Monday, July 27, 2015

An Explanation of Language/Yon Eksplikasyon Lang

Ou met jwenn atik sa an Kreyol anba sa ki an angle a.
Language matters, and language can be power. The language I choose to use at any moment in Haiti determines who will and will not understand what I say. Like any power, this can be used for good or for bad. When used to express superiority, manipulate, degrade, suppress or exclude it is unjust; likewise, when used to amplify the voices of the suppressed and outcast it is full of justice and goodness.

When I say language, I mean the particular language of choice, be it English, French, Haitian Creole or Elvish. The issue is not that speaking any one of these languages is a bad thing in and of itself. The issue is about awareness of the privilege being able to speak them, and wisely reflecting on when and how to appropriately use them and NOT exert unjust power over others.

It was to illustrate this point that I chose to write a brief post a couple of weeks ago on racism, the shooting at Charleston's Emmanuel AME Church, and the parallels in Haiti, yet post it only in Haitian Creole (Men jan mwen we'l). #blacklivesmatter #lavinwaenpotan

Friday, July 17, 2015

Trinity Youth Mission Experience

This past week, I was blessed to travel with the youth of Trinity Episcopal Church Asheville, NC, on their trip to visit Cange and the Central Plateau. I really can't express how inspiring and meaningful this experience was.

Debbie, the youth director at Trinity who has been such a big part of my life, led the group of 8 youth along with the participation of Rev. Scott and his wife Missy, and Greg Hilderbran, a parishioner from Trinity who is involved with Consider Haiti, an organization based in Montrouis, Haiti.
We were able to visit almost everywhere we planned for the week. One highlight was visiting Hermane in Chapoteau to assist in the first produce distribution from his community garden to some of the 25 primary school kids who are in an agriculture-education program he is leading (funded by St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Herndon, VA). I was very excited to be there for this, and I appreciate Hermane inviting the group across the lake. He even sent us back to Cange with a sample of the spinach for the staff in Cange to prepare for us. Delicious and nutritious!
We also were able to tour Cange, CFFL/Zanmi Agrikol, the University Hospital in Mirebalais, and Basin Zim. On Thursday, we stayed at a beach resort called Wahoo Bay Beach, my first time staying at a beach resort in Haiti. It was a special, relaxing treat and even included a bit of snorkeling. Also during this overnight trip, we were able to visit one of the sites for Consider Haiti--glad I finally made it. I'm impressed by their multi-faceted approach to their work in health, nutrition and food security.

The youth also led a couple of English classes for Alix's and Victoria's afternoon English program for young kids in Cange, which all seemed to enjoy. And finally, Scott was able to lead the service at Bon Sauveur Parish, which has been without a permanent priest since August of last year. I was able to translate the sermon for him to the congregation, and he was able to lead Eucharist and a blessing of the children in the church (some adults still have a bit of a child in them too).
Beyond these great learning experiences, I am most impressed with the curiosity and compassion expressed throughout the week and of course all of the Haitian hospitality. The Trinity youth proved to me, once again, that high school groups coming to visit Haiti are some of the best to come through. The work that we were able to see, the people we met doing it, and the interest of those in the group give me great hope for the future. A big thank you to those from Trinity and elsewhere that contributed to making this possible.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Some Blog Updates

Since I've now successfully arranged internet in my apartment, I've made some updates on my blog. Learning to be domestic on my own in Haiti is a challenging experience, but I'm having great interactions along the way.

Updates I'd like to call your attention to include:

1) New blog sites! On the right column, you will see the blog addresses for Episcopal Missionaries in Service (I'm still tracking down some of the other adult missionaries' blogs). Check them out to see what all they're up to. Many of the new YASCers are in the midst of their fundraising and preparations for moving to a new country.

2) How to Help! I'm not required to raise funds for this next year. However, check out the "How to Help." tab to see how you can get more engaged. Two things in particular: first, if you are interested in any of the work I mention on my blog, send me a message to discuss it further. Second, I do appreciate "mix-tapes"--it means a lot to me to have playlists from friends and family (I usually listen to music when I'm cooking). If you want to send me one, let me know!

