Saturday, June 30, 2012

Anyone looking for some data to enter??

In our area it's been quite hot these days and it's hard to do something outdoors...Maybe you've had that experience?


Well do I have just the thing to pass those Air Conditioned days away for you:   data entry!    It's easy, you can do it while watching the news or listening to a book on CD or listening to music.  As I was organizing papers related to Haiti I came across a big stack of data that still needs to be entered.      This one goes pretty fast.  I'm attaching the sample spreadsheet.  There are only 10 items to fill in.

Right now I'm learning to use some statistical software and just to prove how valuable data entry is I've included a couple of charts from the 2010 Household Survey that many of you helped enter.  

The first bar graph shows the # of households in each of the sections that responded YES to the question of whether they gave up a child for service (or "restavec")  I see this as a major finding that confirms what we already know:  families are so poor that they are willing to send their children away for the hope of a better life in the city.  Sadly, many of these children end up in a form of slavery.  

This question asked, "In the past month did anyone in your family go without food because of lack of food?"   If they answered yes, then a follow up question was asked to learn about how often this occurred:

I hope you can get a quick sense of how important this data is.  It represents families and kids.  Proper analysis can help us make the case that these people are truly in great need.

If interested in helping with data entry, please email me and I'll send you instructions.

Many thanks!

President, Thriving Villages International

Thriving Villages website

Thriving Villages blog

Friday, June 29, 2012

Check out this wonderful video about a fund-raiser for Water Missions International:

Water Missions Project from Yoshi James on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Video: 5th Birthday Campaign

You may have seen that the US has an international/global health focus on Child Survival.  Their new campaign is the 5th Birthday Campaign.  In my opinion this is right on the money.  

In Pestel we are trying to move in this direction, and we're making good strides.   I would urge you to watch this video that was just released.

When they get to the simple interventions you will recognize several interventions that we are implementing and hoping to implement within the next year, particularly malaria bednets and immunizations.  Through our health worker infrastructure (APPAS) and the medical registration system implemented last year, we have the ability to eliminate deaths due to immunizable diseases like tetanus.  

The well-drilling project being overseen by Water Missions International is an amazingly important effort to reduce major causes of child death in this setting.  This is going to be HUGE!!!  I have been immensely impressed with everyone I have had the pleasure of speaking at Water Missions International.  They are a very competent, caring, gracious group of individuals who are motivated by their Christian beliefs to bring both water to live and the Living Water.   It's pretty exciting.

Please check out the video!


President, Thriving Villages International

Thriving Villages website

Thriving Villages blog

Monday, June 25, 2012

A few more notes

Hi everyone,

Yesterday Jen did a short presentation at our church about Thriving Villages and received about $170 from the children who collected money during the recent Vacation Bible School.  That's pretty awesome!!  Thanks to the VBS coordinators, and Deborah Saline in particular, for their work on collecting the donations for Haiti!!

I had the opportunity to speak with Gigi Pomerantz yesterday who is the director of Youthaiti,org.  She has been involved in the southernmost region of Pestel called Duchity where she has been involved largely in the fight against cholera as well as developing options for improved sanitation.  We had a really good discussion about the needs in Pestel as well as possibilities of collaborating.

On a sad note, Duchity made the news recently when a vehicle tried to cross the swollen River Glaz and resulted in the deaths of up to 40 people.     
The river quite literally runs over the road and you have to drive through it in order to travel from Les Cayes to Pestel.  Obviously, an engineering solution is needed to improve this situation.

On this map you can see a faint white line at the bottom-middle that travels up into the pink-red zone (Section 5).  This the road.  Where the road meets two small dots is where Duchity is located and the River.

For those interested, the blue and green arrows/triangles on the map represent the candidate villages for the well-drilling project.  
Within the next couple of weeks we are hopeful that the well-driller will be traveling out to Pestel for a site visit.  This trip is very important because he'll determine whether a drill rig can navigate the roads or not.  Please consider praying about this situation, and for wisdom for all who are developing this effort.

