All posts tagged “orphan

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Repaso: December 14, 2012

Landfill-Harmonic-71

1. Landfill Harmonic
An upcoming documentary will tell the story of an “orchestra in Paraguay, where the musicians play instruments made from trash.” The teaser is here, and here’s the film’s synopsis:

Cateura, Paraguay is a town essentially built on top of a landfill. Garbage collectors browse the trash for sellable goods, and children are often at risk of getting involved with drugs and gangs. When orchestra director Szaran and music teacher Favio set up a music program for the kids of Cateura, they soon have more students than they have instruments. That changed when Szaran and Favio were brought something they had never seen before: a violin made out of garbage. Today, there’s an entire orchestra of assembled instruments, now called The Recycled Orchestra. Our film shows how trash and recycled materials can be transformed into beautiful sounding musical instruments, but more importantly, it brings witness to the transformation of precious human beings.

2. Out of Eden Walk
Paul Salopek, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is about to begin a seven year, 21,000 mile trek around the world – on foot – tracing the alleged path humans took when migrating from the Garden of Eden to the southern tip of Southern America. PBS NewsHour also has an interview with him about it.

3. Orphanages without orphans
Emily Brennan of the New York Times took a look last week at Haiti’s orphanage crisis, where “many of the children are not actually orphans.” Christians have a long track record of supporting orphanages, which in some cases is necessary and good. But we need to be wise, aware of the ways well-intentioned efforts can backfire (see additional commentary in Christianity Today). Brennan writes:

Of the roughly 30,000 children in Haitian institutions and the hundreds adopted by foreigners each year, the Haitian government estimates that 80 percent have at least one living parent. The decision by Haitian parents to turn their children over to orphanages is motivated by dire poverty. Also, large families are common, and many parents unable to afford school fees believe that orphanages at least offer basic schooling and food.

4. The disruption of art
Jordan Crook at TechCrunch highlights Mason Jar Music, a Brooklyn-based music collective I’ve praised before on the blog. The piece mentions MJM’s forthcoming documentary featuring Josh Garrels, and hints at what makes the collective so unique – and disruptive:

Instead of shooting a narrative music video, where the artist lip syncs to the track and plays out some story, MJM shoots live performances and turns them into true music video masterpieces. And not only that, the group shoots in the oddest of spaces, whether it be the catacombs under a church or a random island off of the coast of Washington… It’s not only a story about making music, but a story about disrupting the way we create art in a world where being an artist is nearly impossible.

5. Mary, Did You Know?
When I saw that Cee Lo Green had a music video for this wonderful Advent/Christmas song, I braced myself for sacrilege. It’s actually very reverent and quite good.

Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!

[Photo credit: themethodcase.com]

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‘Becoming Fools’ is more than a film!

I know I’ve already blogged about the Becoming Fools film project, and have posted a two-part interview with the film’s director Scott Moore, but I think it’s important enough to mention it yet again. The film’s Kickstarter campaign got underway last month, and now, about halfway through its allotted 50 days, it still has a way to go to meet its goal. If you’re intrigued by the idea but not wild about making a donation so someone in Nashville can make a movie, I understand. But this really is about a lot more than just a film. Please read this letter from Joel Van Dyke, shared with Kickstarter supporters this evening (and posted here with permission), who knows first hand the impact this film could have in the lives of many kids on the streets of Guatemala City:

Yesterday morning I had a profound experience that I feel compelled to share with you all. I had breakfast with 14 year-old Gabriela. The profound part of the experience was that I did not even know I was having breakfast with her until after the breakfast was finished. As I stood up to speak, I saw her …. I forgot where I was for a minute and immediately ran over to give her a huge hug suddenly realizing that I needed to hold my composure in order to make the “presentation” I had been asked to give.

I was invited to cast the vision for a street youth focused conference to a group of ministry leaders, pastors and organizational executives who have begun to meet together once a month over breakfast in Guatemala City. Fourteen different churches, organizations and para-church ministries all lead by Guatemalan’s have been meeting to see what they can do collaboratively for the street kids of Guatemala that they have not been able to achieve on their own. Having never met each prior to these gatherings, they are now uniting, praying together, meeting at their respective ministry sites and making collaborative plans on how to serve and work together. The vision of the Becoming Fools film project has seeded this movement towards synergistic collaboration and the film will tell their collective story to mobilize resources for their united and expanding vision. A vision that is turning them into “fools” for children like Gabriela.

