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Jewish World Watch

It is nearly my 45th birthday: Did you participate in my #45×45 Birthday Project yet? DO IT TODAY! We have helped nearly 45 families to receive Solar Cookers. Join in!

My father, who is also a Penn grad and the reason I traveled from Los Angeles to Philadelphia for college, often says, “Sleep? I can always sleep when I am dead, there is so much to do.” I recently realized that this quote actually comes from Benjamin Franklin! He said, “There will be plenty of time to sleep when you are dead, life is for living. So wake up and perform.”

This year, George and I are traveling in South East Asia exploring, wandering, and waking up! This is not a year of sleeping through the same life or same job. We have been away from America for nearly three months so far. We are currently in Bangkok discovering how to acquire a visa to spend my birthday in Myanmar.

George and I met online, but we really clicked because of Myanmar and the Schwedagon Pagoda. When I mentioned to him that it was my favorite place, he was intrigued. He had to meet a fellow traveler who loved the temples and culture of Burma. And now, nearly six years after we first met, we will be there together for my 45th birthday.

Please join in my birthday celebration by donating to the Jewish World Watch Solar Cooker Project for Darfur refugees. In the 45 days before I turn 45, I am searching for 45 people to donate so that 45 families will have solar cookers and more safety in their daily lives. Together, we can help many families leave their refugee camp in search of firewood and fuel, without fearing harm.

In Mongolia.

After a long journey full of peril from Darfur in Sudan, people arrive at the camps in Chad, traumatized after losing homes, family members, and any concept of safety into a bureaucratic jungle with only tarps for creating a new shelter. Having given up my home by choice this year to travel with my husband, I hope to help others feel cared for no matter where they rest their head. Please use this link to donate . Note that your donation is in honor of me and JWW will keep track of the money we raise together. Thank you for making a difference today. More information here.

I hope that in the new school year and the Jewish year and for my 45th year, that you will not “stand idly by” or sleep your year away. Listen to Ben Franklin and wake up, perform, and participate!

This article was first posted on the Alumni blog of the University of Pennsylvania: FRANKLY PENN

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Sept 3, 2012: Forty-five days before I turn forty-five, I am asking you to join me in donating to Jewish World Watch (JWW) for the Solar Cooker Project to help forty-five families. I hope to find at least forty-five people willing to donate $5 to $45 (or more) in honor of my forty-fifth birthday so I can share my gratitude about all the good things in my life.

$40 will provide one family with two cookers and with $1800 we can outfit 45 families.  So if 45 friends each donate $40 I can provide 45 families with safety, security and solar cooked meals!

I have worked with JWW on several projects and their motto: “Do not stand idly by,” inspires me. I hope that together we can help many families no longer fear going out of the refugee camp in search of firewood and fuel and into the dangers of gang rape and death.  After a long journey full of peril from Darfur in Sudan, people arrive at the camps in Chad traumatized having lost home, family members and any concept of safety into a bureaucratic jungle with only tarps for creating a “home.” Having given up my home by choice this year to travel with my husband, I hope to help others feel cared for no matter where they rest their head.

Please use this link to donate www.solarcookerproject.org

Note that your donation is in honor of Lisa Niver Rajna and JWW will keep track of the money we raise together! Thank you for making a difference today.

One person really can make a difference. Join us to help with our current project, 45×45: Solar Cooker Project! We Said Do Good!

45 X 45: Solar Cooker Project

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Article about our project in WESTSIDE TODAY, listed as media coverage in the Charles Bronfman Prize:
Sept 3, 2012: Forty-five days before I turn forty-five, I am asking you to join me in donating to Jewish World Watch (JWW) for the Solar Cooker Project to help forty-five families. I hope to find at least forty-five people willing to donate $5 to $45 (or more) in honor of my forty-fifth birthday, so I can share my gratitude about all the good things in my life. $40 will provide one family with two cookers and for $1800 we can outfit 45 families.  If 45 friends each donate $40 I can provide 45 families with safety, security and solar cooked meals! I have worked with JWW on several projects and their motto: “Do not stand idly by” inspires me. I hope that together we can help many families no longer fear leaving their refugee camp in search of firewood and fuel, and into the dangers of gang rape and death.
After a long journey full of peril from Darfur in Sudan, people arrive at the camps in Chad, traumatized after losing homes, family members, and any concept of safety into a bureaucratic jungle with only tarps for creating a new shelter. Having given up my home by choice this year to travel with my husband, I hope to help others feel cared for no matter where they rest their head.
Please use this link to donate www.solarcookerproject.org
Note that your donation is in honor of Lisa Niver Rajna and JWW will keep track of the money we raise together! Thank you for making a difference today.
December 2012 UPDATETogether we have raised enough money for FORTY-NINE Families to receive solar cookers! 

