Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's My Party (and about moving on...)

Nevermind that my real birthday is in August, on Friday I got to have a party! We do a great job at MCC of celebrating birthdays, but in 2009 Ben and I were in North Carolina for my birthday and in 2010 I was traveling with our regional policy analyst. So, when I was asked what I would like to do for my going away party, I decided that instead of going away speeches that would unavoidably make me cry, I wanted a birthday party. Here's how it works: if it's your birthday, you get to choose what you want to have for lunch AND what kind of cake you want. Since I chose tchaka for lunch (pumpkin soup with corn, beans and carrot), and that is apparently not fancy enough for a birthday meal, we also had cookies in the morning.

When I walked into the office first thing, I was greeted by choruses of "Happy Birthday!" and was basically treated like a princess all day. It was a perfect, hilarious send-off (especially since Ben and I will be back in Haiti in a month and I'm sure I'll still be hanging around MCC a fair bit). The only sad thing is how many people couldn't be there: Kettly and Kurt are both sick; Margot, James, Simon Michel and Herve were all out; Ben had an assignment and Anne is in the States for a wedding. And of course, the whole Desarmes team is out in the Artibonite Valley (where Josh and Marylynn JUST had an itty bitty baby girl named Vienna!).
posing with Loulou
 cookies and fresh passion fruit juice in the morning
Eklan, manman vant nou (the mother of our stomachs)
Jim serves up the tchaka
my favorite Haitian meal: meatless tchaka and fresh cherry juice
my all-time favorite: cheesecake
cheesing it up over cheesecake with Meagan
the office I'll be leaving behind
my corner (how I wish I had taken a picture before I took down my bird mobile, pictures and the rest of the mess that has made this space "mine")

Tuesday is officially my last day. I realize that I haven't explained yet in this public space why I'm leaving MCC and what we'll be doing next. It was not an easy decision for me to move on. I think highly of MCC and have loved (almost) every minute of my job. I'm not sure I will ever work for another organization that blends and matches my own social values, faith, and perspectives on "development" so well. Based on my experience, MCC's commitment to working towards real peace and defending justice and dignity for all of god's creation (even when that means speaking out against the status quo, ie. very powerful governments, corporations and institutions) is somewhat of an anomaly for relief and development organizations, even among many that claim to work in advocacy. It's been an honor to spend 3 years with MCC and I am truly going to miss my MCC family. But, with Ben wanting to keep working freelance, it is time for us to have a little more financial stability and for me to have health insurance. (Not to give you the wrong idea, MCC does provide full health coverage for all of its service workers. Our situation is a little different because when Ben left MCC last year, I had to switch to being national staff and lost those benefits.)

And, well, the stars aligned themselves just perfectly for us (as they so often seem to do, wink, wink) and I was offered a salaried, part-time position with Other Worlds. Other Worlds is a cool group of creative and energetic women social activists whose perspective on and work in Haiti I have long admired. Beginning in July, I will be co-coordinating their Another Haiti is Possible program and happily continuing to work with many of the same folks here that I have been working with for the past 3 years. Other Worlds is based in New Orleans, and they graciously agreed to let us keep living here for now so that Ben can continue with his work AND offered me full health benefits.

In the meantime, we'll be in North Carolina and Virginia for the month of June where we have a backpacking trip, photography festival, camping, and visiting with friends and family on the agenda. We're also looking for a way to get our hands and knees as dirty as possible on someone's farm or vegetable garden (consider that an offer for free labor, Mom Depp, Karen Kovach & Alyssa Rudolph!).

-Alexis from Ben's account


laura said...

...but you're not getting any older! :-) i'm not either, even tho' our youngest just graduated from high school!! see ya soon! oh- and my friend runs a ministry here called "transitions"...

nerkert said...

Thanks for the great post and pictures. So glad that thay gave you cheesecake!


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