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Bodega Bay Beat - April 2016


Bodega Bay Beat - April 2016

by Joan Poulos

Hitchcock still has it. The local Chamber of Commerce sponsored a movie night, featuring The Birds and North by Northwest. The Birds, as usual, was a big hit, with the little squeals when the birds attacked, and the happy little applause when the movie was over. It is unique to watch this movie in Bodega Bay even though the Tides is new and different and the School Teacher’s House is really in Bodega. Kudos to the Chamber for preserving this classic experience (although now they have added popcorn.) 

As I have mentioned before, I am a member of the group American Women For International Understanding. We attempt to do what we can to help women’s groups make a better life for themselves and their children. We take delegations to do face to face contact with women leaders and understand what we can do, each in our own way, to help women’s groups help their own people. We work through the US State Department to recognize a few women who have been nominated by our Ambassadors for acts of courage or outstanding achievements. Each Ambassador gets to make nominations and then the State Department picks 10 (this year there will be 15) and brings them to the U.S. to be honored. Our group gives each of the honorees a grant and sponsors a magnificent gala to help publicize the acts of courage each of the women have done. The women come from some very troubled homelands. One grant to the woman from Afghanistan a few years ago was not claimed because she was so fearful. 

We co-operate with other groups. One group in India, which was sponsored initially by Rotary, received our support for setting up a small restaurant where the miners could eat for just a few rupees. They also made loans to each other, and although we had very little to actually do for this group, were thankful about our support.The women came several miles (mostly on foot) to enjoy a meal with us and to keep us informed. 

When we learned about the major problem with infant mortality in Afghanistan because of the lack of women to provide medical assistance, we were glad to promote this project, eventually funded by Doris Buffet, to her great honor. Afghan women are not allowed to undress in the presence of men who are not their fathers or husbands, and this is a major problem when all the doctors were men and the baby was coming. 

We are proud to be even a small part in helping Afghans lower their infant mortality. We always want to help, but are aware of and respectful of mores that are different from ours. One of our first grantees, Global Press Institute, trains women in different countries (they have 25 desks)to report what the problems are in their own countries. Women who report need not have finished high school; some haven’t attended. They need not speak nor write in English, although Global Press normally has an interpreter put the news into English since that is the lengua franca of the AP and UPI. These reporting women expose corruption that an outsider could never discover. 

Recently we sent a delegation to Ethiopia, where we were warmly received. Again, the medical issues surrounding childbirth, were major and the commitment of the medical personnel was outstanding. We are examining a way to send medical instruments to the very poor hospitals who are doing so much with what they have. One small way we discovered was that Doctors Without Borders will honor a donor’s request to send the gift given to a specified country. My gift was acknowledged as was my request to send the help to Ethiopia. We came away with a commitment to do what we can to help end the Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs) among which subject women to genital mutilation. There are also other harmful practices like abduction of young girls and many harmful birthing practices. At this point all we can do is support those brave Ethiopians in organizations like ODWaCE  and workers like Abate Gudunffa and Admassie Wondimu  who are leading the effort to eradicate harmful traditional practices that are detrimental to women and babies.  For more information look at

Ethiopia is committed to keeping their children in school. One of the ways they have approached this was to find out why the children were NOT in school.  They discovered that many children were following tourists, especially in the national parks (where there are GREAT baboons) and selling the trinkets their mothers had made.  The government hired more Park Rangers and forbade the children from contacting the tourists.  This was a double benefit; more children went to school and the illegal killing of the baboons went down.  

Here in Bodega Bay the need to provide support for our fishermen continues. The Regional Park Director, Caryl Hart has been wonderful. She has helped get the benefits directly to the fishermen.  Lori at the Marina is a Godsend.  She has done so much, over and above her ordinary work.Ask her suggestions about what would help her and what, if anything, is in short supply. We wishfully hope this is a temporary situation and that soon the fishermen can provide for themselves.  

This is Easter month.  Many people don’t realize that the places that Jesus actually went are still there. In Ethiopia the underground churches, where Mary and Joseph went, and the Christians who were being persecuted went to worship,remain.  We were there during Epiphany.They were celebrating the baptism of Jesus. More than 5,000 young men were in the street, marching up the hill, when we arrived.  They were all wearing white robes and carrying long staves (which they were waving.) Our anxiety was relieved when the interpreter told us that the young men were all shouting   “We are so happy.  God is Great. Praise be to God.”  How can you be fearful when the message is so clear; they were celebrating the baptism of Jesus which event they celebrate as the beginning of Christianity.   

This was the message we came home with.  This is a very poor country.  It is a poor but peaceful country in the middle of several difficult neighbors  and they LIKE the US.  I hope our State Department gets that message clearly.

Celebrate  Spring. We celebrate Easter with great joy.  As my Greek friends say,  Christos Anesti.