So who is Gabriela and what is it about her story that compels me to want to take the time to write this? It is, actually, deeply personal!!

My family and I first met Gabriela when she was attending Tita Evertsz’ school in La Limonada. We felt very drawn to her and her little sister Elena. They came over to our home for several weekend sleep over’s to have play-time with our kids and our neighbors.

After several years, however, Gabriela went the way of the streets leaving a very dysfunctional and abusive home environment. We lost complete contact with her until a year ago when Tita called to tell us that she had been brutally beaten and then left to die in the “river” (“sewer water”) of La Limonada. We were heartbroken for the little girl that we had played with in our home on several occasions. Miraculously, she survived the attack and was brought to a Guatemala City hospital where she eventually recovered from her near death encounter.

When released from the hospital, Gabriela went back to the streets and eventually turned up in the group of street kids at the “tanque”, where Italo poured out his life. From there she was loved and nurtured enough to desire changes in her life and eventually accepted an invitation to move off of the streets and into Shorty’s rehabilitation program, convincing her family to move in with her. Yesterday, she was having breakfast with us because Italo’s sister Velvet had promised to bring her to a medical clinic immediately after the meeting. I had no idea she would be there but like the metaphor of the repaired doll in Reparando that works as a tapestry of God’s scandalous grace, her presence yesterday to me had profound significance.

It seems to me that many people who have been exposed to and been asked to contribute to the Becoming Fools campaign have chosen not to pledge support because they are not interested in pledging their hard earned money simply to help produce a film. However, I am writing from the depth of my heart to share with you that this campaign represents SO MUCH more than just the production of a film. It is the vehicle from which the prophetic voice of thousands of Gabriela’s will be heard by the church in Guatemala and by tens of thousands of people around the world. It is the vehicle through which the collective dreams and aspirations of 14 plus Guatemalan lead organizations who are serving in the spirit of Italo Castro’s legacy can be mobilized into tangible expressions of love on the streets of this great city.

The breakfast yesterday morning and the almost haunting image of Gabriela’s guarded but smiling face looking back at me has increased my resolve to invest in this campaign. It is the resolve to help raise the funds needed so that this incredible story can be told and a movement unleashed. I am praying with all of my heart that hundreds of you reading this will join my family and I in prayer and pledged support for this incredibly important vision that has so much potential to touch thousands and thousands of lives.

Will you please join us in Becoming Fools for Gabriela and the thousands like her on the streets of Guatemala City. This is our chance to unite together to be part of the redemption of their stories for the glory of our Almighty God whose heart is filled with love for us…. and them!!

Joel Van Dyke

Please consider helping Athentikos make this film happen by joining the ‘Becoming Fools’ Kickstarter campaign.

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Repaso: Haiti 18 months later, poverty/dignity, humanitarian journalists, Latin America’s game, and more

1. Paul Farmer on post-quake Haiti
NPR’s Fresh Air had a half-hour interview this week with Dr. Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health, in which he talks about Haiti a year and a half after the devastating quake in January 2010. It’s tied in with his new book, which is one I’ll definitely plan to read and possibly review for the blog or a magazine. Farmer has been working in Haiti for a very long time, and his perspective is sobering but worth listening to. In the interview he says:

Some people talk about Haiti as being the graveyard of development projects. Our own experience has been very positive working in Haiti — building health facilities and working with the public sector and creating jobs — but [we are now thinking about] how we can now make these other, more ambitious projects also effective on the implementation front.

