For the most part, this is not my story. Indulge me for the next few paragraphs while I provide some background before you get to the good stuff.
Several months ago, my friend Kim Tracy Prince did something amazing. It's all Katie Couric's fault. As for my little adventure. Well, it's Kim TP's fault. I also blame Underwriters Labs. See, they sent me a cute, educational animated fire safety video that had voice overs in about a dozen different languages. Once my boys and I viewed it, I brought it over to a local English Language Learners (ELL) Parent Support Center that is funded by a consortium of nearby public schools.
When I stopped by the center to drop off the video, I chatted with the director. She let me know the door was open, quite literally, if I wanted to work with any parents there. I told her I didn't think that would happen, but I'd contact her if I had any ideas.
Of course, I soon had an idea.
But how to justify the time? The effort?
Another idea: you may know I'm currently studying to be a bat mitzvah. Yes, I'm 30 years late for this rite of passage into Jewish adulthood. What can I say?
As part of the process, I wanted to participate in a mitzvah (loosely translated "good deed," but truly a commandment) project. Idea justified! Fast forward a few weeks.
Last week, I met with a brave group of moms who are willing to embark on a crazy project with me. Of course it involves a blog. And they're cool with that, even if they weren't sure what a blog was. Yes, we are going to blog, vlog and Whrrl all the while building English skills and learning more about our community.
I'm not sure how much of my rapid fire talk they understood (really, I tried to slow down, but I was excited). I tried to explain the power of blogging, the power unleashed when a woman shares her voice, her life, her story online.
Last week, by the end of our first meeting the blog had a name, a url and a template (coincidentally, they chose the one I started out with five years ago). And each woman had a goal for this wacky project as well.
That was last Tuesday. Tuesday morning.
By day's end, an earthquake had devastated Haiti.
One of the moms in the group is from Haiti*.
We have our second meeting this morning. I know the name of the Haitian mom, but I don't have permission to share her story, so I will refer to her as the Haitian Mom. I don't know if she's going to show up today.
I hope she does.
I don't know if she will feel comfortable sharing her story in person or online.
That is her choice.
Regardless of her choice, I hope the group members support her and that she will accept our support.
I hope if she does share her story with the Internets, this mysterious group of people that I told the women will come read their blog, the Internets will offer their love and support as well.
I'm not sure what is going to happen at our group this morning.
I thought it would be weeks before the women posted on the blog, so if the Haitian mom does not feel like sharing, some time may pass before I share the url. But if we have news or stories to share I'll post the link and ask you to stop by the blog.
Please stop back later for an update.
Update: The mom from Haiti did not feel ready to share her thoughts online. Understandably so. It's been a very difficult week for her. She did talk with the group a bit and we let her know we are ready to support her as she sees fit as we move ahead.
If you are looking for a way to help the people of Haiti, here are a few suggestions from my friend, Devra Renner. (Interesting Katrina tie-in.)
Another friend, Cindy Fey, wrote about Partners in Health and poverty in Haiti back in October, 2008, for Blog Action Day. It's a haunting read with useful links.
And the wonderful Leticia Barr has a link-laden post with tips for talking to your kids about the recent earthquake and tragedies that have followed.
*Other moms hail from Korea, Iraq, Pakistan and Hong Kong.