Thursday, October 30, 2014

Memento Mori

Photo by Elisa Divoux at a Haitian cemetery 2014

Memento Mori:  Remember Death.  In much of the West, where cultures obsess about youth, we go out of our way to skirt the topic of death. Not so in Haiti, where the deceased are still very much involved in the affairs of the living.  Voodoo practices engage the dead for blessings or curses. Cemeteries serve as meeting places for religious rituals. Such prayers evoke celebration as often as fear, in the awareness that generations living and dead remain linked.  In the words of a Haitian proverb: "When we dance, it is not only the living who are present." Think about that tomorrow night on Halloween, the eve of All Saints.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Paving the Way to Gros Morne

In many parts of Haiti, especially along the main south-north road, gravel is giving way to beautifully paved streets.  The transformation is nearly complete in downtown Gros Morne, where Mercy Beyond Borders works in Haiti,  Already, the sidewalks are finished on one side. Week by week, workers make progress on the street itself. Utility poles promise electricity soon. Lamp posts are now appearing here and there, always with a cluster of students beneath each one, studying into the night.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rainy Season Blessing and Curse

Rain in Haiti refreshes everything, sluicing away the dust from trees and trucks, making already-vibrant colors positively shimmer, and providing water for parched farms. Rain brings blessings.

Rain in Haiti also brings trouble. Rain breeds mosquitoes and causes serious erosion. Mountain streams swell to torrents that spread water-borne cholera,erode the topsoil, and make it risky for students to ford rivers on their way to school.

Intrepid MBB staffer Darline leans into a swift-flowing current when heading up into the mountains to visit the family of an MBB Scholar.

Photos by Elisa Divoux, MBB Country Coordinator in Haiti

Thursday, October 9, 2014

So Much More than an Exam

Photo at St Bakhita School by MBB's IT Specialist, Achemi Bakhita Adam 
Exams in South Sudan are so much more than academic measures. If you are a girl in S.Sudan, your very life may depend on the marks you score.

A low score means you cannot remain in school.  Not remaining in school means early marriage (most likely to an elderly man who can give your parents plenty of cows as a dowry). Early marriage means pregnancy and childbirth before your body is ready.  That means you stand a good chance of becoming a lifeless (literally) statistic: 1 in every 7 pregnancies in S.Sudan ends in the death of the mother before or during childbirth.

Your support of Mercy Beyond Borders helps girls stay in school and do well in their exams!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What's Round and Black and Flat All Over?

The creaky yellow school bus had seen better days; but the price was right, so 30 MBB Scholars and 6 staff, myself included, piled aboard on a recent Monday morning in Gros Morne, heading south to the Haitian coastal town of Arcahaie.  We expected a 3-hr ride to the conference center where we would enjoy a Leadership Training week together.

Every 20 minutes or so, the driver pulled to the side of the road, opened the hood, and poured water into the radiator. About halfway down the mountain, we heard ominous thumps. We thought luggage had fallen off the roof, but no, a tire had blown, spewing heavy strips of black rubber behind us. The driver inched the old bus forward for the next hour to a town that had an auto mechanic. We all stood in the noonday heat until the tire was replaced. C’est la vie. There is no hurry in Haiti.