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Nov 25, 2019

Portraits of Perserverance

Sharing at World Summit in England
Sharing at World Summit in England

As you hear reports about the current situation in Haiti today, it’s important to remember that the massive unrest in the streets is not powered by emotion only. The people you see out there are not thoughtless and they’re not simply angry. There is a logic to what’s happening; there’s a history and so many reasons why. There is need and desperation, definitely. But implicit in what’s happening is a rejection of a long-standing system—and a dream of what another Haiti could look like. And, DID look like!

Once known as the ‘Pearl of the Caribbean’, sadly, for many decades Haiti has become known as the ‘poorest country in the Western Hemisphere’.

Remember, Haiti has always been a leader in seismic shifts in how the world functions. Their revolution of 1791–1804 that ensured that slave capitalism would eventually be doomed all over the planet. They became the first black republic in the world. They were the 'Pearl of the Caribbean', a thriving free country. They eventually ended up almost being taken over but chose to buy back their own freedom from France for the sum of (today's funds) $21 BILLION. This was to cover the cost of the income generated by the slaves and the properties the whites were relinquishing back to the Haitians. It took Haiti 122 years to pay this debt - but they did it!

In 1929, they became the first nation to cast off an American military occupation. Besides frustration about infinite corruption and zero leadership in Haiti, there is a lot of thinking now about how the country might survive outside globalized markets, and how it could return to an agricultural system of updated, self-sufficient small farming. Changes like these take a long time to accomplish, and require the support of huge majorities willing to work for these goals and other changes. It’s a demanding job, to tire out an enemy who has every advantage. But it can be done—and has been done before in Haiti. 

Over the past several months there has been no electricity, no fuel, no access to food, water, supplies. Schools, businesses, markets, even hospitals have closed down. Red Cross has temporarily closed down locations outside of the capital city (Port au Prince). Terres des Hommes Organization will be leaving Haiti at the end of the year. Inflation has quadrupled the cost of even the most basic survival items. Most of the country is on lock down or rioting. In a country where the majority of people feed their families with the income generated from day to day market selling, this instability causes even more suffering.

DESPITE THIS, your Little Footprints Big Steps team has continued doing all that we can: in collaboration with local authorities we continue to reunite children. Our staff have ensured that school supplies are ready to go for our students as soon as school opens up again. Backpacks provided by Move to Matter have been distributed where possible. On a day when the entire country was on lockdown, our nurse travelled by foot across fire-lit road blocks to ensure that a young man could have medical attention. Another day several children were accompanied to a medical clinic including two with broken bones; we were able to make a trip to visit to some of the families in the countryside to bring them food supplies and ensure their children are ready for school (school is open in the countryside!); construction on our property was able to continue. We have temporarily moved several children from extremely dangerous areas of town into our Transitional Safehouses. Daily tutoring sessions are taking place at the Transitional Safehouses. As much as possible, LFBS staff continue to heroically work, despite the danger, difficulties and heavy rains. On calm days we have been able to purchase supplies for our Transitional Safehouses and Outreach families. The level of commitment of the LFBS staff is remarkable!

What else can we do? We focus on doing all that we can do now, while planning for what we will do as soon as we are able. Please don’t look at the current crisis in Haiti and write off the country as incapable of progress. Instead look at the faces of the children, parents and staff wishing for hope, working for positive change, and praying for peace in their country. We can’t give up on the future. We can’t give up on all of the parents who’ve worked endlessly with the single goal of providing for their families. We can’t give up on the staff members who leave their own families and risk their own lives to come to work even if given the day off, because they so badly want their country to continue moving forward. Right now is when they need us most. They are people just like you, but living in a seemingly impossible situation, and never giving up hope. When the situation becomes more challenging, it means we need to try harder, do better, and become stronger. 

We are SO proud of Little Footprints, Big Steps’ continuous, unrelenting response and enthusiastic dedication. Heros, each and every one....as are all of you that are catalysts for the continued good work and positive impacts... that ARE possible despite this situation. YOU make a difference. In the staff meetings, they think of your care and love and concern. YOU help them stand with compassion and strength, to face each new adversity, to plan for the next steps and to share joys and hopes.

What else do you make possible? On most days, sounds of rioting and gun fire can be heard. On one of those days, Haiti Social Services called us about a 15 year old who had 8 bullets pass through his legs. They requested LFBS assistance. His family could not afford the necessary surgery, medicine, IV fluids, bandaging – or even the food and water.

