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Archive for November, 2012

WithumSmith+Brown just completed our second annual “Withum Week of Caring,” with over 400 individuals donating time to over 40 local organizations.  Giving Back at Withum, however, occurs around the year and around the world.  This is a story of Doris Martinez from our Red Bank office, who traveled to Africa this past summer to serve those in need, but gained so much more in return.

 

Doris writes:

 

In August, I travelled 8,089 miles to Maputo, Mozambique, a country located in the south eastern part of Africa to work in an orphanage for three weeks.  I chose this particular orphanage – Zimpeto Children’s Centre (http://www.irismin.org/zimpeto) after a happenchance meeting in 2011 with Laura, a mission worker who resides at the orphanage and was in New Jersey visiting with her mom who is a member of the same church I attend.  Laura had so much enthusiasm for the work she does with the centre and children she cares for, that I decided to visit her to share in her excitement.

 

Zimpeto Children’s Centre houses about 300 children ages newborn to 20. While most of the children are orphans who have lost their parents, some parents choose to have their children live there because they cannot provide for their kids.  The orphanage has several dorms for the kids, a church (which is also the dining room), school rooms and a medical unit.  The orphanage feeds and educates the local community, as well.

 

A typical day for me included waking up to a siren at 6 am, followed by the breakfast siren at 7 am.  The kids would be in school until the lunch siren at 12:30 pm.  After lunch I would help Laura in her dorm give extra schooling to her boys (she is dorm mom to 30 boys ages 4-8).  This would include helping them learn to write their names, learning the alphabet and doing a craft project.  A siren would sound at 4:30 pm for showers, followed by the dinner siren at 5:30 pm.  Most nights you could find me in the toddler house (kids 1-3 years old) helping with dinner, baths and putting the kids to bed at 6:30.  If I was not in the toddler house, I would be in the nursery feeding and holding the infants.

 

In addition to helping with the kids, I would help with ministry work.  We would go to the local jail and minister to the prisoners, the local hospital and pray for the sick, sing on the street corners with the kids and minister to those less fortunate who lived on the garbage dump seeking food scraps from the drop offs.

 

Despite the living conditions in Mozambique, the children at the orphanage get three meals a day (bread and rice are the staples of most meals), an education and are well loved by the missionary workers.  Most children have very few possessions, but they are always smiling and ready for hugs from those who will give them.

 

Thank you all for the gifts you have given me to take to the kids.  I know I came away with much more than I left behind.  Would I go back to sleeping in a mosquito net, cold showers, hand washing of my clothes, no TV or internet access and minimal food……yes, I am planning on returning in July 2013.

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 

We tend to think of this Holiday as truly American — the Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October, the US in November and Mexico celebrates in December.  But throughout the world, all can have an “attitude of gratitude” and saying “Thank You” in a host country tongue will get you far. . . whether the travel is for business or pleasure.

 

Here’s a quick world of thanks tour:

 

Arabic             Shukran

Chinese         Xièxie (Mandarin)

Danish           Tákk

Dutch             Bedankt, Dank Je Wei

French           Merci Beaucoup

German          Danke Schön

Greek             Efharistó

Hawaiian       Mahalo, Mahalo Nui

Hebrew          Rav Tova

Hindi              Dhanyavād

Irish                Go Raibh Maith Agat

Italian             Grazie Mille

Japanese      Dōmo Arigatō

Korean           Kamsahamnida

Latin               Gratias Vobis Ago

Maori              Kia Ora

Navajo            Ahxéhee’

Norwegian    Tusen Takk

Polish             Dzięki

Portuguese   Multo Obrigado/a

Punjabi          Tànvād

Russian         Ogromnoe Spasibo

Spanish         Muchas Gracias

Swahili           Asante Sana

Swedish        Tack Så Mycket

Tahitian         Māuruuru

Thai                Khàwp khun

Turkish           Teşekkürler

Yiddish          A Sheynem Dank

Zulu                Ngiyabonga

 

 

Enjoy your family and friends on Thanksgiving Day!

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In Shandong province, I had the opportunity to visit the provincial town of Jinan — a town of 8 million.  Jinan is known for its springs — underwater aquifers feed 72 named artesian karst springs at a public park in the middle of downtown Jinan called Baotu Quan Gong Yuan.  The most famous of these springs is the 3,500 year old Baotu Spring.  The park is also the ancestral home of one of Shandong’s most beloved poets, Li Qingzhao (1084 – 1151).  Her life story is presented through life-size dioramas in the rooms in her home.  The waters of the Jinan springs are said to be “softer and sweeter” and contain health-affirming properties.

 

While in Jinan, I spent an afternoon meeting with HLB colleagues at HLB Baicheng, a large tax consulting firm with offices in both Jinan and Shanghai.  In addition to learning about Baicheng’s practice and preparing for a conference the next day, we were treated to a “Chinese Banquet.”  I was honored to be received by the head of Shangdong ‘s institute of certified public accountants as well as two members of the international division of the Chinese Tax Authority.  The evening began with toasts (4 by the host, 3 by the co-host, 2 by the protégés of the hosts and then 1 by each of the guests).  The meal included all measure of Chinese delicacies — seafood soup with sea cucumber, eel, chicken (including the head, comb and feet).  How lucky was I to sit next to the host and not have to chose what to eat, but to merely eat what was put on my plate by my host?

 

The next day, my fellow HLB International Tax Committee members and I presented at the Annual Shangdong Tax Conference, co-sponsored by the Shandong institute of certified public accountants and HLB Baicheng.  We presented an overview of the tax systems of the US, Germany and the Netherlands to almost 600 delegates (shown below).   For the first time, I had to work with a simultaneous translator — our presentations were in both English and Chinese, and our translators were excellent.  After one afternoon, they were able to handle complex tax concepts in both English and Chinese.

 

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