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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2010. That’s about 26 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 85 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 193 posts. There were 12 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 12mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 7th with 215 views. The most popular post that day was Meeting Aron Ralston .

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for aron ralston, acid attack, acid face, acid throwing, and acid attack victims.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Meeting Aron Ralston December 2009
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Juliette’s Acid Attack December 2008
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Yosemite: From Farm to Table July 2009
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Favela Tour in Rio de Janeiro May 2008

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Acid Attacks Hit Home


In recent days there have been two brutal acid attacks against women in the United States, one in Oregon and one in Arizona.  Many of you have read the story I wrote about a courageous acid attack victim from Kampala, Uganda named Juliette on this blog.  HDNet’s World Report aired an “in her own words” piece about Juliette that I produced for the show on April 14, 2009.  It is a very powerful story and Juliette’s ability to forgive her attacker and move on is inspirational.  We saw her again when we were in Uganda this past summer. She is now a mother of two children and despite her injuries she is still beautiful and trying to make the most of her life. I hope you are as transformed by Juliette’s story as I was and as horrified by this unbelieveable terrorism against women, not only in the developing world but also here at home.  We cannot let the perpetrators of these crimes go unpunished.  If we cry loud enough we can prevent more women like Juliette from becoming victims of this terrible violence.

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Favorite Friends I’ve Never Met

Several of my friends and even my family think social networking is a waste of time.  They won’t Facebook, Twitter or read blogs and can’t really understand what I get from it.  I’ve found the most vehement opposition from my tango dancing mother and my friends who are cyclists.  These are not ladies who exercise casually, but rather women who compete on the dance floor, do 100 mile bike rides in the Rockies and think it’s fun to race up Mt. Diablo in Northern California.  Their buff bodies speak to their passion.  My flying fingers speak to mine.  They are my bricks and mortar relationships.  But because of social networking I have a new circle of virtual friends who I enjoy and respect, even though we have never met or for that matter, may never meet. 

First there is Susan MacCaulay.  She is a Canadian living in Dubai.  I stumbled across her website Amazing Women Rock ( when it was quite new.  What seems to have started out as a place to go for moderate Muslim women has morphed into something much larger and universal.  She is a champion of women around the world and has a large following now.  The first thing you notice about her is her passion for pink, her platinum blonde hair and her trendy get ups.  On one occasion she turned the camera on herself in a Riyadh hotel room and talked about how strange it was being a woman on a road trip to Saudi Arabia.  Then she posted it on YouTube and endured the threats from those who felt they were disrespected.  She has an elderly and opinionated mother who she adores somewhere back in Canada who reminds me of David Lettermen’s mom.  I am such a fan of hers I even contemplated a trip to Africa through Dubai just so I could meet her.  She hollers about injustice towards women and celebrates their achievements.  Susan rocks! 

Second is Dr. Qanta Ahmed.  She is a striking British national whose family came from Pakistan.  What’s interesting about virtual friendships is you often forget what brought you into someone’s universe.  I think I crossed her path doing research on a story for HDNet’s World Report but I’m not sure.  She had written an article about her transformative relationship with a rabbi who made her fall in love with Judaism while she lived in Charleston, South Carolina.  The irony came at the end when you found out she was a Muslim.  She is one of the most articulate voices for connection between people of all faiths.  She told me about her book “In The Land of Invisible Women.”  I ran out to buy it.  She wrote about the time when she couldn’t renew her visa in the United States and had to leave the country even though she was a doctor practicing medicine.  She moved for two years to Saudi Arabia and tells the story of the culture shock for a professional woman under the kingdom’s repressive laws.  Even so, she had a remarkable journey, had great stories about Riyadh and the Hajj, and got in touch with her Muslim faith.  I was stunned by her writing ability.  She has an amazing eye for detail and there was an extraordinary richness in her voice.  I still don’t know how she finds time to practice medicine with so much social networking.       

