had even delayed setting up the O.B. unit and clinics until after I got there. I came fresh from Midwifery School in Edinburgh, Scotland .... so obviously did not have all the answers at all. (There were three of us all going to Liberia studying there at the
time .... we indeed became sisters of the heart.) I was the only one that went to Phebe at the time. I went to teach at Cuttington University College....B.S.N. students. The college is kinda right across the road from Phebe Hospital. I taught there 12 years and was Chairman of theNursing Program for 7 of those years Our goal was to educate nurses who could eventually take over key positions in Liberia...including teaching. A lot of our graduates went on for their Master's in the States and did come back and fill vital roles....One was the Minister of Health. Their accomplishments were my greatest achievements.

Right away we realized we needed midwives if we were going to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbitity. So I started a class for Certified Midwives...originally some were 6th grade graduates only...but soon all were 12 grade graduates. We had no textbooks at first plus the graduates would have had a difficult time reading I wrote up simplified versions of what they needed to know. That started in 1967. It is still going...but was interrupted because of the war.

In 1980 I started a school for Nurse Midwives.....we realized that if we did not somehow prepare Midwifery educators midwifery school could not continue in Liberia. So I devised a program to teach Midwifery skillls and also teaching skills. I think it was my greatest professional achievement.....

We never knew in advance that a war would come and destroy the country and all the hospitals and schools etc....but those that lived carried on nursing and midwifery beyond which we could have everanticipated. Their stories are tremendous. Sometimes people have said to me, "Isn't it too bad all your work is now destroyed etc...." Really my work lived on in those that I was privileged to teach.

Now, I can believe that Karrus and others there in Ghana (and in Liberia)...hardly know that part of my life...even though I lived it for a period covering 24 years. But, I lived right in the path so to speak of people heading for the school (Phebe Community Lutheran School)....I taught Sunday School....I became involved in lots of people's the nearby towns and at the nearby Leprosy Center....anyway, I got to know a lot of people...and heard their stories and their problems...and really this is the person they know mostly.

In 1990 I already had my ticket to leave Liberia (something that was very hard for me) when the war started...It was especially then hard to leave. But, I wanted desperately to be in Iowa and spend quality time with my mom. And every school including the Sunday School was in the hands of qualified Liberian people. It was O.K. to leave.

So then in the almost 15 years since I was there I have received literally thousands of letters....many I still know very well....and now many I do not know personallly but I knew their friend or sister etc. Of course all need financial help....and we know that is true, but I can't help all...but really God has helped me a lot with this one. But, I have made it my goal so far to answer every letter with a note, a Bible track (everyone lost their Bibles so all were asking for Bibles which I could not send) and words of comfort or advise etc. One of my themes has been encouraging others to Spread Kindness to others. It is hard to get mail to Liberia since there is no direct this is harder than one thinks. Lots of Liberians have access to E-Mail and that has been good.

I went back in l998 for a was a wonderful visit but also filled with sadness for those who had died in the war up to that time. Our hospital was destoyed some in l994 and again in 2003...The schools were destroyed also. But Praise be to God...they are finally back in the hospital as of Feb. 14th of this year. And I now have the Annual Report
for 2004 in my hand. Since l987 we have sent medical supplies to it is close to 60 tons. Our last shipment left on May 9th....we had 72 boxes (5000 lbs.) of supplies included. That has kept me associated with the peopleand the hospital...and E-Mail keeps us very much in touch. So that is bits and pieces of my story.....I have been truly blessed
to have had this association with the Liberian people.

Cori, this is probably more than you wanted to know...I would be happy to answer any question if I can. My story is not so much my story...but the story of all the Liberian people who came into my life...and it is their story really.

It would be good for me to hear your story as well. God Bless.

Peace, Carolyn Miller

Saturday, April 30, 2005

What to Bring

What to bring in your...

1. A change of clothes
2. Necessary medicines, vitamins, ESPECIALLY MALARIA PILLS
3. Basic toiletries
4. Passport
5. Immunization card (They’ll give you this where you get your shots.)
6. Camera
7. ANYTHING valuable
8. Airline Tickets
9. A good book
10. Snacks
11. A bottle of water
12. Melatonin (to help with jet lag - separate blog posting to follow with specific instructions)
13. AIRBORNE (available at any drugstore - invaluable to avoid catching colds during flight)
14. Cash
15. An ATM card or credit card
16. Journal - Record as much of your trip as you can. I think it can very valuable to use writing as a tool to help you process what you're doing and how you're feeling.
17. Anything you need to make you more comfortable on a long flight. Travel pillow, eyeshades, etc. As long as I'm on this subject, drink LOTS of water on the plane and PLEASE either get up and walk around occasionally or do the exercises they show you in-flight. No leg clots allowed!
18. OPTIONAL BUT FUN - Small tape recorder and extra cassettes - to record your experience. It's also an amazing ice-breaker to ask people questions about their lives, let children listen to their voices, record your new friends singing their favorite songs, etc.
19. Tissues - important to have a small package with you when you're out and about. Don't count on paper in any public bathrooms.
20. Rather than a wallet or purse, bring either a money belt or a little travel wallet with a cord to go around your neck or waist so you can can tuck the wallet inside your clothes - EAGLE CREEK is a good line and fairly inexpensive.


