Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

An American man named Mohamed Bzeek from Los Angeles has been taking care of terminally ill children for the past 20 years. He has cared for 40 children so far.

Bzeek is the only foster parent in the county known to take in terminally ill children.

Bzeek, originally from Libya, was introduced to foster care by the woman he fell in love with, Dawn, who would die in 2013 to his devastation.

She [Dawn] had become a foster parent in the early 1980s, before she met Bzeek. Her grandparents had been foster parents, and she was inspired by them, Bzeek said. Before she met Bzeek, she opened her home as an emergency shelter for foster children who needed immediate placement or who were placed in protective custody.

Dawn Bzeek fell in love with every child she took in. She took them to professional holiday photo sessions, and she organized Christmas gift donation drives for foster children.

Mohamed Bzeek started caring for foster children with his wife Dawn in 1989. Often, the children were ill and sometimes they died, leaving the Bzeeks in intolerable pain. By the mid-1990s, the Bzeeks decided to specifically care for terminally ill children.

The children were going to die. Mohamed Bzeek knew that. But in his more than two decades as a foster father, he took them in anyway — the sickest of the sick in Los Angeles County’s sprawling foster care system.

He has buried about 10 children. Some died in his arms. Now, Bzeek spends long days and sleepless nights caring for a bedridden 6-year-old foster girl with a rare brain defect. She’s blind and deaf. She has daily seizures. Her arms and legs are paralyzed.

“I know she can’t hear, can’t see, but I always talk to her,” he said. “I’m always holding her, playing with her, touching her. … She has feelings. She has a soul. She’s a human being.

“The key is, you have to love them like your own,” Bzeek said recently. “I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.”

The rest of Bzeek’s story can be found here in Los Angeles Times.

MB1

Mohamed Bzeek with a foster child

In a time when the 24-hour news cycle bombards us with stories of tragedy, heartbreak and deceit, it can be difficult to keep our heads up and remain optimistic about the world we live in. But amid the tragedy and sadness, we receive daily glimpses of hope and happiness—moments when our spirits are lifted and we’re reminded of the generosity and kindness of others. 

This is the 19th celebration of the WE ARE THE WORLD BLOGFEST #WATWB which is carried out every last Friday of the month, and which aims to spread love and positiveness in this vulnerable world. A celebration of heroes who can still restore our faith in humanity, especially in this period when our world seems to be full of endless series of horrible happenings.

Our generous co-hosts for this month are:  Eric Lahti Inderpreet UppalShilpa GargDamyanti Biswas, and myself.

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To sign up for We Are The World Blogfest, please see the guidelines below.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

  1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.
  2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Something like this news  about a man who only fosters terminally ill children.
  3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.
  4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.
  5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.
  6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List

 

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There is a doctor in this world who has saved more rape victims than almost anyone else. His name is Dr. Denis Mukwege and he comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was once described by the UN as the “Rape Capital of the World.”

A 2010 study found that four women are raped every five minutes.

That is a terrifying figure of 1,152 women every 24 hours.

Much of the research conducted about sexual violence in the DRC has focused on violence against and rape of women as related to these armed conflict, mostly occurring in the eastern region of the country. The eastern region of the country does have the highest rates of sexual violence, and much of it is perpetrated by armed militia groups.

DRC has been a warzone for a long, long time. The land is rich in raw materials such as rubber, ivory, gold, diamonds, uranium, coltan and timber. Coltan is used in the smartphones. As with almost anything that people value dearly, love quickly turns into obsession, hell quickly breaks loose and establishes a formidable dominion over all concerned. Consequently, the DRC has suffered from war, corruption, death, disease, hunger, mercenaries, child labour, child soldiers and rape. Rape, sexual violence, and the abuse of women is the tragedy within the tragedy there.

It has been reported that the international corporations (mostly the US, Chinese, and European Companies) that benefit from the raw materials produced in DRC are responsible for the armed conflicts there.

The use of rape as weapon of war, rape as a weapon of genocide, has been frequent and widespread in the DRC, especially in the eastern side of the country.

