Tuesday, December 22, 2009


This report (from PADF) just came out about the state of "restaveks" in Haiti.

"The term restavèk child is defined here as an unpaid child servant living and working away from home. The most salient identifying feature is that restavèk children are treated in a manner distinctly different from children born to the household. In principle, parental placement of a restavèk child involves turns over childrearing responsibility to another household in exchange for the child’s unpaid domestic service. The traditional expectation is that the “caretaker” household will cover the cost of sending the restavèk child to school."

The majority of children come from places like Les Cayes, Jeremie, Jacmel and Leogane.

"In the five neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, 28% of the children surveyed are restavèk or restavèk-boarders, with Cité Soleil by far the highest at 44%."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

2009 financial review

Merry Christmas everyone,

I took a moment to add up the giving to the "Haiti Medical Fund" for 2009 and was quite surprised to see that we doubled the 2008 giving!!!
In 2008 we collected over $6000, which was incredible and far beyond our expectations.
In 2009 we collected $13, 566!!!   And these figures do not include other important donations such as school supplies, medications, toys, or airfare for heart patients.

Beyond the money, however, is the incredible encouragement from your emails and prayers.  The value of these cannot be overstated.  
There are things that we build that will fade and crumble over time, and there are other things that we build that have potential to last.  
Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers work in vain.  
We pray for wisdom as we labor, that we would be attentive to the Architect, to the One who is working out all these marvelous plans in His own ways and His own timing.

The theme is fitting for the season.  Advent is the time of waiting for the coming of the Messiah.  We look over the Bible accounts and marvel and rejoice at God's plan and timing for Jesus as a baby.  
We continue that anticipation even now for Christ's promised return.
And as we pray, "Lord Come", we apply this to our own lives and to the lives of our neighbors...including our Haitian neighbors in need.

Merry Christmas everyone!!
Ben and Jen


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Haiti December Christmas cheers

Cheers to you!  

And especially to the following:

1.  Steve Miller who traveled with me on my last trip to Haiti.  He took some phenomenal photos!   
2.  The Hershey Medical Center because they are going to produce free calendars for us using Steve's awesome photos!   We'll sell the calendars for $15....and every penny will go toward purchasing anti-parasite medications for the kids in Pestel.  So $15 will buy medications to cover an additional 120 kids that otherwise would not receive the medications in 2010.   That is INCREDIBLE.  So if you want to buy a calendar (or put it another way, if you want to give 120 kids anti-parasitic medications to help them grow....worms can consume up to about 25% of a kids nutrition) just let me know.   One church will be doing a sign-up sheet, and once the names are collected I'll drop off the calendars.   We're expecting the first batch to be printed this Friday.  
3.  A generous family in Sylvania, Ohio!!   They made the first donation to the 2010 health program   :)
4.  Kiwanis of Upper Allen who recently made a donation, and re-invited us back to give them an update in January
5.  Johnny Zook--one of my friends and church-mates (we'd actually been classmates at Messiah College).   He is 'cooking up' an idea for drying fruit in Pestel  (no pun intended....well, yes it was :)   We believe he's found the right setup.  Now we'll be working through the logistics and setup.   If anyone wants to help either with the design/construction  OR the logistical aspects (i.e. how to implement this so that it benefits the community, and not just a single individual etc), please let me know.     This is an economic development project.
6.  Hanoverdale Church, just down the road from Hershey.   They have added the Haiti Project to their church missions budget for the next several years!   
7.  Medical Students.   I met with 20 of them last night to describe the 2010 Haiti Project, and they were VERY enthusiastic.   In total about 40 students have signed up to help!!  You can see the online sign-up sheet here!!:
8. Slate Hill Mennonite Church--they sell coffee and hot chocolates (fair trade items) at church, and they just announced that all proceeds will now go towards the Slate Hill Haiti Missions Project!! We'll plan to use the funds to help with the economic development projects. A great way to make 'fair trade' stretch even farther!

Boy! If that isn't an exciting way to the end the year!!

"Love came down at Christmas...
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus..."

Merry Christmas everyone!


Monday, November 30, 2009

A few Thanksgiving notes

First, here is a short article about yours-truly in the latest edition of Messiah's magazine, The Bridge.  I'm grateful that they highlight the work in Haiti.

Second, this is a very nice email from Sister Carol Ann (in Sylvania, Ohio) that I would like to share with you:


Happy Thanksgiving to you!  Thanking God for you and the partners who have joined to support the Haiti ministry.  Thank you for partnering with us, supporting Sisters Fidelis and Josephine, and being so very resourceful.  You are truly a missionary filled will zest for the love of God which carries to each of the people in need in Haiti.


You are especially in my prayers and know that on behalf of the Congregation that we are grateful to you and the members of the churches who are so supportive. 


This is truly a time to be grateful for the many caring people we know.  Let us continue to minister in God's name and for His greater honor and glory.


Sister Carol Ann Grace

Please continue to pray for strength, perseverance, faithfulness, and compassion.

Monday, November 23, 2009

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Hello from Haiti!

This will be brief because my keyboard is really finicky, but wanted to say that i have a ton of really great  news related to the health project for Pestel!
The week went superbly (I'm writing this from Jeremie, Haiti).  My time with Steve was a God-send, and I cannot wait to see (And show) his photos.  I know he got tons of moving, beautiful shots.  More on this later!
Anderson and Nelson were with me almost the whole time, and I stayed at Nakesha's house on the way down (and will be going there tonight). 
My presentation of the project went very well--and there is a lot of enthusiasm. We have a superb project manager!!!  I cannot wait to tell you about her!  Her name is Madame Jacques and she is an amazing gift from God.  Not kidding. 
We went to several places I'd never been too, including the island which is very poor indeed.  We did a spot check of nutrition in one village and found about 25% malnutrition.  Horrible.  On top of that, about 20% HIV rate.   An awful combination.  More on this later.

