A Mountain of Love – Enough to Pledge Help For Another Year

WOW!  Imagine a mountain of 213 Christmas gifts…each package wrapped with the special sparkle and cheerful colors of love, each glowing with the spirit of Christ’s message, “Whatsoever you do to these, the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.”  That’s the picture of your gifts, your sacrifices from the 2010 fundraiser Christmas in July…and each day a few more gifts are added to the mountain.  We’re almost half-way to the budget target and still many envelopes to be returned.

Seeds and tools and goats and chickens and piglets and, yes! a bull  and a cow. Essential help for the villagers to help their hard work produce more food!   85 gifts for the Agriculture and Livestock problem; thank you for feeding the hungry.  The Haitian man who helps us manage the agriculture and animal husbandry project is a jewel!  His “day-job” is being a teacher.  He volunteers to help the village evenings and weekends with agriculture/livestock.  He has also been important in the leadership of micro-credit, but agriculture/livestock has become such a demanding schedule that he is spending all of his “spare time” on it.  It’s another case where “no good deed goes unpunished”.  Because he has done such a good job of coaching and guiding, the participants are seeing tremendous success…despite the setbacks from floods and earthquakes, their gardens are producing more, their livestock are healthier and producing more offspring.  Consequently, more of their
neighbors want to join the program.  The requests for training and assistance keep growing.  He’s a glutton for punishment.  Although already over the planned capacity, he says if we can provide the additional funding he will add more of the waiting villagers to the project.

We are building momentum for success!!  With clean water, the villagers are not sick as much.  Since they are not sick as much, they can spend more days working and planting and growing.  As they are able to have more and healthier food, they are becoming stronger and healthier.  Also, the kids are missing less school, learning more, etc.  It is not an overnight transformation, but over years the results are showing!!

Medicine and medical supplies stacked high with 62 gifts.  Thank you for healing the sick.  When we were there in April, some of the older members of the group talked about how the “young folks” didn’t even remember when Boileau was just like the neighboring villages with no place to get help when their kids were sick…or when they were sick.  The school provides the critical tools for continued progress by the villagers… 66 gifts to provide school supplies and school lunches…feeding both the bodies and minds of the children.  Again, the transformation in overall vitality is amazing.  Eight years ago, when we first saw the dilapidated structure they used for a school….poles with a tin roof and a few straw curtains for some shade…the school area had a low buzz of students dutiful repeating in a sing-song monotone after the teacher.  During recess, groups of lethargic kids competed for a spot of shade to sit and stare vacantly.  Now the school and school yard are bustling with active youngsters from sun-up to sun-down.  We don’t need the doctor to tell us that the clean water and improved nutrition is transforming the village. We can see it and hear it as the kids act like kids!!

Based on the generous response to this phase of Christmas in July, we’ve pledged the villagers of Boileau that we will support the clinic, the school, micro-credit, agriculture, and village leadership programs during the next year.  We are depending on your continued generosity through the “coin box” program scheduled for collection in October.

How do we know donations are used as promised?

It’s a valid question. Television news reports that some of the money donated to help Haitians with earthquake relief and recovery from the devastation is not reaching the people who need help.  So, how do we know that money donated to the Haitian Pilgrims is really helping the Haitians?

First, we’ve gone down there to check on projects and see first-hand.  Second, we are on the phone and exchanging emails weekly – or more often – with several different people who we can use to corroborate each other.

There is a more complete discussion of the project status and plans for 2010 in the discussion below, “The Haitian Pilgrim Program For 2010”.  I won’t repeat all that in this message.  It is relevant, however, to specifically acknowledge that we take the responsibility very seriously to continually confirm that the sacrifices our donors make are used as promised.  We make the commitment that 100% of your gifts will reach Haiti.  Our staff is all unpaid volunteers and administrative costs such as stamps, etc are all paid by the members…no administrative costs are subtracted from donations.

Help for Haiti from St. Philip

Thank you for your generous response to the emergency relief for our sister parish in Haiti. Your gifts of $3,000.00 have been wire-transferred to Father Kensy, the pastor of St. Therese in Boileau. He and the parish leadership team are establishing a community food bank. They will purchase bulk food (for example, 100 lb bags of rice), then distribute the smaller amounts to households.

We have told them that they are in your prayers and that additional help is promised. We have commitments of an additional $1,600.00 and about 125 St. Philip parishioners are mailing additional gifts. A special thanks to the Knights of Columbus. Some of the money will be used to buy seeds to plant as they start their recovery.

Recovery and rebuilding is starting. The water is receding. The school and clinic survived without damage. Several families used the second floor of the school as their emergency shelter when their homes were washed away. They will, of course, have to move out soon so school can resume in a week or so. The diagnostic equipment and the beds in the clinic were not damaged. Although some supplies such as bandages were damaged, the clinic will be operational and able to treat patients quickly. This is important since so many of the villagers suffer from chronic undernourishment. They are vulnerable to infections and virus disease rapidly escalating if they are not treated. The rugged hand pumps survived and the wells your generous gifts funded are able to provide clean drinking water. This is, literally, saving lives. Overall, it is much better than it would have been without your help. Thank you.

Meanwhile, we are also looking beyond hurricanes to long-term assistance. Our primary goal remains to build infrastructure that accelerates achieving self-supportability.  Please continue your daily sacrifice to put something in the “Happy Box” each day. These will fund long-term village development like the Tilapia Farm. We will provide updates on this website, http://haitianpilgrims.org/.  If you do not have a “Happy Box” and wish to add your support, click on this Hyperlink,  How can I help? .