War rape makes a particularly effective weapon because it not only destroys its physical victims, but entire communities as well. War, violence, and instability have ravaged the DRC for decades, and this has led to a culture of violence in war and civilian life that often takes its form in a sexual nature.

The situation of women in eastern DRC is too painful to bear and it can fill the heart with bitterness and hate, with apathy and despair.

To make it even worse, rape victims are often abandoned and marginalised by their communities.

Despite the trauma, despite the everlasting agony, the pain and the despair, of being subjected to rape and sexual violence, even gang rape and genocidal rape, the communities still ostracise and discriminate against the victims. It is cruel.

But hope is not lost.

Dr. Denis Mukwege is the hope that shines for these women.

Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair.

He is the main street of hope for thousands in eastern Congo. He has stayed in a warzone for 14 years and practised medicine with bare medical resources and witnessed the unbearable enacted on the vaginas and bodies of women day after day. He has invented surgeries to meet the acts of cruelty and has helped repair 30,000 rape victims. He has opened and maintained a hospital providing ongoing care in a place with no roads, no water, no electricity, minimal internet or phone and rampant insecurity.

He has done this and has been the head pastor at his church and a teacher and a fundraiser and a mentor of hundreds of doctors and the head of the Panzi Foundation, which is responsible for opening justice centres and the City of Joy. Everything he does, he does with dignity, kindness and composure. He is beloved. In any village in South Kivu, his arrival is much like the arrival of the pope – throngs of people greet him, thousands of women whose lives he has saved or healed or touched celebrate him. We have few heroes in this world, few who have given their lives and souls for the safety and health of their people.

Few who are driven by such purity of love and service . . . A hero walks among us and his people.

Dr. Mukwege has been attacked in his home and shot by armed militia men, rapists and violent evil men who hate the hope that he gives to the world. His undying love still shines, though, and this year he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian actions in the DRC. He runs Panzi Hospital which cares for victims of sexual violence.

The rest of his story can be found here, here, here, and here.

Dr. dennis-mukwege

Dr. Denis Mukwege

This is the 18th celebration of the WE ARE THE WORLD BLOGFEST #WATWB which is carried out every last Friday of the month, and which aims to spread love and positiveness in this vulnerable world. A celebration of heroes who can still restore our faith in humanity, especially in this period when our world seems to be full of endless series of horrible happenings.

Our generous co-hosts for this month are:  Eric LahtiInderpreet UppalShilpa GargMary Giese, and Roshan Radhakrishnan

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To sign up for We Are The World Blogfest, please see the guidelines below.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

  1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.
  2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Something like this news  about a man who only fosters terminally ill children.
  3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.
  4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.
  5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.
  6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List

 

There is a woman from Thailand named Lek Chailert who has dedicated her life to rescuing tortured elephants. She grew up in a small hillside village north of Chiang Mai where large scale logging was practised. Elephants were used by loggers to transport incredibly heavy loads.

When she was a student, Lek used to see the elephants cut and wounded and sick, and she sought to find out what was happening to them. She could hear elephants screaming in the forest but, being a student, was not allowed to go into the logging camp. One day she was taken into the forest by one of the elephant keepers, and that was when she witnessed the shocking horror of what was happening to them. The horror that would change her life.

There was an elephant hauling a log up the hill with a man riding on its back. Every time the elephant tried to haul the log, the man would step on a hook on its head and wound it, drawing blood. The man was also cutting its back with a knife. It was screaming.

Lek was speechless. It was her first time to see the giant animal tortured so badly by human beings. Shaken, she went back to the village for elephant medicine and came back to treat the wounded animal.

The elephants were used not only for logging but also for entertainment in circuses and tourist parks.

Baby elephants were put in a structure called “crush box”, which is a small, rigid trap with no room for turning around. They were then beaten and tortured mercilessly until they learned to obey their human masters. Afterwards, they were taken to the circuses for entertainment, obeying commands, playing with hoops, or being ridden by tourists in tourist parks for a fee, etc.

