Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Cessation of Hostilities"

Peace is, surely, much more than the "cessation of hostilities."  The agreement signed between warring parties in South Sudan on Jan 23rd commits the combatants to ceasing their acts of violence.  It will be, at best, only the first step in a long, long process of reconciliation, trust-building, and national unification.

South Sudan is less than 3 yrs old and, like a toddler, is still unsteady on its feet.  Too many men carry AK-47s. Too many hearts carry bitter memories of atrocities committed against family or friends.  Too many government leaders seem more intent on amassing personal power and wealth than on fostering development throughout the country.

MBB stands with the women and girls of South Sudan. They are the ones who can promote reconciliation. They are the ones who can move beyond tribal thinking. They are the ones who realize that "cessation of hostilities" is only the first step to lasting peace.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Everything you can imagine

Haiti is, of course, part of Hispaniola, an island in the Caribbean; it is the western half of the island that also contains the Dominican Republic.  Haiti has everything that you imagine a Caribbean island would have: palm trees, beaches, stunning views of the sea, lively music, plentiful tropical fruit, beautiful people. What it does NOT have, however, is a comfortable standard of living, because its assets have long been controlled by a few families while most of the population live in desperate poverty.
The week after Christmas, Mercy Beyond Borders treated its highest-performing Scholars to a week at a beachfront conference center for our annual MBB Leadership Training. There, the young women enjoyed a rare respite from poverty and a glimpse into the kind of development that can transform their homeland.  Today, Haiti is known primarily as "the poorest nation in the western hemisphere."  MBB is investing in Haiti's talented young women so that some day Haiti will be known as a beacon of reforestation and development, a mecca for businesses and tourists, a success story proving that educating females offers the surest path out of extreme poverty.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Is She Happy, or What?

Darline, the Scholarships Coordinator for MBB in Haiti, has reason to be happy.  She and three dozen MBB Scholars just spent a week at the beach!  What's not to like about that?

Whereas the annual Leadership Trainings in S.Sudan take place on a dusty compound that lacks most amenities, the Leadership Training in Haiti took place during Christmas week at a stunningly beautiful conference center fronting on the Caribbean Sea.

The MBB Scholars and their chaperones enjoyed skills building activities, computer classes, team exercises--and time in the surf. For some, it was the first time to see the ocean. For all, it was welcome respite from the unrelenting stress of poverty.  Life is good!  Stay tuned for more pix in next week's blog post.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Brightly Shining in the Shade

Three young students at St Gabriel All Girls Primary School in Haiti study in the shade of a brick wall on campus.  MBB provides an unrestricted grant each year for this school--one of the finest in all of Haiti, and the only all-girls school in the Gros Morne region.  It is a national school, meaning that its teachers are paid by the government because of its recognized academic excellence, but the school has little other income to maintain its 120-year old building.  Many graduates of St Gabe's are now MBB high school Scholars and doing extremely well.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Who can lead S.Sudan to PEACE?

News of the attempted coup in S.Sudan on Dec 15th reached us just before we began the annual MBB Leadership Training week in Narus.  The brother of one of the participants phoned from Juba, the place where the violence erupted, to tell us about the killings.  Despite their very real anxiety for the safety of families and friends, 42 MBB Scholars buckled down and applied themselves to our leadership activities, computer skills training, and in-service course on gender-based violence. (Another dozen Scholars were unable to join us due to the road blockades.)

The next morning we were wakened at 5:00a.m. by the sounds of gunfire. A bit unsettling, I must admit--but it turned out to be a contingent of soldiers practicing their maneuvers on the soccer field behind our campus.  

S.Sudan needs these women leaders more than ever!  Meanwhile, we pray for PEACE to take root in all hearts.