Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Mysterious One{Excerpt from the MENDACITY}

After a long pause from the usual fun loving activities that the villagers were used to,Caridad decided to cast off the 'mourning' and bring back the happy times. Through all of this Edra continued to strut her stuff. There is something to say about those who create discord and can live happily ever after. This was Edra, undisturbed by the rift she had caused, took herself out of this dismal picture and almost with a scorn wondered what is ailing us, as she goes about her business nonchalantly.

Here comes Edra, she was armed with boxes of her photos, singing at night clubs, community halls and weddings. Her small flier with bad spelling and bad grammar stated that she was available to perform for any occasion. But Caridad saw this as an opportunity to assist once more, maybe focusing on this talent would get her out of this rut she seemed to get herself in. Edra loved to be the center of attraction, she was a fierce competitor and shut down immediately if anyone seemed to be moving in on her spotlight.

The villagers were planning a social gathering where anyone could 'show us what you got.' This was right up Edra's alley and she began secretly to put her program together. We know this for sure because while everyone talked about their costumes, their dance steps and other plans, her lips were shuttered tight. Strange, they labeled this. Edra wore so many tags. Caridad also began to notice a splash of bright color in her clothing. The somber looking outfits were fast disappearing. Many thought that the long sleeves and polyester clothing in the midst of the summer heat were meant to draw attention to the Unique one, Edra. But this only drew more whispers and no one gave her the time of day, except Caridad; others giggled and made her the centerpiece of their conversation.

That's exactly what Edra wanted, the half smile, the tall tales became her way of operating. And through this a strange thing happened, Nubia and Sierra were drawn to this mysterious one; totally immersed in her stories even though they did not believe a word she uttered. These two villagers had their shady past also but were converts who had began to backslide when they started to keep company with Edra. The Mysterious one began to bring small tokens and trinkets as gifts to lure the villagers and once the bait had been set, she was able to reel in Nubia and Sierra. She had bought them out, they were intrigued by the imaginary life she portrayed and through the laughter and cunningness she continued to recruit.

Each of Edra's finger had a ring, a watch on each wrist. There were chains roped around her neck, some thick, some thin, all different lengths. The silver anklet hung from dry ankles and the broken down shoe with scoffed heels had seen better days but Edra was on display. This was her new thing, loads of jewelry, diamond studs in a eight-hole row alongside her ear lobe. What a spectacle she had become! Again,Caridad knew this was a cry for attention but the villagers just added this to their list of strange behaviors.

These villagers loved the excitement of celebrations, the connection they shared was further glued during these precious moments that they came together as if only this clan exist in the great wide world. This talent show had them revved up and ready for bursts of laughter. Those belly laughs were memorable as they watched their peers get down low and dirty. Caridad's mind strayed to Edra."What is the mysterious one planning for this much anticipated event?" She knows that if Edra did not win a prize, if all eyes were not focused on her, then she would act out her disappointment and bring sadness to the village.

Caridad was startled by the presence of Mercy who had returned for a visit. Everyone welcomed her and the cold reaction from Edra was expected. Mercy was cordial and as she caught up on all the happenings, Caridad knew she had to get the show on the road to avoid stirring up any bad feelings. For a long time there had not been such great fun but Mercy's presence had Edra seething, her eyes showed disapproval and Caridad knew that she was planning to do something unpleasant.

The villagers were chanting 'Edra, Edra' much to her delight. She walked in rapid pace, gyrating, swinging her hips, bobbing her head from left to right. She was stooped to the ground, her stares were directed to Mercy and seemed to say,"can you do this?" "No you can't!" "I am the star and I will never allow you to rain on my parade." She swung around with blood shot eyes and the trademark smirk on her face. She beckoned to her two posse and tried hard to engage the rest of the folks who were gaping at this pathetic scene. Some hid their faces too ashamed to look at this spectacle. Who is this mysterious woman? Caridad was certain of an unknown
past and she expected more trouble from the village braggart, another name they had put on her.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Come Join Our Community of Spirited Women Next Time Around.

Mary Ann's Tribeca Mexican moved away a few blocks but that did not stop us from hunting down the new location. We wanted to once more experience the great tasting food and free-spirited atmosphere. This gem of a restaurant is a perfect reason to get dolled up. It has been only three months since the members of the Women's Club met but everyone was greeting one another with excitement and glee, as if years had passed since we last met. This is what I am trying to tell you, the atmosphere at Mary Ann's allows that openness. We were loud, our smiles spread across our face from ear to ear. We called out the person's name as they entered, we ran over to hug another who had escaped us in all this merriment. It was as if the paparazzi was in town but no, it was the amateur photographers from our group, snapping away; bright lights shone from their cameras as they call out for someone, anyone to come over to pose for yet another photo.

