Island reaches out in a global way

Nancy Gould-Hilliard
Around the Island

Global reaches: When Islander Kyle Naye returned from his Navy duty in Kuwait last year, he had a new vision of our global community, more common for his generation as they serve in the military and work for corporate America. He said he found Kuwaitis to be hospitable, eager to help and curious about American life. He ate some fantastic native food, shopped in bazaars and learned Islamic traditions of prayer five times a day.

“In a country 85 percent Muslim, religion is more noticeable than here, with the calls to prayer, ubiquitous dishwasher and the generous time off for religious events.” Naye says Kuwaitis average about six-hour work days and have no desire for overtime, as family time is so important. They also enjoy discussing current events and drinking coffee or tea in the local malls.

“I rarely heard opposition to the (Iraq) war effort — either from Navy volunteers or Kuwaitis, who were grateful for the United States liberation of Kuwait from Iraq in 1991,” said Naye.

Island organizations also have expanded their global reach: A delegation of Vietnamese visited MI Presbyterian church last week as part of the Vietnam Foundation efforts to bring prosperity to the poor in rural Vietnam. Yogi and Eva Agrawal, founders of Visual Himalaya Foundation, will host a fundraiser next month to help educate teachers in Akola, India, and establish better irrigation systems for agriculture. Mercer Island’s Thonon-les-Bain sister city exchange thrives. MI Rotary recently helped send supplies to a dental clinic in Cameroon, West Africa, vans for handicapped kids in Romania, and wheelchairs to Akola, India, and Central America.

The Island’s multi-faith groups are about to launch the sale of goods from developing countries at fair trade prices — 10,000 Villages will come to the Island, Nov. 9-10.

Pop Art: One Mercer Island mom stumbled into entrepreneurship that has her receiving supplies from around the world. She began making a few necklaces from recycled bottle caps and requests for others burgeoned.

“Before long, I had more orders than I ever anticipated,” said Carole Aired Murphy. The pop-top necklaces now sell at Doze hair salon, Finders and Island Books as well as numerous Seattle stores and through her Web site, Each pop top is unique in subject matter such as sparkly bugs, flowers, sports icons, peace signs, names and much more.

People save their bottle caps for Carole, and now they come to her from all over the world. As fun as the art side is flipping the top to see where it came from. Way to connect globally while being creative from home and raising five kids!

Bette Filly, “Stuff Matchmaker” of 30 years, introduced herself at our recent Senior Resource Fair as “a Protestant Yenta who helps people find heavenly places for Earthy goods.”

For example, one group collects National Geographic Magazines for information-starved students in Asia; an “odd-shoe” exchange provides “onsides” to amputees or people with different sized feet; an Arizona Indian mission collects candles for those without electricity; and a charity wants old cell phones to help those just joining the communication revolution.

She knows places to send unused seeds, pharmaceuticals, yardage and notions, old military uniforms and the dreaded bridesmaid dresses. Her book, “How to Dispose of your Stuff,” is sold at Island Books.

“Most of us raised by relatives of the Depression were taught to save everything,” she adds. “However, our children are petrified they’ll have to deal with it all when we’re gone!” She suggests we commit now to downsize.

“Start with a few empty boxes from your grocer. Pick one room to sort through and then add a room at a time. Repurposing your goods makes it easier to let them go. Someone desperately needs every single thing you’ve accumulated.”

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