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Food Relief in a War Zone

Fans of late night TV may recognize celebrity chef José Andrés for his witty repartee and tasty dishes but millions more know him because the World Central Kitchen (WCK) helped make sure they did not go hungry.  In 2010 after devastating earthquakes in Haiti, Chef Andrés was on the ground collaborating with local chefs to feed the hungry.  His work on that small island nation inspired the creation of his not-for-profit, non-governmental organization based on the belief:  Food is a universal human right.  

With years of experience and regardless of the conditions – hurricane in Puerto Rico, volcanic eruption in Tonga or the unprovoked war on the people of the Ukraine – the WCK moves with lighting speed to provide food, supplies, and logistical support to restaurant partners and volunteers on the front lines.

When you talk about food and water, people don’t want a solution one week from now, one month from now.  The solution has to be now.

Chef José Andrés

Within a day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the WCK had set up food distribution centers at border crossings and then began working directly in the war torn cities of Lviv and Kyiv.  The WCK news and Twitter feed share regular updates from Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and, of particular interest to me, Moldova.  A Tweet early this month caught my attention:

March 1 – In addition to meals being served in Poland, Ukraine, and Romania, WCK’s first meals in Moldova were provided to children and families at the Chișinău Airport. Local restaurants served fresh plates of baked chicken over pasta with a tomato salad and bread. Working with local groups, we will be expanding our reach in the country as needed. 

And more recent WCK #ChefsForUkraine Tweets:

March 11 – The Carpineni Orphanage in Moldova has suddenly become a shelter for Ukrainian families fleeing home. Housing 100 people, the shelter’s kitchen has relied on donations from the small, surrounding community. Now, WCK is supporting this team to provide fresh meals.

March 11 – To reach Mykolaiv, Ukraine—a city targeted by Russian forces—WCK partner Team Humanity left Moldova before dawn with fruit, baby food & more for families in the city. After distributing items, the team evacuated a group of women & children to safety in Moldova.

March 13 – Inside the Manej Sports Arena in Moldova, hundreds of cots now sit where athletes once practiced. The shelter is housing 600-800 mostly Roma refugees who have fled Ukraine. WCK partner Cafeneaua din Gratiesti is delivering daily meals for families here.

For more information on these herculean efforts or to join me in contributing to this worthy cause visit the World Central Kitchen website. Or follow regular Twitter updates @WCKitchen.

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Moldova Welcoming Ukrainian Refugees

wooden smokehouse sign hanging on a gray stone building

Pre-Covid retirement granted me time to travel and Moldova in October 2018 was distinctly foreign compared to earlier trips to Vancouver, Amsterdam, and Zurich.  In conversations before and following my trip, I discovered many people had either never heard of Moldova or, at the very least, needed a point of reference – – a small landlocked country in eastern Europe, with Romania on its western border and encircled by Ukraine to the north, east and south.  However, as our tour group of American professional women discovered, while Moldova may be small in terms of land mass, population, and economy, its people revealed a genuine bigheartedness as they offered warm welcomes and deep generosity.  That same kindness continues today as tens of thousands of refugees from war torn Ukraine pour over the border into Moldova.

For factual information and an on-the ground, local viewpoint, David Smith’s online newsletter, Moldova Matters includes “quick hits” that offer brief descriptions of what is happening at the moment, as well as “deep dives” on major issues affecting Moldova and that part of the world.  I met David at his American styled ribs joint, Smokehouse, in Chișinău.  (Yes, I know, not the usual Moldovan cuisine but when are ribs ever a bad menu choice?)  David was a Peace Corp volunteer who stayed in country to open a barbeque place and brew pub. 

As the distressful images fill our screens – bombs exploding, long lines of cars leading from cities under attack, or the bravery of a grandmother on a street corner telling a Russian soldier to go home – I want to offer solidarity. Hard to do, thousands of miles from the violence, but we made a small step last night when Richard and I participated in a peace vigil with Ukrainian flags waving and silk sunflowers in hand. For specific suggestions of how to help, David’s February 27 article provides information on how to support Ukrainian refugees in Moldova.  And, thanks to my friend and intrepid traveler, Lani, for recommending this local perspective on international news.

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Tree Squares

When you grow up the daughter and the granddaughter of carpenters, you appreciate trees and the lumber they provide.  Fond memories of tagging along to Kleiner’s Lumberyard while Dad handpicked boards to be planed accompanied by harsh noise without benefit of ear protection in those days long before OSHA required safety and the sweet smell of sawdust or sweltering summer days spent planting trees at The 40 – trees that have grown from seedlings as small as my hand to stately pines.

As BeckyB of Winchester’s Square Challenge moves into week three of TreeSquare, I wondered what photos I might have of these natural wonders, these organic composites of cellulose fibers which have graced our planet for more than 375 million years.  It turns out – not too many but enough to cover a year of seasons.

Tree locations ( although some no more):

  • Spring blossoms – St. Paul, April 2021
  • Summer loss – Rochester, July 2013
  • Autumn brilliance – Moldova, October 2018
  • Winter calm – Inseli, November 2012

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Underfoot

BeckyB’s “Brightly Coloured” post featuring an earlier photography of a mosaic octopus in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park offered an inspiration for sunny textures under my feet.

Travelogue:

  • Chişinău, Moldova – October 14, 2018
  • Parco Ciani, Lugano, Ticino, Switzerland – September 4, 2018
  • Chinese Garden, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – July 7, 2017
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Squares Challenge: Bright with BeckyB

While following BeckyB of Winchester in the WordPress blogosphere, I became intrigued by her Squares Challenge.  The directions are simple:  Post a photographic square every day, or once a week, or even just occasionally.  Her April theme is Bright with a definition covering a wide spectrum of adjectives “sparkling, polished, shining, clever, cheerful, colourful, astute, brilliant, sunny, glorious, translucent, distinct and clear.”  Inspired by her Bright and Early in Portuguese Moments on April 1, I’ve selected a small collection of far and wide travel pictures some on sunny days and others just capturing the bright wonder of the moment.

Travelogue:

  • Cathedral of God’s Mother’s Birth at the Curchi Monastry, Orhei, Moldova – October 15, 2018
  • Phoenix Botanical Garden – March 23, 2019
  • Lake Como, Bittersweet National Forest, Montana – May 17, 2017
  • Westminster Abbey, London – October 12, 2018
  • Chicago – June 18, 2019