Inspired by Caine

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 Inspired by Caine! LACOT, We Said Go Travel and Jetset Extra Travel Happy Hour:
What inspires you? Where will you go next? Join us for a travel meet, mingle and get inspired happy hour!
Meet us at XBAR in Century City. Hyatt Regency Century Plaza at 2025 Avenue of the Stars Los Angeles, CA 90067
on June 12, 2012 from 6:30-8:30pm
Have you seen Caine’s Arcade yet? We are having a raffle to raise money for the Caine’s Arcade Foundation!
Video from the event: Inspired by Caine

Books for Bhutan

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Meet Plan Go in Los Angeles: This event is designed to give you the opportunity to MEET inspirational speakers and like-minded travelers; get motivation, contacts and resources necessary to PLAN the trip of a lifetime; and start taking concrete steps forward to GO on that global adventure.  Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 7:00pm “Realize Your Travel Dreams!
The profits from our event were used to help fill the shelves in Mongar with books. If you would like to help add more to the library, please use this link.
Website: Books to Bhutan
Video from our event: Realize Your Dreams! 
Meet Plan Go Article about our donation: Click here

Burmese Refugees

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George and Lisa Rajna (the creators of We Said Go Travel), participate in community lives when they travel and support those in need. In Northern Thailand, at the UNHCR we learned about Burmese refugees from UN workers we met. While we sat in the same seats that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had only a month earlier, unlike them we were not able to get permission to visit the camp. Using a list of needed items, we were able to donate balls, workbooks, pencils, toothbrushes and other things desired by parents in the camp for their children.

Mongolia Fair Trade

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While in Ulaanbaatar, we were able to learn about the Kazak women who make purses from tapestries.Bill and his NGO buy complete wall hangings from our artisans at fair trade prices.  All the hangings have been used in Mongolian Kazakh Gers or Yurts.  The traditions of making hangings are dying out as the younger generations see it as old fashioned so hangings are becoming more rare.  Many of our wall hangings were dated by the person when they made it.  We have hangings as young as 1995 (15 years old) and as old as 1965 (45 years old).Many hangings get damaged over the years from natural wear and tare and accidents.  People want to change them out just as we change our wallpaper in our homes and would normally throw damaged hangings away.  We show our Kazakh friends how to make all sorts of bags from the damaged wall hangings and give value to something they thought had no value. They are amazed that people will buy their old wall hanging products and are even more amazed that we find them attractive and works of art.  it really gives them a fresh sense that their embroidery is really of value and admired.  We think it give fresh life to the makers as well as the damaged wall hangings.

TEACHING and Creating Global Citizens:

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 While teaching science, I have had the opportunity to share my travels with my students.  Learning about balance scales and scientific measuring, we discussed scales from Morocco Markets, the scales in the Floating Market of Kalimantan, Indonesia, and scales at the doctor’s office.Learning about the fall harvest of Sukkot, we studied the Mongolian nomads and their Gers, tents that George and I lived in for eleven days on a Gobi desert journey. We also learned about social and economic issues while participating and winning the OXFAM Canada International Recycled Toy Contest. We raised awareness by watching a documentary about Tuvalu and its water issues called: “Trouble in Paradise.” My students interviewed the director in a session at school that prompted them to write letters to politicians and have a bake sale to help the people who must soon leave their island nation.Using material from JWW, I created a lesson called, “Earth Science: Who Cares?” which connected our rock cycle unit to the Congo Conflict-Free Minerals Act and we wrote to President Obama and other elected officials to ask for their support for the people of the Congo. Gorilla Greg came all the way from Rwanda to further discuss issues of the silver-back gorillas, mining and the Congo Conflict Free Minerals Act, which he helped to author.After seeing videos of Samoan school children from Manono Island, who wander this car free island shoe –less, my students wanted to be pen-pals as well as send shoes! Brian from Santa Monica Bay Keepers joined us to discuss the Kelp Forest of our Santa Monica Bay and how over hunting of sea otters allowed the population of sea urchins to devastate the Kelp. The connections we made to literature (Island of the Blue Dolphins), California economy, population growth and politics made for a fascinating day of science!In science, we also worked to care of our environment and its trees, and its animals. Kangaroo Lanie has brought many animals to school from chinchillas to camels and from alligators to armadillos as well as a kangaroo named Sheila with a joey in her pocket. All of these interactions have helped my students learn to make connections and get involved.At a National Science Teacher Conference, I met the team from Heifer International and was able to get their incredible curriculum of books and movies. I have often given Heifer International animals as gifts and was thrilled to be able to teach my students about their work that really changes lives.

