News from and about Maryknoll Affiliate Chapters
Hello Haiti, my dear friend. Just a tease on Simon and Garfunkle's hit of years ago, the Sounds of Silence. I concentrate now on the sounds that I do hear, not silence. The busy airport terminal where we land is a bit more modern, at least the part that is rebuilt. We do not have to use movable steps from the plane and walk outdoors to the terminal. We have a tunnel passage like other large airports for these 767 planes. I hear the familiar sounds of the band before I see it. Glad to tip you guys and thanks for putting me in the mood of the Caribbean. I hear an even more welcome sound. "Hello, Patricia". Three of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity sisters were apparently on the same flight. One knows me, In three weeks I shall return to Haiti and spend one month at their convent compound in Port au Prince, holding babies, loving babies, and helping with some clinics. My heart already begins to be happy!
We are happy to share with you that, since our newsletter in November, the Maryknoll Affiliate Board has accepted our application to form an Affiliate Chapter. The name of our chapter is Buen Vivir Mexico (living well or being well). The concept of “el buen vivir” urges us to build harmonious and complementary relationships with all people and Mother Earth and substitute mutual assistance, community, and fiesta in place of our fierce economic competition and over consumption of natural resources. There is a Buen Vivir Movement growing out of Latin America, especially among the indigenous people, and the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns has adopted it as one of its priorities. Our Chapter will be working with our indigenous neighbors to understand the profound wisdom of this vision, to share it with others, and to put it into practice in our own lives. These Zapotec words of wisdom speak to the philosophy of Buen Vivir: “The one who is rich is not the one who has much but the one who needs little.”
The idea for the housing for women project came to us after the January 2010 earth quake in Haiti. The Jeremie area itself had accommodated thousands of earthquake refugees. The most vulnerable as always were women and their children.Studies have shown that women, who own their own homes in Haiti are more able to maintain their own small businesses, and feed, clothe and educate their children. So the idea to build simple houses for women was born. To locate women who are in need of housing we work with local women's groups who will decide which woman in their area is most in need. In order for a woman to qualify she has to have title to the land, and she has to be single. Of course this does not mean she has te remain single for the rest of her life, but once she has a house nobody can put her out, she has security. Also she has to put some sweat equity into the building of the house, and the whole community is involved in transporting building material. Each house provides paid employment for about 8 people. We have built 15 houses so far and have provided short term employment for about 120 people thus putting money into the community. Each of the houses has 3 rooms, 2 bedrooms and a livingroom/dining room. A separate latrine also comes with the house.
Two members of our Fox Cities Maryknoll Affiliates attended “Advocacy Day at the Capitol”, March 15th, 2011, in Madison, Wisconsin. This annual event gathers people of various churches, synogogues and mosques to advocate with their state senators and representatives about issues that affect the common good of communities, and especially of those who find themselves in poverty. The timing couldn’t have been better, as it was on a Tuesday after the Saturday that our 14 Democratic senators had returned to Madison and appeared at the last huge rally to oppose the Budget Repair Bill of governor Walker.
We received the following news from Maryknoll Affiliate Kathy Dahl-Bredine via Kathy Vargas (both are Maryknoll Affiliates in the Buen Vivir, Mexico Chapter, with Kathy and Phil Dahl-Bredine living in San Isidro, Oaxaca):
To explain briefly what's going on here, for the past 3 days we've had unbelievable rains, hail storms, flooding, destruction in San Isidro and the area around. Both our houses have had rivers of water and mud flowing through threm, and we're still ankle deep in mud. There's no electricity and no phone service. We think our desktop computer and the whole internet system is destroyed, along with much else. The little concrete block house (our office and guest room) is still full of mud and water several inches deep because every night it comes again, and now the sheetrock ceiling is colapsing and falling all over everything. A giant pine tree fell on top of the palapa and they're still trying to get it down, but the main ridgepole of the palapa is cracked, so the whole thing may come down. The cob house floors are totally destroyed. All the crops, including gardens, all the cajete -- everything is gone, swept away, buried in mud. Many people in the village lost the roofs of their houses, and many people's animals died -- they buried 18 yesterday. Our horses got lost in the night, but we finally found them, and they're OK.
But we're alive! Gracias a Dios!
I managed to get out of the village with difficulty to get to Nochixtlan, so I could use email. The road out of the village is pretty bad and I probably won´t get back in. at least not with the vehicle. Even the main highway has large areas covered with mud and rocks.
We'll be in touch again as soon as it becomes possible.
Following the example of our first California Regional Coordinators, Marta and Charlie Reilly of San Diego, we decided that it was important that we visit all the Affiliate Chapters in California as the new Regional Coordinators. We worked out a plan to visit the Northern and Central California Chapters during the week of May 9 -13, 2011.
On Sunday, April 17, the New York City Subway Chapter gathered at the Maryknoll Sisters, Maryknoll, NY, so they Sister Joan Peltier MM could be part of their meeting. At this meeting, the Chapter blessed and "sent" Rick Dixon, who will be joining the Maryknoll Lay Missioners this fall and will likely be going to Latin America.
The following article was originally published in the Maryknoll Lay Missioners Alumni Newsletter, Always a Missioner, April 2011. This connects directly with our most recent edition of Not So Far Afield and the theme of water.
On Wednesday, January 6, 2010, Jason Gehrig, presented the results of his book, Water and Conflict, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. Mr. Ken Hackett, the President of Catholic Relief Services, introduced Jason to an overflow audience.
As I turned to leave the church after morning mass I was surprised to see a friend who is homeless standing in the back. Steve told me that he had come to the church to look for me. He felt unworthy to come up to the front, (actually midway) to sit with me in my pulpit. Later that day I explained the difference between pulpit and pew… I try to imagine myself in a pulpit and smile. Steve said he liked the service. (I wonder if it would have been different , if I were indeed in a pulpit)
The way to Chipole is more than a certain amount of hours or miles from my home in Lacey, WA. It is worlds away. To be there I must let go of myself and my stuff. I must let go of my independence and worries about what I should wear or eat. And even after a 24 hour flight of a kazillion miles and a bus ride of many hours more I don't arrive there as ready as I should be for living with loving sisters and wiggly children, small living quarters and simple food.
Peace of Christ!
It is going to be my third month on the 28th in Bangladesh and I am truly enjoying my ministries here. Aside from assisting Srs. Joan and Miriam at BACHA, I am also involved in various ministries. The students here behave differently, so far, I have not heard someone talked back or cursed me, which I have had enough with my students in Louisiana (LOL). As teenagers, they are not spared from talking too much when they get a chance, but one good thing is that they calm down once being asked to be quite. They are very much easy to handle in terms of employing classroom management compared to my previous teaching experience. Most importantly they are appreciative and respectful.
Please pass this good news on to the other Affiliates. Tim, Veronica and friend Gary, Kathee and daughter Adriana, Lucy and I had such a positive experience at the Dorothy Day L.A. Catholic Worker Soup Kitchen today, Saturday April 9th. Ted, a former Chilean M.M. was also with us. After prayer we buttered bread, cut up oranges, tomatoes, filled pill bottles with shampoo and conditioner and then served the homeless in their beautiful garden with picnic tables and benches surrounded by trees and local art. We ate with the homeless their menu of white beans, salad, chocolate cookies and tea at noon time. Catherine, Jeff's wife accepted our donations of clothes, shoes, socks and playing cards. At the final prayer we learned that four former Catholic Workers have requested that their ashes be buried in that garden, a real insight for us that those who commit to this place of service consider it to be the holy ground where they chose to await their Resurrection.
We then visited the Homegirl Restaurant, a beautiful building with stunning art and steel appointments donated by a well-known L.A. philanthropist whose name I can't recall. Our last stop was their gift shop to buy a copy of "Tattoos On the Heart" by Greg Boyle S.J. for Sr. Moira who plans to use it as a hospitality gift on her home visit.
May the remaining days of Lent be grace-filled for us all.
Last year I wrote about a memorable International Woman's Day in Vietnam. It was the first time for me in a socialist country. The affirmation of women was very interesting when I come from a prospective that Asian women were not an integral part of daily, or should I say, business society. (That is such an American view – to think a person's value is limited to the conducting of commerce.
When we know that in most places other than the U.S. have had women in higher political and commercial positions.) In many cultures women seem to rule behind the scene. Now that I am in Bolivia there is an apparent culture of machismo. Here the men frequently leave the house and are never heard from again. In the pueblos it is the women who run the commerce and the family. The men work the fields or in the past the mines. Many have a life independent of their families. Many leave to earn money elsewhere. In fact, nearly every family in Bolivia has someone working elsewhere in the world - Spain, Germany, Korea, Japan, Brazil, United States in order to go to school or send money back. It was interesting that one teacher said a good friend, who had been living in the US withoutpermanent documents, returned home with enough money to buy a new house, have a car and support the children's education. It is no wonder that overseas lives seem so attractive.
One of the things we are planning on doing as an Affiliate project re: Centennial is to get a blurb about the Centennial in the Diocesan Newspaper and in the Daily; we would include a note about our Affiliate Group and invite inquiries.
In addition to the newspaper blurbs, is a Day of Recollection/Prayer on April 9th. Also the Affiliates will help to host a Donors' thank you even/Eucharist in October. Fr. Leo Shea is scheduled as the principal celebrant.