Thanks for your prayers--for safety, for a week full of blessings upon blessings.  I was quite aware during the week that God was answering prayers in Pestel, which I think is a really encouraging thought.  Steve mentioned at one point that I have been given favor in Pestel which provides me with opportunity to talk to key leaders.  The favor is not of my own doing.  It is God's doing.  It is Him working out His will.
And holy moly!   What a good good Will!!!   What a most magnificent plan!  
I am really encouraged and excited.  I thought (Quite seriously) that the tidal wave of God's Goodness for Pestel was overwhelming, but now I recognize that it is only but building up.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Packing update

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that we've had a tremendous response to the request for test strips. Individuals have donated money, we're getting free supplies both through contacts at Dartmouth College of Medicine and Penn State College of Medicine, and still looking into possible donations from the manufacturer itself!! Simply awesome!

We're packing--which is a lot of fun. I know I know. That doesn't seem to make much sense, but when you have so many school donations to select from, and you can imagine the kids' faces when they get them...it's just pure joy!

I'm attaching a couple of photos of the boxes of school supplies that came in from a bunch of different places. This was taken last night...so it doesn't include the 50 pounds of supplies that we already packed up for Steve Miller (who is going down tomorrow with me).

Moment of confession (i.e. lessons learned): back in mid-to-late August, after sending out a couple of request for school supplies, and having received none at that point...I asked Jen to go out and buy some. I didn't want to miss the 'great opportunity' of the school sales, you see. It was not an act of faith.
Within a week we started receiving donations, including about 150 pounds of supplies from a VBS in Montana! We've gotten lots of crayons, pencils, rulers, eraser, chalk, board eraser, solar calculators, glue, scissors, pens, paper, zippered pouches to hold the supplies...
Really fun! And we received financial donations--so we're going to go out and purchase some bigger pencil sharpeners (for each school--so 6 total), levels and measuring tapes for the Trade School (masonry).

We received so many wonderful things that the supplies we purchased for Pestel will not make it down this trip.

Lesson learned?


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Last minute request

Does anyone have any test strips for diabetes that they'd like to donate?  These would be "Accucheck compatible"?
I'll plan to bring them down to Haiti this Friday.  Apparently there is a young girl who has diabetes (insulin-requiring, I would guess, but I'll know more) and they need the test strips to check her sugar levels.  

They ain't cheap  (about $.50 per strip, I think).
If anyone is interested in donating money to purchase them, we can pick them up at a nearby store.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pretty great

Given the amount of work that will need to be done in 2010 in order to accomplish the many tasks before me, and at the insistence of my one of my medical student advisees, I posted a list of smaller tasks for interested medical students to sign up for.  Some of these tasks are bite-sized tasks, some are bigger time commitments.

A single email went out to the first and second year students. 

Overnight, 36 medical students signed up!   
There were only 22 tasks.  So I'll need to come up with some more tasks.....not a problem.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Proposal accepted!

I JUST got an email that the $30,000 proposal I submitted on behalf of Pestel has been accepted!!  This is wonderful news and quite a cause for celebration.

Beyond the money, however, this is just an amazing opportunity to share about how God has made this happen, and how He is 'bank-rolling' all of this.  

The group is called Variety International.  They are looking to fund beyond this year, recognizing that this will be a multi-year project.  And it is possible (?likely?) that the level of funding will increase annually once we are shown to be faithful with their gift.

Thanks to so many of you for your ongoing words of encouragement.  Special thanks to my uncle, Jim Bishop, who helped me with the text for the promotional materials I sent to the organization.  

Deeply grateful and yet again, humbled...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Prayer request

In former emails I mentioned that an organization approached me about potentially helping with funding health programs in Pestel.  The board of directors for that organization will be meeting next weekend to consider the proposal that I've put together for them, along with many other proposals.  

My proposal includes a 5 year plan to cover all pre-school and school aged kids with deworming medicines (anti-parasite campaign), vitamin A and iodine.  We talking in the neighborhood of about 20,000-25,000 kids.  That's pretty awesome.  Beyond that, the plan calls for development of school and preschool nutrition programs, mobilization and training of new health workers, widespread surveys (for data collection) and monitoring to ensure that the health interventions are having their desired effects.

There are so many things to pray for.  
1.  the board meeting this next weekend
2.  my interactions with folks in Pestel in November.  Truly, for my faithfulness in trusting in God's provision.  He has always provided abundantly (more than I can ask or imagine).
3.  my interactions at the medical center.  The medical students are expressing interest in helping out, and that increases my joy even more!  Pray that my witness to God's leading, goodness and compassion would be evident and faithful to these future physicians.
4.  Pray that when people hear the 'wow!' stories there would be opportunity to share about God who delights in giving and showing Himself as the giver of these good things.

As always, thanks for reading and praying

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

News items related to Haiti

This, all just from today's news:


This week, right on the heels of Clinton's visit, comes news that "the Haiti-based conglomerate WIN Group and the Soros Economic Development Fund today announced plans to develop a $45 million industrial park to jumpstart industry," according to an October 6 article in Business Wire.

The industrial park, which will be called the "West Indies Free Zone," will "include more than 1.2 million square feet of turn-key rentable space. It will target local and international manufacturers as well as warehousing businesses and offer tax, customs and processing advantages to tenants."

The 300,000 residents of the Haitian city of Cité Soleil, which is close to the park, will likely see as many as 25,000 jobs created for the community.


