This Little Light of Mine

"To whom much is given, much is required"


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Fighting Hunger in Haiti

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Imagine with me!  Just 1 meal a day, what would you choose to eat if you could only have just 1 meal.  Add to that, what if you have less than $2 to feed you and your family.  What would you purchase at the grocery store that would fill up hungry tummies for a whole day.  If you are like me, you can’t imagine because we are not forced to contemplate that kind of a life.

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Those in Haiti face that each and every day.  Those who are fortunate make $2.50 a day but many do not.  They go from person to person to see what might been gleaned from those who have food.  So very hungry.

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That is the reason why funds are collected from the donation/sale of fresh bread at the Columbia SDA Church.  Also why a few dollars each month are set aside from the sponsorship money so that we can give just a little relief to those family we serve.

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Our last food distribution was in October.  As you can see, they received bags of dry food such as beans, rice, macaroni, corn and a bottle of oil.  It’s not much but it helps a little and they are so very grateful!

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Over and over, they bow and hold out their hand in thanksgiving for the food.  They want you to know how very much they appreciate your thoughtfulness.  Most of all, they pray for you and ask blessings upon you!

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Bulls in the Garden

2012-10-22-03-58-56“You gotta see this”! my husband exclaimed as he enticed me toward the back of the house. And there they were, 2 big, black bulls crudely yoked together, tethered to a plow and to Bonhomme who was guiding them down the short rows of the new garden plot.

The use of the bulls seemed radical to me because the garden plot was really pretty small. But they were effective and for Dos-Palais that is what they use to till their gardens. But those were way up on the surrounding hills, not in the backyard. What spectacle!

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It was exciting to finally see our special gift of 2 drip watering systems finally being opened and plans studied in preparation for the new garden. Anticipation was building and a few local “gardeners”, I would call them business gardeners for they grow their crops to send to market in Port-au-Prince, came to watch. They heard by word of mouth that a new concept was in the works and they were on hand to witness this new idea.

In Haiti, the dry season was fast approaching and fresh produce would soon become scarce. Life will become stressful and food hard to find save purchasing supplies in town. Maybe this idea of a garden close to the house will smooth the transition of seasons especially for those living so close to the poverty line.

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The bulls and Bonhomme finished up tilling the garden and the men got to work making rows and stretching out hoses. Bonhomme quickly used his machete to make the stand for the 5 gallon bucket. It really came together pretty fast.

Wissel produced his heirloom vegetable seeds from his luggage, seeds that were especially purchased for the project. Soon the seeds were in the ground and watered. Then Hurricane Sandy arrived.

The instructions included information on how to make raised beds so that tropical storms would not wash away the seeds or plants. Would it work?

Several days went by before we could return to check on the status of the garden so it was with great anticipation that we headed to Dos Palais for our last visit before returning to the US.

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We were thrilled to see the first sprouts of a very promising garden and a very happy Bonhomme. The heavy rain did not disturb the sprouting seeds. It worked like the instructions said it would.

How exciting that such an inexpensive unit could make such a difference in the lives of this small town. $14 for each unit was all it took to make a possible change in the diet and nutrition of a family.

After tilling the new garden, the bulls were staked by the outhouse for a few hours which made me think twice about heading out that way for a visit. I’m sure they were docile but for a city gal, I wasn’t taking any chances.

This fun little project was so inexpensive to purchase but made such a big difference to the people in Haiti. It is our hope to send a tub full of “garden potential” soon.


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Unexpected Blessings

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I tallied the total again and was horrified!  What seemed to cost $475 for the last food distribution was going to cost us more than double!  How can that be? 

Haiti, as is the case with many impoverished nations, has a very unstable economy.  The currency exchange rates change on a moment to moment basis.   Nothing is sure until the product leaves their hands and touches our hands.   In my mind, I asked “. . . but why does it always have to go against us?”  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if things got cheaper?  I guess the world doesn’t understand that concept. 

Brokenhearted, I turned to Facebook where I vented my frustration and prayerful plea. . . . and someone was listening!   

Terry Loss, an Upper Columbia Academy schoolmate answered.  He boldly restated my plea into “they need” and “what are we going to do about it”.  Terry even threw out a matching funds plea and the money began to come in. The total donated money came to just over $1,000 which more than covered the needed amount of my food order.   The Bible tells us in Luke that when we give, God will give back more than we can handle.  

In Loscalabos (30 miles from Dos-Palais) Wissel parked the truck outside the little grocery store to pick up the food.  Most of it was there except the beans we needed were not.   The shopkeeper headed out to all the other little vendors in the town and gathered what they had in their shops to fill our order.  And yes, we had just enough money. 

We held our breath as 1,388 pounds of dry food and 15 gallons of oil was loaded into the truck.  Each corner and pothole on the drive to Dos-Palais was equally exciting but we made it.   

