How Cave Hospitals are Keeping Patients Safe in Syria

Cave Hospitals - Jiea Rutland-Simpson (1)

For several years, Syria has been in a state of turmoil. If you look at comparison pictures of Aleppo in 2007 and 2017, you would see a beautiful city before and a city in ruin as it stands today. The civil war that started in 2011 has resulted in thousands of airstrikes, destroying much of the city of Aleppo and even remote locations of Syria.


The loss of buildings and landscape of the country can’t even compare to the loss of life the country has seen. According to the I Am Syria website, the total death toll is over 480,000, with over 9,000 of those deaths happen in 2017. Airstrikes, car bombs, and chemical attacks with nerve agents on civilians have forced thousands to flee to neighboring countries, but there are still many people who have no choice but to stay in Syria, leaving them vulnerable to more attacks.


Unfortunately, many of the airstrikes lately have been pointed toward hospitals and treatment centers, killing and injuring both hospital workers and already ailing patients. These attacks have led medical facilities retreating underground, both in the basements of buildings and even in caves.


The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) along with many other agencies and organizations around the world have recognized these threats against hospitals in the region and have helped develop over 20 medical facilities underground.


Underground hospitals are certainly nothing new to the world. In World War II, underground hospitals helped save the patients and medical workers from aerial attacks. In the Vietnam War, North Vietnamese forces used a cave in Cat Ba Island to shield their army and build a bunker and hospital within its walls. In this day and age though, it’s a shame that medical facilities must operate in caves to ensure the health and safety of those inside.


Cave hospitals may seem far-fetched, but they are not easily detected and even if an aerial strike were to happen, equipment and people inside would not be as vulnerable than if they were in a building.


Syria has countless caves in its country, making these hospitals a viable option for those living in remote areas of the country.


Many hospitals have already been destroyed, and while the workers and volunteers that show up from around the world continue to work in these broken buildings to save lives, cave hospitals give workers and patients peace of mind that they are protected from potential air strikes.

Traveling Solo: Why You Should Consider Going Alone

Traveling Solo: Why You Should Consider Going Alone

Traveling is and probably has always been considered a group activity, but it really doesn’t need to be. There are many benefits to traveling alone as opposed to with a significant other or with friends and family. While it can be difficult at first, learning to travel by yourself can be liberating and certainly life-changing when you return home again.

You decide everything

Obviously, if you’re the only one invited on the trip, you’ll be able to decide exactly what to do, where to eat, who to engage with in conversation, and what the next stop is on the trip. What could mean a conversation or even argument with your fellow traveling companion is not up for debate when you travel solo. Want to take the next stop on the subway just to see what is there, go ahead. Have a hankering for sushi? Go get some. You can make the most of your trip and define the itinerary as you go.

Gives you a boost of confidence

Since you’re calling all the shots and learning about your surroundings as you go, you’ll ultimately give yourself a vote of confidence that will carry you to the next destination or follow you home.

You can save money

If you want to travel and are budget-conscious, you can easily make the trip as inexpensive as possible with little effort. If you’re not concerned where you get the majority of your meals from, you can be frugal and only eat at restaurants that fit your budget. If you travel with someone else, they’ll likely have their own idea of where they want to eat and it might not fit into how much you’d like to spend. You also don’t have to go along with any activity that you consider outside of your price range, just because your travel companion wants to do it.

You’ll appreciate coming home

There’s no denying the thrill you have when you get to use your time off from work and take some time to travel. Going to a new place can be incredibly enjoyable, but you will also learn to appreciate the satisfaction of coming home again.

No drama

Most of us have experienced our fair share of fights and arguments during a vacation that is supposed to be fun and relaxing. When traveling alone, not only do you not have to worry about what anyone else wants to do, you also don’t need to tip toe around someone else or worry about whether or not you might get into a dramatic argument with another person.


3 Must-See Sights in Italy

When some think of sights to see in Italy, their minds immediately go to the biggest tourist attractions — the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Vatican, and so on. Of course, Italy offers more than just these sights alone. The country is packed with rich history and stunning views from shore to shore. Here are a few sights you absolutely cannot miss on your next trip to Italy:

The Duomo in Florence

Built by Filippo Brunelleschi in 1418, this domed cathedral is one of the most magnificent sights in all of Florence. After touring the exterior of the building and the cathedral, guests have the opportunity to climb to the top of the Duomo to get a bird’s-eye view of the sprawling city below. Although this feat requires a bit of stamina — as there are 463 stairs to climb and no elevator — the end result is worth it, especially once visitors get an up-close look at the fresco-covered ceiling that was meticulously designed by Giorgio Vasari. Cost of admission is €15 ($16.71 USD) and hours vary throughout the week.

The Village of San Gimignano

Many who visit this Tuscan village claim that it is like stepping back in time — which, truthfully, is no exaggeration. San Gimignano is renowned for its fascinating medieval architecture, towers that provide visitors with breathtaking views, and the centuries-old walls that still stand around the perimeter of the city. Visitors can find many things to do in San Gimignano, ranging from visiting the local art and history museums, getting a taste of authentic Italian cuisine, or even touring the city with a map provided by the Associazione Pro Loco San Gimignano.

Casa di Giulietta

Located in the city of Verona, this 13th century home was owned by the dell Capello family and is supposedly the main inspiration behind William Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet. Although it is likely that Romeo and Juliet were just figments of Shakespeare’s imagination, many locals still refer to the dell Capello home as the birthplace of Juliet Capulet. Admission to the Casa di Giulietta museum is €3 ($3.35 USD).

Three Beautiful Travel Words

Three Beautiful Travel Words

In the 2016 film ArrivaAmy Adams’ character, linguistics professor Louise Banks is asked to come to a secured location in Montana for a special translation project. The project? Help decipher the language of extraterrestrial invaders who have just landed in twelve locations on the planet. The suspense in this film however, drives not from the typical sci-fi thrills of alien vs man, but how language defines our perception of history and each other.


While we’re not contending with extraterrestrial beasts when we travel, we are confronted with languages that may tingle our ears with their unfamiliar inflections. But your native language may limit how you want to express yourself and how you understand others (Read about the Sapir-Whorf theory). The type of feeling you want to describe is often restricted by the words available in your language.

Inspired by Migrating Miss Sonja’s great list of 24 Unusual Travel Words You Should Know, I wanted to share some words related to travel and identity.


Schwellenangst Jiea Rutland Simpson

Schwellenangst. Schwellen in German means a threshold – a liminal moment in time. So, schwellenangst is the fear to of embracing these liminal moments. Travel is an opportunity to embrace the courage to forge through these daunting passageways.


Jiea-Rutland-Simpson-mono no aware Japanese

Mono no aware (Japanese 物の哀れ): This is sad way to speak to the melancholic passing of time. It’s a way to address the beauty in the beginnings and endings. This term is fairly young; it was coined in the 18th century as a literary critique the Tale of Genji, of its sadness that brought its readers together. It is often translated into the “ahh-ness” of things.




Do you ever feel frustrated, anxious, and angry that you can only experience the world through the one body you’re given? You’ll never really know the experiences of those living across the world; their cultures, daily life, textures of the landscape. No matter how much you travel, you can never fully grasp the bigness of this world. Now you have a word to describe these feeling; onism, a Danish portmanteu to describe the awareness of all the things you’ll never quite touch. Monism is the philiopsophy that things can be explained in terms of a single reality, so onism is a kind of monism, because your life is limited to the single reality of what you see, people you meet, and experiences you encounter in your brief existence on this wondrous planet.

Now get out there and have a great time traveling, even if you’re stuck with a bit of onism from time to time. Learn some languages, meet new people, and embrace this big beautiful world.


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The Top 4 Beach Hotels in the World

Nothing is better than waking up to the beautiful ocean right outside your room. With so many beautiful hotels across the world, that can give you this amazing experience, there is no reason to not experience it for yourself . When you’re planning a trip, however, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what beach hotel to check out because there are so many! Well, I have made your planning a little less stressful by giving you the top four beach hotels in the world! Enjoy

Dorado Beach, A Ritz Carlton Reserve

This elegant hotel, sits on Puerto Rico’s beautiful northern shore, where guests have access to a mile of sandy shoreline and an 11-mile nature trail. Many guests who stay here never want to even leave their room because all luxurious guest rooms and suites sit directly on the beach. What can be better than that? Each of these suites has its own rooftop balcony or private pool with outdoor showers. The service here is also incredible. You are treated like royalty as soon as you step foot into the luxurious lobby.

Hotel Santa Caterina

If you ever make a trip to Italy, you better stay at Hotel Santa Caterina. Trust me, you will not be disappointed! This incredible hotel is immersed in the spectacular scenery of the Amalfi Coast. It also surrounded by fruit orchards, olive groves and bougainvillea. The rooms here are beautiful, all offering spacious layouts and marble baths. However, nothing in the room beats standing out on your balcony and catching breathtaking views the perennial Mediterranean sea.

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu

The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is one of the most luxurious resorts to check out in Hawaii. This unique resort offers a variety of different types of swimming pools. From saltwater ponds to infinity pools, this hotel truly has it all. Also, if you are interested in learning more about the Hawaiian culture, check out the Ka’upulehu Cultural Center. It offers you an incredible insight about the island’s long history, art, music, and traditions. This is a great place to learn something new while soaking up the sun with family or friends. The food here is also incredible, and if you enjoy seafood you may have to stay longer as they offer some finest and freshest seafood in the world.