President, Thriving Villages International

Thriving Villages website

Thriving Villages blog

Sunday, June 24, 2012

2011-12 Summary

Hi all,

I recently wrote a brief report that outlined some of the projects that have been underway in Pestel.  I find it useful to sometimes take a moment to pause to consider the joy experienced in walking with God on this journey.  Of course, just like in life when things don't happen like their supposed to on a trip (tires blow or radiators bust), there have been quite a number of challenges and even mis-steps over the past year.  Sometimes like a flat tire we've just been flat wrong.  In the process we learn.  

We at Thriving Villages are learning together, encouraging one another, sharing in the work and the joy with you.  

Through our combined efforts we continue to reach 12,000 children with medications to reduce child deaths, improve nutrition, and reduce anemia.  We have been reporting our findings to Unicef, and I know they are pleased because there is no other entity that is doing what we are in that region of the country.  We are currently reaching 230 villages with these medications.

We started up an Anemia Campaign throughout Pestel earlier this year.  Pestel took a huge hit with Cholera and we saw the degree of anemia worsen quite substantially as a result.  We anticipate seeing improvements in anemia by providing iron tablets and multivitamins (which include iodine), both of which are donated by Unicef.

Speaking of cholera:  this has been a huge problem in rural places like Pestel where they have no good sources of water.  The number of cases of cholera in the mountain villages of Pestel was alarming earlier this year.  A very sad situation.   The solution to cholera is good, clean water and good sanitation.   Some other organizations have been assisting in the fight against cholera, including Cuban physicians and nurses, Youthaiti, and World Harvest Mission.

Toward that end we are well into the planning process of the well-drilling project for Pestel.  There is a great deal of enthusiasm about this effort.   We have 20 candidate villages.   With the $100,000 donation from NATO (through their relationship with Variety) combined with leadership and donations from Water Missions International, we are moving forward with preparing the communities.   We hope to see the well-drilling begin in early 2013 (during the dry season).

The importance and value of clean water in this setting cannot be overstated.  The #2 cause of child death in Pestel is diarrhea, which is incredibly ridiculous because it is absolutely preventable.  We're working together toward the end of this great tragedy.   I believe we'll start to see results over the next year!

We're hoping to begin immunization campaigns later this year or sometime in 2013.  Dr. Seneque (the only Haitian physician for 70,000 people in Pestel) told me in May that he still sees about a case per month of tetanus, one of the preventable diseases through immunizations.   Also, I'm in discussion with Unicef about procuring malaria bed nets for the region.  We're talking about 50,000+ bednets, potentially.  I think the average cost of the insecticide bednet is around $5 per net.   This will be an important step toward reducing deaths due to malaria.   I remember seeing a young man writhing on the floor of the health center with his hands tied by a sheet.  When I asked Dr. Seneque what was wrong with him he told me that the young man was likely going to die of malaria that infected the brain.  This is normally treatable but Dr. Seneque's health center doesn't have this medication.

Heifer International has worked with 200 recipient families in Pestel, providing them expertise in caring for goats.  Each of these families has now received the goats, and once those goats reproduce, the recipients are going to give away to their neighbors the same number of goats they received from Heifer International.  

I have been granted a sabbatical from my medical center for the next year.  I will be using part of this time to develop the work in Pestel further, and I am glad for the opportunity.  Thank you for your ongoing support and the enthusiasm that bolsters the work forward.  
Dr. Ben

President, Thriving Villages International

Thriving Villages website

Thriving Villages blog

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Getting Personal....with Sister Fidelis Rubbo

We're pleased to share this brief bio of Sister Fidelis with you.  I first met Sister Fidelis when she stepped out of the rickety sailboat onto the crowded, chaotic dock in the city of Jeremie, Haiti.  She had called us a couple of hours before to notify us that she was going to be delayed because the outboard motor had conked out.  The captain was trying to scavenge pieces from another motor to see if he could get it going again, she had said.  Her voice on the phone was quite upbeat, despite the setback. At the time I assumed that this sort of problem with the boat meant  a high likelihood that the boat wouldn't make it.  Silly me!  Sister Fidelis has developed a keen sense of what is likely to work in Haiti.  This is one of her strengths.  She has a high regard for the Haitian people, their ingenuity, their persistence and perseverance amid adversity.

I'll tell you:  she is very Haitian herself in these ways!

Thanks to Jim Bishop for developing these bios!!  We look forward to more of his writings!!!