Food Distribution Day held excitement for those in the village.  Gratefully they accepted their bags of beans, rice, corn, pasta and a bottle of oil.  All were much needed supplies for the families.  Thank you to each and everyone of you!  Your giving heart meant so much to those people.  Not only did you help people in need but you touched my heart as well! 

And Terry, a special thank you to you, my friend, for listening to the underlying plea I sent out on Facebook that day!  You made a difference in the world because you saw a need and helped others to see the need as well!    Bless you.

 


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Update on the story “Pattie’s Gift”

I often wonder what happens to the people in the stories we write about in Haiti.  It’s one thing to reach out and touch the lives of those in need, even boldly giving them advice on how to do better in providing food for the family with the gifts we give.  But do we expect to see progress or dare hope that their future has been changed for the better after our encounter?  Of course we do.

We know that not all gifts produce the desired hope for the future that we wanted for them but when they do, we rejoice!

Here are the updates on the families that were featured in the story, “Pattie’s Gift”.

 

20130312 0206 gp HaitiThe Joly family update:

Yvette has changed so much from the last time we visited her.  When I took a picture of her in October she looked hard and depressed.  At that time she had very little to feed her family and life was very bleak. 

What a difference  a few months have made.    When Wissel walked to her house, she exclaimed “I knew that you would not come to Dos-Palais without coming to see me!”.  She looks happy, less stressed and much more hopeful.  She used her money to purchase a goat and also some items to sell from home or in the market such as spaghetti, coffee, bread, sugar and flour.  Sometimes she travels to the Dominican Republic to purchase items to sell. 

What a relief to see Yvette’s life change because of a gift from Pattie.

 

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Wissel stopped by the Anger family just to check on them to see how they were doing since October when we shared Pattie’s gift with them.  Of course they remembered Wissel.  The husband is blind but after Christianna explained who Wissel was, he was most pleased to finally meet again.

With the money, they paid off the debt in town they had incurred during the time when they had no food and was able to again purchase food for the children.  They purchased a hen and a rooster.  Wissel encouraged them to take good care of the chickens because they will give them eggs to eat and the extra chickens they can sell.  It would make more sense to purchase chickens from her for other families in the community when we return on the next trip. 

As goodbyes were said, they especially wanted to send greetings to the “Blancs” (whites) which was Joe and I!  But most of all to tell Pattie how grateful they are for her kindness.

If you have been surprised that a gift of $50 can make such a huge difference to a family in Haiti, we encourage you to seek out ways to give a hand up to those in need.  Helping families through “Children for a New Haiti” would be delighted to connect you with a family that desperately needs your help.   You may contact us at http://childrenforanewhaiti.org/


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Freely Given, Gratefully Accepted!

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The hand of God moves in mysterious ways.  Sometimes it’s just a whisper or a small thought planted by God  in hopes it will take root and grow.  Although we are just the messenger through which God may work, we often hope we can know how our actions have touched others. 

An envelope was pressed into my hand by a caring family from our church, “for families that need help!” he whispered in my ear. 

March 11, 2013 was the day we traveled back to Haiti to catch up on the children and their families in our sponsorship program.  The special envelope was safely in my money belt and thoughts circled in my head of who might benefit the most from this sweet gift.  Once our van headed out of Port-au-Prince and reached the mountains, several families were already making the list. 

The top of my list was Jesula and her family.  Several years ago, her husband suddenly took ill and died leaving her with the kids but no land, garden plots and absolutely no inheritance.  Borrowing money to feed the family comes at a high price and she sank deeper in debt.  Two children are in school because of sponsorships which gave hope that these two children would someday not have to live the way she did. 

Now she was summoned to talk with the “Children for a New Haiti” staff.  Questions plagued her as she hurried to meet them .. . . did a sponsor want to quit sending her child to school? . . . . Maybe someone wants to send another of her children to school.  What could it be?  She walked to Grandpa’s house to find out. 

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There I stood, in my hand a rope with a goat tied to the other end.  With disbelief, Jesula approached and then realized that the goat was hers to keep.  Instructions were given that would provide her with guidelines to care for the goat and how it will help her family.  Her heart overflowing with gratitude could hardly contain her feelings. 

Goats!  Who would guess that owning a goat could make such a difference in the life of a family.  Goats multiply quickly providing goats to sell at the market in Lascahabos and also for food for the family.  Goats are easily fed and in the mountains of Haiti, few predators are found.  The gift of a goat means so much to a family that struggles to find or purchase food. 

It is only because of the generous donors and sponsors like you that lives are being touched in a special way.  There are so many needs in Dos-Palais and we are so very thankful for each of you that further our cause to help the children and their families. 

It is our goal to share with you the stories of your gifts but some we may never really  know their impact until we are united in the heavenly kingdom.

