Thursday, April 30, 2009

You may hold the key

When I snapped this photo in S. Sudan last year, I was focused on the peacefulness of the scene, the bright stripes of the blanket draped on the young man walking along the dusty path and the colorful gourd he was carrying in his left hand. Only later did I notice the head of a small girl popping up from the basket on the donkey.

Now as I look at this picture, I wonder, "What will be the future of this young girl?" Will she end up --like so many girls in S. Sudan today--hauling water and firewood all her days, toiling by hand to grow a patch of vegetables, mothering a family, perhaps dying in childbirth? (Sudan has the highest mortality rate in the world during labor and delivery.)

Or will this girl be given the chance to enroll in formal education? If she does go to school, her options will be vastly expanded beyond her village hut. And her own children will be fewer in number, healthier, and better educated. Your gift to Mercy Beyond Borders raises her chances.
You may hold the key to her future!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Creature Discomfort

In the book THIS FLOWING TOWARD ME, my recently-published memoir, I devote an entire chapter to my mortal fear of spiders. My rather tame suburban upbringing had not prepared me for the frightful range of creepy crawlers that greatly outnumber us bipeds on the planet. Southern Sudan has more than its share!
During my 2008 trip to Narus, I nervously shared an outhouse with a disturbingly large black spider that eyed me from the wooden wall about 12" from my bared bottom. He stayed there all week, menacing but motionless. I, on the other hand, made my daily visits as short as possible, all the while praying that this hairy thing was not from any species that hopped.... I never did learn if that spider was poisonous. No matter: if it had edged any closer to me, I would have died from sheer panic long before venom had a chance!
The Southern Sudanese are puzzled by this phobia of mine. They have fears far more real and more deadly: malaria, cholera, meningitis; land mines, attacks by bandits, tribal conflicts, and the ever-present awareness that their fragile peace agreement with Khartoum could crumble, dragging them back into civil war.
Mercy Beyond Borders works with displaced women and children in Southern Sudan to lift them up from extreme poverty. By supporting the education of girls and the entrepreneurial efforts of returning refugee women, we improve their lives bit by bit.
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Saturday, April 4, 2009

What would you give for a Klondike Bar?

A few years back, there was a tv commercial portraying the extravagant contortions which ice cream lovers would put themselves through in order to obtain a Klondike Bar. It always made me laugh, but lately I've been wondering about that tagline, "What would you give for a Klondike Bar?" in relation to the situation in southern Sudan. So I ask today, "What would you give to improve the life of a woman or girl in Sudan?

Most of you, of course, have not had the opportunity of visiting Sudan. You haven't seen, up close and personal (as I have), the strength and resilience of the people and their innate dignity even in the midst of extreme poverty. Look at this girl: she is literally wearing a gunny sack, yet she is as beautiful as any Hollywood movie star! I snapped her picture when she ran out of her hut to dance in the rain during a rare and precious downpour at Kakuma Camp in the northern Kenyan desert, temporary home for 82,000 refugees, most of them from Sudan. For many of them, the camp has not been very temporary; they have lived in it for 10 or 15 years.

For those refugees who are now returning home from the camp to their villages in Sudan, life will remain difficult. With your help, MERCY BEYOND BORDERS will be there to ease their way a bit. MBB supports the education of girls, and funds entrepreneurial projects designed and implemented by the displaced women themselves. If you can help, send a check to Mercy Beyond Borders, 1885 De La Cruz Blvd #101, Santa Clara, CA 95050. Or use the PayPal button at

You will have found an inspired answer to the question, "What would you give to improve the life of a woman or girl in Sudan?" I'm confident, too, that your own life will be enriched in the giving. THANK YOU.