Dee's Blog
Thu 01/12/2012
Personal Shock
Topic: Power

While writing yesterday's blog, I decided to find out more about the credentials of David Werner, the founder of The Hesperian Foundation.  What I learned through Wikipedia and the Chicago Tribune sent shivers up my spine!  Never would I have dreamed that this man, responsible for saving so many lives around the world, had been dismissed 20 years ago from the organization he founded, due to strong allegations of having molested disabled teenaged boys in Mexico!

It's a rare example of how a good work, still distributed to Peace Corp volunteers, manages to live on despite the horrific acts of evil that were apparently being perpetrated by one who was, and still is, the author of a great tool.  There is no reason to destroy the good Werner did.  However.....

Sadly, it's also an example of how much more difficult it is to do an investigation of an American citizen operating in criminal behavior overseas.

So it makes me very proud to find this part of the Hesperian story.  It serves as another rare example.  Instead of decades of doubting, colluding and massive coverup, this organization unanimously voted to totally dismiss it's founder, even after it's strongly credible investigations were unable to be legally proven.  They could have done the "church thing" I've seen so often--refusing to take action because of fear of being sued by the perpetrator while knowing that the powerless victims didn't have a chance of ever being in a court of law!! 

Justice?  Marie Fortune would say "approximate justice."  The best that could be achieved under the circumstances in a place where "there is no doctor" and also "there is no court" available.

I'm still very proud of The Hesperian Foundation, proud to have supported it's colossal accomplishments that continue despite the horror that cruelly invaded the lives of vulnerable young people.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:42 AM CST
Updated: Thu 01/12/2012 6:24 PM CST
Wed 01/11/2012
The Hesperian Foundation
Topic: Making Changes

"A chicken in every pot!"  That was the campaign promise of Herbert Hoover in 1928, a year before the Crash!  It's easy to dream, important to set goals.

 More important to find practical solutions to the problems that exist while the dreamers work out the details for greater things.  At least, that's how it feels if you are working in the trenches.

David Werner is not a doctor.  He's a world-renowned biologist who has worked for decades in community health programs, especially in Mexico. 

In 1973, Werner, along with Jane Maxwell and Carol Thurman published a very practical guide for community leaders and health care workers.  It gave life-saving information and illustrations on how to prevent and/or treat health problems.  The title says it all:  "Where There Is No Doctor." 

This book has become the most widely used health education book in tropical and sub-tropical developing countries in the world!  In fact, before the decade was out, I had ordered several copies for myself and others in remote areas.

In 1975, Werner founded The Hesperian Foundation. which I have continued to support monthly now offers an array of health care books for places where there is nothing CLOSE to universal health care.  Places where health care as we know it would seem like utopia!  Donations to Hesperian help them provide many, many copies free of charge to struggling workers with very limited training, in rural areas where health care, otherwise, is simply inaccessible.

A look at the list of materials available will give you an idea of the scope of their growing work, made possible through volunteers and low-paid writers.  How do I know? 

This organization is so dear to my heart that several years ago I applied for a job as one of their writers, thinking that I could do the work through the Web.  No, they wanted me to be able to sit down with their team to hammer out every detail.  No quick productions--clarity on the very basic level wouldn't allow me to do it as I had dreamed of doing it.

Still not convinced, I proposed that I'd be willing to move to CA--until they told me the salary!  That brought me back to earth, convincing me of why I love supporting them from a distance. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:11 AM CST
Tue 01/10/2012
Working for Universal Health Care
Topic: Power

I've been an advocate for universal health care for decades before I knew what the term meant.  Long before the public was hearing much about it in the USA!

Seeing the discrepancy in New Orleans, while doing public health nursing there, opened my eyes a wee bit. Nothing compared to living in Africa, where clinics ran out of drugs as basic as aspirin every year.  I could count on it, back then in the 80's, as a steady stream of people found their way to my back door as supplies dwindled.

I've come to believe that our voices are most needed in the United States.  Monetary gifts are what citizens of all Western countries need to consider if we are to reach people who have the lowest levels of health care in the world. 

Speaking to power takes VOICES and MONETARY GIFTS.

If you are concerned about universal health care in the USA--great!  So am I.  Why not find out how to make your voice heard through

If you'd like to go a little further from our shores, consider Doctors Outreach Clinics or Doctors without Borders.


