Q. When is a speaker not a speaker?
A. When she fails to show up for the event!
Such was my situation on Friday, May 14th, when I was trying to fly to Omaha for a Mercy Beyond Borders fundraiser. Bad weather shut down the Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport for 4 hours, stranding 50,000 travelers, myself included. By the time I reached Omaha in the wee hours of Saturday morning, the event was long over. Its organizers, Mercy Sisters Johanna Burnell and Jeanne O'Rourke and Mercy Associate JoMarie Guastello, had nonetheless graciously hosted 35 people in my absence, showed the guests the 5-minute MBB video, told them about our work in S. Sudan, and elicited over $3,500 in donations for our projects. So, who needs me as a speaker???? Thank you, Johanna, Jeanne and JoMarie!
While in Africa during April, I had the good fortune to meet Ingrid Reneau, who works with the nonprofit, ACROSS. We are pictured here enjoying lunch in Nairobi and sharing ideas for promoting the education of women in Sudan. Ingrid is originally from Belize, has a doctorate in women's studies, and was seconded by the Presbyterians' national office (PC-USA) to work with ACROSS in Sudan. She loves it!
Mercy Beyond Borders hopes to work with ACROSS in the future to support its women's adult education project in the remote Southern Sudanese town of Boma, near the Ethiopian border. The peoples in that area are primarily nomadic, and they have been hit hard by the lack of rain, the subsequent famine, and the inter-tribal conflicts that flare up when differing groups compete for scarce grazing land for their cattle. ACROSS is working to attract more teens and young women into their accelerated primary school equivalency program (which condenses the 8 yrs of primary instruction into 4 years). It's very important to open up such possibilities for females. As 15-yr old Sira, one of the students, said, "My mother promised that she will not allow anyone to book me for marriage until I finish my studies...I would like to become a doctor."