Ex-President Carter seeks to eliminate malaria in Hispaniola, its last Caribbean outpost

Former President Jimmy Carter is visiting Haiti and the Dominican Republic to urge their leaders to forge a pact to rid the island of Hispaniola of malaria.

An estimated 30,000 Haitians and several thousand people across the border in the Dominican Republic are infected each year with the mosquito-borne illness. Hispaniola is malaria's last Caribbean outpost.

Santo Domingo. – Former United States president Jimmy Carter on Thursday launched a joint Dominican Republic-Haiti program to eradicate malaria and phylariasis on Hispaniola Island within 10 years.

The US$19.9 million program will be used on house to house search for cases, free treatment and mosquito control, repellents for mosquito nets and walls in high risk areas, as well as providing information and social mobilization on the entire island.

Former President Bill Clinton, on behalf of the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI), has just signed an agreement with Haitian President Rene Preval to expand access to HIV/AIDS care and treatment services to the residents of Haiti.

Haiti to boost tourism.

The [Haitian] Government hopes to lure in four million visitors a year, putting Haiti on a par with the Dominican Republic, which attracted 4.2 million last year.

"In 2011 we will be able to say that Haiti is back on the world tourism map," Mr Delatour said.

My Blog

Thursday, September 24, 2009

US cancels Haiti's Debt!!!!

Hot of the press!  Great news for Haiti:

Great News! The US has forgiven Haiti's debt!! WASHINGTON - United States Ambassador Kenneth H. Merten and Haitian Minister of the Economy and Finance Daniel Dorsainvil today signed a bilateral debt relief agreement under the enhanced Heavily-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Recognizing Haiti's successful completion of the HIPC Initiative, approximately $12.6 million – 100% of Haiti's debt to the United States Government – will be forgiven under the terms of this agreement. "I wish to congratulate Minister Dorsainvil and the entire Haitian government for their efforts in favor of fiscal responsibility," said Ambassador Merten. "I am pleased to announce that we have now signed a bilateral Debt Reduction agreement with Haiti. Under this agreement, the United States will erase 12.6 million dollars of bilateral debt, eliminating 100 percent of the Haitian government's outstanding debt to the United States. " Haiti's successful implementation of economic and financial reforms was a critically important factor leading to these international commitments to provide debt relief to Haiti. This summer, Haiti met the requirements to complete the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries ("HIPC") initiative, qualifying Haiti for over 1.0 billion dollars of debt relief from multilateral and bilateral creditors. The agreement signed Friday, Sept. 18th implements the U.S. portion of a multilateral accord that the Paris Club group of official creditors negotiated with Haiti on July 8, 2009, to cancel approximately $62.7 million in official debt. Haiti's Paris Club creditors, including Canada, France, Italy and the United States intend to provide $152 million in additional debt cancellation beyond the requirements of the HIPC Initiative. As a result, Haiti's entire debt to Paris Club members – estimated at $214 million – will be fully cancelled. This debt forgiveness, combined with other multilateral debt forgiveness measures, will help Haiti bring its external public debt down and invest more in the social needs of the country.

My Blog

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sister Fidelis, Sister Jo and the Resurrection Dance Theater

Here's a great news article!!  

Sisters Fidelis and Jo will be heading down to Pestel again in another month or so.  They are currently residing in the Toledo, Ohio area (Sylvani, Ohio to be more exact).

And the Resurrection Dance Theater (Theatre) is a phenomenal group of young boys who once were street boys in Port-au-Prince and have been given a remarkable new life in the St. Joseph's Home for Boys.  Michael Geilenfeld is the director of the home, and he is a very gifted, caring man who has worked very hard (and with great joy) to develop a safe place for young men.  In the home they are given an education, skills training, and responsibilities.  Upon graduation they are offered a job with the organization.   
You can see more about them here:

Haiti 2007 481.jpg  Photo of me with one of the boys at St. Joseph's Home

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New short video

Hi All,

Just posted a new video.

This is an interview and brief tour of a man's house. The purpose was to hopefully capture a bit of 'real life' for Haitians in Pestel.
He had helped us carry bags along the trail, and when we got to his house I asked him if we could tour his property.
And he was quite pleased to show us around!

I think this does a reasonable job of capturing some of the socio-economic factors.

Imagine yourself as the father or mother.

Initially I asked him, "What concerns do you have?" But he didn't understand. Finally, Sister Fidelis changed the wording to a much better question: "What are your dreams?"

That's a great question. His answer did not include Disney, traveling overseas, getting a 3-car garage....
It was to learn a trade.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Haiti Update

It's difficult to know what kind of order to put all this good news in, so I'll just be random about it.

1.  I've been asked to speak at the Hanoversdale Church of the Brethren this Sunday for Sunday School.   AND THEN, they've invited me to do a sermon the following Sunday.  I've been considering what I will be saying during those times, and I pray that my words will be encouraging.

2.  A student interest group at the PSU Brandywine campus is starting to raise money to help the people of Pestel.  On the first day of collecting coins they raised $67.  I'm planning to meet with them sometime in October, and also to get together with a biology professor who learned about their collection.  He contacted me because he's interested in developing a technology the purify dirty water....  :)

3.  I just got off the phone with the organization that is interested in helping out with improving the health of the kids of Pestel.   In short, they are very interested in doing a fundraiser (November 9th) for Pestel.  They've asked for two things:  a) increase the current budget  [now when is the last time you ever heard someone say that?!?]  and b) provide a 5 year plan for them.   They are interested in partnering with us for at least 5 years.   That's phenomenal!!   And quite exciting.  