Here is the account from LFBS’ Head of Haiti Operations when she entered the hospital that was still marginally open: “I could immediately identify the patient. He was a small boy for his age, laying on a hospital bed with both of his legs completely bandaged and spread in front of him. A small, elderly woman sat beside his bed. I’d thought it was his mother but through conversation discovered that it was his grandmother – his mother was out trying to generate an income for the day so she could bring him a meal. 

“What does your mother do?” I asked the boy. “She sells boiled eggs,” he said as tears welled in his eyes and the teenager started to cry. I struggled to hold back my own tears as I slowly held his hand. It is a fairly common business to sell bananas and boiled eggs each morning – yet not something that generates a lot of income. It was about 1pm when I visited him and he hadn’t eaten yet.

He explained to me how he’d been shot: he was working on a public vehicle, recruiting passengers. He was doing this so that he could help his mother pay rent. As the vehicle was returning to Les Cayes, they came across a road block. The driver tried to cross the road block. People who had set up the road block angrily began shooting – and the 15 year old boy, who had gotten off of the truck and was standing on the side of the road, ended up with 8 bullets passing through his legs. The driver dropped him off at the hospital and somehow his mother was informed that he was there.

Yellow liquid seeped through the bandaging on his legs. One leg had received 6 bullets while the other had been hit by 2 bullets. Although he felt pain in both legs, he couldn’t move his toes on the leg that had been more badly damaged.

“Do you feel afraid?” I asked the boy. He nodded. He described having nightmares, and waking up afraid on his hospital bed. His mother can’t even stay at the hospital with him as what she earns during the day is what allows her to feed him. He told me that once he heals, he wants to go live with his father in the countryside – he was so scarred that he didn’t want to live in the city any longer.

Working with Haiti Social Services (IBESR), we will try to ensure that this child gets the medical care, nutrition and support that he needs – however with Red Cross closed, blood transfusions are not even available. We will also try to ensure he receives psychological support and assistance to empower them in the long run.”

In the midst of these challenging times, an amazing milestone event! Eluxon is currently a valued and dedicated employee of the LFBS team. But, in 2011, he was one of the youth we supported in escaping life in a corrupt orphanage which denied him of many of his rights throughout 12 years of his childhood! Eluxon’s work now involves reuniting families and working with other children/youth from similar situations. In October, he traveled to London, England with LUMOS Organization to participate in the One Young World Summit. He spoke, on stage, about the damage orphanages do. We are SO incredibly proud of him and grateful he is being empowered to share his story! The One Young World Summit focused on ending corrupt orphanages, and the volunteering that further damages children around the world. Here he is on stage beside LUMOS founder and Harrry Potter series author, JK Rowling!

Please continue to look past the chaos and violence highlighted in the news or images of Haiti, and see the vulnerable individuals who are being so deeply impacted by their country’s situation as they struggle to meet their families’ basic needs from day to day. We can make a life-changing difference for them, and now they need support more than ever. Thank you for all you make possible! 
 

Reunited after 12 years!
Reunited after 12 years!
School backpacks are distributed
School backpacks are distributed
Construction project continues
Construction project continues
Homeschooling during lockdown
Homeschooling during lockdown

Links:

Oct 4, 2019

Summer 2019: Shaping New Futures

Sewing class underway
Sewing class underway

AS you have seen in each activity Update - and on our Facebook page (Little Footprints, Big Steps) if you also follow us there - our staff, our Programs, the challenges and the stunning developments are always in motion. Momentum through the strength and support you are such a huge part of. Summer of 2019 has been no exception. Although school is out, learning continues. Each day – and often night – filled with little footprints that lead toward the big steps!

IN JULY, one of the former street youth, Wathson, was recognized for his continued diligence. Who is this young man? He is an enthusiastic, dedicated young man who works hard to improve his living conditions. He is the only child in a single-parent family. His mother has passed away and he lives with his elderly dad. Although he was only able to start school a few years ago when LFBS entered his life, he is now in 9th grade. Since the first day we provided him with the opportunity for education, Watson has succeeded in his school work and exams, despite the fact that he has to walk more than 2 kilometers, down a mountainside for part of the way, to get to his school. He has also taken vocational training in window installation and is currently studying tailoring. He tends to his garden crops in his small mountainous community and is a great vetivert grower. The LFBS staff member guiding the Youth Leader group is creating a contract with each youth moving them toward a more independence and personal accountability.

EARLY in the summer months we started having school uniforms made for the coming school year! We have 4 students in vocational sewing classes this summer. When we are able to purchase sewing machines, we will be able to hire our own youth and family members to make school uniforms in future and add that into the Small Business Program! Other youth are attending vocational training and apprenticeships, including learning masonry work and photography/videography – future LFBS activity Updates will include photos that young man has taken! We were able to hire some of our youth and family during summer construction projects including the Phase 1 security wall on our land and house building for one of youth and his family.

