In South Sudan, where paper is hard to come by and colored pencils are rarer than a white rhino, the girls at St Bakhita School revel in the opportunity to draw and color and create. Their art lessons are funded by MBB's collaboration with ART IN EVERY CLASSROOM, a nonprofit in San Francisco. Look carefully: You just might be looking at the next Matisse or Picasso; or better yet, the first South Sudanese young woman to gain future fame for her masterpieces....
Many Haitian families in the mountains keep goats, chickens, and yes, mourning doves. This is the home of Rosi Claire in Pendu, about an hour's rough ride by moto (on the back of a motorcycle) beyond Gros Morne, along dirt trails and up and down steep ravines. The house sits atop a rocky incline. No running water or electricity or other amenities--but it can boast of a million dollar view of the surrounding countryside. Rosi Claire is happy to reside in our Scholar's Lodge in Gros Morne, since it would be nearly impossible to commute daily from this place to school. Still, her face lights up when she gets the chance to be back here for a weekend with her mother. There's simply no place like home.
What's the first thing you do in choir practice? Warm up with voice exercises, of course. What's the first thing you do in computer keyboarding class? Wiggle your fingers, of course!
MBB Scholar alumna Achemi Bakhita has been teaching daily computer classes to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders at St Bakhita Girls Primary School in South Sudan. The room is stiflingly hot, but the laptops are powered up and the girls eager to learn. Each class starts with finger-wiggling joy. Surely these are the nation's youngest computer students!
People who know that I travel back and forth to South Sudan will usually, eventually, circumspectly clear their throats and inquire, "What kind of, er, bathrooms are available?" Maybe this is just an American preoccupation, but toileting does seem to crop up in these conversations more than you might imagine. So, to save you the awkwardness of bringing it up in polite company, here's the skinny on loos in Narus, South Sudan. The standard outhouse toilets at the Narus guest compound are cement-floored, long-drop holes. Immaculately clean by day, but swarming with frightful spiders and roaches by night. (Plan your fluid intake accordingly.) For those who don't take to squatting, there is one stall containing a wooden toilet seat built over the hole, complete with wooden cover. Comfie, but there is that moment of dread when lifting the cover to check for "wildlife" beneath. Of course, if you are not at such a lovely guest house, anything goes in the elimination department. There you have it. Any questions?