Have no doubt that God desires that we know Him as being Good.  He is showing us this by proving to us, and to my Haitian friends, that He is able to accomplish what appears impossible.
His work in Pestel is a living example of what He desires that you and I know for ourselves--that God is good, very very good.  And we can rely (have faith) on that goodness.

As George MacDonald says, "There are few who have the courage to believe it."
And I believe this is what I'm going to talk about during my sermon--Be Strong and Courageous.

Mainly because I need to hear it!   :)

There is much to pray about in all this.   


Sunday, September 13, 2009

President Clinton at the UN Security Council

This is an excellent presentation by President Clinton to the UN. He portrays a great deal of confidence in the future of Haiti.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Jon and Melissa Eager

You can now follow along at one of my friend's blogs here. I've also included a link to their blog on the right-most column...just scroll down to find the links.

Jon and Melissa (and their 3 kids) just returned from spending 4 years abroad as missionaries. Jon is a family physician working in a remote part of Tanzania.
They are right now staying in a missionary house in Hershey just a few minutes from my house, so we have good opportunity to get caught up with one another!!!

Haiti's Prisons

From a posting on HaitiAnalysis.com

"Constructed in 1918 by US Marines eager to consolidate their occupation of Haiti, the National Penitentiary was designed to hold 800 prisoners. With only minor expansions since then, the facility now crams 4,000 male inmates into an area of 2,000 square meters."

For the full write-up, you can go to HaitiAnalysis.com

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Father Rick's work in Haiti

Hot party: Windsor Arms puts spotlight on the slums of Haiti

Check this story out. This is a really neat event that involves Father Rick Frechette. It shows how good can happen when you combine Star Power with love.

So this is a new one for me....

In a couple of weeks I will be talking during the Sunday School hour at a local church that one of my friends attends.  

I saw my friend yesterday and he told me that at a board meeting on Tuesday night, they asked him if at some point in late September or early October I would be willing to give a sermon!  The pastor will be out for a couple of Sundays and they wondered if I would 'cover' for one of them.

This, of course, took me by surprise (as well as my wife!).  AndI think it will be a really neat experience.

I may talk about how God continues to stretch me well-beyond my comfort zone...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Too much good news for one little email

To set the stage, I want to forward along this email from one of our friends (Gail).  This came after my last email:

I am reading a great book by Charles Swindoll about Esther.  Although God is never mentioned you can see him everywhere.  All the things that happen with you and Haiti remind me of how God works as with Esther, without our manipulation and planning, but with our willingness and cooperation.  Thanks for the updates!

I asked for a status update on the Haiti Fund at my church and we've got $7756 in there!   That is since June 2009!!    You can see how the funds are distributed so far at this site.

ALSO, I just got an email this morning (and this is similarly REALLY cool).  I mentioned in a prior email that I had been contacted by an organization about the possibility of receiving some funding from them to help out with health issues in Pestel.  The proposal we submitted has been accepted!  

We proposed a program to provide deworming medications for the vast majority of the kids in Pestel (thousands of kids), and begin a nutrition program related to "micronutrient deficiencies" (iodine, iron, and Vitamin A).   This may be a really big step forward for us in terms of developing broad-based programs to improve the welfare of the kids (to start) in Pestel.

So more on that as it unfolds!!!

FINALLY, we had opportunity to show a video in Jon and Erika's church this past Sunday.  Jon put the video together (thanks Jon!).   So here is part 1:


Monday, August 24, 2009

Haiti update--August

Hi everyone,

I spent this past weekend with Sisters Fidelis and Josephine and the Sisters of St.Francis in Sylvania, Ohio.  I stayed on campus (and the campus is also 'home' to Lourdes College) and had a truly marvelous, relaxing, yet productive experience.  The campus is beautiful; the Sisters love artwork and you will find it everywhere (outdoors, on buildings everywhere, indoors etc).  

More importantly, however, the women who are part of St. Francis are incredible individuals.  They have warm, caring spirits.  They have hospitable, generous, and loving hearts, and they are genuine and joyful.  It was a true pleasure for me!

While on campus Sister Fidelis received a phone call from a surgeon in Florida (Dr. Steve).  To make a long story short, we (Fidelis and myself) ended up having a long three-way conversation (via phone) with Dr. Steve and also an energetic and gifted woman, Miriam Frederick (she has the glorified "e" in the middle of Fred- and -Rick  :).  They work with an organization called World Harvest Missions.  Miriam has been working in Haiti for about 35 years AND she has worked alongside Dr. John Leininger (who has been helping us to install the Chateau Deau's in Pestel)!   

Dr. Steve and Miriam feel led to build a hospital for Pestel!  The planning is in the early phases, but they already have willing donors for lots of used hospital equipment, folks to help them with the construction, and some preliminary plans.  And they have invited me to help with the planning process. 

The timing of Dr. Steve's call was providential, not planned by any of us.  If he had 'happened' to call a day or two later I would not have been on campus for the the conversation.

God continues to work in the most marvelous ways.  It is always a delight to see Him work, and it is becoming less and less a 'surprise', if you know what I mean.  


Just a few photos of the campus, including a piece of artwork that Sister Jo is currently working on.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Haiti News

A bunch of interesting stuff in today's news regarding Haiti:

President Clinton has apparently been busy raising money to help support Haiti, including..."$25 million from the Soros Economic Development Fund for the Haiti Invest Project, former Federal Emergency Management Agency director James Lee Witt committing $250,000 to provide disaster preparedness training for women in Haiti; and the donation of five unassembled windmills from Rolando Gonzalez Bunster, of Basic Energy Ltd., in the Dominican Republic to provide renewable energy at competitive prices in Haiti.

