"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded.
And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager

With Ya, my Ga tutor in Mallam
The Rev. Mike Kinman
Executive Director
Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation
Age: 38

Check out Forsyth School ...
where Robin teaches and
the boys attend.

Since you're already blowing time surfing,
why not do some cool stuff

  • Watch the Make Poverty History videos
  • Watch Sara McLachlan's "World on Fire" video
  • Take a seat at Oxfam America's Hunger Banquet
  • Look at the "Eight Ways to Change The World" photo exhibition
  • See how rich you are on the Global Rich List
  • Make a promise to do something cool -- and get people to do it with you
  • Use your computer to fight HIV/AIDS and other diseases

    While you're at it, do these things
  • Join the ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History
  • Join the Episcopal Public Policy Network
  • Join Amnesty International
  • Subscribe to Sojourners Online newsletter about faith, politics and culture
  • Sign the Micah Call and join other Christians in the fight against poverty
  • Subscribe to a great new magazine about women and children transforming our world

    People who show us What One Person Can Do
  • Liza Koerner (Teaching soccer and doing mission work in Costa Rica)
  • Erica Trapps (Raising money so Tanzanian children can go to school -- check out her photo gallery)

    What's happening in Sudan might
    surprise (and shock) you

  • Episcopal Diocese of Lui
  • South Sudanese Friends International
  • The Sudan Tribune
  • SudanReeves -- research, analysis and advocacy
  • Save Darfur
  • Darfur: a genocide we can stop

    For your daily fix on the irreverent...
  • Jesus of the Week
  • The Onion

    Interesting People Who Are Great To Read
  • Beth Maynard's excellent U2 sermons blog
  • Global Voices Online
  • Neha Viswanathan - poetry, commentary, humor, reflections

    Some interesting organizations and programs
  • Borgen Project - poverty reduction through political accountability
  • CARE
  • Center of Concern
  • DATA: Debt, AIDS and Trade in Africa (Bono's site)
  • El Circulo de Mujeres/Circle of Women
  • Engineering Ministries International
  • Episcopal Peace Fellowship
  • Episcopal Relief and Development
  • FreshMinistries
  • Global Campaign Against Poverty
  • Global Ministries
  • Global Work Ethic Fund -- Promoting philanthropy and fundraising in developing and transition countries.
  • Karen Emergency Relief Fund
  • Magdalene House
  • The M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
  • Natural Capitalism
  • NetMarkAid - Humanitarian Entrepreneurs
  • North American Association for the Diaconate
  • Peace Child International
  • People Building Peace
  • Project Honduras
  • Results - Creating political will to end hunger
  • St. Paul's Institute
  • Stop Global AIDS
  • TakingITGlobal -- connecting youth for action in local and global communities
  • Tanzania Educational AIDS Mission
  • TEAR (Transformation, Empowerment, Advocacy, Relief) - An Australian Christian anti-poverty movement
  • Working For Change
  • Xigi.net -- an open-source tool to aid discovery in the capital markets that fund good.

    Some Episcopal churches and dioceses doing cool things
  • Companions of Swaziland - Diocese of Iowa's Companion Relationship
  • International Development Missions -- St. Paul's Church, Sparks, NV
  • The Malaria Villages Project - St. Paul's Church, West Whiteland, PA

    Must-read books and websites about them
  • What Can One Person Do: faith to heal a broken world -- Sabina Alkire & Edmund Newell
  • The End of Poverty -- Jeffrey Sachs

    Learn more about things you really should know more about
  • UN Millenium Development Goals
  • The Millennium Campaign
  • AIDS Matters - a resource for global AIDS professionals
  • Christian Aid's in-depth report: "Millennium Lottery: Who lives and who dies in an age of third world debt?"
  • Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Poverty Mapping
  • Solutions for a water-short world
  • Transparency International: The global coalition against corruption
  • UNICEF's State of The World's Children report 2005

    General cool and/or goofy stuff
  • Alicebot chat robot
  • Bono Quotes -- but what's really wild is that it's from a page on Boycottliberalism.com!
  • Buffy Slanguage
  • Big Bunny

    Useful web tools
  • Gcast - make your own podcast
  • Podzinger - podcast search engine
  • Orb - streaming digital media

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    Listed on Blogwise
  • Saturday, March 10, 2007
    Words made flesh

    This is Tena. At least I think that's his name. He's probably only 3-4 years old and that's the best I could understand him the several times I asked him.

    Tena lives in a township outside Pretoria called Lekgema. He doesn't live with his parents. His parents are both died from AIDS. Tena is probably HIV-positive, too.

    One of my struggles with the conference thus far is how almost completely didactic the program has been. The content has been mostly excellent, but other than breaks (of which there aren't many) there have been almost no chances to really mix it up in dialogue. Program has been fairly well confined to speakers (again, most of whom have been very good) and then Q&A with them ... but no chance to engage each other -- even in workshops.

    The result is content that engages the head without the relationship that engages the whole person. And as someone who thrives on relationship, it's been a little frustrating ... and I've been living for the breaks!