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April 22 is Earth Day. What will you do to celebrate our planet?

With so many options out there, what will you choose?  With snowfall last month in the San Fernando Valley for the first time in nearly fifty years, major earthquakes in Japan, Christchurch, New Zealand, Santiago, Chile and Haiti in the last year, and other environmental issues like the enormous volcanic eruption of Iceland, everyone is talking about our planet.

For Earth Day, I recommend you get out there and join up with “Heal the Bay”, or the “TreePeople” to help save our planet.

But you don’t even have to leave your couch to get involved. You can help “Santa Monica Bay Keepers” with our new Marine Protected Areas by “sending Governor Brown this letter to voice your support for the creation of protected areas to safeguard our underwater Yosemites for generations to come.” (from CalOceans.org)

Learn from Jewish World Watch about how our use of conflict minerals impacts the Congo. Pledge to purchase conflict free products for your computer, phone and electronic needs to help our planet and all its people.

Don’t forget to recycle your trash, especially cans and bottles. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth; turn off the lights when you leave a room. Fix any leaky faucets right away! These simple actions can make a big difference to our planet.


Find more photos like this on EveryJew.com

Some of my favorite links that I use in my science classroom are also great for adults or kids. Use these links to act like a secret agent and learn to save our planet! Help Green Power Girl and the Green Power Heroes sent from Mother Nature to empower humans with clean green power. Join GPG, Jah Wind Power, Marina Del Ray, Mercury Man and Buddy Biomass as they battle the Fossil fools! You can also help our Earth by learning more about plants in the Great Plant Escape!

When I think about teaching science and what is important I focus on major issues and connecting the subject to something in the lives of children. To quote Educational Quality Concepts:

“The whole point [of teaching science] is to teach problem-solving, to teach critical thinking. These are not things peculiar to science; they are things peculiar to life. And if a child becomes both literate and has a high ability to solve problems in an everyday situation…then there’s no limitation on what the child will be able to do in later life.”

When we studied rocks and minerals in the Fourth Grade, we learned about the Conflict Mineral Trade Act and Pledge to help the people of the Congo. We also wrote to President Obama and he even wrote back!

I hope that you make a connection to Earth Day and to help our planet. We can help our Earth and we each can make a difference.

Heal The Bay Events:
*April 16, Beach Cleanups (10am to noon) Will Rogers State Beach and Torrance Beach
*April 16-17, Santa Monica Pier Aquarium Earth Weekend
*April 30, L.A. River Cleanup

Santa Monica Bay Keepers Events:

*April 23rd, Cabrillo Earth Day Festival, All Day Tabling With Other Non-Profits And Causes.
*April 30th, LA River Cleanup

Lisa Niver Rajna, M.A. Ed. has over 12 years of classroom teaching experience and an additional 11 years working in camps and on cruise ships. Please join us this summer for Simply Science Camp!

April 22 is Earth Day. What will you do to celebrate our planet? With so many options out there, what will you choose? I’d like to share a few of my favorites that teach our children and show that we can make a difference. With snowfall last month in the San Fernando Valley for the first time in nearly fifty years, major earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, Santiago, Chile and Haiti in the last year, and other environmental issues like the enormous volcanic eruption of Iceland, science is everywhere and a part of everything; it just depends what lens you use to look through.


For Earth Day, I recommend you get out there and join up with “Heal the Bay”, or the “TreePeople” to help save our planet. But you don’t even have to leave home to get involved. You can help “Santa Monica Bay Keepers” with our new Marine Protected Areas by “sending Governor Brown this letter to voice your support for the creation of protected areas to safeguard our underwater Yosemites for generations to come.” (from CalOceans.org)
Learn from Jewish World Watch about how our use of conflict minerals impacts the Congo. Pledge to purchase conflict free products for your computer, phone and electronic needs to help our planet and all its people.
Don’t forget to recycle your trash, especially cans and bottles. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth; turn off the lights when you leave a room. Fix any leaky faucets right away! These simple actions can make a big difference to our planet.
Share some screen time with your child using my favorite Earth Day links. Act like a secret agent and learn to save our planet! Help Green Power Girl and the Green Power Heroes sent from Mother Nature to empower humans with clean green power. Join GPG, Jah Wind Power, Marina Del Ray, Mercury Man and Buddy Biomass as they battle the Fossil fools! You can also help our Earth by learning more about plants in the Great Plant Escape!