A trade mission with international investors, which Clinton will attend, is also being planned for October, he said.

Leveraging resources from his own Clinton Global Initiative, the former president also mentioned a study his foundation is conducting that may result in numerous energy independence projects across the Caribbean.

“There could be a lot of jobs for you, and a lot of investment,” Clinton told the conference attendees."

Swiss court says Haitian money can be given as aid
A Swiss court has backed the government's plan to give aid agencies 7 million Swiss francs ($6 million) seized from bank accounts linked to Haiti's former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier.

Oxfam to support Haiti during hurricane season
David Vinuales, Oxfam media and communications co-ordinator for Latin America, commented that the charity is helping to restore channel drainage systems to ensure future flood water is directed away from towns and villages.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Haiti, Clinton and Farmer

Thanks to Fidelis for forwarding this news item!

Dr. Paul Farmer (who visited Hershey to a packed auditorium this past April) has been appointed deputy special envoy to Haiti by former president Bill Clinton.  President Clinton was selected to be the UN special envoy to Haiti earlier this year.

Certainly good news for Haiti!!!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Human Rights report--Haiti

A new human rights report was released. Here are some "highlights" (or lowlights):

"Relative stability has led to increased civil and political freedom, enabling national and international human rights organizations to expose corruption with impunity and to demand that the government honor the international human rights conventions to which it has agreed.

Even with these improvements, RNDDH states that "the general human rights situation remains a source of constant preoccupation," as evidenced in Haiti's senatorial elections in April 2009. They were marred by violence, and a number of the candidates were rumored to have been involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. Many Haitians had difficulty obtaining the identification cards necessary to register to vote.

In addition, the RNDDH presentation in Geneva addressed the weakness of state institutions, primarily Haiti’s prison and judicial systems. RNDDH found that 78 percent of Haitian prisoners have not been sentenced and are waiting in inhumane and degrading prison conditions. There are no rehabilitation centers in place for minors. "

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Hi everyone,

Our church had a fund-raiser last weekend and raised $1000 to purchase another Chateau Deau!!  So we currently have enough to buy 3 Chateau Deaus.   We're going for 5 (see goals at the following link)

Pretty amazing!!

And we're making some really good headway with the class-room support as well!

On the Goals page you'll see a bar for the Trade School. I haven't talked about that yet in my emails. This is something that Jon (Anderson) really gravitated towards on the trip. I'll send out more about that soon!! It's another great opportunity to give (the teachers are asking for student lunches).

The other one that may not be familiar is "Alfred's Fund". You may (or may not!) recall that Alfred is a young guy, my age, who used to work as a mechanic in Port-au-Prince. But he became disabled by an explosion that left him with some bad burns on his arms and legs.  You can read more about his story here.
Half of the funds will provide opportunity for his kids to go to school--and this money has been guaranteed on an annual basis by a faithful donor! The other half of the money (a one-time expense) will be used to help Alfred and his wife start up a local business selling cooking ingredients to nearby villages. Alfred lives 'right down the path' from Fidelis (up in the mountains). I came across some really neat video footage from our last trip that I'll be posting soon. His kids are adorable!

I have also had opportunities to tell several new people about what God is doing in Pestel. It's really exciting to me (you can tell because I talk quite awhile about it).



Sunday, July 26, 2009

Time to collect school supplies! (Video included!!!)

Hi everyone,

Feel free to donate actual supplies (which are very cheap around this time of year) or money (and we will buy the supplies for you--you can go to the blog-site and donate online). These items ship very easily, they are fun to give, and the kids and teachers are excited to receive them!

What is cost-prohibitive for them is very inexpensive for us. And it means a lot.

There is no deadline to this kind of giving. I will likely be bringing the items down in November (the revised date for my next trip).

We're collecting things like pencils, erasers, colored pencils, chalk, solar-powered calculators, rulers, etc. And if you find something good that the teachers might like, that would be really great. It would be great to be able to give them some small gifts as well.

Fun fun fun!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Update on heart patient

Hi all

Sadly, the other girl from Haiti will not receive surgery either.  I spoke with the surgeon this morning and he indicated that this girl had multi-valve disease, probably caused by a Strep infection.  

The strep infection was likely a common strep throat which, due to finances, went untreated.

Thanks to all who were praying and thinking about these two children.  This is disappointing for all involved.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This is a 5 minute clip on the issue of slavery in Haiti.
"A restavec (or restavek; from the French reste avec, "one who stays with") refers to a social system in Haiti in which parents unable to care for their children send them to relatives or strangers living in more urban areas where they receive food and housing (and sometimes an education) in exchange for "light" housework. In reality restavecs often live in grinding poverty, enslaved to their "hosts" and seldom receiving an education. Sometimes, the child is even raped. The restavec system is considered a form of slavery." (Wikipedia.org)

Working in rural Haiti I can see why parents might think they are doing what is best for their child because they are sold a lie ("We will care for your child, provide education and food, and in return they will help us around the house"). It is also important to help the rural families so that they do not fall into this trap.

Monday, July 20, 2009

QUITE exciting news!

Ok--I know you must be wearing of my 'exciting news', but this is pretty cool:

Long-story-short:  I was in a conference call today with two individuals who had learned about my work in Haiti.  Without getting into details (because nothing is firm) they represent an organization that is basically looking for a global health opportunity related to children's health.  They wanted to know if I had any "ready to go" ideas related to Haiti....

Do I ever!

So basically, I will put some proposals together very quickly with Fidelis.  The board will meet next week, I believe, and we'll see if they like any of our ideas.  If so, they may fund a project or two in Pestel that benefits the health of children.  And if they are pleased with the outcome of the project, they may well be interested in providing more funding.


