Wednesday, September 29, 2010

setting captives free

Approximately 100 bodies packed the preschool classroom where the Sunday services in Kolet take place. Those who arrived later clung to the windows from the outside to catch the show. As I looked around the audience, standing in the back, I could see the sweat streaming down their rich dark skin, babies suckling on their mothers´ breast, children crawling between legs to go further up, but their eyes fixed on the action in the front of the room. I stood in disbelief as I witnessed the group of eight feed off the energy of the audience, improvising and hooking the spectators/spec-actors, having them roaring with laughter and interacting with the characters on stage. “God, these are the same that started with me a few months back, the lacked the courage to speak up loud enough for me to hear.” The miracles continue.

The conversation about the play and the possible solutions continues. People are still playing the game, searching for solutions in their own minds. In our own house on Sunday the conversations revolved around the play and the situation in the educational system, Nazareth and Rose, both discussing possibilities for the oppression to come to an end.

I knew nothing as to what would come out of Theater of the Oppressed in Jean Rabel and tried to follow the Divine Spirit with the eight, taking it day by day.

A missioner who began working in the Northwest of Haiti eight years ago saw the play last Thursday, before we presented it to an audience. After seeing the play we sat together and she asked me, “Luisely, you know that what you are doing in there is not simply theater, right?” “Yes,” I answered. “People in high places may not like you shining the light on these realities.” “Yes,” I answered.

The troop will travel around the department (state) by foot performing in different communities. Tomorrow we will present the play for a group of 48 educators from around the state. May the Holy One continue guiding us, giving us the courage and wisdom to continue seeking the truth, challenging one another, questioning systems, shining light on the oppression in search of justice. May we Love one another through theater, through laughter, drums, and tears.

With you,


P.S.: Neida, you are right, step by step (drenched in faith).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Theater of the Oppressed

Theater of the Oppressed is a form of theater started by a Brazilian director, Agusto Boal. Theater of the Oppressed presents a play in a variety of locations, from the street to a theater, that reflects a situation of oppression lived by the people of that area. Here in Jean Rabel a group of 7 women along with 1 man have journeying with me, exploring their realities to create a play that challenges spectators to change their reality. During this journey the group acted out numerous scenarios of oppression, opening my eyes to unspoken realities. In the beginning they didn´t know the definition of oppression, as soon as I explained the concept they recognized it. Every day they opened their eyes to more situations which they would act out and search for solutions, not through discussions, but by acting it out in the theater. There have been days when I have come home to cry after seeing the injustices and their reactions to them.

We created a piece which we plan to perform in the streets, in different communities, in different places of education that reveals the realities of the educational system here in Jean Rabel. The play highlights corruption in the administration and different ways students and parents deal with the system. The play lasts about 25 minutes and from that point on the audience begins to play. One of the actors, Ermithe, in this case, takes the role of the Joker. She invites the audience to become part of the piece to search for a solution to the injustice by entering the play as one of the oppressed characters. The spectator now becomes a spec-actor, a term coined by T.O. The audience member, or spec-actor, says what scene they would like to enter in and as what character. The actor who played the role in the play gives the spec-actor a part of their costume and the spec-actor begins to act out the solution with the other actors on stage. This continues until the audience decides that a solution has been found, or until they decide they are done. The practice of theater of the oppressed believes that the audience teaches the actors, as much as the actors teach the audience.

It becomes a game the audience wants to win, a game which reflects their lives, a game that may help them change their realities of oppression.

Last week, the group I have been working with decided that the play works wonderfully, but that there is no solution. I heard this slightly heartbroken because after all this time trying to motivate them to search for creative solutions, without violence, they threw in the towel with the play they created. I listened to them and told them, we could continue with the theater, but if they did not believe a solution could be found we would not perform the play for others. I explained that I didn´t say this as a threat, rather as a form of respect for the people of Jean Rabel. “If we go around performing the play without believing in a solution we are going around showing a reality they already now without giving hope of liberation. That is not theater of the oppressed. We can´t ask others to see hope for change if we ourselves are not willing to do the same.” I asked all of them to come up with one solution each for the following session. They did.

We plan on going through with the play; we will see what comes out of it. I pray that it motivate a few to dare to search for solutions and maybe plant seeds of hope in others.

With you,


P.S.: If you have more questions, please ask, I’m more than happy to answer.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


My beloveds!

I haven´t abandoned you, you´ve been in my thoughts and prayers. I´ve received emails regarding the last post, that I did in an attempt to show you that I was still with you, but it didn´t seem to have much success, so here I am.

The two in the last post are Fabio and Pierre (whose mother leaves him in Kay Pov for the elderly to care for him while she goes to the market to sell the goods she can). He fell a week before the picture was taken and still is wounded and that´s why he has the handkerchief wrapped around his arm. All of those in Kay Pov care for him, feeding him (and his mother), scolding him, pampering him, cleaning him, and protecting him. The relationship is beautiful; the way Pierre melts in the arms of Fabio or goes running into his arms in laughter is precious. Pierre adds a spirit to Kay Pov that only a child can add.