Lek wondered why humans expected so much from the animals. She made it her mission to rescue them. She went to the media and exposed the loggers. She founded Save Elephant Foundation.

An American actress, Ashley Bell, heard about her work and joined her. They have since worked together on a documentary called Love and Bananas about the rescued elephants and the ordeals they went through.

The animals she has saved are very grateful and when they see her they run to her and cuddle her.

Lek’s rich story can be found here.

Elephant Whisperer

Lek Chailert, BBC

This is the 17th celebration of the WE ARE THE WORLD BLOGFEST #WATWB which is carried out every last Friday of the month, and which aims to spread love and positiveness in this vulnerable world. A celebration of heroes who can still restore our faith in humanity, especially in this period when our world seems to be full of endless series of horrible happenings.

Our generous co-hosts for this month are: Shilpa Garg, Eric Lahti, Inderpreet Uppal, Sylvia Stein and myself..

watw-turquoise-badge-275-x241-white

To sign up for We Are The World Blogfest, please see the guidelines below.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

  1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.
  2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Something like this news  about a man who only fosters terminally ill children.
  3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.
  4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.
  5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.
  6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List

Sometime in 2015, the Taliban attempted to recapture an Afghan city called Kunduz. War began between the Taliban and the government military. All roads were closed and hospitals became battlefields. People were trapped in hospitals for weeks. Hospitals were running out of medicine, blood, and even food. One hospital was blown up by a mortar.

A gynaecologist named Dr. Marzia Salam Yaftali was working at the last-standing public hospital in the city. She couldn’t go to work during the attack and it worried her sick. The situation was getting worse. The injured kept arriving at the hospital despite the diminishing supplies.

I was desperate to go to work but I couldn’t because all the roads were closed and the hospital was a battlefield. It was in the crossfire between the Taliban and the government troops. My colleagues were trapped in the hospital for two weeks. No one could leave.

One night when the fighting had worsened uncontrollably, Dr. Marzia was called to help her neighbour deliver twins.

There was heavy fighting one night. The battle was going on from street to street and house to house. It was so bad that no one dared to leave their homes. If you were shot at no one would know if it was from the Taliban or government troops. My family was hiding in the basement.

Around 8 o’clock in the evening, there was banging on our door. We were terrified. But it was a neighbour. They had a lady staying with them called Fatma. She was young and pregnant with twins. But it hadn’t been an easy pregnancy. My neighbour said, ‘Please come. Fatma is going into labour. We need your help.’

Dr. Marzia was living with her sister, also a doctor. But her sister refused point-blank to go outside. The risk was too great. She had her own children to look after and going outside meant certain death.

Dr. Marzia had to decide what to do. She had met Fatma and seen the scan of her babies.

I knew that if I didn’t go, Fatma would die.

When I stepped outside the front door, there was a rain of bullets. It was absolutely terrifying.

I was running. I will never forget that night. There were NATO airplanes above. It was pitch-black but I could see the laser lights coming from the jets looking for the Taliban fighters. I ran like I had never run before. The neighbour’s house was ten minutes away but it felt like a whole hour.

Dr. Marzia managed to deliver the first baby. Unfortunately, the second baby was trapped at the shoulder and needed caesarean section to be delivered. She needed a hospital.

I called my government contacts and asked them to send a military tank to take us to the hospital. Then I rang the hospital and my colleagues there said absolutely not. You cannot come here. The hospital is a war zone. Earlier a patient and his father left the hospital and were shot. Their bodies are still outside in the driveway and no one dares to pick them up. The same could happen to you. Don’t come.

The rest of Dr. Marzia’s story can be found here.

Dr. Marzia

Dr. Marzia Salam Yaftali. Photo by BBC.

 

This is the 16th celebration of the WE ARE THE WORLD BLOGFEST #WATWB which is carried out every last Friday of the month, and which aims to spread love and positiveness in this vulnerable world. A celebration of heroes who can still restore our faith in humanity, especially in this period when our world seems to be full of endless series of horrible happenings.

