Here is Cynthia Katsarelis' story:
I’ve been going to Haiti to teach and make music at Holy Trinity School of Music in Port-au-Prince since 2004. There, I have seen the power of education to lift up all children, but especially girls. In 2004, several of my teen aged students are now the faculty at the school. It gives them a good job as they build excellence and opportunity for the next generation. Of course, I have also seen extreme poverty and women and children carrying buckets of water impossible distances. In the wake of the earthquake, one hears of terrible abuses against women and girls. But at the school I see engaged young people and this gives me hope.
At my parish, I served as chair of the Outreach Committee for two years, and I have also volunteered with the interfaith Women’s Homeless Initiative. Locally, we see women in dire straights for all the typical causes, domestic violence, drug abuse with no access to treatment, issues of livable wage, affordable housing, childcare, and lack of access to health care. On the committee, we partnered with Project Education South Sudan and helped fund projects on feminine hygiene and education. In a country where only .01 percent of girls get education, girls in this village have a high rate of graduation.
Personally, I am an orchestra conductor. I’ve suffered discrimination for my gender and sexual orientation. I’m keenly aware that living in the West, I have had great opportunities that mitigate against economic ruin from the discrimination. But there’s something deeply painful about being rejected for my very being, a being created in the Image of God too. The hateful rhetoric I suffer from religious leaders and politicians wears on the soul, it is the anti-Baptismal Covenant. I live in a state that is simultaneously very privileged and very vulnerable. I feel compassion for vulnerable women and girls who can’t pass as privileged. Thus, I feel called to strive for justice and peace and dignity for women and girls.
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