I write from Narus, South Sudan, where Christmas means plenty of drumming and dancing, but never snow or tinsel... What does Christmas bring for the girl pictured here at St Bakhita Primary School? A break from studies, yes, and probably a trip back to her home village--which always means a mixture of joy and dread: JOY at seeing her family, but DREAD at the possibility of being married off by her parents or uncles, thus losing the chance to return to school, to develop her gifts, and to pursue the career she dreams about. This Christmas, please remember your sisters and mothers and daughters in places like South Sudan. We are all kin!
It's that time of year again: MBB is hosting its annual Leadership Training workshops in South Sudan. That means I hop on marathon flights today from San Francisco to Seattle to Amsterdam to Nairobi, then sleep a few hours before boarding another flight up to Lodwar, still in Kenya, then hop into a rented "taxi" for a 6 hr drive through the desert to Lokichokkio (affectionately dubbed "Loki"), where we will meet up with the vehicle cum driver from St Bakhita School who will ferry us the final 3 hours across the border to the first training site in South Sudan. Banditry along these roads has increased ominously over the past few weeks. Pray that all the workshop participants and staff, including me, can arrive unscathed.
Wilson airport in Nairobi from which I will fly to Lodwar:
Each year I am heartened by the maturity of the Scholars. We'll be having fun together while also learning new material on female growth and development, adding to our computer skills, and exploring the values which are the hallmarks of every MBB Scholar: personal integrity, academic excellence, and compassionate action.
A Scholar in Haiti checks out her new solar lamp. MBB provides a lamp to every young woman accepted into our Scholarship program. Most use them to study at night, after all the household chores are finished. Some use them long before dawn, waking early to do their homework before walking to school. Either way, the light helps them to keep up academically. Light works!
Mud-slinging isn't just for politicians. In S.Sudan during the rainy season it's for everyone who attempts to take a vehicle onto the roads... Twice last month, our Micro-Enterprise coordinator ended up mired in mud when trying to get from one village to another to visit our women's groups. Of course, there is no AAA or cavalry to the rescue. You just look for stones to wedge beneath the tires, and you wait... and wait... and wait for another car with a winch and a good-hearted driver to help out. Emmanuel waited 8 hours in the muck on this particular trek--plenty of down time to snap photos!