3) Reading List! I've updated my reading list (see "Reading List." tab) with more of the books I've read on economic development, human rights, and Haitian history and culture. I highly recommend some of the books on there, so go check them out!

Bondye beni ou.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Good morning, Mr. Yarborough

I’m late in sharing this, but I got this strange, corny message a few weeks ago from the director of missions in the Episcopal Church:

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves a new placement in the Episcopal Church as a volunteer in mission in Cape Haitian, Haiti. You will be working as a project manager for the stabilization and revitalization of the Centre d’Agriculture St. Barnabas in Terrier Rouge, Haiti, an agriculture center run by the Diocese of Haiti.

What does this mean for you?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Men jan mwen we'l

Apre nouvel South Carolina kote gen yon moun blan ki touye 9 moun nwa andan legliz yo, pemet mwen di yon pawol ki pa jwe. Men li:

Mwen blan e se devwa mwen pou travay kont rasis yo. Kijan map fe sa? Nenpot jan ki posib. Siw konnen yon fason fe'm konnen, tanpri. Map swiv. 

Pou kounyea yon fason se pou mwen pi byen komprann reyalite moun nwa ni Etazini ni nan lot peyi.

Yon lot fason: Mwen travay an Ayiti wi? Se yon peyi ki gen anpil nwa. Men gen blan ki kon visite la e yo pa konnen istwa Ayisyen byen. Se yon istwa ki vreman impotan pou nou komprann byen. Men yo rive isit pou "ede moun pov yo" men yo pa mande sa ki fe moun sa yo pov. Gen yon rezon ki rasis ki fe yo pov. Gen rezon esklavaj, dominasyon, jan Etazini trete peyi sa mal, jan UN pa fe anyen apre yo bay Ayiti cholera... Bagay sa yo se rasis yo ye. Mwen kwe sa. 

Men pou yon blan pou antre Ayiti san yo konnen e komprann bagay say yo byen se yon enjistis pou Ayisyen yo. Se sa mwen panse. Sa montre'm ke istwa moun nwa yo pa impotan pou konnen. Yo nwa. Yo pov. E se jus jan li ye.

Non. Mwen pa aksepte sa. Plizye blan pa we sa. Se pa jus jan li ye. Gen yon istwa ki rasis. Gen yon jounnen joudia ki rasis e tout sa kontribye pou povrete nou we Ayiti, e vyolans nou we Etazini tou...

Mwen pa vle di mwen se yon moun ki pi bon pase lot, ki mwen menm mwen pat kon fe bagay rasis jan mwen pa konnen. Mwen koupab tou. Men mwen al cheche aprann. 

Epi mwen vreman kwe, nan travay ki mwen genyen kounyea antre blan e Ayisyen, ki mwen gen obligasyon pou diskite istwa peyi sa avek tout blan yo. Mwen gen obligasyon pou montre yo se pa jus kon sa li ye. Mwen gen obligasyon pou fe blan yo sispann manje grenn je Ayisyen yo. E mwen espere ke efo ki map fe ap gen bon rezilta pou nou tout. 

Map priye pou Bondye bay mwen fos sa la. Mwen mande tout zanmi Ayisyen e Ameriken pou ede'm komprann pi byen paske #blacklivesmatter Paske deskriminasyon li menm li dezumanize ni moun ki dezumanize men moun kap fe dezumanizasyon tou.

Finalman, map priye pou Charleston.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

U.S. Tour Part 2

For most of April, I was back in the U.S. visiting churches around the Dioceses of Upper South Carolina and in Western North Carolina. The visits are going very well once again, and I thoroughly enjoy representing this relationship of the Episcopal Church between the Carolinas and Cange.

For this post I want to share photographs from some of my visits this month (and last fall) of the ways these churches create displays in their worship spaces and fellowship halls that serve as constant reminders of the relationship. Pictures are from my visits to St. Timothy's Episcopal in Herndon, VA, St. Matthew's Episcopal in Spartanburg, SC, Grace Episcopal in Anderson, SC, and Christ Church Episcopal in Greenville, SC.