Third is my filmmaking friend, Zippy (is that the greatest name or what?) Nyaruri.  I met her via email when I needed a fixer for a story on the monetization of food aid in Kenya.  A fixer is a producer on the ground in a foreign country who helps set up a story and takes care of arrangements.  Without a fixer it is next to impossible to handle all the logistics and relationships.  Our story fell through but we have kept in touch through Facebook.  Through Zippy I see Africa.  When I first was introduced to her she was bouncing back and forth between Kampala and Nairobi.  Now she lives in Capetown, South Africa and recently she posted pictures of herself in Namibia.  She is developing a documentary about one of the few women truck drivers in Africa.  She introduced us to a fellow filmmaker named Godwin Opuly who runs sound and second camera for us when we are doing video production for BeadforLife (  Even though I have never met Zippy, when I considered visiting Capetown for the FIFA World Cup, she invited me to stay in her home.

Fourth is Caroline Jones.  She actually found me when she saw a story I produced about an acid attack victim called Juliette.  She was so moved she asked if she could use a photograph of her as the foundation for a painting.  Caroline’s ambition is to help others through art.  Her inspirations are women facing obstacles and the book “Half the Sky” by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn.  Caroline has created a body of work she calls Nguvu  Nguvu means strength in Swahili and her exhibit is this August in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  She will donate 50% of the sale from each work to the organization selected by the photographer.  She also builds boats, has a daughter and is a vegan who blogs about tasty recipes for other vegans.  That’s all I know about her.

Finally there is Karen Daniel.  She is a freelance television producer just like me who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.  She’s loves NASCAR and drives a truck.  She idolizes Dolly Parton and Linda Ellerbee.  She is the kind of person that you recommend even if you don’t know them because you know she gets it.  She’s been described as fearless and like me she wished she moved to New York City right out of college.  She has grey hair and the last time we chatted I told her that models dye their hair grey now.  It’s the new hip thing.  We also have a mutual acquaintance.  I met Ashton Ramsey trying to book Neil Wanless for the Today Show.  He’s the impoverished young cowboy who won a 200+ million dollar lottery in Winner, South Dakota.  Talk about a small world.  Both Ashton and I know Karen Daniel.  Once again, I can’t recall how it came up but imagine my surprise when I’m sitting in a small town bar and we both know my virtual friend.

Of course my virtual friendships aren’t anything like the ones I have with those who I grew up with, break bread with, go to book club with, and take Sunday walks with.  Those are the lasting friendships of my life.  But my virtual friendships are enriching my life and broadening my circle and I’m learning and pondering things that I never would have considered if I weren’t running across these amazing women around the world.  My college friend, Margaret Hoeveler’s mother, Griff, used to say at the end of the day you can count your true friends on one hand.  I think that’s wise but I also have a circle of special social networking friends I can count on one hand and they assure me the energy I spend doing this is not a waste of time.

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Acid Attack Survivor Katie Piper on CNN

Many of you came to this blog to see the story of Juliette’s acid attack. Former model Katie Piper recently spoke to CNN in Great Britain about the brutal attack that changed her life. She is incredibly courageous and is now working to help others through her Katie Piper Foundation (

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Acid Attacks: Personal and Political

Many of you have come to this blog to watch the story about Juliette and read about her brutal acid attack in Kampala, Uganda (  I had always considered the violence against Juliette and other women like her as personal.  Jealous men destroy the lives of women who threaten them in some way.  Nicholos Kristof of the New York Times writes widely on this subject as he moves about the developing world.  In the following blog, Jim Verhulst of the St. Petersburg Times, argues that terrorism like this needs to be considered in the larger political framework, especially as President Obama ponders what to do in Afghanistan where attacks like this happen frequently.  Can we realistically bring change to a country where it is entrenched that there is less value to a life that is poor and female.  Nicholas, Jim and I are among those who are trying to give a voice to women who are victims of this kind of atrocity.  So is Emilio Morenatti of the Associated Press.  He took the photos you are about to see and these portraits of damage and despair are shocking.  How can men do this to women and what can we as a compassionate world do?  We must honor the beauty and spirit of these women, and women like Juliette, by stopping this carnage once and for all.  The choices we make as we contemplate our missions abroad must also keep this in mind.   

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Juliette’s Acid Attack

Acid attacks are a brutal form of domestic violence in the developing world. Juliette tells the story of her attack in Kampala, Uganda and how the man who maimed her walked away. Despite devastating injuries she inspires with courage and optimism.

HDNet World Report: Acid Attacks/Juliette’s Story from Vicky Collins on Vimeo.

