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Sojourners Magazine: February 2015

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FIVE YEARS AFTER the devastating earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people, Haiti is still a nation struggling to recover. Mired in poverty for generations, it needed a massive response to the disaster, and in the months immediately afterward the international community promised billions in aid. But less than 1 percent of that aid went to the public sector for rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.

In August, Sojourners editor Jim Rice spent a week in Haiti looking for signs of progress, or at least of hope. Amid the extreme poverty and the crumbled infrastructure, he found examples of Haitians raising their own expectations for the future in partnership with nonprofit organizations such as Compassion International, which has worked in the country since 1968.

Before the earthquake, Compassion’s primary focus in Haiti was on child development. But the disaster imposed its own reality: For children to fully develop, they need schools, and for the social fabric of local communities to recover, small businesses need support. So Compassion broadened its mission, bringing in engineers from outside the country to help the locals rebuild for their children’s future. And it established a program of microloans for small enterprises, 60 percent of which went to women. The program included entrepreneurial training, along with the loans, to improve the possibility of success. Chuck Bigger’s vivid photographs in this issue convey the strength—and the challenges—of the Haitian people.

Also in this issue, in the second of our series of reflections on the Beatitudes, Haitian-born writer Edwidge Danticat explores Matthew 5:4—“blessed are those who mourn”—as she recounts the recent death of her mother and the difficulty of accepting the comfort of that mourning.

And Houston teacher Casey Fleming writes that while she’s confident in bringing her passion for feminism to her ninth-grade students, she worries, while pregnant with a son, about how to raise a good male. “I ask all the good men I know, and they give me the same answer: ‘He’ll need a mentor.’” 

Cover Story

Five years after the hemisphere's most catastrophic disaster in a century, Haiti seeks to build back better. 

Feature

"After all, hadn't God led me here so you and I can deal with this together?" my mother said. 
A pregnant feminist reflects on the need for good male mentors in a society loaded with damaging masculine norms. 
Theology is not about domination. That's the snake talking. 

Commentary

Central African Republic faith leaders say war is not perpetrated in God's name. 
Mass prosecution of immigrants undercuts efforts against border violence. 
Despite continued opposition, the ACA is accomplishing its goals. 

Columns

From one grim-faced, aging, white guy to another
Congressional leaders on both sides must be convinced to put people above party. 
If Jen Bailey is emblematic of her generation in any way, we have a lot to be hopeful about. 
'He is a person who has been consistent all his life.' 

Culture Watch

Poet and Vietnam vet Bruce Weigl writes of war and reconciliation. 
"Short Stories by Jesus," HarperOne
Here's a list of the 10 best films of 2014. (Many more are worthy, but 10 are all that will fit.) 
Four February 2015 culture recommendations from our editors
White supremacy may have weakened, but it can still make us sick. 
"How Maps Change Things," Woodlake

Web Extra

Video on Obama's Executive Action.
Links to Elisabetta Piqué’s interviews with Pope Francis. 
A trailer for "Water Everlasting?"