This is the story about how InnerCHANGE Miami and Communitas in New Orleans played a vital role in providing much needed disaster relief after the earthquake in Haiti.
Cambodia is a beautiful country filled with natural resources and amazing people. But many communities are under attack for the land, fisheries, forests and other natural resources. Cambodian communities are learning to make use of active nonviolent resistance and this video shows a small part of their journey.
Walking with my neighbors on their life journey is my greatest joy and privilege. It is also my greatest pain and sorrow. In joining them on their journey, theirs becomes mine and mine theirs. Somewhere along the way we go from being neighbors, to friends, to family.
It caused great pain to watch our neighbors put in jail, taking both mother and father from four beautiful boys. But it is with great joy that we celebrated the miracle of our sister’s release from jail, now filled with Light and Life that she is pouring into those same boys.
As he walked out of the darkened drug house next door and approached the place at the gate where I was standing two things, his vitality and the intense energy in his eyes, struck me. My heart seemed suddenly to match the pounding base and rhythms of our BEATS open mic taking place inside. This is what I had been praying for, one of the main reasons we were holding this event right next door to a known drug den. Soon the young man and I were engaged in friendly banter as he quickly pushed to the point. “Can I come in and get up there?” he asked.
On my third day here, after baking with the neighborhood kids, I was recruited for a backyard game. I didn’t know what I was getting in to, but I was just thankful to have not been the last one picked on the team. (Petunia and I were the oldest ones playing by at least 20 years). The game involved bouncing a tennis ball to hit the opposing players, stacking tin cans on top of paint buckets (in descending size order), saying a magic word, hopping on one foot, knocking the tin cans down, running around, and of course celebrating when your team won a point.
Back during the spring I had trained Melanie Avila on how to use Peachtree Accounting Software. The Guatemala team bought a copy of the software in the US and took it back to use locally. Later in the summer, I received an email newsletter from Peachtree saying they were having a summer contest that involved taking pictures in an exciting, exotic place. This happened to be the year of the CRM Worldwide Conference in Malaysia - exotic to most and I was going to visit Cambodia before hand - even more exotic, so I thought I'd give it a shot. And I won - BUT not in how we had expected . . .
The doorbell rings and I cringe.
It is this fear of the unknown. Invading my life. Interrupting my time. Stealing pieces of my day. I do not know who is there. But whoever they are they want something. They came to me. A shower. A chat. A cup of cold water…
Yesterday the doorbell rang a lot of times.
First it was Ninga - one hour and one day early for easter egg painting. It was in the middle of Tuesday morning prayer and it was raining. Poor Grace had to tell him to come back tomorrow. She felt bad, but it was the right thing. We were meeting.
Life for homeless young people is hard. Some struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction. Many struggle with the memories of past abuses, lost friends, broken relationships. All of this, compounded with the constant threat of another hard night on the streets, leads many to a thick and seemingly impenetrable hopelessness. The lyrics of the quintessential street punk band, Choking Victim, capture well the spirit that haunts many of the kids we love and spend our time among:
Our West Coconut Grove neighborhood is located smack dab in the middle of Miami. Native Grove residents often talk about how you used to be able to walk through the neighborhood simply snacking on fruit picked from the many fruit trees scattered throughout the neighborhood; coconuts, mangos, avocados, limes, papayas, Spanish limes (genips)...you name it, it all used to grow here in abundance. The fruitfulness of the land speaks to the fact that most of our neighbors find their roots in farming.