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:04 AM CST
Mon 01/09/2012
Convenient Excuses for Passing the Buck
Topic: Power

"You have to really be careful!  Never know who you can trust!"

I've heard those words so many times.  When they express concern for physical safety or health, we definitely have to heavily weigh how we may be putting ourselves at risk.  Even so, parents wouldn't think of not running into traffic for the sake of saving their child who was in a dangerous situation!

What concerns me is that I hear these same words often when it comes to reaching out to empower others with monetary gifts. 

Passing the Buck is an institutional game, we think.  It happens because, out of fear, leaders do not take strong action that is obviously needed in order to protect the powerless or to increase the power of others who deserve more. 

Yet, when I get honest with myself, I can easily catch myself playing the same game on a personal level.  This is exactly what happens when I fail to face just how much power I hold in my own hands in comparison to most people in this world.  

"You have to really be careful!  Never know who you can trust!"  As if what we hold in our hands is better kept in our hands than to risk saving a starving child or poverty-stricken family whose cries we refuse to hear.

Literally "passing the buck" is a risk.  Just like writing or speaking to people we've never met about a serious concern.  We don't know what the end result will be.  Maybe we're just wasting our money or wasting our breath. 

So? What good is our power if we don't give it away?


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 7:04 AM CST
Sun 01/08/2012
Why Even Try?
Topic: Power

“I will also hunt you in your homes. You will not hide, I will smoke you out, muziwanso. You should go back to your fathers and mothers from the West, who have sent you.” 

One would think these words of  President Mutharika would have made headlines on CNN international news back in July of 2011, in response to riots that resulted in 20 deaths from police brutality.  Maybe the statement received some brief mention, but I dare say you missed it.  As I certainly did. 

For six months, it's been nearly impossible to get news from my adopted homeland of Malawi--even on the Web!  Even though the withdrawal of funds was due to human rights violations.  Even though, the following month the President's entire Cabinet was dismissed and still has not been replaced!!

It's impossible to say what factors into the news we get.  Certainly a complex set of interactions.  It most certainly had something to do with the increasingly watchful eye that the Malawi government has given inside journalists.

While all of this leaves many questions, I believe we must focus on organizations that are operating despite the despondency that so many feel in our world.

For me, in Malawi, I keep my eyes on Malawi Children's Village, an organization that was organized with the help of former Peace Corp Workers who are still very much involved in overseeing the success of MCV.  If you want to read some good news, please spend a while perusing the newsletter.

I know some of the leaders.  In fact, the Malawian head who has faithfully served alongside his wife Faith, visited us in our Iowa home a few years ago.

 Go back and look at the history of how Malawians with a heart were empowered by Americans with hearts  resources, and a vision.

Then, consider getting involved with a small donation

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 11:32 AM CST
Sat 01/07/2012
Being Faithful with the Power You Have

Accept your place among power brokers.  Very likely, by the world's standards, you are somewhere in "middle management" when it comes to the amount of power you have.

Sound ridiculous?  It's not.  Just because you don't have the power of a great politician or a CEO, even if you have a job at the bottom of the totem pole, you still have power.   Not only power to speak to others, influencing how they think or may choose to exercise the power that they have. 

You also have resources to be shared with those of lesser power or to be used by those who are seeking ways to speak to greater power.  These resources can be in the form of tangible items.  Or....

Any money that you have is a form of power!  Every day that you spend OR withhold money, you are exercising power.  Most never think of it that way, but it's true.

Not only do you vote by how you choose to spend or save your money, which items to buy, what price you are willing to pay in order to have anything beyond bread and water, you exercise power in how you choose to show empathy or love to those in need.

Maybe you are so cautious, so fearful that somebody will take your money and mis-use it, that you hoard it away so that it does little good for you or anybody else.  An alternative is to become a penny-pincher so that you will have a few more dollars to give away.

You might consider looking carefully at places to be of influence, empowering others who are much less fortunate than you. is one place where I choose to exercise power through the important discipline of empowering people I will never meet.  What fun it is to make small loans to those who have little hope of seeing their dreams fulfilled, then to see the money come back to me to loan again to somebody else, spreading the power around.

