As promised in my recent New Year’s message, the following is an update of my last few weeks. What a blessing it is for me to share with you accounts of my travels and teachings. Your support brings hope for peace and your warm thoughts help to spread inspiration throughout the world?especially in places that really do need it.
Sudan, in Africa, is one of those places. I actually started this year with a challenging and difficult trip to Southern Sudan on January 2nd. Sudan, which achieved independence in 1956, has been badly affected by serious neglect and a lack of infrastructure ever since. Over the past few decades, there has been major destruction, including the displacement of Sudan ‘s people. More than 2 million people have died and more than 4 million have been internally displaced or have become refugees as a result of the civil war and war-related impacts. The region has also been struck by occasional famine. A 1998 famine killed hundreds of thousands and more recently, a food emergency was declared in mid-2005. The people there need help.
Although the purpose of my trip to Sudan was to do a needs assessment and prepare necessary groundwork for some projects to be tackled during a later visit, we took some wheelchairs and medical equipment with us and donated them to the most needy people.
We were safe in Sudan and I give thanks for this. You see, Southern Sudan remains a somewhat dangerous place. Some frightening moments and unbelievably sad sights and unusual sounds remain in my mind as some of the most impactfull experiences in my life?and I thought I had seen the worst. For most of us, it is hard to imagine how bad things can get for some people in some parts of our world but the reality is that many people are in need of the most basic of things required for survival such as food, health care, education, clothing and so on. I hope to return to Sudan in March and to participate in some projects that will make a difference.
The week leading up to my January trip to Sudan I spent in Sri Lanka participating in tsunami-related relief efforts, which still continue. To date, we have built two villages consisting of a total of 80 new homes for tsunami survivors. This success helps us to move that much closer to rounding out the chapter of tsunami relief work as we are called in the direction of other areas and other projects.
As you know, December 26th of 2006 was the second anniversary of the 2004 tsunami. To commemorate the event, I went back to where we had our refugee camps. We were happy to dedicate 10 more permanent homes to ten families who had lost their homes. We can all be happy that we have done everything in our power to help those who were affected by the tsunami. Thank you so much for all of you who help us.
I am off to South America this month and will be going on a teaching tour in the US in February. I hope some of you can join me. Please go to our Website for updates to the schedule. In the meantime, may you all be well and happy. May you be present in each moment of this year and along your paths.