Ok--so tell me that isn't just cool!!

So please pray for wisdom, honesty & integrity as we put proposals together.  
I am telling you--God is VERY good and He wants us to know it, realize it, accept it, and rely on it.

Flyin' high,

Friday, July 17, 2009

Update on heart patients

Hi all,

As I mentioned there are two girls whose records are undergoing evaluation at Hershey for surgery.  I am sorry to say that the one child was determined to be inoperable.  The other child will be evaluated next week.  

Thank you for praying for these kids.  I will let you know next week once I find out the results.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Exciting Updates

I hope you are having a nice summer so far!  Here are a few notes I want to pass along:

1.  I've posted new "goals for 2009-10" on the website.  My 'year' runs from July through June (school year).  This chart will update as we receive donations.   Which brings me to some more good news...

2.  I just learned of two forthcoming donations this week:  a $700 donation that will help support a classroom!  And a $1000 donation to go toward another cistern ("chateau-deau").  Beyond this, I am aware of pledges for another $2000 for classrooms for the upcoming school year!  

3.  Our church is having a rummage sale on August 1st.  All the proceeds will be going to the Haiti Fund to purchase the plastic cisterns.  

4.  We had pleasure of enjoying a very nice dinner with a wonderful couple this evening who are very interested in supporting our work in Haiti!!!  And they've invited us back to their house to meet another couple to talk more about Haiti.  We're so very thrilled to have met them!

All of this adds up to an incredible encouragement to us and to the people of Pestel, Haiti!!  

My next trip to Haiti will be in mid-October.  I am hoping to bring down a lot of school supplies at that point, so as you start to see school sales please consider picking up lots of extra pencils/pens etc etc.

Tomorrow two girls' records (from Haiti) will be reviewed by the cardiology team at Hershey.  Please consider praying about this.  It's not clear whether either of the girls will be accepted for surgery.

This entire experience is both joy-filled and immensely humbling.  Thank you as always for your interest and your encouragement!
God is being praised through all of this!  He is being shown for His goodness, His compassion, and His ability to move mountains in some very challenging places.
And it is exciting to see and to be a part of it.

My Blog

Friday, July 10, 2009

Video from Hearts with Haiti

Hi all,

I just came upon these two videos from Hearts with Haiti.  

The St. Joseph's Home for Boys is usually one of the places I stay when I'm in Port-au-Prince.

Enjoy!  Quite inspirational!!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Some very good news for Haiti!!

This just in!!   The money the Haitians were sending to pay off interest (and principal) on overseas loans can now be used instead for in-country expenses (build roads, schools, fund healthcare etc). About 50% of the debt was accrued during the brutal dictatorship of the Duvalier family (Papa Doc and Baby Doc) who swindled it.  That was from over 40 years ago.

Obviously this debt relief is not going to lift them out of poverty, but in my mind, this step makes all the sense in the world, and is very good for Haiti.  It's also a sign of confidence that Haiti is attempting to make good steps politically and economically.  

The World Bank and IMF have set up a process whereby they consider debt relief for certain countries that meet certain benchmarks.  Haiti has been going through that process for the past couple of years, and despite the 4 devastating hurricanes of last year, they've been able to maintain some political stability.

$1.2 billion in debt relief approved for Haiti


The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have approved $1.2 billion in debt relief for Haiti.

The bank announced the relief Tuesday after its board met in Washington.

The relief cancels Haiti's debts to the two multilateral organizations and the Inter-American Development Bank and amounts to nearly two-thirds of the Caribbean country's total debt.

As of April, Haiti's debt was more than $1.9 billion, according to the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund added Haiti in 2006 to their heavily indebted poor countries debt cancellation program. The Inter-American Development Bank previously approved debt relief for Haiti, pending its completion of that program.

For more on Haiti's debt, you can visit this wikipedia site.
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Prayer request--surgeries

Hi everyone,

There are 2 girls in Haiti that need heart surgery, and their cases are being evaluated at Hershey.  At least two things will be needed:
1.  acceptance by the medical center--that their problems are fixable, and that they are healthy enough to undergo surgery.  One of the girls, Vanessa, is in a hospital in Haiti right now.
2.  funding.  If either (or both!) are accepted there will need to be some money to help them get the surgeries.  With the economy as it is, the medical center is no longer able to provide entirely free surgery.  They are still generously writing off a great amount of it, but there will be about $5000 that is required for each surgery.  

Lest we become overwhelmed at the needs, it is good to be reminded of something that I  just finished reading by Spurgeon this morning: 
"It is extraordinary grace, not talent, that wins the day; extraordinary spiritual power, not extraordinary mental power...Spirit of the living God! we want thee.  Thou are the life, the soul; thou are the source of thy people's success; without thee they can do nothing, with thee they can do everything."

Let the community of Faith respond with prayer!  Because it does take faith to believe Spurgeon's words



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Jars of Clay Video: Two Hands

I just watched this and really like it a lot.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Video on water

Hi all,

This is potent short video about the need for clean water.

This past Monday I had the wonderful opportunity
to speak to a Missions group at a local church about our work in Pestel.
Again I had to say one of the most ludicrous statements: "Even drinking dirty water is better than no water." I'll be so glad when I no longer have to talk that way about Pestel.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Photos of the Morris Family

Hi All,

Thought you might be interested to see some photos of the family that is in the process of adopting the little boy from Haiti that we wrote about some time ago.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

News Items

In response to the recent appointment of Clinton as UN Special Envoy to Haiti, Fidel Castro wrote a less-than-optimistic commentary on the situation in Haiti. I found it to be well-worth reading. One of his more important observations:

"Haitians are not to blame for their current status of poverty; they were rather the victims of a system that was imposed on the whole world. They did not invent colonialism, capitalism, imperialism, unequal exchange, neo-liberalism or any of the forms of exploitation and plundering that have prevailed in this planet during the last 200 years."