If you would like to know more about Children for a New Haiti, please check out our website: http://childrenforanewhaiti.org/

~Story related to me by Wissel Joseph, President/Founder of Children for a New Haiti


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A Goat for Maxo

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It’s really hard to explain to my friends and family the depth of poverty some of the villagers of Dos-Palais live in. Traveling on short mission trips to various parts of the world gives me but a glimpse of a comparable, but to those who have not traveled, how do you help them understand. This story about Maxo explains the hardship that a family can experience in this part of Haiti.

I first saw Maxo in a picture as I filtered through the applications when Wissel returned from his trip to Haiti. During the trip, he had an open enrollment for the villagers with many kids wanting a chance to go to school. Maxo and his mom attended the enrollment and she signed him up. His sweet little face beamed from the picture as it portrayed a child with a sparkle in his eyes and one who loved life.

My husband’s sister asked to sponsor a child and I immediately thought of Maxo. Earlene has a grandson named Max so there it was, the double whammy! With Earlene and Bob’s help, Maxo was enrolled in school.

Our October trip had Maxo’s name listed as a child we wanted to meet and get to know. We didn’t even have to search, Maxo and 25 plus more sponsored children were there to greet us when we arrived. What a sweet child. His smile was infectious and he was indeed so very playful. His eyes always searching to see if we were looking at him so he could do something funny.

Maxo’s family, the Mombayards, have 14 children. Two of the children live with their grandfather, one is in the Dominican Republic. Another one has been given away to a family in Port-au-Prince. It’s not uncommon to give a child away to a family that is financially more stable.

So now John Robert and Miracile Noel live with 10 children in a house that has 2 small rooms but only one room is suitable for living in. The house and surroundings are DSCF1409always kept clean so there is pride in what they do own. Food is still scarce but Jean Robert has been hired by Wissel Joseph, our President/Founder to help with the building of his new house in Dos-Palais so the family will eat better for awhile. In March, Miracile gave birth to another child. Birth control is not available.

Wissel traveled to Dos-Palais in the middle of March. While there he honored Earlene and Bob’s request to purchase a goat for the family. He did not alert the family that money for a goat was given for them and it was such a surprise when the rope with a goat tethered at the other end was handed to them. A goat means so much to a family. Goats usually have 2-3 kids twice a year. Some of the kids they will sell and some they will eat. The family has a better chance at survival with a goat. When Wissel packed up to go home, the family was already constructing a goat pen.

See Maxo and his goat:  http://youtu.be/b9RRzMiaAmY

What a gift for that family! The compassion to lift others not only blesses that family but you as the donor also experience those blessings. We want to thank you for your concern and compassion for a little boy named Maxo who now knows that you cared for him and his family in a special way.


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The Rock Pile

20130312 9486 gp HaitiIt was just a little rock pile. Not like the ones on down the road that were completed and ready for projects. But what made this rock pile interesting was the little boy sitting on the pile, hammer in hand, tap, tap, tapping.

The morning sun cast shafts of light across his little pile and the air was still cool from the night. Tap, tap, tap and the little hammer continued on.

Groups of children passed by on their way to school, laughing, and usually carrying a stick or two for the school cook to make the noon time meal. The little boy turns away. Tap, tap, tap.

Construction in the out of the way village of Dos-Palais is rather crude by US standards. But also very modern as you compare it to Haitian standards. Cement bricks, mortar, gravel, and rebar all were being used for the new medical clinic in the center of town. Most of the supplies came from Loscohobas which is about an hours drive on rough roads. But the gravel came from Dos-Palais. Hard labor produced that gravel.

Rocks were taken from the river as the children transported water back home to their Mothers’ kitchen. They either carried the rock in their hands and balanced the bucket of water on their head or the rock on their head and the bucket in hand. Either way, the rocks were transported to the growing rock pile being made into large chunk gravel used by the workmen for the new clinic.

Money is important to the family trying to keep up with food for 8 or 10 kids. The money for the gravel is quickly gone. So everyone that is strong enough to swing the hammer works, never mind school because many of them have no money for that dream.

So he sat on the rock pile. Tap, tap, tap. As I came near I asked him why he wasn’t in school. Not wanting to answer he dipped his head down to look away. It’s so hard to hide the tears and the hurt of seeing your friends walking to school and now this man wants to know why. How do I answer he questioned to himself.

Finally, in as few words as possible he explained he could not go to school because his family could not afford the uniform. Family information was given and I knew of his father.

Here I stand, a man born in Haiti, with memories of growing up poor and the unknown flooding through me, knowing somewhat how this little boy felt.

“Lord, there are so many, where do I start!” And the Still Small Voice said “Just one, start with just one!”.

~Story as related to me by Wissel Joseph, President/Founder, Children for a New Haiti