Thriving Villages is a Christian organization called to demonstrate God's goodness and compassion. We work collaboratively and holistically with individuals and organizations, utilizing our gifts and skills to address issues of health, poverty, and development in rural Pestel, Haiti and beyond.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
"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."
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...
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: