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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sometimes I forget just how blessed I am ....

Well as always... life has been in full speed ahead and I have been doing everything in my power to hold on tight and not let go... :-)


Since my last update - I've done a few shows and most importantly was able to record a single with one of my favorite singers as a child, Tim Spell.  The song is complete it's just now in the hands of the engineer/mixer. We are patiently awaiting the master!


Moving on.. I was fortunate to perform with Jamie Kime and Adam Hauk at the Afghanistan Dental Relief Program event in Santa Barbara in October..... it was a lot of fun and I am pretty sure that everyone there had a great time .. if you'd like to hear some of the live recordings from that gig ... Check out the LIVE songs at Reverbnation or you can catch some great video of Jamie and Adam tearing it up on my YouTube channel.


Here are a few pics from the event...
 







It was a fun event ... and, I was so pleased to meet new people! That night we launched the new Amiena "Live...Dream...Believe..." merchandise... T-Shirts and Bumper Sticker's... They went over well and are selling at my Store.  Here are a few pics of some fans who have sent in pics wearing the shirts.. :-) 
It's totally cool - but kinda strange seeing my face on people's shirts!





Amsterdam Represents
UK in the House
             









So.. with a quick note to the Store - Holiday Specials have begun ... and all of them include free shipping ... so stop by! Remember a portion of all the sales go to www.adrpinc.org .

Ok... Now to the amazing part...

I was fortunate to make a 10 day trip to Afghanistan to see what it is that ADRP does.  I wanted to see for myself how the money went to the people of Afghanistan and how the actual Dental Clinic worked..

So here is a rundown of that trip... BUT WAIT...first I was in Dubai where I sang, had some free time... rode a camel, meet up with friends and worked on some tunes... :-)

Did a Safari... Totally Cool
A little Henna :-)




 
Now,  to the most important part of this blog... Blessings... helping others and Afghanistan.

This trip to Afghanistan was my first with ADRP.  An organization which was started by Santa Barbara dentist, Dr. James Rolf.

I arrived to ADRP not knowing what I would encounter but pretty much prepared for anything.  What I actually came face to face with was the most amazing people who would each find a special place in my heart.

The dental clinic which Dr. Rolfe built himself in Santa Barbara and then shipped to Afghanistan is a large shipping container. It's got all the facilities that you would probably find in an old school dental clinic. However, it also has the modern conveniences that make going to the dentist a little less frightening! [Sorry, my inner fear of dental offices just came out! :-) ].

Located in Kabul close to the best French Pastry store (thats really the pic of the store) which also carries Dr. Pepper, Lucky Charms and other quaint essentials, ADRP is neatly situated in a gated compound where a two story building/home/dental school and lab, dental hygienist building and, several shipping containers full of dental supplies are also found.  There is also a pretty great garden there which the day guard, Ahmed, planted. 

The staff of ADRP are dentists, dental assistants, dental hygienists, a maintenance man, a housekeeper, security guards and a cook.  Each of the employees have their own story. Sima, the cook, is a widow with 10 children (2 of the children are from her husbands 2nd wife who is also deceased), Lena is recently married, some are in arranged marriages, Soheila, the housekeeper, even wears a burka out of the compound!  However, one common theme amongst them all is the desire to "be more - do more- live more." 

One recently married ADRP employee was physically abused by her father-in-law while I was there. He did not want her to work at ADRP so he slit her hand open.  She came to work the following day and Dr. Rolfe bandaged her hand and gave her money so she and her husband could rent a small place on their own.

One young graduate of the ADRP Dental School is working as a Dental Assistant now so he can pay his way through university. He aspires to be a lawyer. During my stay there he was usually the 1st one to work to open the clinic and on his breaks he was studying (most of his classes are in English) or talking with me about Aristotle, Law or Psychology.

I was amazed to learn that most of the ADRP employees travel on 2 or even 3 different buses to come to work 6 days a week. I also discovered that many did not have running water in their homes and, electricity was a new feature recently added to their homes. 

I could go on and on ... but.....
I thought I would just see the daily activities of how the dental clinic operated, the people who came and the lives that were touched.  What I saw was so much more. I saw young and old visit the clinic, some happy and patiently waiting, others annoyed, some in great pain and, some even came back the next day to sit and watch. I even saw one crazy lady start slapping an employee. Although I never did get the full story on what transpired, the 'crazy' lady was still treated at the clinic and then sent on her merry way.

Of course, I was an oddity, even with my head covered, and dressed in traditional clothes (which I only wore when I went out of the compound).  I suppose it is not often that a female interacts with the staff, passes out crayons, coloring books and gum or even offers water and sits with those who are waiting for their treatment.
However, everyone tolerated me .. in fact, some even asked questions (via any random "English speaking" passer-by), touched my hair, smiled for the camera and a few even genuinely laughed. 

 
                                  This is ADRP- Offering FREE Dental Care to everyone who needs it.
                             It is supported by the tax-deductible donations of people like you and me.



Here is a picture of just some who benefit and are the recipients of your kindness

Unfortunately, I did not get many photos of patients in/at the Clinic as I wanted to respect their privacy and of course, did not want to offend.

While I was there I was fortunate enough to hand out crayons, coloring books and sugar free gum to the children. It was amazing to see how they reacted to such a gift. Some were shy, others were afraid to take it, and some took the goodies and guarded them with their lives!

Here are some pics of what I called 
"Operation Coloring Books and Crayons"


 






I was able to go outside of Kabul for a day to the Panjshir Valley .... it was AMAZING!! 
It was a total difference from the smells and crowd of Kabul.  The air was fresh, there was amazing rivers and trees and homes and ... ahh.. I LOVED it! The drive there was fun... The day guard Ahmed, the "go to guy" Shafee and his brother took me ....  it was a long journey but they let me be the "tourist" and slowed down so I could take pictures with my phone while they took pictures with my camera.  Here are a few of my favorites from the drive:

Yeah this kid is riding a donkey, talking on his mobile and wearing a
"Live Strong" Lance Armstrong bracelet... Funny Stuff


A little girl following in her mother's footsteps .....
These were my "tour guides" - Love these guys!
On the way back to Kabul we saw boys selling flowers, I MADE them buy flowers for their wives!
Ahmed (far left) said his wife would probably hit him with them .. ;-)
Moving on.... :-)
Back to Kabul.... Outside of ADRP there were 2 rather large trash bins. From the evening I arrived until the day I left, I watched them. I was rather fascinated by all the attention they received. From early morning when the dogs pilfered  through them to when an elderly man would ride his bike, park it and then pick through the trash. This literally went on all day. Young and old, sheep and dogs... everyone just looking for something of value to them. 


This girl captivated me! She allowed me to take her picture while her
brother looked on from the side and they let the sheep pick
through the rubbish outside of the ADRP clinic
  
There are so many pics and things to share .. but that would make this an extremely long blog... and, where I would like to tell it all.. I would be overwhelmed... and let's be honest.. you probably would be too! 
So here are the links to check out more photos... these are the purest representation of what Afghanistan is..... of course,  I did not see everything.. I only saw a small part of that beautiful fragile country...

On Facebook:     
Some of the pictures are duplicative.. I am still trying to figure out how to merge the pics... 

I walked away from my Afghanistan visit knowing that there is so much more I can do to give back to those in need.  Not just in Afghanistan, but in my own community... 

Anyhow, I have said it before ... and here I go again ... Great things are happening and this time next week.. well, the 1st song on the new CD will be out for sale.. hey... that's what they call a Single.. ;-)

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ...