Haiti: New Life

I don’t know how to begin this blog. I left my Haitian home this morning, feeling tired after 11 days of teaching stacked up onto ceremony and cultural gatherings. I felt tired and gleeful. The sun was shining (despite warnings four days ago about Tropical Storm Dorian) and Haiti, for the first time in a long time, was sparkling like a jewel. So I thought about beginning like this: Ayiti Cherie, you are sparkling again, resurrecting your former place as the “Pearl of the Antilles”. By the time I was boarded on my plane and sitting at my computer, however, another beginning had emerged: The unexpected is to be expected. Actually, there is no unexpected in Haiti—expect anything and everything. I was upgraded to business class, and looked forward to a relaxing journey (3 flights!) home. As soon as I settled my luggage into the bin, I sat down. I …

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Japan: Bamboo, Butoh and Bums

A newly made friend, who took my Radical Freedom Continuum Movement class in Tokyo in June, just arrived for a visit. Her welcome presence reminds me that I never finished my Japan blog; so here is an updated version, based on her sharing, this morning, of a lovely healing experience initiated by Santa Fe’s magical light. This is the same light that calls so many artists to this land. Before I moved here, I often visited here for replenishment and sanctuary. So without sharing details of her private journey, I will share that it is a lovely reminder of how restorative the land in New Mexico is. I will share that her description of the light and movement of tree branches reminded me of the first time I traveled to Japan, in 1981, to study Haiku. Haiku has always been my favorite poetry form. I was in college at the …

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Lebanon

This is my second time to Lebanon. It’s always difficult to put into words why one loves certain places with a particular fierceness. Lebanon is one of those places for me. When I left here, 3 years ago, I felt really sad that I might never come back. Despite everyone-who-cares-for-me concerns such as “Is it safe?” Why are you going to Beirut”? Isn’t Lebanon awfully close to Syria”? I couldn’t wait to get on the Middle East Air Liban flight from Paris to Beirut. I travel a lot, and never feel like I am too far from home. I’m good at traveling—don’t get jet lag, sleep right away on my new schedule, feel pretty energized within 24 hours. I have some very good friends here, and we were visiting the magnificent Cedar forests of northern Lebanon yesterday, and talking about my feeling of connection to this truly ancient place. I …

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Daryl Byler, Regional Representative of The Mennonite Central Committee in Jordan visits Zataari Refugee Camp

Following their visit to the Zataari Refugee Camp, Colleague Daryl Byler, Regional Representative of The Mennonite Central Committee in Jordan, writes about the camp and its impact on Jordan, in Religion and Ethics. Click here to link to article.

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2012 Trauma Resources International (“TRI”) Annual Report

On January 12, 2013, I was in Haiti for our Trauma Resources International (“TRI”) Ke Ansam program. This year, we marked the 3-year anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake. There were several commemorations, though not to the scale of the past 2 years. This year, most Haitians spent the day with family, in quiet and deeply personal reflection and acknowledgement. I spent the day with one of “my” families there; Dr. Roseline Benjamin and her children. The night before, we listened to her son Mikaben perform at a new restaurant/performance space in Port au Prince. His song “Ayiti Se” has become very popular, and I first heard it in the second session of the current training series we are providing for psychologists and social workers. It’s a stunning song, that acknowledges the beautiful, historical, spiritual and magical aspects of Haiti in a way that celebrates her, rather than mourn her, …

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Syria/Jordan

It’s the first time in 4 days I’ve had a moment to step outside. I am in Amman, and spending some time in the camps on the Syrian border, to assist in the development of a staff care program for the many humanitarian responders working with the refugees fleeing Syria. Having been indoors for several days, I am instantly inspired by the warm sun, bird songs, and call to prayer that begins to resound from some not to distant speaker. I have always loved to hear the call to prayer. I don’t understand it, but I hear the spirit. As I walk through a mostly residential area of Amman, I am struck by how peaceful and calm it feels. We are not even an hour’s drive from the border Jordan shares with Syria. I have been to Jordan once before, as a tourist, and it can be a deceptively simple …

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Haiti January 12, 2013

4:53 pm, 1/12/13. I am turning our car into Belvil, the quiet neighborhood, where I stay in Port au Prince. It is the precise moment when the earthquake of 2010 devastated Port au Prince 3 years ago. My friends, colleagues and I have spent most of the preceding week talking about how impossible it is that 3 years have past. As I observe the life on the streets, I see hundreds of people on cell phones, selling market wares, buying, walking and sitting while sad, thin dogs scrap for food. I muse at the thought that perhaps none of them are aware that 4:53 pm is upon us; 2 years ago, at the multiple 1 year commemorations, there were thousands of moments of silence around the country. Today, life is doing the usual, just as it was in the moment the earth opened up and shook, rolled and slammed. I …

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TRI awarded several grants to continue its work in Haiti!

TRI was awarded $3000.00 from the Marian Chace Foundation; $5000.00 from The Frost Foundation; $4000.00 from Charles F. Gray Trust; and $7500.00 from The Kind World Foundation. A brief report detailing how these funds will be used will follow our upcoming trip to Haiti.

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Australia, Red Earth, 2011

I love Australia. Its hard to be precise in my description of why I am so enamored of this far away place; a specific example might illuminate. When I landed in Melbourne after the l-o-n-g flight, I had to go through customs/quarantine because I had revealed I was carrying food (sports bars, for the outback). This was no big deal, and I have found its always best to claim these things because they are usually ok, and not claiming them can be expensive. As I put all my bags through the X-ray machine, I asked if I should remove my coat, to send through. The response “Heck, no mate–I haven’t known you long enough.” Cheeky humor is one of the reasons I love Australia (and, Australians). I came to Australia to participate in ceremony with the women of the Pitjantjatjara group of Aborigines. As we are asked not to photograph, journal, or …

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Georgia, September-October 2011

Georgia is not a place I ever thought about visiting. I knew very, very little about it, before my current trip here. Georgia is stunning. Its ancient. It has an air of mystery despite the warmth and openness to share of the people. Often thought of as a “former Soviet state”–it is actually a country with one of the oldest languages on earth (remnants of it only found here, and in Palestine) , some of the finest cuisine and wines, and gorgeous landscapes. In a space the size of Switzerland, Georgia’s terrain encompasses strong snowy mountains, river filled green valleys, ancient virgin forested slopes for hiking and skiing, lovely wine country with rolling hills and long views of yellow, gold and green impressionistic landscapes, remnants of ancient cave communities with intricate temple artwork (and whole icon-covered cathedrals carved into mountain sides, so ancient people could cleverly live in safety), and …

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