Our generous co-hosts for this month are: Shilpa GargBelinda WitzenhausenSylvia McGrath, Simon Falk, and Andrea Michaels.

watw-turquoise-badge-275-x241-white

To sign up for We Are The World Blogfest, please see the guidelines below.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

  1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.
  2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Something like this news  about a man who only fosters terminally ill children.
  3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.
  4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.
  5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.
  6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List

There is a concept from ancient Greek called “Doula.” According to Wikipedia,  “a doula is a non-medical person who stays with and assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth, to provide emotional support and physical help if needed. They also may provide support to the mother’s partner and family. A doula is also known as a birth companion, birth coach or post-birth supporter.”

In the US, a man named Henry Fersko-Weiss is practising doula for the dying. Henry does the same things as the birth companion, providing emotional, physical and psychological support, except his patients are facing the end of their lives. He calls it “the end of life doula”.

Henry worked at a hospice as a social worker, and it was there that he witnessed events that would change his life.

It was then working as a hospice social worker that I began to see there were gaps in the kinds of service and care . . . I felt that too many people that I was seeing dying were dying in the ways that they hadn’t wanted to. For example, going into the hospital when they had always wanted to die at home.

One particular incident upset Henry so much that he began to contemplate other ways of approaching death. An 86-year old WWII veteran named Sam who had been under the care of his 88-year old sister died alone and unattended in a hospital room.

To die in a hospital room like that, unattended, unnoticed . . . to me it is just a tragedy.

With the help of a friend, Henry first went for training as a birth doula. Later on, he began to adapt the same skills he had acquired to comforting the dying.

In the conversations we have before somebody is actively dying . . . or the labouring process of death, we try to talk about not only how the atmosphere would be in the last days and how we can make it more meaningful or more comfortable for the dying person and family, but focus also on talking on the meaning of the person’s life . . . and then talking about doing some kind of a legacy project that would allow them to leave behind something that would help their family and friends reconnect with them in some kind of a deep way, not in a casual way . . . and perhaps even inspire future generations in the family.

We are not judging the mistakes they may have made. We are there to really listen to what they have to say about their own lives, and perhaps help them to see it with a little bit different perspective or to see pieces that still seem to be hanging unfinished . . . how they might still address that.

Henry now trains people in the United States and he has helped thousands of people in their last moments.

Henry’s wonderful story can be found here.

Henry Fersko-Weiss

BBC

This is the 16th celebration of the WE ARE THE WORLD BLOGFEST #WATWB which is carried out every last Friday of the month, and which aims to spread love and positiveness in this vulnerable world. A celebration of heroes who can still restore our faith in humanity, especially in this period when our world seems to be full of endless series of horrible happenings.

Our generous co-hosts for this month are: Shilpa Garg, Belind Witzenhausen, Inderpreet UppalSylvia McGrathRoshan Radhakrishnan, and myself.

watw-turquoise-badge-275-x241-white

To sign up for We Are The World Blogfest, please see the guidelines below.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

  1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.
  2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Something like this news  about a man who only fosters terminally ill children.
  3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.
  4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.
  5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.
  6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List

Have you ever thought about the children born in prison? The innocent young souls locked up behind bars with their parents?

When pregnant mothers are arrested and sentenced to years in prison, their babies, when delivered, become prisoners as well. These children grow up in the sickening filth of the prisons, surrounded by criminals, including murderers, conmen, thieves, child molesters, etc, and are watched over by cruel, inhuman guards who sometimes beat up their parents as they watch. When their parents have to work outside the prison walls, the babies too are made to wear prison outfits for identification.

It is a harsh, traumatizing life. It is horrifying to imagine a child growing up in such circumstances.

In Zambia, there is a light that shines for these children, growing bigger and bigger everyday.

Faith Kalungia cares for these children. Faith has a deep, resourceful heart, and she has always loved the disadvantaged and the marginalized. When she visited Lusaka Central Prison in 2012, she had a nightmare seeing the children there, dirty, sick, lonely children, having no school to go to, having never seen the outside world. Their ages ranged from newborns to toddlers.

