Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Standing Up for Peace

One of the heroes of South Sudan is a quiet man named Paride Taban. He happens to be the Catholic Bishop through whose diocese trekked hundreds of thousands of displaced persons and refugees during the long civil war.  After being on BBC speaking out for reconciliation and peace, his home was bombed by Khartoum.  He was imprisoned underground for 100 days by the rebels. He stayed with the people throughout the conflict.  When the war finally ended, he "retired" in order to found a Peace Village in the remote Kuron Valley, not far from the Sudan-Ethiopia border.
Bishop Taban is the person who first invited me to Sudan in 1992, during the war. "Come and see," he said.  I did, and it changed my life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gone with the Wind

Aid workers in South Sudan wryly admit that "whatever can go wrong usually will go wrong." To wit, look at this photo: fierce winds ripped the roof from a newly built primary school in Yirol--crumpling the corrugated iron as if it were paper--even before the school had officially opened.   The accompanying rains flooded the storage room, ruining the books and the food supplies.

Educators in Sudanese must cope with more than their share of challenges: roads that are impassable much of the year, fellow teachers who are not yet trained, termites that eat the books, bandits who steal the stores, mosquitoes that bring malaria, scorpions that sting the unwary, weather that is either too hot or too wet (or both).... And yet the thirst for learning remains incredibly strong among girls and women in South Sudan, and Mercy Beyond Borders considers it a privilege to support efforts that provide for their formal education.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lining up for Education in Haiti

Scholarship winners in Haiti--each of them the top academic girl in her respective school on the 6th grade national exams-- line up in crisp new uniforms for their first day of class at their new junior-high in the town of Gros Morne.  The anxiety and importance of moving up to this next level of education shows on the solemn expressions on their young faces.  Mercy Beyond Borders intends to support this cohort of girls through secondary school, and to add a new cohort of graduating 6th graders each year as well.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Telling My Story

Radio Reporter interviews Susan Nunu at her home in South Sudan

What's it like to be 27 yrs old, the over-worked mother of 3 young children and not yet a school graduate?  Just ask Susan Nunu.  She juggles the never-ending chores of a busy household (without, of course, any running water or electric appliances or local grocery store or place to study or light to study by).  Family obligations sometimes keep her away from class for days at a time, but she always returns. She has told her story on Good News Radio in Rumbek, South Sudan, urging other families to permit their daughters to go to school and encouraging all young women who have the chance for formal education to persevere no matter what the obstacles.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

For All the Saints

Throughout the world, Christian denominations celebrate November 1st as the Feast of All Saints.  [In fact, this was the origin of Halloween, literally the "eve of the hallowed," when children dressed as various holy men and women.] Today I salute all the holy and hardworking women and girls of Haiti and South Sudan who, despite great burdens of poverty and oppression, press ahead with their lives and dream of better futures for their own children.

Most will never see this blog, for they cannot read--or, if they can read, lack access to the internet--but they should know that their lives, like the saints of old, inspire us to live in the present moment, to share generously whatever little we have, and to be grateful for all of life's blessings, from the greatest to the smallest.