Montage Laguna Beach

The Montage Laguna Beach is located in Southern California, south of downtown Laguna Beach alongside the shore. Many of the guests who step out on their balconies get a chance to see some breathtaking views of the ocean and maybe even a dolphin sighting. In addition to enjoying the beautiful beach area, you have the opportunity to check out the pools, shop at some of the boutiques located in the hotel, or even enjoy spa treatment. There is so much to experience here that you will always have something to do!

If you are looking for some more beach hotels to check out, please read this article:

Aruba – The Happy Island

Aruba is one the best places to travel if if you have the opportunity to do so. From the beautiful weather to the fine dining Aruba truly has it all. If you enjoy the ocean there are so many activities to experience.You can go snorkeling, windsurfing, jet skiing and much more. The hotels here are also amazing, so you really can’t go wrong in whichever one you decide to choose.    Check out this amazing video below to get a better idea of what you have been missing out on! 

On the ‘dangers’ of female travel

Thank you for writing this, definitely a read for every woman looking to travel.

Road Essays

This could just be a story about countries deemed dangerous for women to travel to. But it’s more than that. This is a story about our perception of danger and how we’re told time and time again that the unfamiliar and the foreign are more dangerous to us than what is on our own doorstep.

A couple of months back, British tabloid the Daily Mail ran a story in their travel section titled ‘Sex attacks, muggings, and harassment: World’s most dangerous holiday destinations for women (and some of them may surprise you)’. The top ten list declared India; Brazil; Turkey; Thailand; Egypt; Colombia; South Africa; Morocco; Mexico; and Kenya to be the most dangerous countries for female travellers.

We’ll get back to that shortly.  First I want to tell you about a strange encounter I had in Medellin, Colombia in 2001.

After a hard couple of days travelling…

View original post 1,090 more words

Top Travel Destinations in West Africa

The New York Times recently released their notorious list on some of the best places to travel in the world. Among the places featured were destinations in South Africa, Colombia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, countries linked or rooted in African culture.

As more African-Americans travel all over the world, it is important to continually highlight Africa and areas in the world influenced by the continent as a great space to explore identity and history.

Here are some of the best places to visit in West Africa, home of one of one of the largest cities (Lagos, Nigeria) on the continent. The western region of Africa boasts some of the most beautiful beaches along the coast line, fresh food, history and vibrant cities .

Calabar, Cross River state, Nigeria

Seated in the lush Southeast belt of Nigeria, this gem is slowly becoming one of the best places to visit in the Country. Calabar’s government has made toursim one of it’s strongest priorities , and it shows in how catered the state is to the business. To get the most out of Calabar, visit the Marina Resort, the Drill Ranch , the historical slave museum and enjoy some of Calabar’s finest food.

Accra, Ghana

Ghana is usually one of the first countries people visit when they travel to West Africa. To get the most of this experience, visit Bojo Beach, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial. Aburi Botanical Gardens, kokrobite beach and the famous James Town.

Lome, Togo 

Once dubbed the “pearl” of West Africa, this vibrant African city rests on a beautiful coast line, and home to some of the best resorts in the region. Discover Togo through the 5 Day Castle tour, the Grand Marche “the big market”, Monument De l’independence and the National Museum. Lome also boasts a great nightlife scene and is a country filled with very friendly people

The Importance of Patient Centered Electronic Health Records

With much fear surrounding the use of electronic medical and health records, it is important to continually highlight the benefits of adopting medical software in the hospital system. Adopting electronic medical records not only decreases hospital costs, physician time spent looking up records, it also helps to generate critical data on patients. 0313-electronic-med-records-630x420

The collection of critical data can mean all the difference between halfway and full recovery for a patient. On a large scale, it can help health care administrators decide if one course of treatment applied to one patient can be applied to another. On a smaller scale, it can provides patients the necessary relief they need when dealing with their own information.

In this article titled Patient- Reported Data Can Help People Make Better Healthcare Choices, the writer examines some challenges to patient care stating that, “most patients don’t embark on a health care experience with a thorough understanding of available treatment options and their anticipated health outcomes. They need tools to help them make value-based, fully informed decisions about their care.”

In supporting this statement, a 2015 Institute of Medicine report named Core Metrics for Health and Health Care Progress reflects a broad approval of collecting critical data due its improvement on the performance of the health care system and patient’s health care outcomes.

The report also calls to action, the need to make more electronic medical records patient centered. A well designed EMR system adopts a patient centered approach and this approach features information on outcomes associated with specific treatments. Studies show that a patient centered approach to electronic medical records gives patients a better sense of satisfaction and patients are also more likely to choose high value care based on the data collected.

They say that with great power comes great responsibility. Electronic medical records continue to generate apprehension due to it’s capacity for data collection, which is also its capacity for ruin if such data falls into the hands of hackers. But if the goal is to keep electronic medical records patient centered, the best practical step to begin with is giving patients clear access to information in plain language. This makes the data easier to understand and also removes the element of uncertainty.

Information is courtesy of the Harvard Business Review