“When a mother gives birth, there is always celebration, but the first a place a child calls home is that prison,” she says.

Faith set up a school for them, hired teachers and social workers to take of them. She experienced challenges with the authority and with finance but she managed to give those children a better life. She started Mother of Millions Foundation. She now has 500 children under her care. She takes care of 5 prisons.

“In her early life Faith dreamt of one day owning an orphanage. At just 14 years of age she convinced her parents to adopt street children and send them to school so they could have a better future. In 2012 Faith visited the Lusaka Central Prison in Zambia to hand in donations to the female inmates, but she was shocked to find kids roaming around the prison grounds. Faith then quit her job and created the Mother of Millions foundation, which gives education, nutrition and playtime to children growing up in prisons in Zambia.”

Faith’s rich story is found here.

Faith Kalungia

Faith Kalungia, BBC

This is the 15th celebration of the WE ARE THE WORLD BLOGFEST #WATWB which is carried out every last Friday of the month, and which aims to spread love and positiveness in this vulnerable world. A celebration of heroes who can still restore our faith in humanity, especially in this period when our world seems to be full of endless series of horrible happenings.

Our generous co-hosts for this month are: Shilpa GargDamyanti Biswas, Dan AntionMary. J. Giese, and Simon Falk.

watw-turquoise-badge-275-x241-white

To sign up for We Are The World Blogfest, please see the guidelines below.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

  1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.
  2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Something like this news  about a man who only fosters terminally ill children.
  3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.
  4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.
  5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.
  6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List

Some days you come across a horror story about the agonies of sex-trafficked women. Young girls in their teens–children, really–kidnapped or sold, enslaved, abused, tortured, raped, degraded, and dehumanized, their bodies full of cuts and burns and bruises and deformities, their eyes wells of deep-rooted fear and despair, their children sold without their knowledge–they have no hope but to die.

In the Italian town of Caserta, near Naples, a little hope shines there for these women, growing bigger and bigger every day.

Sister Rita Garietta dedicates her life to helping women trafficked for sex. She was initially a nurse and a trade union representative, but when she was 29, she quit her job to follow a calling, becoming a nun. Later on, she left her home city for Caserta where, together with other nuns, opened Casa Ruth, a shelter for victims of sex trafficking in Caserta.

When she first saw the young girls on the streets, she was worried. All of them were about fifteen and sixteen years old. Sister Garietta was with a few other nuns and they stopped the vehicle to talk to the girls, thereby beginning a new journey in her life which would see her become families with the enslaved women.

“When there are stories about loss of dignity, you never get used to them,” she says after encountering the young girls and listening to their harrowing stories.

“What happens to your heart is that it grows in tenderness. This is the essence of Casa Ruth . . . of feeling loved with no judgement. It is a process of healing to the girls. They call us ‘Mama’ and every time we hear this, it sends a shiver down our spines. Being a mother today is about joy, it is about responsibility. It is about the responsibility of being entrusted with the care of other people’s lives,” she says about her experience with the women.

“My reward is joy . . . and the smiles. When these women arrive, they are desperate, and the pain is etched on their faces. Then the lines relax, joy sets in, hope sets in . . . All I want to do is to bring light into these people’s lives.”

Sister Garietta’s rich story can be found here and also here.

Rita Garieta

Sister Rita Garietta, BBC

This is the 14th celebration of the WE ARE THE WORLD BLOGFEST #WATWB which is carried out every last Friday of the month, and which aims to spread love and positiveness in this vulnerable world. A celebration of heroes who can still restore our faith in humanity, especially in this period when our world seems to be full of endless series of horrible happenings.

Our generous co-hosts for this month are: Shilpa Garg, Damyanti Biswas, Andrea Michaels, Inderpreet Uppal, and myself.

watw-turquoise-badge-275-x241-white

To sign up for We Are The World Blogfest, please see the guidelines below.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

  1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.
  2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Something like this news  about a man who only fosters terminally ill children.
  3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.
  4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.
  5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.
  6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List