Thursday, January 29, 2015

What's the most widespread disability in the world?

Think about that for a minute... The answer may surprise you: the most widespread disability on the planet, by far, is VISION IMPAIRMENT.  3/4 of all Americans use some form of corrective lenses, but if you travel overseas to undeveloped places you rarely see anyone wearing glasses... Why? These populations have little or no access to vision screening, and no money to purchase what they need.  None of the hundreds of girls MBB works with in Haiti and South Sudan wear glasses; surely they will have a better chance of academic success when they actually see the blackboard or read without eyestrain.

Mercy Beyond Borders is partnering with Lions In Sight of California, a nonprofit project of Lions Club International.  Together we will bring a group of optometrists and opticians to screen the vision of 1,000 children in the town of Gros Morne, Haiti, during April and to provide free eyeglasses to those who could benefit.  We can hardly wait to SEE the results!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What's In a Name?

Morning Musa, Sunday Akongo, Stella Night. Susan Ikanga. Vionzy Keji. The MBB Scholars in South Sudan are beautiful young women whose names roll off the tongue like poetry. But many names also tell stories revealing the hardships surrounding their birth: 

“I am called Forest because I was born while my mother was running, fleeing the war, and so I came into this world in the thick forest where she was hiding.” 

“I am called “Abandoned” because my family abandoned my mother, since the children she birthed previously had died. When I was born no one wanted to come near to help her. Finally, an old woman befriended us and took us into her hut for six months until we were strong….”

“My name means “Substitute” because I was born after my two older siblings died in childbirth…”

My parents named me “Unlucky.”  I think my parents chose this name because it was a time of conflict and hunger and so I was one more child to feed.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Being Scanned for Ebola

By the time our plane landed at Nairobi’s international airport I was feeling somewhat groggy from 28 hours of travel. Along with the other passengers I shuffled down the stairs from the plane and onto the bus that delivered us to the airport Arrivals Hall. Before reaching the immigration visa processing stations we were told to form a single line (or "queue" as they say in Kenya) and to step up, one by one, to face a small camera-like device mounted from the ceiling.  It emitted a brief burst of light onto the forehead of each of us.  I deduced that we were having our temperature taken by some sort of laser. In fact, we were being screened for EBOLA. A sad reminder of the suffering of our neighbors in West Africa….

Kenyan military guard Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi where a fire destroyed one terminal last year.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Simon Says...

What if you had never played as a child?  What if you were 18 or 20 when first introduced to “Simon Says”?  The appeal of such a simple game must be universal; certainly it rouses our Scholars.  They erupt in laughter while playing it for a few minutes each morning during our Ldrshp Workshops in Narus and Kakuma, vying to be the winner.… Surrounded as they are by violence and family pressures to drop school and marry early, this brief respite of play is just what the doctor ordered.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guns? or Books?

How long will it be before books replace guns in the hands of South Sudanese?  Barely 3 years old as a nation, South Sudan has regressed into civil war pitting the elected government against a strong rebel movement. The fighting, of course, is about oil and power and control of land.  But the suffering falls on the common people. 1.5 million of them are now displaced.  "When elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled."  Mercy Beyond Borders continues its work of educating women and girls, firm in the conviction that it lays a groundwork for peace in the future. May 2015 bring the gift of PEACE for all!