    No such problem today. Today I skipped out on the conference and went with Mark Andrus' Pilgrimage for Peace Group on a trip to a township outside Pretoria ... to Lekgema ... to a day care center for AIDS orphans administered by the Diocese of Pretoria called Tumelong Mission.

    That's where I met Tena.

    There were lots of kids there, but Tena captured me immediately -- literally. As we got off our bus and were guided into Tumelong Haven (a day care center for AIDS orphans we were visiting) to hear song and drama performances by the children, there was a cooler with bottled water for us. I hadn't yet gotten one and so Tena came up to me, grabbed me by the hand and dragged me over to the cooler to get my water. Later, when I slipped out of the room to look around and found him, he smiled at me, grabbed me by the hand and dragged me back to the room where he felt I was supposed to be.

    This was a child with purpose!

    A little bit later when we were standing out on the porch, I came up to him again and he smiled and then tried to run in between my knees. My younger son, Hayden, is about his size so I did what I do with H -- waited until he was halfway through and closed my legs and said "gotcha!" And just like Hayden, Tena laughed and wriggled free ... and then came back again and again and again to continue the game.

    Tena is one of about 75 children who come to the Haven six days a week. Admission is free ... well ... that's not exactly true. The children don't pay anything to attend, but the admission fee is the death certificate of your parent. Christina, the woman who runs the Haven, told me that all of the children there are orphans and almost all of them are HIV-positive, too.

    The HIV infection rate in S. Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho teeters near 30%. In South Africa, among children it is estimated between 5 and 6 percent. It is the region on earth most devastated by the pandemic.

    In this context, Tumelong Haven does remarkable work. The staff of close to 20
    *brings them to and from their homes (headed by grandparents or older siblings
    *gives them nutritious meals
    *ensures they are properly cared for and cleaned
    *provides school-going children with uniforms and stationery for schools, counseling, homework supervision and school fees.
    *does home visits to assess their emotional and physical conditions
    *provides food parcels to those that need them most
    *teaches Saturday classes for school-going children

    Everywhere we looked was evidence of an operation that strived for excellence. And yet despite this, and despite the dire situation, Tumelong Haven is in danger of losing its primary funding. A good portion of its money comes from the National Lottery ... only their grant ran out last month and they haven't heard whether it will be renewed. If not, Christina says, they will not be able to afford any staff salaries.

    "Will the staff still come?" I asked.

    "Of course!" she answered quickly.

    She looked genuinely surprised at the question.

    Others who were there witnessed a drama put on by some of the older children (I was outside playing with Tena!). Bob Brooks, rector of Grace Church in Providence, told me about it on the bus ride back. He said one by one, four or five kids came forward while the rest of the group was singing softly and told their story, dropping to their knees. They told the story in their native tongue, but Bob said he asked afterward what one of them had said and they said he was telling the story of the death of his parents and about how "life was suffering."

    The story was a common one.

    And yet as Amber noted as we were leaving, these children were as loving and affectionate as any we've ever met -- even the older ones. They hadn't un-learned unbridled affection as children often do as they get older. They laughed and played. They took our sunglasses and wore them and paraded around for each other. We gave them our cameras and they took pictures of each other. We stood in a circle and played games (I tried teaching them to sing "Louie, Louie" as part of a circle game and experienced the same inability to grasp cultural mores that they experience when they try to teach us their songs!)

    A young man in the Pilgrimage group named Eric, who had also taken a side trip that only a few went on to the AIDS hospital, where many of these children's parents died, marveled on the way to our next stop how despite the deep tragedy of their lives they were still able to choose joy.

    This week so far has been full of facts and figures. It's been full of beautiful theology and some mind-boggling and even heart-rending stories shared over meals and tea.

    But if the theology is really true -- and it certainly is. And if the facts and figures are really true -- and they certainly are. Then where the two meet is in children like Tena.

    And if, as Rowan Williams suggests, as we come to the Eucharistic table we should as we are looking forward, look sideways and ask how we can be a part of Christ nourishing our fellow guest -- it's in places like Tumelong Haven where the rubber hits the road.

    And if the Word was really made flesh and not made text ... then it has to change us. It has to change our hearts ... and change our actions.

    I know I will never play the "run between my knees" game with my children again without thinking of Tena. But as with all encounters like this, the privilege of choice is mine. Will Tena remain a picture on a blog page, a story told of a trip past, a memory revisited from the vantage point of safety.

    Or will I choose to let what touched my heart, change how I live my life?
    Mike at 3/10/2007 01:52:00 PM

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    Episcopalians for
    Global Reconciliation

    EGR is an organization resourcing a grassroots movement of spiritual transformation in the Episcopal Church to end extreme poverty on this planet.

    The structure for this movement is the Millennium Development Goals -- 8 goals committed to by all member nations of the UN and a unique partnership of governments and civil society to:

    *End extreme poverty
    *Achieve universal
    primary education

    *Promote gender equalty
    *Improve maternal health
    *Reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
    *Promote environmental sustainability
    *Build a global partnership for development

    EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.

    Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.

    "Christ's example is being demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy, which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here. If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't, it will be irrelevant."
    - Bono


    What I'm Reading
    Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
    by Doris Kearns Goodwin