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Acid Attacks: Juliette’s Story

Many of you have read the story I wrote about a courageous acid attack victim from Kampala, Uganda named Juliette on this blog.  HDNet’s World Report aired an “in her own words” piece about Juliette that I produced for the show on April 14.  It is a very powerful story and Juliette’s ability to forgive her attacker and move on is inspirational.  I hope you are as transformed by Juliette’s story as I was and as horrified by this unbelieveable terrorism against women in the developing world.  More often than not men go unpunished for this.  If we raise up our voices loud enough perhaps we can prevent more women like Juliette from becoming victims of this terrible violence.

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Juliette’s Acid Attack

Juliette dreams of someday marrying a nice man.  One unlike the monster who poured acid on her in a jealous rage in July 2007.  We are sitting with this young woman, just 19 years old, on a porch near a church in Kampala, Uganda.  Juliette is beautiful on the side of her face that she shows to the world.  Her eyes are bright and she has a radiant smile.  The other side of her face she covers with long braids.  It prevents the fearful looks from those who pass her by.  It covers the half of her face that was destroyed in the brutal acid attack that sent her to the hospital for five months and disfigured her for life.   “I open?” she asks.  She lifts her hair to show what remains and tells her story. 


Juliette shows her damaged face from an acid attack.

Juliette shows her damaged face from an acid attack.


Juliette speaks about the hard life that made her run away from her village and head to Kampala.  Her dad died when she was a baby and her mom passed away when she was 9.  She was left with an aunt who thought she was a burden.  Juliette was beaten and tormented so at 13 she took off.  In Kampala she made some friends and they would go clubbing.  She met a guy, got pregnant at 14 and had a daughter the next year.  The guy was into drugs.  She didn’t love him.  At 18, she wanted a new life.  When Juliette finally decided to leave him he attacked her.  Juliette speaks about that night in a strong voice.  She doesn’t want you to turn away.  She wants you to hear the story about how he came to her door with battery acid and changed her life forever.

“Before I was looking good I was having my two eyes two ears two nose but now I’m like this.  I didn’t know the time would come like this you know when he poured acid.  It was like a dream.  When he poured me he bring it in a cup then he poured and said let me finish you you fool.  After pouring me he went he run.  I was alone in my room it was really hot.   More pain more pain.” 

Juliette endured excruciating skin grafts.  She lost her eye, her ear, and has burns on her neck and leg.  Her faith in God got her through the ordeal and, despite the agony she endured, she forgave her attacker.  “When I was in the hospital that boy came who poured acid.  He said do you love me yes or not but in my heart it was good I was saying my God no matter what I forgive him.  Even though he poured me acid I forgive him.  I said God you create him and you create me before so if you decide me to look like this I’ll continue life.  I can’t kill myself.  I said God let me forgive that guy.” 

Juliette says there are hundreds of women in Kampala who have suffered a similar fate to hers.  In the ward where she recovered there were 30.  As is often the case, the man who attacked Juliette was never prosecuted, but because of the courageous testimonies of women like Juliette, this most brutal of human rights abuses is being exposed.  In Tehran, Iran, a spurned suitor who threw acid and blinded a woman will literally give an eye for an eye.  Islamic law is allowing Ameneh Bahrami to see her attacker blinded.  If the sentence is carried out he will have the same acid placed in each of his eyes and she will see justice.  In Kandahar, Afghanistan, 10 Taliban militants have been arrested for throwing acid in the faces of schoolgirls simply because they chose to get an education.  The men each got paid the equivalent of $2000 US for the November attack.  Students are afraid to return to the Mirwais Meena girls school.  Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist, has been reporting about acid attacks in neighboring Pakistan where 7800 have been documented in Islamabad alone.  

Juliette walks in the world and hopes people will look past her damaged face and see the beauty inside her.  She sings songs that honor God and Africa.  She finds comfort in Jesus and her church, in an acid survivors support group and in BeadforLife ( which has taught her to make bead jewelry so she can earn a living and take care of herself and her daughter.  Juliette hopes a doctor will help repair the damage from the attack and even dreams she will be married someday.  She begs people not to reject victims of acid attacks.  And Juliette plans to give back to others too.  “In my future, I’d like to help orphanage, lame people, widow.  I want to help some of them when I’m somebody, I’m somewhere.  I’d like to help to show them they’re still someone.  They can do more.  They can go somewhere.”

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