Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Buen Vivir--Striving for "Good Living"

Buen Vivir speaks to good living, common wealth, the pursuit of happiness perhaps. But who determines what is buen vivir, and how can we strive for buen vivir for all?

The U.S. Declaration of Independence suggests Creator-given rights, namely life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, are what constitute good living. The document continues by saying that good relationship between the government and the governed, prudence and not abuses, is the mechanism that can spread and maintain buen vivir.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus explains, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matt. 22:37-40). Again, the focus is on good relationship, this time between people and between people and God. Through these commandments, restorative and loving relationships, we can achieve buen vivir.
The rights-based approach to community development is one method used to restore relationships and help us achieve buen vivir for all. Foundation Cristosal, a non-profit human rights and community development organization, works for the good living of all people in El Salvador using this approach.

I just spent a week with Foundation Cristosal's Global School in San Salvador, taking a course on the theologies of human rights and development, where I learned about the rights-based approach and the positive impact it can have.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Gift of Seedlings

Happy New Year and Happy Haitian Independence Day!

I have unexpectedly delayed my return to Haiti until the end of January, in part due to travel advisories for Port-au-Prince due to increased protests that are blocking travel around the capital. In short, protesters are unsettled by the current presidential administration's inability to hold elections--dating back to 2011. Protesters in part have called for the resignation of the now former prime minister. He did resign, and since his resignation, President Michel Martelly has nominated a replacement during his Christmas Day message.

If the government is not able to hold elections by January 12th, parliament will be disbanded. Please pray for Haiti during this tense political time, where many are worried about the country falling back into unproductive political turmoil--something that has contributed to the country's lack of development for centuries. This would be especially disheartening now, given the bright spots of development in Haiti in recent years. See this article from the New York Times, Scrooges of the World, Begone! (Thanks, Al Brady, for forwarding that article.)

For the rest of this post, I want to exhibit another reason for hope and a reason to expect progress in Haiti. I've talked about Agronomist Hermane before, but I want to feature a recent event he organized and held for the children of the primary school in Chapoteau.


Friday, November 21, 2014

U.S. Tour Part 1

I am already back in the U.S. for the first of three non-consecutive months that I will spend visiting churches and organizations here. The primary goals of this traveling in the States is to first build up more support and interest in the ministry in Cange and second to help facilitate more collaboration between existing and new partners. 
Photograph at Church of the Incarnation of the new church in Tierra Muscady

Photograph of the old church in Tierra Muscady
I'm really enjoying touring around North and South Carolina (then Virginia next week) speaking to Rotary clubs, churches, youth groups, and classrooms. It's already been a busy month so far, and I have many more visits to go before heading back home to Haiti on December 9th.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Back to Cange

After about 6 weeks in the U.S., I'm back and safe in Cange, Haiti, once again. I had a wonderful time back in the U.S. visiting churches, universities and family and friends. I also had a wonderful time at the re-entry retreat for YASC that was held in New York City for a long weekend.
Seeing other fellow missionaries again was such a pleasure. A good number from my group were in attendance, sharing their stories and experiences from their missions around the world.

Now that I'm back in Cange, I'm putting more focus back on Sant Art, the marketplace and fish farming. I'm also continuing in my role to assist with communication between the U.S. Episcopal partners and the Episcopal parish here in Cange. I have a lot of tasks to accomplish, but most important and enjoyable to me is to be back in Haiti and speaking Creole once again.

I will check in again soon, as some important project developments are underway. In the mean time, read this little piece from the Episcopal News Service:

http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2014/10/07/yasc-missionaries-unpack-their-experiences-serving-abroad/

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back to the Carolinas

Wow, it has been quite a ride since I last made a post on here at the end of July. I had a crazy push for setting up projects and connections in Haiti to function for my six or so weeks back in the States, then I had to prepare to actually leave for a while. This required some mental fortitude, lots of time for reflection, and patience. Then I actually flew back to Asheville on August 21st.
Metal art
I am so grateful to have spent just over a full year in Cange, Haiti, working under the Young Adult Service Corps in relationship with the Diocese of Upper South Carolina and many others who work in and around Cange. What an amazing year of growing confidence, new relationships, a richer faith, and a different outlook on day-to-day life. God's love is so alive and vibrant in this world.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Market Place Kombit #2

The kombit is a Haitian tradition where communities will gather to work on an individual's farm for a day in exchange for a meal, drink and fellowship. In the future, those benefiting from a kombit are expected to participate in the next one hosted by another farmer.

The tradition applies to various communal efforts in Haitian society, like the one that happened in Cange yesterday to prepare land for a new market place. It was the second kombit of this effort so far, and it was much more successful than the first. More people, more accomplishment, and an excellent meal cooked by market committee members with food provided by other residents of Cange.

An awesome day of collaboration, culture, progress and friendship. I'm really proud of this community, and I think the best is yet to come.

Ayiti ap vanse.