Announcing – My First Book on Kids Travel

BIG NEWS!!! My first children’s book, Beato Goes To Greenland will be available in bookstores and online next week! Pre order your copy through Mascot Books by clicking here.

Beato Goes to Greenland cover

It has been a long process. I have started to write books, finished the chapter outlines, pitched to editors, and ditches the whole idea – about a half dozen times. I always knew I wanted to write a book, or two, and several of my well wishers (including readers, editors & publishers) have encouraged me to do so. However, I never quite believed in myself. Who would want to read this and why?

And I never found enough time to write, or perhaps made it a priority.

I have sort of dedicated my life to food, travel and community service, since I left corporate America to pursue my passion. I founded Go Eat Give in 2010 as a blog, and later into a nonprofit organization, with a mission to raise awareness of the diverse and beautiful world we live in. Finally, I discovered an audience, that is perhaps the most impressionable. Beato Goes To is a series of children’s illustrative books that takes young readers on a thrilling adventure across different countries. They learn about nature, culture, food, costume and much more.

I have no prior experience writing children’s books, but felt compelled enough to take this project on. After months of browsing through the little sections of Barnes and Nobles, and reading all the stories about bunnies, princesses, bees, elves, and what not, I realized that there were hardly any books that taught kids about travel or culture.

The main character of the book is my larger than life cat/ baby, Beato. He has been a great inspiration to me, while he lounges on my feet, at my desk, in the couch, and watches me write day after day, occasionally rising from his naps to give me a head nudge. Anyone who has met Beato can’t stop admiring his large size (he is a 20 pounder), handsome looks (yes he has his own Pinterest page), and friendly personality (aka life of the party). It just made sense that Beato took on my persona and started traveling the world!

Beato the cat

What I hope to accomplish from the series is not only to provide entertaining and educational material to kids, but inspire them to learn about each other and discover the world. We live in a interconnected community, where we have no other option but to expand our horizons. To do this at a young age will only give someone a head start.

So if you are reading this and know of any parent with young kids, send them a link to www.BeatoGoesTo.com. Perhaps you can recommend my book to your teacher friend or neighborhood preschool. Beato Goes To also makes a great gift for any young reader in your friends and family circle. Pre order your copy today!

 

Blueberries for Belarus

Sidney Roland blubbery farm in GeorgiaIts berry picking season in Georgia and I happened to come across a farm which allows you to pick your own blueberries for a good cause. Located only 70 miles from Atlanta, the Roland Farm grows varieties of blueberries that are available for picking from June to September for only $5 a gallon!

Sidney Roland, who has a street named after him, is retired and lives on his farm home where he grows the blueberries. Sidney donates all of the money raised from selling blueberries to The American Belarussian Relief Organization. ABRO has a host program where it brings children from Belarus to US every summer so they can get away from the effects of radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear accident. For the last 9 years, Sidney and his wife have hosted up to 14 Belarusian children each summer, at their home for six weeks. The children are given medical attention, tours of local attractions, beach trips and much more.

Picking Blueberries in GeorgiaSidney told me that after coming across the local chapter of ABRO, he just wanted to make a difference. He enjoys hosting the children and loves to see the impact on them year after year. He has a warm heart and frequently opens up his riverside property to baptisms, fundraisers, weddings and private events. He even helped his nephew’s band, Collective Soul launch right in his backyard.

If you would like to support Sidney’s good cause, gather a group and go to the Roland Farm for a fun day of blueberry picking. Bring bathing suits, food and drinks and enjoy a picnic by the river afterwards (located right on the farm). I bet Sidney would join the party in a heartbeat!

Contact: Roland Farm, 860 Sidney Roland Road, Demorest, GA 30535; Phone: 706-754-6700

Orphanages in Morocco

Some of the volunteers from our home base have been volunteering at a local orphanage. Today I learnt a few things about the system in Morocco.

For starters, most of the kids in the orphanages are boys. This is surprising to learn since it is usually more girls than boys that end up in orphanages in every other country that I have come across. For instance the Mother Teresa’s home in India had 99 girls for every 1 boy as boys get adopted quickly and girls are abandoned by families. The reason in India for this behavior is that a boy is seen as an asset, sort of insurance in old age; whereas a girl is seen as a burden since she would consumer resources for her wedding and then would go off to take care of her in-laws family.

Here in Morocco, people believe that a girl is more affectionate and better caretakers of their families. Parents feel that their daughters would be more reliable than a son, who would probably be more involved with his wife and family, than take care of his parents. More and more women in Morocco earn a living these days. 25% of doctors, lawyers and government administrators are women. The average age of a woman getting married is 29 years old. All these statistics prove that the value of a girl is clearly increasing in this African country.

A second reason cited for the large number of boys in orphanages is that when women get pregnant illicitly and want to get rid of a baby, often times the gender is a factor in their decision. Women feel more comfortable abandoning a baby boy thinking that he would be better able to fend for himself. You will never find a street-girl or homeless girls here. A girl is more prone to exploitation, therefore less likely to be abandoned. Also, some of these women fear that if they kept their baby boy born out of wedlock, he may grow up to attack his mother or take revenge in some form.

The process of adopting a Moroccan baby is fairly simple, whether you are a citizen of Morocco or a foreigner. You must be a Muslim or convert to a Muslim before filing for adoption. Some of these children have living parents who are unable to care for them. In that case, you can gain custody of a child and bring him or her up like your own but would need to keep the family name. Only a couple or a single woman can adopt, single men cannot. The process takes about six months. Currently, most of the children are being adopted by people in Morocco and Spain. The social workers keep a check on the kids and finalize the adoption only after two years of monitoring.