Monday, April 21, 2014

Medical Volunteering this August in Cap Hatien, Haiti

Honor folks,
I am currently running a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for my medical volunteer mission to Cap Hatien in August. I have worked with the VOSH folks in the past, but this year, they have asked me to be an ambassador with them to Cap Hatien, in the north of Haiti.  VOSH is Volunteer Optometric Service to Humanity, and the local chapter is hosted by my dear friend, Dave McPhillips.  Dave has been doing eye work all over the world, and has turned his amazing talents to my favorite island Haiti.  I have done translation work for him, fund raising, donations and tried (failing spectacularly) to teach him creole. Well, he's medical skills are impeccable, even if his creole is not.

Dave has a large family, a big medical practice, a passion for collecting sports memorabilia that borders on fanatical and he still manages to work in Haiti four times a year. I wish I had half his stamina. So having spent many years saying I would go, this year, I am. I will be going with him to translate, carry bags and do paperwork in Milot, which is outside of Cap Hatien. Last year, Dave and company saw a staggering 1500 people in a little over five days. The need is always pressing, but those numbers can give even the most stalwart of us pause. 500 people a day - in the course of a ten hour day, that's 50 patients an hour by four doctors and eight volunteers. Staggering. Maybe I need to start drinking rum now.

VOSH numbers in general will give you pause: from their Facebook page - "Since 1997, more than 235,000 patients have been treated, over 160,000 eye glasses provided, and 16,455 sight-restoring surgeries performed."  Like I said, the need is staggering, but these folks are doing it the right way. They are training local doctors to do the eye exams and critical care, not just giving them a hand out. And its working. There are three new clinic in Milot, Cap Hatien and a small village just outside of the Citadelle.  Having gotten those practices established,  Dave is now turning his talents to my hometown of Jacmel, where the local need is just as big as it is in the north of Haiti. With the help of some of my contacts and friends there, Dave hopes to have at least one clinic up and running by next year. Ayibobo to that!

I am asking for some help to get there and back. I am running a GoFundMe campaign to help with my own costs of getting there. Anything money collected that is above and beyond my immediate expenses will be donated to VOSH for eyeglasses, contact lens, medicines and surgical supplies. I will take lots of photos, blog heavily, cry a lot and try not to be a burden to anyone, much less you all.

If you can spare me some money, I promise you will not regret sending it. My campaign page is here: Thank you for helping me get to Haiti, so I can participate in this very worthy cause. Ayibobo!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April is Mambo Petro

April:  Mambo G picked the Mambo Petro card:  Legba said, “This can be a sexual or physical alliance.  Sometimes it means exercise.  Sometimes it means physical konesans.  Let go of things that hold you back.”  Traditional meaning: Be willing to dive deep this month, to find the answers you seek – whether it is inside of you or somewhere outside.

This card has always given me pause.  As a Mambo I am always hyper-aware of myself and my words, actions, and gestures.  I constantly review what I am doing, how I am doing it. When I write to you either as a group or individually, I check and re-check my words – to make sure I said what I meant to say and did not imply something else. On a recent TV show, one character said “I always examine my feelings for motive.”  I feel much the same – what am I saying and why am I saying it.  Hence, my pause over this card.

The traditional meaning is one of intimate power. We see a nude woman sitting astride a bright red snake, flames extruding from its mouth.  The card exudes sexual innuendo galore – she is Babylon of the Bible, or Pomba Gira of Quimbanda, displaying her female sexuality in full command of the allegorical snake she is riding. But she is also the Queen of Wands in the traditional deck.  There she is imagined as a woman with a small black feline at her feet, a sunflower in one hand. The implication here is one of fertility, sensuality, life.

Glassman’s queen is all that and more.  The traditional little black cat has been re-imagined as a fiery red serpent and she communes with it in a green field, in the nude.  Her sunflower has been blasted into the flames that the serpent breathes out, and the entire image is one of energy and power.  This queen is stripped down, there is no need for decoration or decorum. She does not need the trappings of her office to command the serpent.  This queen is a take no prisoners kind of woman.

When this card comes forward, the meaning is one of cleansing and clearing. The Petro Mambo is a stern queen. She does not mince words, and doesn’t candy-coat the discussion. It is what it is. Her ability to speak clearly is supported by the fiery breathe of the serpent – her very konesans in physical form, writhing between her legs, lending her its strength to conquer what’s in front of her.  One way of looking at having the serpent as an ally is to acknowledge the gifts of knowledge, transformation and secrecy. It also means taking the plunge for yourself.  The Serpent in the Garden of Eden did not make Eve eat the apple - he merely implied that if she did, wondrous things would come her way. This serpent on the card is making the same statement - embrace all that I have to offer and find the truth of your divine nature.

This month, be prepared to hear the hard truth.  It won’t be easy and it won’t come with sugar to make it more palatable. It will be tough talk that will hurt - not intentionally, but for your own good.  That hard talk will bring about transformation, hot and fast. It will be a change for the better, even if it doesn’t feel like that at first.

As Betty Davis once said, hang on – it’s going to be a bumpy ride.