Vicky Collins Online

A Blog With Superpowers


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Fallout from a Bombing

I received a call this afternoon from a young man named Thomas Kramer from Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. I could tell that he was very young.  In a most tentative voice he said “Is this Ms. Collins?”  I answered yes in the skeptical voice I use for phone solicitors.  Then he told me the most amazing story.  Turns out he is just 14 and was in Uganda for three weeks volunteering with a mission group.  Thomas was in the Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kampala, Uganda watching Spain play Netherlands in the World Cup finals when the horrific bombing happened on July 11.  If you remember an Al-Qaeda linked Somali terrorist group called Al-Shabab bombed two locations in Kampala killing 74 people.  They were pissed because Uganda had peacekeeping troops in Mogadishu and this was destabilizing their evil efforts.  Thomas was eight feet from the bomber and was one of the 85 people who were injured.  Another friend of mine named Matt Anderson, who spent the summer in Kampala volunteering for BeadforLife, (http://beadforlife.org) was on the other side of the wall at the same restaurant and was unhurt.  Thomas is recuperating from 105 staples in his leg and a skin graft.  Matt is probably part of the reason he is alive.  Matt was being hurried out of the restaurant after the carnage but could not turn away from the injured American boy.  He helped Thomas that night and alerted our embassy too.  Because I wrote a blog about this episode Thomas found me and asked me to put him in touch with Matt so he could thank him.  I am so completely inspired by this and by the fact that my blog may bring these two together.  For those of us who feel we blog in obscurity it’s so wonderful to know that sometimes we actually make a difference.  OYE!!

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.

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Kampala World Cup Massacre

I had hardly stopped fist pumping in the air over Spain’s victory in the World Cup when I heard the news about the simultaneous bombings in Kampala, Uganda.  What caught my eye immediately, besides the death toll in the senseless attack, was that one of the locations of carnage was the Ethiopian Village restaurant in Kabalagala.  When we were in Uganda in June we stayed on the hill right above this district and would walk down to Kabalagala to eat and use the internet.  The Ethiopian Village had an enormous TV in the main room and people would crowd in to watch the World Cup.  We were in Uganda when African teams were still in the hunt so people would spill onto the street.  You would often see enthusiastic fans packed 100 deep on the street looking into some bar with a tiny TV just to get a glimpse of the action.

When I heard about the bombings, I immediately worried about my friend, Matt Anderson.  He’s a student from the University of Colorado, on his first trip to Africa, who is helping BeadforLife with its inventory this summer.  He was staying in the same guest house where we were and it would have been completely logical for him to have walked down the street to the Ethiopian Village for a Nile Special and the finals between Spain and the Netherlands.  Ethiopian Village has great food and my colleague, Paul, and I took Matt there one night after we all were done surfing the net across the street at The Lion’s Den.  My instincts were right.  Matt was in the bombing.  I received an email shortly after the attack from Devin Hibbard, our host and one of the founders of BeadforLife, that yes, Matt had been there but he was alright.  Thank God.  This morning I received this email:

Vicky,

I’m OK.  I was at the Ethiopian Village when the bomb went off.  Thankfully, I was in a side room watching a smaller TV, not the large projector screen, so there was a wall between me and the blast.  I wasn’t hurt at all by the blast but helped some Americans who got shrapnel in their legs – everyone’s instinct was to rush out as fast as possible but these people were on the ground and couldn’t move, I had to do something.  Eventually, people kicked me out saying it wasn’t safe even though these Americans were still inside and injured.  I didn’t know what to do until someone yelled at me to call my embassy.  Thankfully I had the number in the Uganda phone Devin gave me.  I called the embassy and shortly afterward greeted an agent who arrived on the scene.  This is all very scary and unfortunately put a damper on the whole trip.  I don’t know how much longer I will be staying but friends at BeadforLife say that there will be political unrest for a while… we’ll see.  Thanks for the email.  I’ll keep you posted.  Matt

A Somali group called Al-Shabab, which has ties to Al-Qaeda, is taking credit for this massacre.  A leader for the militants said “Whatever makes Uganda cry, makes us happy.”  The group has a beef with Uganda because they have peacekeepers in Somalia and have ties to Ethiopia.  There are worries that there will continue to be instability leading up to next year’s Presidential election.  According to news accounts, the bombings at the Ethiopian Village and at the Rugby Club killed at least 74 people.  This is unthinkable.  This is so senseless.  During my visits there I have always been amazed by how safe I feel in Kampala.  It is such a shame that radicals would disrupt and disorganize the place like this.  And it is such a shame that my friend Matt, who was so overjoyed by the opportunity to do good in Uganda, had to witness such evil.  I hope he doesn’t lose heart.  Please pray for the people of Uganda and most of all please pray for peace.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.





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Ode to Ode Magazine

I got a call from a lawyer the other day. “How are you?” I said. “Better than you will be,” she replied. Turns out she was calling on behalf of Ode Magazine to tell me they could not afford to pay their bills and I would not be getting compensated for my contribution to their magazine. They wanted to be up front with me and with everyone else who was beating down their doors to get paid for their work.  I wrote an article on touring Brazil’s favelas for their spring travel issue. It was the first time I’d written an article for a magazine and I was very proud.  They asked for 1500 words and said they’d pay fifty cents a word.  The story ended up being 900 words but they’d pay me $750 anyway.  They warned me it would take a long time to get paid.  Eight months later I was starting to feel my story would not have a happy ending.

I’d like to say I’m angry or even disappointed by Ode’s failure to follow through but more than anything I’m sad.  This was a really good publication and the editors had wonderful intentions to create a smart magazine for “intelligent optimists.”  They were responsive and seemed to work very hard from their offices in the Bay Area and the Netherlands.  But the economy is killing Ode Magazine just as it’s ushering in the demise of so many publications.  Ode can’t even afford to file for Chapter 11 so it can reorganize.  Short of a funding miracle, Ode Magazine will most likely die a quiet death.  The magazine is trying to raise $50,000 in the next ten days to stay afloat. 

By the end of the year we’ll have written the obituaries of Metropolitan Home, Fortune Small Business, and Conde Nast’s Gourmet, Cookie, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride.  Other magazines bit the dust before them.  They were victims of a declining advertising market where ad sales, according to one report, were down almost 12% since 2008, while the cost of printing continues to skyrocket.  Newspapers are taking it on the chin even worse than magazines as we’ve seen with the deaths of the Rocky Mountain News, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, even the Christian Science Monitor.

More established publications have been able to downsize, outsource and cut costs but it seems Ode Magazine, even with its good intentions, might not be able to outrun the bad economy.  There are many others besides myself who are not getting paid for their work.  For me, it is the very first time in my career.  The money would have been nice but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter that much.  What matters is that a really good magazine is running out of time and another voice will be silenced.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.