When I think about teaching science and what is important I focus on major issues and connecting the subject to something in the lives of children. To quote Educational Quality Concepts:

“The whole point [of teaching science] is to teach problem-solving, to teach critical thinking. These are not things peculiar to science; they are things peculiar to life. And if a child becomes both literate and has a high ability to solve problems in an everyday situation…then there’s no limitation on what the child will be able to do in later life.” 

When we studied rocks and minerals in the Fourth Grade Educational Equity Concepts, we learned about the Conflict Mineral Trade Act and Pledge to help the people of the Congo. We also wrote to President Obama and he even wrote back!

Help your child make a connection to Earth Day and to our planet. We can help our Earth and we each can make a difference.

Heal The Bay Events:
*April 16, Beach Cleanups (10am to noon) Will Rogers State Beach and Torrance Beach
*April 16-17, Santa Monica Pier Aquarium Earth Weekend
*April 30, L.A. River Cleanup

Santa Monica Bay Keepers Events:
*April 23rd, Cabrillo Earth Day Festival, All Day Tabling With Other Non-Profits And Causes.
*April 30th, LA River Cleanup

Lisa Niver

Lisa Niver Rajna, M.A. Ed. has over 12 years of classroom teaching experience and an additional 11 years working in camps and on cruise ships.

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Article first published as Sri Lanka: To Go or Not To Go?on Technorati.

After the 30 year civil war ended, we decided to go to Sri Lanka last summer. Our friends enjoyed a month of great travel in September 2009 and encouraged us to go.

Wondering about the impact of so many years of war, I was worried about this trip. When we arrived, I learned that there had been 450 years of Dutch, Portugese and British rule before the civil war. I decided to ask as many questions as I could.
During our six weeks in Sri Lanka, I was constantly amazed by the friendliness of the people. Everyone wanted to talk to us and tell us how happy they are that the war is over, that there is peace, and that they can now travel in their own country.
The young students we met at Anuradhapurna were from the East and no one had been able to travel to this incredible ancient site for decades. A large group of adults came by bus from Colombo to Nilaveli Beach and all the men wanted to shake our American hands, offer us drinks and ask, “Sri Lanka good?”

We told them, “Yes Sri Lanka is good. The people are so friendly.” Perhaps the friendliest I have ever met in the 100+ countries I have seen! During our trip, I read several books of both fiction and non-fiction about Sri Lanka. Reading about string hoppers (noodles made of rice) while eating them for breakfast added to the entertainment.

Reading about the government secret killings and clashes between Tamils and Singhalese in Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost: A Novel
Anil's Ghost: A Novelwas spellbinding. What really happened I wondered? To read about the drama and struggle of women’s daily lives from the point of view of Latha and Biso, two main characters in Ru Freedman’s A Disobedient Girl: A Novel
, and then to see it was eye opening. A Disobedient Girl: A Novel
I turned to Jewish World Watch to discover more about the conflict in Sri Lanka. In their June World Crisis Update, Susan Brooks wrote: “Since 1983, Sri Lanka has suffered from continuous conflict between the government and a separatist rebel group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (often known as the Tamil Tigers).
The conflict is estimated to have killed up to 80,000 people with over one million displaced…Both sides may have committed war crimes…Sri Lankan refugees are still living in transit camps while the land is being de-mined…The government continues to hold 11,000 alleged LTTE in ‘rehabilitation centers with no legal representation, no access by human rights groups or relatives.”
Our journey did not include the North and Jafna, foreigners were told you needed permission by the government to venture to the Far North. Many locals told us that they can and will go to Jafna but we were not allowed. I am not sure what the conditions are but the JWW report makes me wonder and so does the book Not Quite Paradise: An American Sojourn in Sri Lanka
 by Adele Barker.

Both sources indicate that there are ongoing issues. Staying at the YMBA (Young Man’s Buddhist Association) in Kataragama and enjoying the pilgrimage festival, it appears that all is well. However, traveling the two or so “blocks” from our hostel to the beach in Nilaveli past barbed wire and Singhalese Buddhist soldiers makes me wonder. The security checks on the bus near Arugam Bay seemed more for alcohol than bombs but it is hard to know as an outsider.

I hope that tourism will continue to flourish along with peace, sealed roads and more freedom to travel. This small island nation is beautiful with treasures of ancient cities, national parks filled with elephants and leopards and wonderful welcoming people. I highly recommend making the effort to visit this wonderful country. Auyobawan and Stuti (Good bye and thank you).