Thursday, December 08, 2016

Holiday 'To Do' List

Not sure where this list originated, but it was posted in the Facebook group Meet, Pray, Love, which is based in the United Kingdom.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Lame Duck Session is About to End...Without Consideration of Important Human Needs Priorities

They call it the "Lame Duck" session. This is the time of year when the current Congress (in this case the 114th Congress) is scrambling to get out of town and take care of unfinished legislative business during the period between mid-November and mid-December.

So what are the pending issues, from Bread for the World's standpoint? As Bread for the World managing editor Jennifer Gonzalez wrote in the Bread blog, the unfinished legislative business   includes:
  1. Global Maternal and Child Nutrition Funding-Bread’s initial request of $230 million for maternal and child nutrition in global health program has not been met yet.
  2. Criminal Justice Reform-We want Congress to pass sentencing reform bills that will take the first step toward comprehensive criminal justice reform)
  3.  Fiscal Year 2017 Federal Budget-Congress needs to pass a fiscal year 2017 federal budget that strengthens and protects international and domestic anti-hunger programs before the budget expires on Dec. 9.
  4. Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill-Congress has yet to reauthorize a child nutrition bill, even though we worked hard in 2015 to make it happen. It was the focus of that year’s Offering of Letters. Unless child nutrition reauthorization is passed by a lame duck session of Congress before the end of this year, and signed into law by President Obama, the legislation will have to start afresh after the new Congress and president take office in January.
'No Energy'
So, how is the process going regarding those issues? Apparently not so good.  Aside from a short-term resolution needed to keep the government open after Dec. 9, Congress is also expected to pass a medical research bill, a water resources bill, a defense authorization package and an energy bill, according to U.S. News and World Report.  "Those four things take up all the energy we have now" after a bitter, exhausting campaign year," Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo, was quoted as saying.

Well, there is another issue that is coming up during the Lame Duck session.  "Congressional Republicans are already working on a budget reconciliation bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), The Trump administration has signaled that they would like to sign it on Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, 2017," said Bread for the World president David Beckmann. " Bread has taken the stance that a well thought-out replacement for the ACA must be agreed upon before the healthcare legislation is repealed. This is the most responsible thing to do."

Back to Square One
Some legislators like Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas have expressed frustration that important issues like the Child Nutrition Reauthorization have been put on the shelf yet again.  And the latest delay means that legislators will have to start from scratch on a new CNR reauthorization bill in the 115th Congress.  “Today is a day I hoped would not come,” Roberts said. “I’m very disappointed that the bipartisan, bicameral Child Nutrition Reauthorization negotiations have come to an end for the 114th Congress."

“I’m proud of the commonsense reforms and the bipartisan strides we have made in the majority of the programs," added the Kansas senator.  "However, we are nearing the end of this legislative calendar, and we have not been able to overcome minority objections and additionally those in the House.  Read Sen. Roberts full statement

'Steadfast in Our Commitment'
As we focus on the actions (or lack of actions) during this brief legislative session, we are also looking ahead to the challenging legislative environment in 2017. "We are steadfast in our commitment to challenging any proposed cuts to domestic and international anti-poverty programs," said Beckmann.  "These programs are a lifeline to millions of people here and abroad. Deep program cuts would only drive more people into poverty. That would be a tragedy given the fact that our country and the world have made substantial progress against hunger and poverty over the last several decades."

"Let’s not despair about the tough road ahead. Remember, God is always active in history on the side of the widows, the orphans, and the immigrants, and people who are hungry," added Beckmann.  Read his full comments in Legislative Update for Dec. 5  in the Bread Blog.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Rick Steves Matches Your Gifts to Bread for the World

What is it that gets us involved in recognizing the value of Bread for the World? I happen to be a travel writer. I've spent one-third of my adult life living out of a 9-by-22-by-14 inch carry-on-the- airplane suitcase. I've spent a lot of times far away from the United States looking back at our country. What I find interesting is that we can learn a lot about our country by leaving it and looking at it from another perspective.  -Rick Steves (from his address to participants at Bread for the World's 40th anniversary celebration).
Steves chats with former Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa
Rick Steves helped us celebrate the passage of the Global Food Security Act with a message on Twitter this summer. The travel writer and television host is a dedicated member of Bread for the World, who supports our organization in many ways. This includes occasional participation in our Lobby Day.

As he does every Christmas season, Steves is offering his holiday package again this year. It's very simple  "Here’s how it works," said the travel writer. "You make a $100 gift to Bread for the World. I will match your donation – and send you my Christmas DVD, coffee-table book, and CD as a thank you. This year, my personal goal is to match all gifts up to $250,000."  Donate to Bread for the World and receive the gifts from Rick Steves

Steves has made extensive use of social media to post the message, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Here are the Twitter and YouTube messages.

"I see Bread for the World not as a charity, but as a service. With our help, they are able to go into the halls of our government and speak up (or “lobby”) for hungry people in our country and around the world. This year, the need is particularly great," said Steves  "Europe is in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Parts of Africa are suffering from a horrible drought. And one in five U.S. children still lives in a family that struggles to get enough to eat."

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Embraced by Your Presence

Enveloped in Your Light, may I be a beacon to those in search of Light. Sheltered in Your Peace, may I offer shelter to those in need of peace. Embraced by Your Presence, so may I be present to others. 

Rabbi Rami Shapiro

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Global Food Security Act is More Important than Ever

Remember that vote by Congress last summer to approve the Global Food Security Act? The measure was passed with strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The result of that vote takes on even greater significance with the results of the recent election. The new administration's stance on foreign aid and global poverty are uncertain. There could well be a scaling back in our international commitments. However, the GFSA is the now the law of the land, supported by huge majority of Republicans in both houses of Congress.

Photo: Joe Molieri, Bread for the World
Let me emphasize this again. The GFSA is a very important initiative. The act establishes a comprehensive strategy for the federal government to follow in all its international food-security programs. Special emphasis is placed on development efforts targeted to smallholder farmers, particularly women. It also promotes nutrition among pregnant women and newborns.

Making a Difference
Another important aspect of the GFSA is that the campaign was a collective effort led by Bread for the World. "Bread helped to build a coalition of organizations that supported GFSA, including international development and other faith-based groups. Bread and coalition partners helped educate congressional offices about the importance of GFSA and shore up support for the bill’s passage. Bread for the World and 29 other faith organizations joined InterAction, the alliance of 180 organizations working in developing countries, to present a statement of support for GFSA," Bread said in a brochure outlining the history of the advocacy efforts to approve this important act.

Here are other ways in which Bread for the World made a difference over a couple of years, ahead of the actual votes. (There were three separate votes).

• Bread for the World Institute emerged as a leading voice in the global nutrition movement.
• The Institute’s research made the case for Feed the Future— and for GFSA.
• Bread sent more than 1,000,000 emails urging its activists to contact Congress about GFSA.
• Bread educated its activists on the importance of GFSA and equipped them to advocate.
• Bread staff and activists communicated with key aides in over 100 Congressional offices to get an answer to the question, “Will you co-sponsor the Global Food Security Act?”
• Bread for the World moved 55 House members to co-sponsor the bill (out of 127 co-sponsors) and 7 Senators (out of 15 co-sponsors).
• Bread had significant contact with another 50 eventual co-sponsors.
• On their own and with coalition partners, Bread staff met directly with members of Congress to urge their support.
• As part of a final push, Bread activists called 70 members of Congress who were thought to be inclined to vote against GFSA urging them to vote “yes.”

Friday, December 02, 2016

'Water, We Love You, We Thank You, We Respect You'

Water, we love you.
We thank you.
We respect you.

Nibi (Water) Song was written by Doreen Day at the request of her grandson. She attended a conference about the water in which the internationally known speaker, Dr. Masaru Emoto said, the very least we should do every day, is to speak to the water.  Listen to the song, which is a prayer and a lullaby honoring water. 

On a sunny Sunday afternoon in mid-November, Grandmother Nancy Andry an elder of French and Algonquin heritage, led prayers on the shores of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque for the healing of New Mexico waters. She incorporated the Nibi Song into her prayers. New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light sponsored the gathering.

Grandmother Nancy is a Sundancer and Sacred Pipe carrier.  As an acknowledged Elder and Grandmother in her communities in Canada, she was given instruction to bring out and share certain teachings. .

Solidarity with Standing Rock
The prayers on that Sunday, November 13, were also offered in solidarity with activists from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who are opposing the construction of a pipeline through their reservation.

