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#2679: Grey replies to Antoibe on basic charity groups


In a message dated 3/3/2000 9:59:52 AM Pacific Standard Time, Guy Antoine 

<< Instead of unfairly casting the missionaries in such a negative light, why
 don't you inform us about how the Vodou clergy in Haiti helps the
 Vodouisants in their temporal lives and their human and economic
 development.  Since according to some reports, 90% of Haitians practice
 Vodou, I can't help but wish very strongly that all sectors of our society
 (including our core religious sector) would promote the well-being of the
 Haitian masses. >>

Hey there, Guy!  How are you?

Before I get started, have a look at http://www.cornerstoneministries.com.  
Click on "Battle Page" (!) and then on "Miracle in Haiti".

How does Vodou promote "the well being of the Haitian masses"?  Spiritually, 
economically, and culturally.

First, spiritually - we provide religious activities, including dances whic 
improve community welfare and morale, healing services, and magical 
activities directed toward improving the living conditions of the petitioner. 
 Our services bond communities together.  We even create families where there 
were once none - initiates, for example, gain a father and mother (Papa kanzo 
and Maman kanzo, if not Papa asson or Maman asson; at least one of which and 
usually both are Houngan or Mambo), brothers and sisters, and also godparents 
who stand up for the initiate during baptism.  

These "relatives" play a very real role.  My own godmother, for instance, 
watches out for me, comes to my fiance to demand my whereabouts if I have 
been out too long on my horse, and even interceded in an extremely rare case 
of domestic disaccord between myself and my normally very kind, generous, and 
protective fiance.  (We quarreled over the availability of grazing for his 
cows vs. my horse!)  My Houngan "father", with whom I renewed my vows, can be 
counted on to come help me no matter WHAT problem I encounter, and promote me 
when good fortune comes our way.

Economically, Houngans and Mambos are of course paid for many of our 
services.  We also create employment - during our last kanzo, for example, I 
paid two landlords, one tailor, two cooks, one seamstress, four drummers, one 
masseur, one assistant videographer and two chauffeurs.  Hounsis kanzo often 
do cooperative marketing by pooling their resources and buying commodities 
wholesale to be resold at retail rates.  We protect congregation members who 
run small businesses from extortion by Macoutes, ex-FRAPH, et. al.

We give homeless people a place to sleep, we feed hungry people.  This is in 
contrast to evangelical pastors, who use food "aid" to leverage congregation 
membership!  Those closest to the pastor might get a little rice, but if you 
are not one of the chosen, you can die of starvation.  These pastors even 
preach that death from starvation is God's will for those who are not "an 
Kris", in Christ!

We do not practice homophobia, by the way, and permit homosexual men and 
women to participate in Vodou services and even become clergy.  Women, too, 
find status, power, and prosperity through Vodou, in an overwhelmingly sexist 
culture which provides few other avenues for women.

Culturally, we celebrate the primarily African heritage of Haitian culture, 
we do not denigrate blackness, while simultaneously affirming the European 
and Native Caribbean contributions to Vodou.  This in contrast to the 
evangelical pastors I have already discussed, that preach that black skin is 
"the mark of Cain", a curse, a sign of divine disfavor.  Beyond that, we 
create or enrich events including Carnival and Rara and religious pilgrimages 
which stimulate creativity and the economy simultaneously!  We inspire 
popular music which now reaches a worldwide audience through artists like 
Wawa, Boukman Eksperyans, RAM, and others.

Above all, we create a sense of self-worth and self-esteem among majority 
class Haitians, and a framework for collective work.

This is just Part 1, Guy, I could go on and on!  :-)

Peace and love,

Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen

"Se bon ki ra", 
     Good is rare - Haitian Proverb

The VODOU Page - <A HREF="http://members.aol.com/racine125/index.html">http://