As you read this blog, I am "down under" in Melbourne, Australia, speaking to a number of schools about the mission and work of Mercy Beyond Borders. I'll be sharing the stories of resilient women like Anna (shown in this photo) who have used micro-enterprise loans from MBB to start or expand small businesses in South Sudan. Here Anna shows the packaged charcoal she will sell in the open market of Narus. Every little bit of extra income helps her family, especially since rising inflation this year has added new hardships to already-struggling families.
The lack of safe, adequate housing remains a huge problem in Haiti since the earthquake that devastated much of Port-au-Prince in 2010. Here you see shaky buildings still stacked on the steep hillsides of the capital, vulnerable to collapsing from mudslides and worse. What is less visible, however, is the overcrowding that has become commonplace in very rural areas of Haiti since thousands of Haitians fled Port-au-Prince after the quake and migrated to more distant regions to live with relatives or friends. The result? A mismatch between the hundreds of nonprofits that rushed to the capital city to rebuild(which of course needs to be done) and the tens of thousands of ordinary Haitians now living in remote areas where there never were many resources and where there is now serious overcrowding of homes and overburdening of infrastructure. That is one of the main reasons that Mercy Beyond Borders has chosen to work in rural, mountainous Gros Morne, 5 hrs north of Port-au-Prince.
Getting water daily is women's work in Africa. Most girls and women carry the heavy jerry-cans on their heads, a graceful balancing act that defies gravity. This enterprising young girl has found another means of transport: she pushes a wheelbarrow holding several jerry-cans (each one weighing 55 lbs). That's one way to build up your biceps!
There are no Home Depots in S.Sudan. If you want to build a house, first you make the bricks. Then you let them bake in the sun (kilns are rare). Then you haul them to your chosen site. Then you build.