The Good Shepherd Haiti Mission Team finished its first full day in Haiti. It was an incredibly emotional experience for the team. There were more than a few tears shed.
Sunday was a day of worship and served as an introduction to the the people and culture of Haiti. We were blessed to meet the children at Mama Yol’s orphanage and Mama Denise’s orphanage. For many of our team members, the visit to Mama Denise’s orphanage was an opportunity to meet their sponsored child for the first time. Many of the members of Good Shepherd have sponsored these children for $30/month since June.
We spent the morning worshiping with a church that gathers at Mama Yol’s orphanage. Mama Yol’s orphanage has 40 girls. Along with the orphanage and the church, there is also a school. Mama Yol’s orphanage suffered severe damage from the earthquake in 2010.
After a tour of Mama Yol’s Orphanage and spending some time with the girls, the team made it’s way to Mama Denise’s orphanage. The experience at Mama Denise’s was the highlight of the day. We were able to see first hand the difference Good Shepherd has made in the lives of these children. The first thing we noticed was a security wall which had been constructed around the perimeter. On our previous visit there was no such wall. The orphanage has also expanded their facilities. Previously the orphanage was run out of half a duplex house. The half of the house being used had three rooms in which all 24 children had slept. Because of the sponsorship of Good Shepherd members, Mama Denise is now able to rent out the entire house, adding three additional rooms. We also were told how children who are 13, 14, and 15 years old are now going to school for the first time and learning how to write their names. There is also a new water filter on the property that filters the drinking water for the children, helping prevent a host of diseases caused by inadequate drinking water.
Mama Denise and the children all expressed their sincere thanks for God’s provision through Good Shepherd. Without that support these children would be on the streets. God is doing a great work through our church.
There are still mighty challenges. When we originally visited the orphanage in April there were 28 children. Now there are 54 children. Because of the added number of children, the money that we send does not go as far. There are almost twice as many mouths to feed. When we arrived the children had not eaten. The team responded by giving their lunches to the children making sure the kids would eat. The team then promptly took a collection in the evening from their personal money that will be used to purchase food for the children.
The construction team quickly got to work assessing the situation at the orphanage. There were several items which stood out as needing attention. The first was the cooking area. The orphanage cooks on a small grill with a place for two pots. Large pots are used because of the amount of food. They are balanced on the small grill using rocks, creating an unsafe situation. One of the cooks was severely burned recently. As I write this, the construction team is on their way to do some shopping. They are looking at a kitchen “remodel.” This would involve putting a new roof over the area along with constructing a new grill. Most of the cooking done in Haiti is done using charcoal. Because of the deforestation in Haiti, charcoal is becoming more and more expensive. The proposal is to build a propane grill. Propane is similar in cost to charcoal at the current time. But propane is less volatile in price and seems to be the more economical choice in the long term.
Another project the construction team identified is the shower area. The children take bucket showers. A hole was dug on the property for the drainage of the water. However, very quickly the water in this hole began to stink and became a reservoir for mosquitoes. Malaria is an issue of concern in Haiti. Mama Denise relocated the shower area, but the area has become filled with mud. It is currently the dry season in Haiti and the shower will become more problematic in the rainy season. The team intends construct a new shower area. Showers will be on an elevated platform which will drain the water into the street.
There is a well on the property with a round metal cover over this well which is unsecured. As time allows the team will work to secure this well as it creates an unsafe situation. For now the two primary projects are the kitchen and the shower, but the construction team plans to address the well as time allows.
Another need that presented itself at Mama Denise’s orphanage is bug netting. The house is not entirely enclosed. Bugs become a problem. Only a few beds have the bug netting. Children are exposed to mosquitoes with the potential of carrying malaria. We would love to be able to get additional netting for all the beds to give the children additional protection.
The medical team began to assess the situation for their work. On Monday afternoon they will run a medical clinic for the children at Mama Denise’s orphanage. They are also doing some veterinarian work. There is a trio of young goats at the orphanage. One of the goats at the orphanage is ill. It has abscess above the umbilicus and is near death. The team named the goat Midnight and plan to do surgery in hopes to save its life. Goats are a very valuable resource for the orphanage. It they are able to save the goat’s life, this will be a great thing for the orphanage.
The VBS team is also making their preparations. While the medical team runs the clinic, the VBS team will minister to the kids. One of the things these children crave is the attention of adults. They do not receive the individual attention that many of our kids receive, so this is a very special treat for them. They will grab you, hold on to you, and do not want to let go. They love to have their picture taken with you. We brought a small printer with us that will allow us to print the pictures for the children to leave with them.
In the evening the construction team inspected two different properties for sale. Mama Denise currently rents her property. A longer term solution would be to move the orphanage off of rented property on to something more permanent. This is something that our team began to explore and will be something to consider in the future.
Another important project will be to enlist additional sponsors for the children. The funding which is being sent to Mama Denise is inadequate to support the number of kids. Currently we send almost $900/month. The need is closer to about $2000/month. The mission team is working and praying on a plan to make this happen.
Thank you to everyone who helped to make this trip a reality. Thank you for your prayers and your financial support. We could not have done this without you. We want you to know that you are making a tangible difference to bring hope in a place where there is not much hope. You have literally changed the direction of these children’s lives. If you would like to make a donation to God’s work in Haiti, make sure to visit our donation page. God’s blessings from Haiti!