Meet Gail Grady, the energetic interim Director for Mercy Beyond Borders in Haiti. She's a full-time volunteer, exuding compassion and warmth. Her favorite thing is hiking up into the mountains -- and I do mean hiking: those ravines are steep and rocky. She visits the homes of our Scholars. She greets their relatives like long-lost family. She shares their sorrows and their laughter. She's remarkably at home with them. By spending time with the families of our scholarship recipients, MBB learns a lot. We meet their extended families.We see generations living under one roof. We see how much they care for one another. We see the hard work by which they coax fruits and vegetables from barren soil. We see how they share with their neighbors. We see the richness of the culture and the resilience of the people who stand up again after every natural disaster that knocks them down. We see the sacrifices they make to send their children to school "in town." We also see the fascinating mix of voodoo and Christianity. The music. The dancing. The value placed on rituals and prayer. The faith that undergirds their daily struggles. Most of our staff in Haiti are themselves Haitian. For us who are not, home visits are a wonderful way to connect. Time spent in the mountains allows the Haitians to educate us.
What do Becky, Priscilla and Nancy have in common? They are all refugees living in Kakuma Refugee Camp, the desolate desert home for 200,000 refugees, with thousands more arriving every week from famine-stricken, violence-riddled South Sudan. All three are from South Sudan. All three have been selected by MBB to receive high school scholarships. All three are enrolled at OLM girls' boarding high school in the town outside the camp. And all three are EXTREMELY HAPPY for this chance to continue their education, thanks to generous MBB supporters like YOU.
"World Water Day" showed up on my smartphone calendar two weeks ago. At that time I was in the Ulua Refugee Camps in Adjumani, northern Uganda, the overcrowded and temporary home of 800,000 South Sudanese refugees. I was taking the photo of this young girl. Look at her face, dripping with sweat. Look at the size (and imagine the weight) of the bucket she carries to her family's hut several times each day. She is about 6 years old. She doesn't take water for granted. She doesn't waste a drop. She knows that without water, she cannot drink or cook or bathe. Without clean water, she and her family will not survive. 1.8 billion people worldwide lack access to uncontaminated water. In today's world, "I thirst" is not only a biblical reference; it's a global crisis.