The restaurant's other patrons were eyeing us with smiles pasted on their faces, the looks said, "may we join your fun loving group?" We talked at rapid speed, some worked the room, moving from table to table, meandering from end to end, bouncing into each other, until we finally settled down to allow the waitress to take our orders. Kudos to the brave soul who dressed up and modelled one of the dresses on display. I told the story of the big heart seamstress who was making these beautiful dresses for young girls in Zambia and Haiti. Thanks for the entertainment, you looked marvelous.

Our non-stop chatter was about everyday living. Among us were three retirees and three others who had flown the coop and had new employers but still wanted to hang with us. There were also new faces and of course the regulars, loyalists to the bone. The conversations became livelier, especially for those sipping liquor-infused drinks. From the looks of the empty plates, Mary Ann's had earned another stripe in the great tasting category.

Each time we meet I gain a greater appreciation for living, living with intentions. Tonight I got the genuine flavor of this gathering. Our small group of twenty-one showed sheer bliss. It was a small but mighty group, full of energy. But what was all this hoopla about? As we bid adieu, our restaurant jester, who may have taken a sip too many called for a monthly gathering, like she always does when she is 'high' on excitement. She even wanted dancing added. See you in three months my friends, by then you will be hungry again, rather starving for another girl's night out. I make no promises but I will see what I can do about us cutting a rug{dancing}.

The glow from our faces lit up the way as dusk began to fall. On the way home as my mind wanders, I couldn't help thinking why this gathering continues to gain momentum? Why the novelty has not yet worn out? Tonight we had laid down our worries, if only for a moment and brought sunshine into our lives. That's what the hoopla was about and I can still hear the chatter and the laughter even hours later.
Looking for the next cuisine, setting the next gathering date are done with doses of love for the women who warmly received the open invitations.
All is well!

"When We Have Shoes, We All Have Shoes, When We Have No Shoes, We have No Shoes Together"

When I read this quotation, I thought how befitting, this sets the tone perfectly for the Choose To Care Organization which provides shoes for underprivileged children at home and abroad. I know very well that this wise man is not referring to shoes. Anthony Mulongo to whom this quote is attributed is the founder of "Mudzini Kwetu", a home in distant Kenya, East Africa, for parent less young girls who are left on the streets to fend for themselves. I am also in awe of Thomas Keown, a man from Boston who founded "One Home Many Hopes" here in the USA to help Anthony Mulongo. I have followed their progress for over a year and I am amazed at their achievements. They are now laying the foundation for a new home to accommodate more parent less girls. One day I will appear on their doorsteps to offer my services. For now CHOOSE TO CARE Organization has gladly made connection with One Home Many Hopes/Mudzini Kwetu and has added them to our list of beneficiaries. Here is an updated list:

*Association Solidarite Chambellanaise, Brooklyn based/building an Elementary School in Haiti and other projects.

*Active Compassion Transforms(ACT), NY based/ supports the School of Hope in Cape Town, South Africa.

*Adults, Juvenile, Empowered(AJE), Miami based/ supports orphanage in Haiti.

*Anchovy Primary School,Jamaica, West Indies/supporting the very poorest children.

*Child Fund,USA based/shoes for children in Sri Lanka.

*Children International,USA based/shoes for sponsored children in Zambia

*Fiver Children's Foundation,NY based/mentoring program for disadvantaged children.

*Vineyard Ministries,Bronx based/youth Program.

Peace and Love!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Linda and her 'Mean" Machine

Linda called, all excited. She had just read in the Woman's Day magazine about a woman in Utah who after hearing about young girls in Zambia who were without clothing had decided to do something about it. She began to make dresses using a simple Tee shirt as the top and attaching a skirt in various styles. Soon after this story was publicized another group of women thought this was a great idea and formed a sewing club to make these simple dresses.

This is the power of word of mouth and this brings me back to Linda who was bursting at the seams, no pun intended as she related the story to me. Linda has introduced her game plan to her sewing group and word of this good deed has began to spread like wildfire in her neighborhood. Those whose fingers are not too nimble have donated tee shirts or a small token to purchase tee shirts. Others have made a few dresses once they had gotten the gist of this simple pattern.

I have seen the dresses and I am amazed at the beauty of these styles. Some of the dresses are made with pleats, some are gored. There are those for casual wear and others for a dressier occasion. She has pledged to make one hundred dresses for the Utah group and they will be responsible for shipping the goods to Zambia.

Opportunities to volunteer are everywhere. Linda bubbles over with excitement when she talks about the ease and pleasure she gets from cutting and stitching. This on top of all her other volunteer demands. She never seem to tire. I went shopping with Linda to pick up some more tee shirts from the discount store. Her "little dress shop" a back-room in her house, was neatly packed with tee shirts and scraps of materials that will turn this ordinary top into a thing of beauty.

She told me that her neighbor asked,"what about Haiti?" and without missing a beat she made a promise to sew for them too. The sewing machine will be working overtime but Linda will whip up these dresses at the bat of an eye. The group who started this has invited Linda to their big charity celebration in the upcoming year but she is too humble to participate in such activities. My friend told me she would pay her to make a dress for her grandaughter and I told her that this request is on the house. Linda is my mother and she does not charge for her kindness.