This past week prayers were answered, as in every week. The day before Yvka and I were going to go open the account with Madame La Croix and before we began our visits asking for money around the community, three blessings paid us a visit. A priest from Jean Rabel who now resides in the US came along with two of his friends to visit Nazareth. As we sat outside sharing ideas and passions, livestock and dancing, the priest expressed a desire, “I have $5,000 that I had in mind to put towards a center for the elderly, but I have been praying about putting it towards Kay Pov instead.” This came from him, I hadn´t mentioned the ideas or the fundraising. Nazareth immediately directed him towards me, “She´s the one you need to talk to.” The conversation was gloriously providential. The other two gentlemen with him were equally thrilled and willing to pay Kay Pov a visit.

Their eyes, ears, noses, feet, and heart opened to Kay Pov during their visit. They each expressed their desire for the conditions to become more humane, so the conversation continued. Many ideas are swirling in the air, while others are marinating in divine juices, our deep desire is to work with the people of Jean Rabel to hear their desires and to be able to work with them in a sustainable and just way for the people of Kay Pov. We are excited and we need your prayers.

I will keep you updated as we see where God takes us on this journey with Kay Pov. I´m excited!!! So excited!!!

With you,


P.S.: Walter´s better, yesterday evening he told me that God explained to him that I was going to marry a Haitian and have 6 to 7 children and stay net, or for good, in Haiti. I laughed hysterically, telling him that the message still hadn´t gotten it´s way around to me, but I´d be on the lookout. Doctor Geralda visited them today, as promised, explaining all the prescriptions to Yvka, who took on the responsibility of giving them their medications, at the required time and with a little snack if food is needed. I am filled with hope because the last few times that I´ve visited Kay Pov, I´ve met Yvka there doing the same, simply sitting and chatting. They´re our family.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

¡Dios me mima de una forma INCREIBLE!

Walter´s words have continued with me throughout the week and there is no way of not seeing the truth in them. My days continue to be filled with manifestations after manifestations of Divine accompaniment in everything. Mami doesn´t approve when I use absolutes, because in most cases they can lean towards an exaggeration of the truth, more than the truth. But this, Mami, is an exception. Everything I need, even if I don´t know I need it, is handed to me in a creative and abundant way.

From the simplest details like craving sardines this morning with the left over veggies and seeing that on the table Nazareth had placed a can of sardines. Or the ten hours of sleep I enjoyed last night, after telling God how much I truly needed a deep intense sleep. Ask and you shall receive.

On more elaborate details:

My deepest desire in my work here is that it be a journey with the people of Jean Rabel, in such a way that when I leave the work continue in the hands of the community, if that is their desire. Day by day my desires become realities.

Yvka, one of the mademoiselles who volunteers at Kay Pov, and I are raising funds from the community, local churches, organizations, and people with means in Jean Rabel for Kay Pov. The funds will be collected every September (God-willing) and will go in a micro-financing bank called Fonkoze. From those funds we will pay the administrator of Kay Pov (a position we have created), the lady who washes the clothes and sheets, and any miscellaneous work to be done for maintenance of the grounds, such as leveling out the yard. The administrator of Kay Pov (currently Yvka) is responsible for advocating for the people´s dignity and rights in Kay Pov, seeing that the changes needed occur, administrating all the funds, paying the workers of Kay Pov, buying the materials (soap, detergent, razors, etc.), collecting donations in September, visiting each person in Kay Pov every morning and evening to check on their needs, administer the volunteer work, give them their medicines, etc. The group of older women from the Catholic Church who were responsible for Kay Pov in the past fully agree and support this work, we have worked together with all those involved in Kay Pov and they praise God for the changes. Yvka gives herself completely to the work because she believes in it and the mademoiselles trust her and appreciate her. Thank you God!

The mayor, the pastor of the Catholic Church and the town in general agree with the work and plan on supporting it, an enormous step to where we were before.

What we need falls into our arms, if they´re open.

The theater of the Gospel continues to astound me. On Monday at least forty people came to take part in the preparation of Sunday´s gospel, the room could not house so many people so some crowded around the holes of the walls and the doors to listen and see. The reading was about the shepherd with 100 sheep. Even the parable fit perfectly with the amount of people who came to participate.

The play with the group of theater of the oppressed will be presented in the streets of Jean Rabel with the Haitian rhythm in the drums, songs, and dance. I know; I have yet to write in length about Theater of the Oppressed. Before the month ends I will. I sit in awe as I see the group act out their reality and their situations of oppression, sometimes its nauseating, others infuriating, and each time we learn from one another.

The salsa classes asked to perform a “spektakle,” as they call it. I confess that organizing performances and parties is not my favorite passed time, but I said yes, telling God to illuminate me with the choreography and all the other details. Indeed the Creator of all creation collaborated with me and the dance flowed out.

The yoga classes continue and the back aches are slowly waning.

The list of examples supporting the truth in Walter´s words is endless.

