Thursday, May 26, 2016

Live, Love, Laugh in Kansas City

What's crowded and fun and full of excitement one Friday of each year in Kansas City, MO?  It's the annual LIVE LOVE LAUGH festival raising friends and money beneath a big tent for girls' education in South Sudan and Haiti!

Organized by the indefatigable Jo Marie Guastello and her amazing family, this is a block party you don't want to miss.  Genuine Italian sausages, plenty of cold beer, desserts to die for--and most of all, the friendliest folks on the planet. All coming together to boost the work of Mercy Beyond Borders.

Top, see the items bring raffled. Above: "Cousin Frank with Jo Marie's brother, Paul."

Would you believe? This event, coupled with a 5k run the same weekend, brings in tens of thousands of dollars?  Wow! This is the American spirit of volunteering at its finest.  We thank you, Jo Marie, and we thank the whole village that makes it happen.  Awesome!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Leg to Stand On

At first you wouldn't even notice that Ijok has one plastic leg. She stands straight, smiles often, and even runs on the playground at St Bakhita Primary School in S.Sudan. She will tell you straight out, "Even if I am disabled, I can do anything!"  And I believe her.

As an infant, Ijok was caught in a rebel ambush. "My mother was shot in the stomach," she says, "and I lost two fingers and one leg to the bullets."  (That is how she got the name, Ijok, meaning "Bad Luck.") 

Ijok adds, "Then my mother, I suppose, could not imagine how to raise a child who had only one good hand and one leg. She ran away and disappeared, leaving me in the hospital. I was rescued and raised by my grandmother."

Happily, Ijok's grandmother found a way to bring her to St Bakhita's. Now she's thriving. She loves reading, playing with friends, and learning new things, especially in the MBB computer lab.  She has a future now! 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Who doesn't love a puddle?

The kids in South Sudan are just like your own kids in so many ways.

After a rain shower, they jump in puddles and  chase one another around the school yard. They float leaves in the ditches and find treasures under the rocks.

But in South Sudan they must also look out for poisonous snakes and scorpions--and of course the malarial mosquitoes that thrive in stagnant water.

Never mind. They're having fun today!