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Works of Faith in Haiti
Works of Faith in Haiti
Dateline: Haiti Location: Thomas
Things have improved from my 1st visit. Less rubble, but the streets are one continuous pothole and are rough on vehicles.
I returned from Haiti this past Wed morning. I was there with Phil Bandy, Lawrence Stevens a photojournalist and Dee Leone a writer. GOD sent them to make a documentary film about what I am about to tell you.
I know GOD sent them because they donated their talents and time and they were moved by what they saw and the people they met.
Our conference has developed a FOOD Program in Thomas Haiti.
Thomas is a little town 2 hours west of Port-Au-Prince on the northern peninsula of Haiti. I led a team to Thomas in Feb. of last year. The children at the school we were working at were hungry and we fed them.
The plans for our conference program were slowly developing into a personal walk of faith by my actions. As I began to devise a way to feed these kids I began to pray more for fear of failure but more often it became a prayer for the people there. I found myself in the middle of a life altering experience.
I felt that I was actually walking the walk. I decided that I would stand-up for this program and be seen. I decided that if it made me feel bad I wouldn’t be doing it. I had quit struggling with trying to stay in the background. I was pushing a project as hard as I could. Perhaps, stepping on a few toes in the meantime. This report is part of that push. This is the Thomas Food Program story up to date and looking in the future.
I had been on many UMVIM missions and led many and I was the average stereotypical Sunday go to meetin’ Christian and partook in church functions. Being in mission together with others provided a way to do faith works and it was obvious on my 1st mission.
The past mission trips were often about the team and the bricks and the sticks. Interaction with the survivors after Katrina was sporadic so the teams spent more time with each other than the survivors. Nothing wrong with that, it was just the way it was.
The 1st Haiti mission had been about the people up close and personal. Our Team was told that the children at the school we were working on, were hungry and needed…..well…..us. Feeding is the most basic of humanitarian relief. Next is shelter. But it was this feeding thing that aroused my desire to fix something. It seemed so vital and so important and so simple. Our team fed them. I knew that when we left they would be hungry again. I felt need to keep them fed.
So it happened and I couldn’t stop it.
Although Haiti is only 2hrs from Florida it is a world away.
The poorest of the poor in our hemisphere and on top of it they had everything fall apart. Everyone seems to know someone that perished in the quake. It is a broken country, one of dependence not independence. It relies on the world for its basic needs. They don’t want to but hey have zero choice as they have nothing.
GOD must have me by the arm because doing this is something I would have never thought I would be doing. Not in a million years. I was neck deep before I knew it. Phil Bandy, Steve Elliot and I are a trio working on this program together. Steve will be there in early March. Phil joined me on this trip.
Our goal is to have the school self financing and self sustainable in 3 years.
As we began to develop the plan, funds were raised and the Thomas Food Program was put in place.
The Food Program is just that. It is NOT a school lunch program although we serve lunch.
It has to do with FOOD.
· Cooking technologies for a better environment and using Bio-fuel technologies for 3rd Worlds.
· Growing technologies and agriculture technologies for farming
· A school garden program
The program is currently operating and was tested and fine tuned over the past 6 months.
We are purchasing food for 2wks at a time.
So far there has not been a school day since June that a meal was not served.
In June I arrived to meet with James and Ginette.
James Lazarre is a 28 yr young man with a fine mind and a strong faith.
He is the son of the schools director.
He is the program manager and takes his responsibility seriously.
GinetteOcean is a 29 yr young woman with a natural ability to cook and plan meals.
She oversees the cook staff and menu planning as well as food purchasing.
· All of the cook staff and helpers, as well as James and Ginette work for free.
· Most cooks work for the meal.
· We are looking into ways of sponsoring a child for services to the program.
· All schools are private as there isn’t a public education system.
This combination has worked to get the cost of a meal to around 75 cents.
A Haitian meal of fresh vegetables, Rice Beans or pasta, a meat, fish or poultry and a drink
· This is often the only meal the child gets.
· Any leftovers of unfinished portions are taken home and shared.
· Since June we have been feeding 200 children a day.
Accompanied by Bruce Campbell of Asbury UMC in Livermore we visited farms and met with farmers. He developed and runs the Garden of Grace at Asbury and is a master gardener. He has provided seeds to try and is working to develop a sustainable agriculture program as part of the FOOD Program as well as a school garden.
The Church patriarch Noel Ocean is negotiating for some farm land next to the school to grow the schools own crops and to test seeds.
I have asked him if he would like to help in teaching the kids how to farm and he is gung ho!.
I have been blessed to witness his enthusiasm to help educate the children in farming and gardening.
I often hear that money is being wasted there. It may be …but not in this program.
This program is a bottom up grass roots operation.
In someway it is a skunk-works project and different to what has been done in the past by UMC
But it is working. The children are fed and ways to sustain it are beginning to take shape.
100% of your gifts goes toward food for the children.
The program belongs to the Methodist Church of Haiti and the Thomas Food Program team in Haiti has taken ownership and is embracing and developing the plans. Our efforts are designed to be minimal financial support in 3 yrs while still providing daily lunches during the school year. Our conference is supporting the Thomas Food Program.
The Thomas Food Program is being developed as a self sustaining program by the use of cost reductions and Micro-Enterprises. These little businesses will reduce costs and produce income to purchase food locally.
We are developing ideas for use of better 3rd world cooking technologies such as Rocket Stoves that use fuel more efficiently. Charcoal is costly and a pollutant. It damages the environment and it also a cost to prepare the school food.
This technology will allow for the use of Bio-Waste such as plant trimming such as banana trees and paper trash and other combustibles. It is shredded and compressed to briquettes, dried and used as fuel.We will make our own fuel and also sell the briquettes. This technology will immediately benefit the program by eliminating charcoal costs. The sale of the briquettes will produce income that will go directly to purchase food.
We also are working to develop the ability to have computer classes at the school and also offer classes to the community for a price of which goes to food.. Additionally, if we obtain access to the internet we can rent time for access like a cybercafé except this profit buys food.
These Micro-Enterprises are a natural fit into the Haitian culture and are easily understood and implemented by the team. Solar power, wind power all kinds of green oriented technologies are needed.
There much to do. There are many needs for works in faith. The Thomas Food Program welcomes your support and is one of the many works in process. Please join me in works of faith to others as servants.
We are in need of people with talents and interests for
· Solar power technology as well as rural power generation.
· Gardeners, botanists, agriculturalists,
· French language tutors and interpreters
· Craftsmen and women of all type
· Works in Faith
James, Ginette and the Thomas program volunteers are eager to show that they can become self sustaining and by their works show their faith. Lawrence and Dee are showing their faith by their works as I. I am sure that the works you do in your life exhibit your faith as well. Come and join me in this mission to Thomas and beyond.
This summer the film “Defy Gravity” will be ready to show. We are planning a Taste Of Haiti. It is a Haitian Dinner with Music, art and culture exploration as well as the movie.
As I walk this path the more I become aware of who is leading and it isn’t me. I am still in awe as the program continues. Each meal we feed, body and mind we nurish provides the vehicle to works that are alive in faith.
Donations can be made to: San Ramon Valley UMC
902 Danville Blvd, Alamo CA 94507
100% goes directly to buy food.