I want to share with you one of last night´s treats… If you can, read a letter that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote to a friend Adore and Trust in God. Another reminder of the Great company we all have.

With you,


Saturday, September 4, 2010

weeping in my father´s arms

As we work to bring sustainable change in Kay Pov opposition to the change arises. Following a meeting with the group of older women from the Catholic Church (Asdac), the mayor´s right hand, Stefan, and the pastor of the Catholic Church, Pe Nehemiah, I went to my haven in Kay Pov, to my family. Fabio opened his arms to receive me, I drew right into them and sobbed. All my frustrations, my sadness, my confusions, I let them go in his arms. Immediately Alex, George, and Flavio gathered around me repeating, “O, oh no, don´t cry, don´t cry.” Tiffany stood up and started screeching and bending back and forth occasionally letting out a laugh of hysteria.

Fabio unlocked me from his arms, set me back, looked into my flooding eyes and asked, “What´s wrong? Did someone do something to you?” Between my runny nose, gasps for air, broken Kreyol, and Tiffany´s chimes of laughter I´m not sure how much I got across, but he listened. They all listened intently. He held me in his arthritic, thin, dark arms until I let go.

I walked into Walter´s room to check on him before I left. The last few visits he´s been sleeping, his health continues declining. When I entered he seemed asleep again, but he scratched his mustache so I leaned in to whisper my blessings. When he heard my voice, his stillness left, “Luisely I mad at you!” “Ugh,” I thought, “Not today Walter.” “Why?” I asked with my congested nose from the tears. “My back hurt ooo so much and you come visit everyone, but me. I hear you speak and you forget me.” As I went explaining my respect for his apparent sleep and reminding him of my messages with the others full of kisses for him, he turned his head and reached out for me. “What´s wrong?” he interrupted. I stayed still; he had heard my tone of voice, felt the difference in my breathing and heard the congestion. “Why you cry?” His concern and his ability to read me without sight left my already vulnerable self in crumbs. I began to weep again he brought me in, as I leaned on his chest filling his shirt with tears and snot. I felt held by Papi. He felt my ribs, the same way he used to check on Stefanie, and asked, “Why you so bones? You eat?” “Yes, I´m eating Walter.” He allowed me to lean on him until my breath reached an almost normal pace and then he said, “God know.” He paused, “Luisely, we don´t need worry. God know. God always know.”

God´s reminders to live submersed in faith didn´t cease. The reading we read during our nightly reflection was the one where Jesus tells his friends to go further into sea and let down the nets. They doubted, but followed instructions. And look what happened. I need to continue with faith, because “God always know.”

With you,


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

lessons learned

Saturday, after a few hours swimming in the sea, I went to the place where I feel most at home and at ease in Jean Rabel, the house of the poor- Kay Pov. I sat with Alex and Tiffany in front of me, surprised to see Tiffany engaging in such a long incognizant conversation with me. Never had she maintained eye contact or a stream of mumbles for so long, mumbles that in her mind must have been quite a tale. I sat delighting in Alex´s notion of time and his way of keeping track of it.

Suddenly a young man, maybe my age, walked up to the patio where we sat. His pants unzipped, his belt hanging from the loops and his toothbrush in his pocket. I observed a bit protectively. He walked straight up to Flavio, Fabian, and Walter´s room. “Bonswa, komon w rele?” I asked waiting to see his manner of responding. The visitor responded with incongruent blabber directed to me, without hostility or sympathy. I asked Alex who he was and if he understood the response. “No, his head turns in circles” he answered referring to the visitor´s mental instability, this coming from Alex, whose head doesn´t necessarily follow a straight line, filled me with tenderness. Alex shared his little knowledge about the young man; he came from Cap-Haitian wanting to stay in Kay Pov, and the older ladies of the church denied him his request. That distracted Alex and he went off on a tangent about how stunning Cap-Haitian is, he had never been, but he had heard of its beauty, I must go visit he insisted.

As Alex went on about Cap-Haitian I saw Flavio walk up to the doorway with his metal bowl in one of his tough hands and his walking stick in the other. The young man practically snatched the bowl from his massive hand with a nod of gratitude, sat down on the floor next to the entrance and started inhaling the rice in it. It had been a while since I had witnessed someone eat so ferociously, because Analise, who gobbles her food, and others in Kay Pov, lack the physical strength and health to eat so rapidly. He looked nowhere as he ate; his eyes were fixed on the metal bowl filled with less rice by the mouthful. When no more rice remained Flavio walked towards him, picked up his now empty bowl and spoon, walked over to the faucet by the cistern, filled the bowl with water and served it to the young man. I paid close attention to see if an exchange of money or goods was to take place, but I waited in vain. The newcomer left as quickly and naturally as he arrived.

“Is he family Flavio?” I questioned.

“No, he´s hungry.”

Flavio responded matter-of-factly, as if giving his only bowl of food received daily to a stranger with more health, strength, and youth than him, but hungry just the same, was the most natural act.

The lessons never cease.

With you,