Two weeks later, on Nov. 26, hundreds of people gathered at the front lines of to pray with the water, the earth, and a global community of supporters in over 1,000 location around the world

Several people from Albuquerque particpated in the Nov. 26 prayer  and others are on the way to North Dakota for the next big gathering,  which will take place this Sunday, Dec. 4, at 10:00 a.m. Central Time, 9:00 a.m. Mountain Time  This is a global synchronized prayer, so you don't have to be at the site to participate. Register here to gain access to the live broadcasts.  Participants will observe 30 minutes of silence followed by 30 minutes of prayer.  "This is a stand for our water, our earth, and our grandchildren," said organizers.

If you prefer to attend a local event, the Southwest Organizing Project and Frank Quintana from Blessed Oscar Romero Catholic Community are hosting Standing with Standing Rock on Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

(All photos courtesy of  Joan Brown, OSF)

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Advent: God Presence from Beneath, from Within

Be watchful, for the Beloved
is coming at an unexpected hour.
—Matthew 24.44

It's dark. There is reason to worry.
It's so easy to assume
God is coming later, elsewhere.
But God comes in the desert of your despair,
in the midnight of your hopelessness.
Practice imaging that God is coming,
that God comes into this life,
not from high above, so far off,
but from beneath, from within,
infinitely within, like gravity.
Imagine this day, this moment,
even in its darkness, is shot with light.
This is the moment of God's arrival. This.
Stay in this moment, ready.
Come, O Savior, come.

-Steve Garnaas Holmes
Author of Unfolding Light blog

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Marian Wright Edelman: Small Actions Add Up

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.

- Marian Wright Edelman

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Immigration Rights Advocate to Address Refugee Issue on Sunday

Photo: Pax Christi
Immigration rights advocate Ruben García of Annunciation House in El the featured speaker on a forum on immigration and refugees at All Saints Lutheran Church, 4800 All Saints Road, NW, near Paseo del Norte and Coors (map), on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 4:00 p.m.  The New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice is the lead sponsor of the event.

García will speak to the Albuquerque faith community about refugees fleeing violence and abject poverty in Central America and Mexico. The refugees are crossing into El Paso and New Mexico in large numbers, and Annunciation House is helping those who are found by immigration authorities to pose no threat and are released to await their hearings for refugee/asylum status.

Welcoming the Stranger
Each year, García travels to universities and other venues throughout the United States. with the compelling message of welcoming the stranger. His work has been widely recognized in the news media, including this information in a piece published by The Christian Science Monitor.
  •  In 1976, Ruben García was part of a Catholic youth group in El Paso whose members reflected on the scriptures and felt called to live simply and serve people in poverty.
  • The Catholic Diocese there provided them a building near the international border. Mother Teresa visited El Paso in 1978 and encouraged Mr. García to “announce the good news.” From that exhortation came the name Annunciation House.
  • For thirty-eight years, Annunciation House has offered hospitality to migrating strangers in need of compassion and respite, providing a safe place to eat and sleep on their journeys. 
  • In 2012, Ruben García received the Teacher of Peace Award from Pax Christi, an award also given to people such as Dorothy Day, Father Daniel Berrigan, and Sister Helen Prejean.
Recognizing the Voices for the Voiceless
García works ecumenically and internationally. Each year, Annunciation House hosts an evening honoring a person recognized for being the Voice of the Voiceless. This year, Annunciation House recognized Olga Sánchez Martínez, of Albergue Jesús El Buen Pastor in Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico.

"The event is a deeply inspiring time to become aware of the poverty and violence that force migration," said the organizers of  García's visit to Albuquerque. "It celebrates people such as a Protestant pastor who searches for stranded migrants in the Arizona desert, Catholic nuns who work with people in poverty, a Catholic priest who works for more just policies in Central America, Mexican journalists and lawyers who stand up to violence, a woman in Mexico who shelters Central American migrants in her country, and mothers and fathers who seek justice for their children, victims of violence. All have risked their well-being to serve others."