All is well!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Furor in the Village{Excerpt from the Mendacity} by BRAWTA

The villagers were not going to tolerate this anymore, this woman had landed on their doorstep and had caused more trouble than she was worth. They demanded that Caridad, the overseer fixed this new dispute or else they were forced to take sides. Caridad appealed to the clan but discussion after discussion would not appease them. This time Edra had gone too far, she had threatened a fellow villager and denied that this ever took place. Words of disgust rolled off their tongues when they described Edra and her malicious ways. The village reeked with hatred. The once lively place had unhappiness dwelling in it's midst. Caridad was disappointed that they would not give any more chances to Edra but she respected their decisions.

Edra was a dismal picture, a half smile was forever pasted on her face. "Good, it seemed to say, I have put you in your places, now let's see how Caridad is going to fix this?" Caridad knew that if she abandoned her, Edra would sink into a deeper depression and cast a worst shadow over the village than she had already done. What is the solution? It is as if the goddess of Joy had deserted them and in it's place Lucifer had cast a spell commanding evil, calling for darkness, removing laughter.

Caridad, not one to take defeat knew that there must be some way out of this mess. She sized up the situation, decided she would deal with the clan much later, right now Edra was the danger she had to pay closer attention to. What would be her next move? No one had enough eyes to watch her, all they knew was that she was not good news and they were keeping their distance. Caridad had a long talk with Edra, her dull appearance, fierce bloodshot eyes frightened her but she refused to show fear. What did this woman want? Why was she bent on destroying all goodness? Where did this darkness come from?

Caridad listened to stories of her family, a mother who had died when she was young, shot by an unknown perpetrator. She described a house full of siblings, aunts and uncles who thought their children were of a better and more wholesome stock. Caridad found so many holes in these intriguing stories and she asked only a few questions because Edra began to slur her words, move around uneasily and peppered each sentence with "you know", "It's like", "That's what I am talking about." whenever Caridad added some sympathy to her long and doubtful tales. Fearing that she would make things worse, she kept her doubts to herself and allowed Edra to spin stories after stories which were weaved with lies and drama.

Caridad knew that Faith can do miracles but how do you talk about the Divine One, the mercy of the Father, The Forgiving one? How do you introduce such language to someone who took her lessons from the street and according to her have participated in numerous unpleasant and dangerous experiences. She told the story of her sideline as a dancer, She danced in many community events and was looking to become a budding star. As she began to get gigs she saw hope but in this business she quickly learned there are cut throats. When someone else received a job with a big band, she was angry that she lost out on what she thought would be a chance to launch her career. She lashed out at the dashing recruiter with whom she claimed she was having an affair. Once she realized he had eyes for this other person, she reported the affair to the Authorities because she was just sixteen years old. Before long the recruiter had a mental breakdown and had to leave town.

This story would remain etched in Caridad's mind and she knew that this woman had unfinished business to take care of, she needed deeper consultation. Caridad knew that beyond that tough exterior was a child-like manner that made you feel pity but Caridad also knew that wickedness was lurking just around the corner and would pounce on you at any given moment. Right now Caridad knew she was handcuffed to this sordid mess and it would be a long time before the key would be found to unlock this tight hold.

Caridad dismissed Edra and remained alone to take in the day's event, Her mind began to wander and for a fleeting moment the thought of dropping Edra like a hot cake came to her. This would ease her trouble and bring the village back to vibrancy. She knew this was wishful thinking. She had long felt this call to her life to give a helping hand and although sometimes the call is not easy she never allowed that to get in her way. Helping the downtrodden is a throwback to the way Caridad was raised. Her Granny Maudeline was always ready to help those in need including Caridad's friends. This explains Caridad's link to Edra.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


The sparkle of my journey of faith to Zambia has not faded although it has been some time now. After returning from that awesome visit with Margaret and Elizabeth, the two teenagers whom I sponsor through Children International, I wrote and thanked them for allowing me in their lives and for the wonderful experience I had on our various excursions. I waited anxiously for their reply."Wait a minute Mr. Postman, look and see if there's a letter in your bag for me?"

Their letter was short and sweet. In their child-like handwriting, they wrote of the happiness they felt on seeing me and that they were wearing their new clothing to school. "I remember what you told me about doing my best in school and I am studying very hard." Elizabeth wrote. I am glad she has began to heed my advice, because only through education will they have a chance to a better life.

Mr. Postman flooded my mailbox with a very important letter from Ecuador where another of my sponsored child lives. The news is also exciting, my sponsored child will be graduating from High School and I see another journey in the works. This time I hope to witness a young man prepare to meet the big wide world.

So when people ask me why I give, my response is always that this simple act has touched the most important aspects of my life; faith, family and education. I give because it provides an opportunity for those in great need to have a constant means of support in our uncertain world. After all Today's teenagers will be tomorrow's adults.
All is well!