Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Good Morning!

When I flip on the stovetop burner in my California kitchen each morning to boil water and then --just a few short minutes later--enjoy a fresh cup of coffee, I marvel at what I do NOT have to do to begin my day.

I do NOT leave home long before dawn. I do NOT walk several hours in the predawn darkness to find and cut firewood. I do NOT bundle it into a heavy load. I do NOT carry that load on my head for hours. I do NOT break some of those branches into smaller twigs and carefully coax a flame from flint on the dirt floor by using bits of leaf and dry bark. I do NOT tend that flame in a mud hut til it becomes a steady fire. I do NOT boil the water (hauled during yesterday's chores) for a good long while to kill the parasites. I do NOT develop an eye infection from the smoky interior of the hut. I do NOT worry about infants falling into the fire. I do NOT go without breakfast myself in order to save the precious grain for the children.

In short, I do NOT start my day as the displaced women of Southern Sudan do.

Mercy Beyond Borders works with the displaced women and girls of Southern Sudan in ways that alleviate their extreme poverty. Thank you for partnering with us to make their lives a bit easier.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

When there is no water

The rains have failed for two years now in the southeastern part of Sudan, adding to the difficulties of daily life. The villagers must now walk farther and farther each day so that their animals can drink and they themselves can survive.

In neighboring Kenya, ongoing drought has meant a crippling loss of hydroelectric power, with consequent sporadic blackouts of electricity throughout the country, including in its capital, Nairobi. But in Southern Sudan, there are no rolling blackouts--there is a constant blackout. Electricity is rare--and where it exists, it's usually limited to a few hours per day. Fuel to run the generators is prohibitively expensive to purchase and also to transport into Sudan.

The plentiful oil that originates in South Sudan is piped only to the North (where it is sold for wealth and weapons by the government in Khartoum) and has not yet "trickled down" to the villages that still lack the basics for survival.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Daily Grind (not the coffee kind)

This young girl in Sudan is grinding sorghum by hand, rolling a heavy rock over and over another rock. The picture was taken, not in some past century, but this summer in a typical southern Sudanese village. If you've ever been tempted to think of your own life as a "daily grind," take a long look at this picture and realize just how lucky you are.

This girl is about 10 years old. She does not attend school. She does not belong to a soccer team. She has no toys or books or bicycle. From daylight until darkness, every day is filled entirely with tasks related to survival: hauling water, washing, finding firewood, growing food, preparing food, cooking meals, taking care of younger siblings, making (goatskin) clothing, etc.

Mercy Beyond Borders encourages families to allow their daughters to attend school, and we support the education of 830 girls at St Bakhita Primary School in Narus, Sudan. We know that on average, a girl who completes 7 or more years of education will marry later and will have 2.2 fewer children, and that those children will themselves be healthier and better educated. Education is the key. Help us make it a reality for more girls in Sudan!