He also brought up the issue of whether the land itself can ever sustain the nearly 9 million people living on it. I have wondered something along these lines: has the land been ruined beyond repair?

Along these same lines is a short article in Time.com about Clinton's "second chance" with Haiti.

The second news item: unfortunately more flooding in Haiti. So far 11 people are confirmed dead, but it always seems to me that these 'official reports' greatly underestimate the true loss of life. Last year when the 4 hurricanes swept through Haiti "about 800" people were reported to have died. But the number likely represents only those bodies that were found. If a body was not found it was not counted.

Here's the article from Reuters:
By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE, May 21 (Reuters) - Floods triggered by torrential rains have killed at least 11 people in Haiti, as the poor Caribbean nation struggles to recover from last year's disasters, civil protection officials said on Thursday.

Several hundred homes have been damaged or destroyed and more than 600 families have been left homeless from flooding during the past three days, according to official reports.

"The 11 victims we counted is the death toll we have registered since last night," Pierre-Louis Pinchinat, assistant director of the civil protection office, said. "But we fear the death toll may be a little higher since the rain continued to fall until today in several parts of the country."

Most of the victims were killed while crossing rivers or when their flimsy homes collapsed, officials said. Five died in the northern Artibonite area, three in the Central Plateau, two in the South and one in the Grande-Anse area.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is vulnerable to floods due to massive deforestation, poor drainage in cities and because many shanty towns were built near river beds.

About 800 people were killed last year by a succession of storms and hurricanes. The scars of those storms are still visible in the hardest-hit city, Gonaives.

Many Haitians fear they could face new destruction during the hurricane season that begins on June 1. Haitian government agencies have stepped up efforts to set up shelters. (Editing by Jim Loney and Paul Simao)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Round Trip Missions--interesting video

I found this on the Christianty Today website:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Heart surgeries

Hi all,

A couple of things to pray about:

There is a 15 year old girl in Haiti who has a severe heart condition.  Her name is Vanessa.  She is being evaluated as a candidate for possible heart surgery.  Please pray that she might be able to undergo heart surgery--that is, pray that her problem is fixable through surgery and that her condition is stable enough to allow her to travel, should that become possible.

Also, there is another young girl  named Marie Sherley who is also undergoing evaluation.  Please pray for her situation as well.  


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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Haiti and President Clinton

Here's a video I just came upon. It's a short 2- minute interview with President Clinton from April:

Click here for video

Monday, May 18, 2009

News item

Former President Bill Clinton named special U.N. envoy to Haiti

I recognize that not all on this email list are big fans of Bill Clinton  :)    However, I think that, regardless, bringing visibility to the plight of those poor living in Haiti will be a good thing.  His 'Global Initiative' has brought about significant good in certain African countries, and perhaps he will be able to pursued donors to invest smartly in Haiti.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Haiti and MCC

As most of you know I am part of the Mennonite Church. Here's a really neat news item:

Haitian government chooses MCC partner to produce documentary

Joshua Steckley and Cathryn Clinton
May 12, 2009

MCC = Mennonite Central Committee. MCC has a very strong reputation throughout the world as an organization that works with integrity and compassion.

Here's a link to the article.

MCC has produced commercials that have been aired in Haiti. The first one is pretty neat and you can see it here .

There are a total of
4 videos featured here.

Here is the actual article:

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Support Local Production (known as KPL in Creole), an organization co-founded by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), has been selected by the Haitian government's Presidential Commission on Competition to produce a documentary and a commercial that highlight Haitian agriculture.

The government-funded documentary and commercial will be used in the government's campaign to increase sales of Haitian agricultural products locally and abroad.

Since its founding in January 2008, KPL has produced 10 commercials that encourage Haitians to consume local produce. These are broadcast daily on the publicly owned Haitian National Television.

KPL coordinator Ari Nicolas says, "When we started over a year ago, we had to pay $2,500 a month for the television station to air our commercial two times a day. After the food riots last year, they started giving us free airtime. Now, the government is paying us."

In addition to governmental changes, the national broadcaster recently quit broadcasting commercials for imported rice. Haitian farmers have lost jobs because cheaper, subsidized rice from the United States has flooded the Haitian market.

In response to international encouragement to help alleviate poverty, the Haitian government began market liberalization in 1986. While lowered tariffs brought cheaper imported food to Haiti, they had a devastating effect on agricultural production, particularly in rice, sugar and poultry sectors.

Christian Aid, an international development charity, estimates that around 831,900 Haitians have been affected by the loss of agricultural income.

According to a study in 2008 by the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, a nonpartisan organization, Haiti now relies on imports for more than half of its food supply.

Nicolas does not blame all Haitian troubles on the market liberalization policies. He says that 300 years of slavery and colonialism taught Haitians they were inferior, and this belief affects them today. "We wear Western clothes, create Western music and eat imported food because we still think who we are and what we can make is no good," he says.

Through commercials, school visits and conferences, KPL reminds Haitians of the importance of valuing their humanity. "As KPL, we are simply trying to make Haitians remember who we are, and what we can produce. Once we can change this mentality, everything else will follow," Nicolas says.

The KPL commercials can be viewed online at mcc.org/haiti.

Joshua Steckley is an MCC worker from Waterloo, Ontario. Cathryn Clinton is a writer for MCC.


