Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Work Continues

Post from Mike Carlin, Editor and Publisher, Century City News, California

I recently visited the Philippines. Our very good friend, Sir Edward Artis, had a stroke and I wasn’t getting the information I needed… so I boarded a plane. His eyes lit up when I walked into the room. He struggled to speak. It was clear that something happened to silence this once fierce warrior of peace. The silence didn’t last long. He struggled to get out a few words; “I had a stroke.” I got to meet Klea and see her love of Ed. She has been there by his side for a number of years. I have spoken to her on numerous occasions but now I finally got to meet this amazing champion of peace. Klea traveled to Myanmar, Basilan Island, Jolo, Zamboanga, and many other dangerous places with Ed to take relief to those less fortunate that found themselves in a precarious situation through no fault of their own.

Just prior to the stroke I had mounted my own mission into the danger zone of border Mexico. Ed followed my path with great interest. He sent me text messages of concern for my safety. I texted him prior to traveling in and let him know immediately when I returned to safety. Ed taught me how to mitigate the risk and I heeded his advice. We never grow tired of the streams of tears when our relief hits the mark. On my trip a doctor and nurse accepted four duffel bags of medical supplies that have the power to save lives. When they realized that these supplies were a gift from America and that we wanted nothing in return, they welled up inside. As they helped carry the supplies into the clinic they could not hold back the tears. When I reported back to Ed he seemed very pleased that one of his protégés had grown up and begun to comprehend his message.

I am one of thousands of people that Ed has taught to do good deeds. Over the years and in my many travels with Ed I have met hundreds of them. It always surprises me how many more there are that I have never met. Even Ed cannot comprehend the impact his life has had upon the world. Many of the paths Ed has traveled were one-time trips. Other people pick up where Ed left off and continue helping people recover from war, famine, tsunami, earthquake, fires, floods or typhoons. Ed’s influence lingers and he teaches so many to open up their hearts and give.

We sat at the dining room table for hours that day and Ed was able to begin speaking almost normally. Something happened that day as we began telling Klea stories that we had experienced together. I started many of the stories and Ed began speaking to finish them. We had lunch at the Hard Rock Café in Makati. He greeted new friends and old with that classic “Ed” smile. By the time lunch was over I could tell that Ed was exhausted. We had been together for five hours and my presence had made him work to remember… to speak. The brain is an amazing and intricate structure. I witnessed synapses reconnecting right before my eyes.

We agreed to break for a few hours to give Ed a chance to rest. I arrived at 7p for our trip out to dinner. Ed and Klea climbed into the cab and we visited “Howzat,” a local hangout for foreigners. When waitresses would speak to Ed he struggled with his speech. When we talked to him he was able to speak with only minor problems. Some of the jumbled words were quite funny and both Klea and I were swept away with the mixed emotions of “do we laugh or would that be cruel.” We couldn’t help ourselves and Ed began to laugh too.

At that dinner I saw moments of total clarity where it seemed to me that Ed was 100% back only to disappear back into the fog. From this I gained hope that Ed will make a total recovery if he works hard and those of us that know him understand that Ed can’t do it any other way. When we parted that night I knew that Ed needed rest. I agreed to give Ed the weekend.

Early Saturday morning I headed down to Cagayan de Oro to meet Elmer and Cora Sayre. Ed and Elmer founded the Buffalo Bank down there many years ago. What began with an investment in the first twenty water buffalo has grown into a full-fledged Micro Finance operation that now serves over 3,000 farmers with water buffalo, goats, chickens, pigs, ducks and sanitation. Elmer showed me his operation that includes meeting spaces, manufacturing of toilets, cottages, crop development, and livestock management. A team of loan officers deal with farmers to evaluate their needs and structure a borrowing and repayment program for them.

What I came to understand from my visit is that if Elmer and his team simply handed out water buffalo they would be eaten. Attaching importance to them as a tool for the farmer helps educate the farmer in methods to increase productivity. Farmers are grateful for the opportunity to improve their quality of life. When Elmer talked about criteria for granting Micro Loans he sounded just like the many bankers I know in Century City. “We look at their character and their capacity to pay back the loan. We shy away from those that are known to have gambling problems.” Gambling problems? That was the last thing I expected to hear in this remote region but cock fighting is one of the pastimes in the Southern Philippines.

The next day we went to the remote regions… a four-hour drive from headquarters. In the mountainous region I saw breath-taking views. Farmers were growing their crops on the sides of mountains. I got to see the impact of the water buffalo – first-hand. A farmer even offered to let me ride his water buffalo and I couldn’t resist. That was a thrill I will never forget. (See picture attached.) I also will never forget tasting food for the first time. Every meal on this trip was 100% organic. I ate coconut that was picked fresh from the tree and I drank the delicious coconut milk. Pineapple, papaya, watermelon, fresh vegetables, fish and free-range chicken were also at every meal. No chemicals are used in the farms supported by the buffalo bank and all of the people I met seemed so healthy. All of this began with a single investment by Ed in the first twenty water buffalo.

I again turned my attention to Ed and Manila. We spent the week together poring over paperwork, talking about pending missions and getting caught up on what needs to happen in order to continue Ed’s work. What amazes me is that Ed, who clearly suffered a stroke, has no concern for his own health and wants to communicate only to insure the children he promised surgeries to get treated. In a private moment, Ed insisted that I travel to an orphanage and make a donation in his name. Many times I heard Ed insist that he would wage peace until his dying day but his appeal in that private moment for children that have lost their parents solidified his commitment to continue this work until his dying breath. Happily, I made the trip to the orphanage and complied with his wishes.

The smiles on the faces of those children reminded me of the smile that Ed wears. Those smiles light up the dark spaces upon the earth. Ed is a little child that wants all of the other children to smile too. We have all seen him rise up to protect the less fortunate as their guardian and protector. We have seen him brave border crossings to bring in life-saving relief. We have learned to give at his hands. We have watched him thunder away threatening warlords. But Ed is so much happier when the children are smiling.

You can send donations to via paypal or you can mail checks to:

Steps For Recovery, a California 501(c)3 non-profit corporation
PO Box 67522
Los Angeles, CA 90067

The work continues…

All the best,

Sir Michael Douglas Carlin
Century City News
Steps For Recovery
Knightsbridge International
Keylite PSI