As in so many ventures in my life, I've learned that when I take the risk of giving myself (ie. my power) away, the miracle of love just keeps coming back, making me realize how much power I do possess.

Yes, "being faithful with little" works to grow more power, preparing us to do more and more to change the world beyond ourselves, giving us such a sense of gratitude for being alive to take on even bigger tasks.



Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:13 AM CST
Fri 01/06/2012
How Powerless are YOU?

Those of us who have never known real hunger or homelessness often fail to see how powerful we are.

Perhaps we have experienced powerlessness for a period of time in our lives, when we were either victims of crime or acute discrimination.   Certainly we know class discrimination or gender discrimination in very personal ways--either we've experienced this personally or someone in our family or close circle of friends has.  So it's easy to forget that we are still powerful people, compared to most in the world.

  If we live in a democracy that allows freedom of speech, that's a form of power.  Yes, freedom brings a degree of power.  We can use that power for good or cause much pain in what we say or do.  There are limits, but we do have the immense power to speak our minds.

Those who live without freedom of speech do not often realize the degree of oppression that envelops their lives.  Even as an American, I was not in touch with just how much I was weighing what I said in public when I lived in Malawi, back in the late 70's and 80's.  We had to be careful, even when speaking to closest friends.  Or writing letters.  Certainly on the telephone, where the government might be eavesdropping!   It was against the law to speak about the condition of the nation, the oppression of the people, and certainly anything the least bit negative about the dictator who forced people to "worship" him in grand parades for propaganda purposes!

Only when I got to Kenya, where freedom of speech was much greater, did I catch myself as I ridiculously looked over my shoulder before speaking!  It was as if my feet were out of shackles!!  I had the power to speak freely for the first time in years!!!  It was like a breath of fresh air, suddenly rushing in so strongly, that this moment is forever etched in my memory!

So if you are thinking that you are totally powerless, stop to consider this idea.  Speak up for yourself and others, especially for those who have no voice in the darkest corners of our world.  Whatever the cause, consider that you are a person of power--even if you are speaking to people with far more power who may not be interested in listening.  Find multiple causes.  Find new words.  Just speak your mind and forget about needing more power.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:01 AM CST
Thu 01/05/2012
The Keys to the Kingdom Come

"If you don't leave me alone, I'll send you to Kingdom Come."  Those were words I heard frequently, growing up.  Spoken by someone annoyed by a human pest.  It was a crude way of joking in my world, back before anyone took scuffling on the playground very seriously.  I never saw anyone go on to act on the threat.  In fact, people who talked like this--at least in my world--didn't misuse strength or power.  They just threw their proverbial weight around.

Neither did I stop to think what the words literally might mean.  I'm not sure the speakers even did. 

Kingdom Come, like the Kingdom of God, was understood in my world to mean "the here-after." The theological assumption being that we go to a new kingdom.  Kingdom Come could be a wonderful place, known to Christians as "the Kingdom of God."  Or a place of horror.  Heaven or hell--those were the two alternatives.

 The Kingdom of God was not considered to be a place on earth, theologically, by the people I knew as a child.  It still isn't to so many.  It was just some place we hoped to be--someday in the here-after.

What if we started integrating our thinking on the Kingdom of God to make it equivalent to a better world?  It would be a new, much more positive way of defining "Kingdom Come."   A place where there would be no more war, no famines, and a willingness to share the riches that are so greedily held by present kingdoms (ie. corporations, institutions, as well as corrupt political powers).

A sharing of resources.  A levelling of power.  A much lesser emphasis on pure capitalism.  A way for individuals at all levels, as well as organized "kingdoms" to espouse the concept of "creative capitalism" as opposed to "consumer capitalism" that is currently operating, but failing more and more.

To get a better idea of the Old Order that we have thought of as "just the way it is," compared to what would happen if we all began to act with a new vision, please go to

Such a place was, of course, foreign in Jesus' day.  As much as today.  Yet, I'm convinced that it was a big part of what Jesus was describing when he tried to show us the Kingdom of God.

Tomorrow I want to show you some small ways that you may choose to enact these principles into your daily life, empowering others as you recognize your own power.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:37 AM CST
Updated: Thu 01/05/2012 8:46 AM CST
Wed 01/04/2012
Aspirations of Reaching Out

Money is power.  Status is power.  So is education and skill.  Nobuko Oyabu's power and passion were working together to lead her toward worlds unknown when I first met her in 2002.

