What would Sunday mornings be like on this blog site if not for Charles Osgood's show? Different, that's for sure! Although Charles had a guest host today, the features were, as usual, fascinating.
Best friends ...
Tara and Bella have been best friends for years, even though there's a huge disparity in their sizes. You see, Tara is an elephant and Bella is a dog.
Where is this, in a circus? No, it's on an elephant 'retirement sanctuary' in Tennessee. Today's story focused on the friendship between the two, not on the sanctuary itself, so I don't have much information for you on how or when it was first set up or exactly where in Tennessee it is located.
When an elephant first arrives at the sanctuary, she goes looking for a friend -- usually another elephant. There are several stray dogs on the grounds, and normally the two stay far away from each other.
Not in this case, tho. Somehow or another, Tara and Bella struck up a friendship that has only deepened over the years. Then, one day Bella sustained an injury that confined her to the infirmary for several days. Tara was disconsolate. She didn't roam all over in search of her friend. Somehow she knew that Bella was in the hospital. She stayed in one corner of the tremendous grounds, as close to the infirmary as she could get, waiting and watching for her friend to appear.
Finally, one of the staff decided to carry Bella outside to the porch so she could at least see her enormous friend. As soon as she saw Tara, Bella started to wag her tail, so he carried her down the rest of the way to where Tara was patiently maintaining her vigil.
Bella continued her recovery, and there were several moving shots of the two playing and just walking quietly along together. I love happy endings!
Pennies for Peace ...
The 16-year-old son of actor John Travolta died a couple of days ago, apparently from injuries incurred in a bathroom fall. Although it was well-known that he had epilepsy, autopsies are being conducted even as I write this to determine the actual cause of death.
In 1992, the younger sister of Greg Mortenson fell victim to this same disease. He decided to climb K2 in honor of her memory in 1993. He never made it to the top. Exhausted and weakened by fellow climbers' and his successful rescue of a 5th member of their party, he was barely able to make it to the remote village of Korphe, in northeastern Pakistan.
He was nursed back to health by these kind people, and promised to build them a school in return. His book, Three Cups of Tea, which has been on the New York Times' best-seller list for something like 100 (!) weeks now, chronicles his struggles to try and fulfill his promise.
One of the most heartening of the many stories included in this journal is where grade school children brought in all of their pennies. Several hundred dollars were raised in this initial effort, and he was encouraged to go ahead with it and tried again to get enough funds so he could return to that village with at least something!
There is website after website that you can visit to learn more. You could begin here. Even tho this article was updated January 1st, it still is a little behind. On Charles' show this morning, it was announced that - not 60, but 78 schools have been built in not only Pakistan, but neighboring Afghanistan, with eight more planned! Incredible, simply incredible!!
We often hear of Taliban strikes on Western-built schools, especially those that include classes for girls, but the schools that Greg has helped raise money for have - for the most part - escaped such destruction. Why? Because the villagers themselves helped build them, and they are keenly interested in what happens to these schools that have brought such wonderful changes to their small communities.
It's pretty much a 'win win' situation no matter which way one might choose to look at it.
[One website that you might want to take a look at is Pennies for Peace. I googled 'Korphe'. Greg has his own website, which I have not visited, and there has been writeup after writeup about him, particularly in the last year.]
This is a truly inspirational story of one person making a difference. On March 23rd this year, he will be receiving, in Islamabad, the Star of Pakistan -- Sitara-e-Pakistan -- a civil award in recognition of gallantry or distinction, and one rarely given to foreigners.
Congratulations, Greg. Well-deserved!
200th anniversary ...
It was on this date in 1809 that Louis Braille was born in France. An accident with his father's awl at the age of three led to his blindness. Ironically, Louis - years later, at the age of 15 - used his father's stitching awl to illustrate how unique combinations of six raised dots could be utilized to represent each letter in the alphabet.
This Spring, according to Wiki, a commemorative silver dollar will be introduced with the respective one dollar denomination written on the coin in braille.