Getting Personal


We at TVI are a small organization with a big mission.  We go to small villages in a small country, and we save lives.  Here are a few stories of the men and women in Haiti serving in vital roles across the Pestel region and the people whose lives they touch...  


Name: Sister Fidelis Rubbo

Hometown: Ferrier, Haiti and Garden City, Michigan, USA

Job: Director of the Sylvania Franciscan Haiti Mission 

Favorite food: Any kind of shell fish

Favorite Bible Verse: I have many, but one is "I will be with you always even to the end of time." Spoken by Jesus at his Ascension, it reminds me that the work I do is His and that He will always be with me no matter what.

Hobbies: Energized walking, watching tennis, visiting friends, and reading fiction

If you could correct one misconception about Haitians, what would it be?  I'd change the perception that poor people are lazy and that they're poor because they're not trying hard enough.  Other countries have hampered Haitian progress from the beginning of their history.  They've suffered invasions, embargos, election tampering, a foreign country supporting a coup against the elected president, and even the indignity of France asking them to pay back the money they'd lost to free the slaves.


In Brief

Sister Fidelis Rubbo moved to Pestel, Haiti, in October, 2001, feeling drawn by the immense needs that weren't being met.  She began to work in pastoral care, and serve as administrator of the dispensary in Ferrier, deep in the mountains along Haiti's southern peninsula.  "I immediately felt at home," she said.  "People were so grateful, and festive."  Every class they visited sang a song for them, and the children followed them from class to class.  She thought, "Wow, I'd love to help them have a better future."  As she learned about the people and culture, she broadened her scope to include economic development.   

There are some 10,000 aid organizations in Haiti, yet very few were in the hard-to-reach rural area of Pestel.  It was heart-breakingly easy to make a difference.  "I remember one girl, Benia, who came to the clinic when she was 9-years-old.  She was pencil-thin, and we thought she had irreversible retardation because of malnourishment."  During play therapy, tossing a ball around a circle of children, Benia didn't respond.  The ball just bounced off her.  But eventually, she laughed.  That was a breakthrough, and after several months of care, Benia was talking.  Finally she made a full recovery.  Usually, it takes the younger kids about two months to recover.  "It's wonderful to see."

In essence, Sister Fidelis' work in Pestel is to lift people up physically, economically, and spiritually.  On any given day, she could be arranging for the construction of the new guest house, helping to get a chateau d'eau (for clean water), planning with Sister Jo and the Haitian leadership team, receiving people at her front gate, checking on the clinic in the next village, or leading worship. 

"I love to lead prayer," she said.  "The prayers are so beautiful, it's easy to be inspired yourself." 

Of her timeline in Haiti, Sister Fidelis says, "I'm in for the long haul.  I intend to stay in Haiti as long as God gives me good health and continues to call me there.  Yet we're also training Haitians to take over."


In Her Own Words:

"If all that we're building falls apart, what endures?  The relationships, the leadership skills, the training for people to impact their own community.  Yes, we can give food and medicine, but ultimately you affect one person at a time.  We hope that the work continues, but how we have touched people personally by our presence, and the faith, skills, and attitudes that we've developed together will endure in the human spirit from one generation to the next.  I went to Haiti thinking I want to share God's love with these people, and let them know there are people in other countries who care.  Now, I also think it's important for people in the U.S. to experience the Haitian people and culture, their challenges and faith.  They too have much to teach us."



Thriving Villages website

Thriving Villages blog

Monday, June 18, 2012

St. Clare Award

We are pleased to share that Ben was recently notified he was chosen to receive an award from the Sisters of St. Francis in Sylvania, Ohio.  He and Jen will travel to Sylvania in September where he will be presented with the St. Clare Award which recognizes individuals who exemplify Franciscan values by embracing the poor and marginalized., who advocates for the less fortunate and promotes peaceful causes.

You can learn more about the Sisters at:

A webpage features information about Sisters Fidelis and Josephine's work in Pestel, Haiti.  

Thriving Villages International would not exist without the dedication and persistence and leadership of Sister Fidelis who has poured out her life for Christ to the people of Pestel.  A short bio on Sister Fidelis will be emailed out soon.

We are truly grateful for this honor and the affirmation that it brings to the work God is leading us to.

President, Thriving Villages International

Thriving Villages website

Thriving Villages blog