Hello everyone! My name is Jocelyn Trainer and I am excited to serve as the International Program Coordinator at the Quixote Center this year through Loretto Volunteers. As a Loretto Volunteer I will spend my year living in an intentional community, learning about social justice and simple living, as well as exploring spirituality. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to pursue social justice issues targeting inequitable policies and promoting peace through the Quixote Center.
“All of creation has been groaning”…
There is a lot of talk about soil in the bible. If you open up the lectionary for this week, you will see a passage in Isaiah on the rain and snow that fall from the heavens to water the earth, making it fertile and providing bread for food. In Matthew 13, we read about the sower who casts seed on good soil and rocky or thorny areas alike. These readings remind us that the relationship of humans to the soil is a simple fact of life on earth. We depend on soil for human life to thrive.
Last Friday, Save TPS Now! (¡Salvemos TPS Ahora!) conference participants and allies met with members of Congress and held a vigil in front of the White House to advocate for the renewal of their Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS allows the Department of Homeland Security to welcome citizens of other nations if their country of origin has become a place where living with human dignity is difficult or impossible due to conflict or natural disaster.
Now, Martelly is legally obligated to step down on February 7th and no replacement has been elected. Hope of legitimately electing a replacement in the next week is absurd, but alternate solutions are faint. This past weekend, representatives from the Organization of American States were in Haiti to review possible options for moving forward. One viable option would be to create an interim government to hold power and organize elections.
In the fall of 2014 we had two important conferences which spearheaded activities for 2015. Both followed the same participatory model. First was the goat summit: on the first day we had 12-15 staff and leaders who planned out four stations covering goat food, goat parks, goat wellness, and milking goats. On the next two days about 40 people participated and rotated among the four stations and drew up action plans.
As international attention was focused on Haiti Monday - the fifth anniversary of the earthquake - another milestone was reached. The terms of one third of Senators expired on Monday at midnight, along with all 99 seats in the House of Deputies. An additional one third of Senator's terms expired in 2012.
The current political crisis in Haiti is not making big news here in the US, with only brief updates being offered of significant events such as the resignation last Sunday of the Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. Citizens have been protesting for months over the government's failure to organize elections, now three years overdue.
During the past fifteen years, Marcel Garcon has emerged as a champion for the sustainability ethic in Gros-Morne, Haiti. Year after year he demonstrates his commitment to restoring ecological balance to the region which has been his life-long home. Whenever I travel with him he is greeted by a near-continuous stream of friends among the rural peasant population. All of them know him as a collaborator, as one who has inspired them to continue working this depleted land with the dream of restoring its productivity.
Last summer we began a partnership with the Green Schools Network in northern Haiti. The organizers of the network have worked with school administrators and teachers to develop innovative ways for students to learn and practice ecological restoration throughout their education. We asked for your help and support to build a permanent nursery at the school in Gran Plenn as our first project together.
Earlier this week explorers announced that they had located the wreckage of Christopher Columbus' flagship, the Santa Maria, off the northern coast of Haiti. For more than 500 years the ship has been sitting beneath the Caribbean Sea mostly ignored by researchers. It was only after retracing Columbus' steps from his original encampment in Haiti that anyone realized the identity of the vessel.
The United States is one of the world’s largest food aid providers, yet its practices are inefficient, in part because of the transportation restrictions. Currently, 50% of all aid given must be sent on U.S.-flagged ships, a rule known as Cargo Preference. The argument for this rule is to maintain a reserve of vessels for times of war, and to support the maritime industry. At the start of 2014 Congress passed some modest food aid reforms in what is known as the Food for Peace Act. These reforms included ways we could more quickly reach the hungry at a lower cost to U.S.