 Items Needed
"As we welcome Ruben García in Albuquerque, we can help him return to El Paso with our prayers and with items that will help him in his work, for example, travel-sized toiletries such as shampoo, soap, and toothpaste; tooth brushes; disposable diapers, feminine hygiene items, and shoe laces. (Shoe laces are taken during the time that refugees are processed in by immigration authorities), NEW underwear for all ages is needed--also towels and clean winter coats for all ages. Monetary donations are welcome," said the event organizers.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent: Learning to Wait for the Work of God Alive in Us

Tiffany Window, St. Saviiour Church, Bar Harbor, Maine
A friend recently gave me a textile wall-hanging from Peru that makes clear that the process of finding God in the small things of life is as profound as it is simple. A pastoral scene of palm trees and rural lean-tos has been hand-stitched by peasant women, quilt-style, across the top of a felt banner. Under it is a calendar of thirty small pockets, each of them filled with something we can’t see. Every day until Christmas, we are invited to find the part of the scene that has been pocketed for that day and attach it to the scene above, one piece of handwoven cloth adhering to the other as we go.

Advent is about learning to wait. It is about not having to know exactly what is coming tomorrow, only that whatever it is, some hard, some uplifting, is sign of the work of God alive in us. We are becoming as we go. We learn in Advent to stay in the present, knowing that only the present well lived can possibly lead us to the fullness of life. 

-Joan Chittister, OSB from The Human Experience of Waiting

Saturday, November 26, 2016

White House Bounce House Urged Candidates to End Extreme Poverty

The recent presidential and congressional elections mobilized activists to engage with the candidates and their campaigns to ensure hunger and poverty became a priority for the next administration and Congress. From the beginning, activists were fighting an uphill battle, as candidate personalities and alleged transgressions garnered more attention and headlines than hunger and poverty during the first, second and third debates and campaign rallies. Even the local races focused on other issues.

To their credit,  many activists did everything they could to engage the candidates, including personal meetings and other actions to the Vote to End Hunger campaign and the ONE Vote16 initiative, which brought a Bounce House to selected sites around the country to bring awareness of global poverty not only to the candidates but also to voters. Here is a video of that effort led by ONE. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

On Fair-Trade Friday, Make Purchases that Matter

Image: Open Clip Art
It's Black Friday. And you know what that means. It's time to separate you from your hard-earned money or to run up your credit debt. And you don't even need to get up at the crack of dawn and battle the crowds at the local mall or big box store. Black Friday lives in cyberspace through the promotions that come into your e-mail inbox. Heck, even a national park and a travel-arrangement site are offering deals via your computer or smartphone.

Setting my cynicism aside, let's talk shopping. Some of those promotions coming into my e-mail are from non-profits or anti-poverty organizations selling fair-trade products or items that directly help someone in a developing country. So let's call today Fair Trade Friday.

I would like to point out that the term Fair Trade Friday already exists. This is a monthly membership club sponsored by Mercy House Global to provide an avenue for women to empower women around the world.The project delivers high quality fair traded items to the door of those who enroll in the club. The items in the box are fairly traded and provide employment to women all over the world.

There are many worthy organizations that offer fairly traded items. I'm providing a list of  a handful of suggestions, including groups that found me by e-mail. These are in alphabetical order, and includes a few sentences on how they promote their catalogs or products. (This is not an exclusive list.  I'm sure I left out many worthy organizations)

Cafe Campesino
Our Purpose is to partner with small-scale coffee farmers, connect communities, and inspire conscious consumption... one great cup of coffee at a time. We do this by Roasting and brewing fantastic organic, fair trade coffee; Building long-term friendships and direct business relationships with farmers and their communities;Getting more money into the hands of hard working coffee farmers;Working to help our Customers to succeed; and Building a community within and around our company - one smile, helping hand, and pat on the back at a time.

What is a Gift of Lasting Change? It’s a gift that empowers people around the world to reach their potential. It’s a gift you’ll be proud to send. It’s a gift anyone will be happy and proud to receive. After World War II, the original CARE Package harnessed the power of generosity in a box. It changed the world by delivering food that relieved suffering across a devastated Europe. Today’s CARE Package is different. It provides relief today and the foundation of a better tomorrow. But it’s built on the same truth as the very first CARE Package — that when you give of yourself, you can be the difference in people’s lives.

Catholic Relief Services
CRS offers two ways to give back. You can either purchase fair trade products (via the CRS Fair Trade Catalog) or give a donation to a specific type of project in developing countries through Gifts of Hope (goods and services that help transform families and communities for the long term).

Church World Service
These gifts are examples of how Church World Service works in partnership to find effective ways of tackling poverty and injustice. Whatever gift you choose, you will provide vital support to those in need through CWS development programs. Your gift helps bring genuine and lasting change to those who need it most.