So was grief and the emotional trauma from all she had experienced in the past year.  The fact that the power and passion shined through over the grief and trauma made a mind-boggling impression on me.

Weeks later, she was in my living room, honoring me as her first subject for a photo to be included in her book Stand.  Within months, she was on a Lifetime TV documentary, after having used her own funds to travel thousands of miles to photograph others.  A book was in the making that would give faces to the taboo subject of sexual violence.  Just as the world already had seen with breast cancer. 

Once the book was published in Japanese and Nobuko had been to Washington D. C., spoken at many colleges and in her native country of Japan, one would think that would have been plenty to celebrate.  Nobuko was far from satisfied!

How devastated she was when I heard from her last year, right after the earthquake hit Japan.  I was glad to know that her family was safe, but so sad to know that many of her friends were not.  Nobuko had been planning to do another advocacy trip in the hardest-hit area.  She still was trying to figure out how to go in spite of the tsunamis!  She wrote:  "In Fukushima city, I am going to meet with the #2 person in its police department to see what their needs are in terms of sexual violence survivors support."  Nobuko was most concerned about a friend who had been so instrumental in raising consciousness within government circles. 

Last month, she made another trip it and found a hearing in Parliament!!  In her own words, you have the report:

"They have to redefine the definition of sexual asault on their constitution first (women are only victim and no rape without penetration... ridiculous!!)
and I hope I pushed hard on it this time!
Anyway, I have a favor to ask you today.
I have just launched fundraising for my project STAND on Kickstarter site.
The fund raised on this site is for finishing a chapter of the project by revisiting the survivors I photographed 10 years ago and rephotograph them.
The new photo and the old will display side by side with captions of now and then. That's how this book ends... if it ever becomes a book.
I hoping to visit you, too!
What's in the future after the project?
I will move on to the new chapter of the project which will be geared toward the victims of human trafficking and sex slavely in the global societies.
Could you please take a look at below link and let me know what you think?
If it's OK, could you pass it on to your friends who would be interested in pitching in?
Anyone can pitch in and participate as little as $10 through this site.
There you have it!  POWER WORKING ITS WAY TOWARD PROGRESS--all through a humble lady I am proud to call "my friend." 

Your donations will further empower her.  Please consider it.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:32 AM CST
Updated: Wed 01/04/2012 10:00 AM CST
Tue 01/03/2012
No Borders

Twenty-five years ago, I was knee-deep in the trenches.  Speaking truth to a powerful, abusive government deep in the heart of Africa.  My passion was to be a catalyst, making individuals in that system to recognize ways they could address the heartaches of daily existence for the people I had gone to serve.

Malawi was filled with refugees who had fled the war in Mozambique.  The population had an extremely high rate of illiteracy.  Malnutrition was so severe that it was difficult to find a woman who had not lost at least one child due to this disease of poverty.  Alcoholism was draining the economy.  An increasing recognition of the problem of AIDS was just being acknowledged by a government that had never allowed sex education in any form!

Corruption and suppression of truth permeated the fabric of that society, making the problems of our own nation look like a Sunday afternoon picnic!!!

How my heart was torn, along with the heart of my husband, when speaking the truth about a sexually- abusive missionary colleague became so threatening to my co-workers and superiors that we were forced to resign in order to keep our voices!  It has been a long, challenging detour.

Now, after years of speaking to larger audiences, writing, and maintaining a site that has served as a lighthouse to thousands, I am finding myself circling back with increased frequency to international causes--just one of which is the issue of sexual violence in countries where human trafficking is so rampant and laws so much more primitive than most Westerners can even imagine.

The same principles I've written about for years, many that I learned while speaking in the halls of abusive government offices far away, will continue to be my passion as a writer.  Yet, only a small percentage of that writing will be addressing the problems of sexual violence in developing countries, Western civilizations or not.  

My yearning to address the larger purposes of speaking truth to power has been re-awakened.  So I will be introducing readers to organizations and individuals that can help those of us with greater power or economic means to make a difference beyond our own borders.

Tomorrow, I'll introduce you to one who is courageously speaking in Japan.  She just happens to be addressing issues of sexual violence in her native land while having great visions of much more.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST

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