1. Photocopy of your passport, including your visa (Leave a photocopy at home, too.)
2. Flashlight - Electricity may only be on occasionally and will definitely go out at inconvenient times. I always have a small but powerful mag light with me.
3. Hand sanitizer / handi-wipes / bath wipes - You can buy the really large "instant bath" sheets in the Adult Diaper section of your local drugstore. They really do make you feel a lot better if you can't get a proper shower before going to bed.
4. Toilet paper - Scott tissue offers the most compact roll with the most sheets. (Never thought you would need to know that, did you?)
5. Extra batteries for your camera and/or charger if you have digital. My opinion on this is that you should bring those disposable digital camera batteries. They run $8 - $10 and are better than having your re-chargable battery blow out because you were charging it in during a power surge.
6. Voltage transformers and plug adapters if you need them (If you do have anything to plug in, UNPLUG IT as soon as you are finished to help avoid getting blown out by the power surge/brown out problem.)
7. Extra film or extra storage cards for a digital camera (TAKE MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED. Take LOTS of photos. I've heard others recommend this and I believe it, too - take more of people than of places. They'll be what you most want to remember. Just remember the general guideline to ask permission first if you don't know them.)
8. Towel - I recommend a lightweight travel towel - you can get them at camping stores. If you can't locate one or would rather save the money, just bring an old towel from home and leave it behind.
9. Scrubgloves or washcloth - I prefer shower gloves, since they dry so much faster than washcloths.
10. Soap, shampoo, conditioner - I recommend liquid soap sealed in a very secure bottle.
11. Ziploc bags - bring a box of the kind that seal really well. Bag anything that could leak in the airplane.
12. "Dressy" Clothes - bring one outfit that is not hot but can qualify as “nice”. Believe me, even in a refugee camp, Africans dress to impress.
13. Regular clothes - This is so individual, so I won't tell you how many pairs of what to bring. I will say take less than you want to. Bring lightweight items that dry quickly, because it's all line-dry. General guidelines - Ladies, I think you'll feel more comfortable if you bring at least one versatile skirt. Shorts are a bit questionable. Definitely no “short shorts.” The weather is hot. Now here's more information than you probably want to know: a great tip if you can find them - travel underwear - my favorite brand by Ex-Officio. Try a sporting goods store.
14. Mosquito net - I have a little pop-up one that doesn't need to be hung from a string. This one is important. You may have one on your bed in the hotel, but I always carry one anyway. (Again, REI or Adventure Sixteen or Sporting Goods stores.)
15. Shoes - Comfortable, broken-in, closed-toe shoes are preferred since there are lots of yucky, sharp things to step on. Sturdy sandals may be okay, too - just use judgement.
16. Sunblock
17. Mosquito repellent with DEET. Skin So Soft won't cut it. No aerosol cans, please. (Airline rules sometimes.)
18. OPTIONAL - A pair of walkie-talkies - the kind you use in snowboarding or ski trips - just if you have them.
19. Travel alarm
20. Photos of your family, home, pets - to share with your new friends
21. Postcards of your hometown to give away or show
22. Daypack or lightweight bag to use during the day (this can also be your carryon).
23. Snacks - important. Plastic jars of peanut butter, PowerBars, crackers, anything filling and tasty that you will want to supplement your rice and potatoes and goat stew. I always bring little bags of Folger’s coffee (like teabags) and packets of instant oatmeal. BRING MORE than you think you will need. I promise that at the end of a long day - or in the middle of a stressful day - you will be SOO glad that you have that Cliff Bar. (Warning - nothing too melty!)
24. Sense of humor
25. Desire to learn
26. Flexible spirit
27. Willing heart


1) No fancy jewelry, including gold or silver watches. Get a plastic or canvas-band sport watch. If you want to wear a wedding ring for symbolic purposes, I think it's best to get a cheap silver one and leave the real one at home. Basic silver earrings are okay or simple costume jewelry is fine.
2) No camoflauge clothing.
3) No really strong perfume or cologne - attracts mosquitos.
4) Nothing irreplaceable