Colores del Pueblo
Since 1997 we have been working with artisan cooperatives in Latin America and primarily Guatemala. Through fair trade practices we hope to inspire postive change in the world. Not only does paying a fair wage help families and communites rise above the cycle of poverty, but it gives them an incentive to continue cultural craft traditions like weaving, basket-making, pottery-making, woodworking and more. And by paying a just wage, our customers are ensured a quality hand-made product.

Heifer International
Our mission is to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. We empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but our approach is more than just giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Our animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market. Choose a meaningful gift to give a loved one and help children and families around the world receive training and animal gifts that help them become self-reliant. Honor your loved ones with a free card from Heifer with every donation.

Oxfam America
Your symbolic gift is actually a donation that will be used where it is needed the most—to help people living in poverty around the world. Oxfam creates lasting solutions by working with communities and listening to people when they tell us what they need to change their own lives, whether it’s a dozen baby chicks or a chance to start a small business. Everyone benefits. Your friend or loved one gets a unique, memorable gift in his or her honor. You get a receipt for your tax-deductible donation to Oxfam, plus the satisfaction of giving a gift that gives back. And someone in need gets exactly what he or she needs.

Ten Thousand Villages
We are more  than a store. We are a place where you can explore and connect with your global village. From communities throughout the developing world, every inspired design is crafted with love using local materials (usually natural or recycled) and time-honored skills by makers we have known and worked with for years. Every purchase improves the lives of makers by supporting their craft and providing a fair, stable income.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Reflections

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. 

Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. 

For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference."  

- Thomas Merton

"The greatest gift one can give is thanksgiving. In giving gifts, we give what we can spare, but in giving thanks we give ourselves."  

-Brother David Steindl-Rast offers a collection of happy news and images, including a stunning photo of the Supermoon and accounts of how ordinary people took extraordinary steps to help others in need. There are also stories about milestones that were reached and about how renewable energy is transforming a community and a country.  See Grateful News for November

Karma Cafe Offers "Pay as You Feel" Thanksgiving Meal

Karma Cafe, a nonprofit restaurant that operates on a "pay as you feel" system, invites the public to sample its special Thanksgiving menu! The restaurant, operated by Food Karma, is open today, Thursday, November 24, from 1100 am until 7:00 pm. The cafe is located at 1617 San Pedro Dr. NE at San Pedro Center.

"Stop in for a cup of hot cider or chill with us in our cozy cafe. Everyone deserves a hearty meal on Thanksgiving! Let's give thanks that we can join as a community and share delicious food with each other." say the restaurant owners.  Here is the menu:

The Concept of Pay as You Feel
So how does the "pay as you feel" work?  One person's donation goes toward another person in need of a delicious meal. "When customers are asked to pay what they feel their food is worth, they are given the opportunity to contribute to a world where honesty, respect, generosity, and kindness rule," say the Food Karma owners.

The current Karma Cafe site opened its doors just last week, serving breakfast and lunch between 8:00 am and 2:00 pm, Tuesday through Sunday (closed on Mondays).

On the menu are your good 'ole favorites: Breakfast Burritos, Market Omelettes, and Artisan Breakfast Sandwiches with Sourdough bread made by La Quiche Bakery!

Also included on our menu this week are Pecan French Toast, Grilled Sage Butter Chicken, Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas, and a Fresh Greens Salad with Feta cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette.
The menu will change weekly on Tuesdays according to what ingredients are available.

Downtown Growers Market
While the brick and mortar site on San Pedro is fairly new, Food Karma has operated at the Downtown Growers Market for several summer and fall seasons, offering breakfast burritos, blueberry crepes, caprese omelettes and other delicious menu items.

At the Late Fall Market this past Saturday, Nov. 19, Food Karma features Grilled Sage Butter Chicken with Cauliflower and Carrots to pay-as-you feel customers. 

To stay connected with Food Karma invites you to Like its page on Facebook and to follow the Karma Cafe on Instagram.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

#Thanksgiving Videos from CARE and CRS

Catholic Relief Services and CARE put together videos thanking all their supporters on behalf of the people around the world who receive help.

Here is the video from CRS.

 Watch how you are changing the lives of our brothers and sisters around the world. You make this work possible. Thank you!

And this video comes from CARE
Every day, CARE helps people in the poorest communities in the world survive and thrive. Supporters like you allow us to lift girls, women and families out of poverty around the world.