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International Aid organization

Here's a short video from International Aid:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Trade school

During the last trip we had opportunity to tour a new trade school which had just opened up this year in Pestel.

The trade school is being funded by a group called IDEJEN (Out-of-School Youth Livelihood Initiative). There are a number of these trade schools throughout Haiti and I'm very glad to see one has started in Pestel! The tuition/expenses are paid-for by IDEJEN.

The schools are designed for older youth (late teens to early 20s) and the school provides 2 years of education: the first focuses primarily on reading/writing and the second focuses mainly on one of two trades: masonry or animal husbandry. The trades were chosen based on the needs of the area.

Promoting trade schooling in Pestel makes a great deal of sense to me. Currently they have enrolled 50 students in the first year (25 female, 25 male), and some students have to travel a great distance to attend.

The teachers would like to provide a free meal for the students (i.e. lunch). Right now they can only give them something like crackers). They believe the students will learn better with food in their stomachs. I have to agree.

They are also interested in school supplies: all the kinds of the school supplies we're gathering. They also would like a computer, printer, and a copier. Jon and I were thinking a laptop would be the way to go. Might be able to power it through solar.

I also think they could use funds to purchase supplies. As you'll see in the photos, some of the 'trade school demonstration material' came from a tree limb on the property grounds.

The program is funded by USAID and you can read more about it here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The village of Lasal

So far since our trip in March we've raised $2100 to help support several classrooms throughout the mountains of Pestel! Thank you for your generosity and your encouragement!

In July 2008 I visited a small village of Lasal. I was truly moved by their stories. Very few children could attend school because the nearest school was about one-and-a-half hours away (one way) and was simply too expensive ($100 per kid per year). Those that could afford to send their kids often financed it by cutting down trees (deforestation) to turn into charcoal. Obviously, this brings up several concerns.

This village wanted to start their own school, and we told them that we would try to help them. But the needs are great all over Pestel...

Fast-forward to March 2009. The village had set up two classrooms on their own! You can see photos of the classrooms. They're not fancy, but it shows how determined the people in this village are to try to provide primary education for their children. It's important to keep in mind that the parents have not had education, but they still understand the value.

We are eager to help these people and encourage them in their efforts. I think giving to this community is a triple-win: obviously a win for the kids and their teachers, a win for those who donate, and a win because it reduces the need for them to cut down their trees.

I like the village of Lasal. It's down the mountainside from Fidelis' place, and the people are SO enthusiastic you can't help but smile. They clapped after EVERY PHRASE when I spoke. I felt like a presidential candidate at a national convention.

Enjoy the photos!
You can read a bit more of Lasal at this link:

If you'd like to give to this village (or any particular village), just indicate it in the Address Field on the Donate Form.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Online giving option available now!

Hi All,

There is now an online giving option for our work in Haiti!  You can find it on the right-hand side of the blog (http://haitimedical.blogspot.com/ ) as well as on the updated "Partnering with Pestel" website .  

Feel free to send the link to others...distribute widely!  

If you want your donation to go toward a specific project (i.e. Chateau Deau's or cisterns, school room support, medications, trade school supplies etc) just indicate that in line #1 or 2 of the address line.  It'll act as a memo.

The option we are using (Google Checkout) does not have the option of recurring giving at this point.  But if there is enough interest we can move that direction.  The benefit to Google Checkout is $0 monthly fees whereas with others there is a fairly standard $25 (or so) monthly fee.  

Donations are tax deductible and are processed through my home church, Slate Hill Mennonite Church.  

A BIG thanks to Ben Myers (treasurer) and Roger Springer (finance) who were instrumental in helping get this set-up through our Church!!!   And to my church for their ongoing support and strong interest in helping with these efforts for the people of Haiti.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A note from Fidelis


(Ti Viktim Tou Piti Yo) 

     My breath catches as a little baby looks up at us from the floor. He seems all head and no body, staring passively at his visitors. Renald is 2 ½, but looks half that age. He doesn't talk or walk. He doesn't even have the strength to stand. His tiny little body is joined to a listless, laughless spirit which is also a sign of the malnutrition he suffers. But he doesn't recoil from a strange "blan" who picks him up stroking his arms and legs, caressing his face and head, and patting his back for a good hour.

     When a kind-hearted health agent brought Renald and his twin, Raymond, to our attention, their little legs were swollen tight, a sign of  their deteriorating condition. Unfortunately, our help didn't arrive in time to save Raymond. He died shortly after treatment started.

     We stand on the porch talking of how to involve neighborhood mothers in helping a rather clueless young father raise his infant son. All the malnourished children we are currently treating are motherless, most mothers having died in childbirth. It is said that for every mother who dies a child also dies. This has often been my experience, though families struggle mightily to prevent it.

     Four month old Souvni died recently despite all our efforts. My arms still know the feel of her featherweight body. But Madoche, a 2 year old orphan, and Renald still live. Madoche who is now standing, is a joy to watch as he shovels in the food we provide.

     Why do the innocent suffer? Why do these conditions exist?

     It seems to me that it is always the poor who bear the world's burden of greed for power and riches, most often in a high mortality rate. In Haiti, democracy is just a dream opposed by powerful forces here and abroad who have selfish uses for the poor.

     Despite all, the Haitian poor struggle valiantly on, their way of the cross strewn with victims young and old, but mostly young.

     For a passionate account of recent events in Haiti, including our own country's collusion in its suffering, read AN UNBROKEN AGONY: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President by Randall Robinson or Dr. Paul Farmer's classic, THE USES OF HAITI. 

Sister Fidelis Rubbo

Pestel, Haiti

April 27, 2009 

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