Thursday, August 30, 2012

“I do!”

Each summer brings a new cohort of 7th graders into MBB’s Girls’ Scholarship Program in Haiti.  The program enrolled 32 new students this month, bringing the Haiti 2-year total to 48. Most come from very isolated, small schools in the mountains.  Being on scholarship means coming to the main town, Gros Morne (literally, big mountain) where they will sit in large classrooms and compete with dozens of others for perhaps the first time.  This photo shows the enthusiastic response of a 6th grade class in a remote Haitian school when asked, “Who wants to win this year’s MBB Scholarship?” 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Marilyn with a Haitian vendor

I am always impressed by the resilience  of women. In Haiti I see them tilling fields, hauling water, selling their home-grown mangoes or yams on the side of the road, holding their families together, and on the weekends, walking proudly to church in their glittery Sunday best.

I don't know if they ever fall prey to depression or feel like giving up. What I have seen is remarkable hard work, day after day--which of course is unremarkable for them. And that inspires me to do more for them and for the future of their daughters.  As the next step, Mercy Beyond Borders will be opening a Scholars' Lodge in Gros Morne, Haiti, this month to house the young women who live too far in the mountains to get to the high school where they are on MBB scholarships.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sudden Banana Death

While in Haiti recently I learned, much to my city-born-and-bred surprise, that a banana plant in Haiti takes only 9 months to reach maturity, at which time it bears armloads of fruit. Then it DIES back into the underground rootlike rhizome! Who knew it gave its very life for Chiquita?  
Ah, but here’s the Darwinian twist: before it reaches that fateful moment of sudden banana death, four or more banana sprouts have cleverly risen from the soil around the base of the dying plant to become thriving banana children themselves.  Nine months later, these offspring repeat the cycle. Amazing!  
And here are 2 more wondrous facts: botanically speaking, the banana plant is an herb, not a tree--and bananas themselves are actually berries! I’ll never look at a banana quite the same again.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The cooking rocks are still cold

During a June trip to Haiti, Sr Marilyn visited the homes of many of the MBB scholarship recipients. After 90 rugged minutes in a 4-wheel drive vehicle followed by a 20-min hike up a steep trail, we reached one home around noon. There we were welcomed warmly by the scholar's mother, older sister and younger siblings. At one point, our interpreter pulled me aside and said, "These children are hungry. Can't you see? Their cooking rocks are still cold."  Happily, we had brought trail mix and sweets to share.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Toposa Beauty

Life is not easy for the Toposa people of South Sudan, whose culture is semi-nomadic; they herd goats and cattle and build their homes as they go. Most of the children--and nearly all of the girls--remain unschooled. Yet they possess an almost royal dignity and beauty, even when dressed only in a blanket thrown over their shoulders.
This young girl was friendly and curious about my camera, flashing a delighted smile at seeing her own digital image. I was left wondering: What is she thinking?  Where will she be in 10 years? Will her daughters go to school?