2. Haiti: 18 months later
Roseann Dennery, a good friend of Katie’s, has a new piece in Relevant Magazine on Haiti as well, focusing on the country’s tragic orphan crisis. She has been living there for the past year, working with Samaritan’s Purse along with Justin, her husband. Her first-hand experience of the crisis has led her to a unique perspective:

It is one thing to read statistics about Haiti’s expanding orphan crisis, but it is quite another to witness it; to walk down a squalid dirt road and visit several overrun orphanages within a few minutes of one another, each with greater need than the last. Wide eyed, hungry, soiled. Each humble face tells a different variation of the same story. It is unsettling and overwhelming. And it feels harshly unjust. What does it mean, then, to be a Christian in the midst of a swelling sea of abandoned children, a trend that shows no sign of slowing?

3. Snapshots of Suffering
My friend Chris Horst, who works for HOPE International, has a great personal reflection on dignity and suffering, based on experiences in the Dominican Republic. He concludes:

I’m thrilled to serve a God who truly knows me. A God who does not define me by my weaknesses. A Creator who made me in his image. A Father who “exults” over me, his child. These truths convince me that If God and I sojourned across the Dominican together, his pictures would look strikingly different than mine.

4. Are humanitarian groups doing the media’s job overseas?
This was an interesting one for me, since I’m a communications specialist for a large NGO not unlike the one featured in this post. It is an interesting observation Tom Paulson makes about this trend of NGO communicators doing something very similar to journalism and what this means for mainstream media.

5. Is baseball becoming Latin America’s game?
NBC Sports has an interesting piece on the rise of Latino players in the MLB:

Much like the recent influx of immigrants from Latin America into the general U.S. population, MLB has seen a remarkable shift in it’s demographic over the last 20 years. Ozzie Guillen, the outspoken manager of the Chicago White Sox, said last year that within 10 years “American people are going to need a visa to play this game because we’re going to take over.” And while Guillen’s comments can be taken as a humorous exaggeration, there is an element of truth to what he says. Baseball might be America’s pastime, but the sport is becoming increasingly Latino at heart.

6. Trailer for :58 film
I highlighted the new :58 campaign here on the blog a month ago today. Now here is the trailer for the campaign’s feature length film, due for release this fall.

58: THE FILM Trailer July, 11 2011 from LIVE58NOW on Vimeo.

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Christmas trees and mustard seeds in Nicaragua

I returned to Costa Rica from Nicaragua a week and a half ago, and while I’m hoping to write something publication-worthy later on, I thought I’d share a few observations and reflections from the trip.

The first thing I noticed upon arriving in Managua last Sunday night was that there were big illuminated Christmas trees in all the traffic roundabouts. This struck me as odd, since it was March.


The next morning I mentioned these trees to my taxi driver, who told me it’s political propaganda – a way of saying that with the Sandinistas in power, it’s Christmas year-round. That’s debatable, I suppose, but one of the other things that struck me about Managua was the ubiquitous graffiti. It was everywhere. And remarkably, everywhere the graffiti said the same thing: Viva Daniel! Viva La Revolucion!


Welcome to Nicaragua.


My three days in the country were mostly spent visiting different ministries. Monday I visited a home for abandoned kids with disabilities. Tuesday I went to the Managua garbage dump, La Chureca, with a pastor who was on a first name basis with many slum residents.


Wednesday I headed down to Diriamba, about 40 kilometers to the south, where a friend of a friend is helping to start the first free public library in the region.

What I saw and experienced can be easily overlooked by many who live and travel in Nicaragua: the orphanage is outside of Managua, down a quiet dirt road; the garbage dump, is, well, a garbage dump; and the folks making the library happen struck me as humble, genuine and fairly unassuming. Yet this is what the coming Kingdom looks like, I think: mustard seeds sprouting up where you wouldn’t necessarily think to look.


So, what do I make of Nicaragua? Well, oddly enough, I was surprised at how much it reminded me of Cambodia, of all places. Not Costa Rica, but Cambodia. It probably had to do with being hot and flat, with a lot of tuktuks and palm trees and remnants of civil wars in the form of dilapidated buildings.

Of course, Nicaragua is a large country, and the parts I saw were not representative. Tourists apparently do whatever they can to stay out of Managua, making a beeline instead for places like Granada and Leon and Lake Nicaragua and San Juan del Sur and even Bluefields. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to see some of them for myself. But in the meantime I’m grateful for these glimpses of the Kingdom – sneak peaks the beach-goers might not be privy to.