SUMMERTIME learning opportunities also included taking a number of Agronomy students and LFBS youth leaders to the Haven Foundation’s Agriculture Training Center. A wonderful opportunity to learn and be inspired! The agronomy students we are assisting with their University courses are creating a plan for the planting and harvesting of crops on the LFBS land that is not under construction. They will be implementing the plan and looking after the crops. Work experience and continued growth in action!

MEDICAL care is a critical, basic need. July was a busy month for surgeries. In just a few weeks time, over 6 children had surgery – including a child with multiple physical handicaps one having a bullet removed! Our 3 medical students are back in Les Cayes for the summer and are assisting LFBS at the hospital. 

THANKS to you, many of the younger children were able to attend summer school camps and participate in recreation, music, arts and crafts. English tutoring sessions continued throughout the summer, as well as specialized tutoring for the youth who were just reunited with their families and will be attending school in September...for the FIRST TIME! 

BECAUSE of your support, hundreds of children are looking forward to a new school year following the summer break. For LFBS, the preparations for the new school year begin early summer! School uniforms to be made; shoes/socks/undies, backpacks and school supplies to be purchased, sorted and distributed to children in 24 communities throughout Haiti's southwest. 

CHILDREN belong with family, not in institutions. Over 700 orphanages in Haiti have been identified as abusive/neglectful. It is tremendously important the people understand what their donations are actually supporting! This past month, LFBS had a critical role, working with local authorities on a situation with an extremely neglectful orphanage. When this horrific situation was uncovered, there were originally 83 children. Yet, when judicial authorities visited the orphanage just a few days later, there were only 71 children present. The orphanage representative could not provide any explanation regarding where the missing children were. The orphanage, Ofelina Bon Berger de Cavaillon, is directed by Pastor Saint Germain and has just 45 metal beds with no mattresses, no blankets - children of all ages slept on the floor. There are no files for the children. This is the 4th orphanage run by El Shadai Ministries that the authorities have identified as being well below minimum standards. PLEASE encourage friends to be vigilant about where their donations are going! IBESR (Haitian Social Services) and LFBS work to trace the families of these children and provide care, facilitating positive family reunification. LFBS Outreach staff will follow up with the families and children and assess their situations. YOUR continued support makes our critical, humane, work possible, and means that, with opportunities for education, the cycle of poverty that is the catalyst for these horrors, will diminish. 

TO FOSTER more independence and reinforce parental accountability, we have begun implementing new assistance parameters with some of our families who are progressing well with their various businesses.Families staying together, communities strengthening, children having educational opportunities, self-sufficiency becoming a reality. Empowerment programs that work. Thanks to you.  

Please share this Report update with your friends and let us know if you have any questions. THANK YOU SO MUCH for all that you make possible. “Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one”. Thank you for being a catalyst in this journey of challenge, discovery and transformation. 

Students learning Agronomy
Students learning Agronomy
Summertime tutoring
Summertime tutoring
School books ready for distribution
School books ready for distribution
Corrupt Orphanages
Corrupt Orphanages
Youth Are Development
Youth Are Development

Links:

Oct 4, 2019

Summer 2019: Shaping New Futures

Masonry Apprentice
Masonry Apprentice

AS you have seen in each activity Report - and on our Facebook page (Little Footprints, Big Steps) if you also follow us there - our staff, our Programs, the challenges and the stunning developments are always in motion. Momentum through the strength and support you are such a huge part of. Summer of 2019 has been no exception. Each day – and often night – filled with little footprints that lead toward the big steps

IN July Wathson was recognized for his continued diligence. Who is this young man? He is an enthusiastic, dedicated young man who works hard to improve his living conditions. He is the only child in a single-parent family. His mother has passed away and he lives with his elderly dad. Although he was only able to start school a few years ago when LFBS entered his life, he is now in 9th grade. Since the first day we provided him with the opportunity for education, Wathson has succeeded in his school work and exams, despite the fact that he has to walk more than 2 kilometers, down a mountainside for part of the way, to get to his school. He has also taken vocational training in window installation and is currently studying tailoring. He tends to his garden crops in his small mountainous community and is a great vetivert grower. The LFBS staff member guiding the Youth Leader group is creating a contract with each youth moving them toward a more independence and personal accountability.

MEDICAL care is a critical, basic need. July was a busy month for surgeries. In just a few weeks time, over 6 children had surgery – including a child with multiple physical handicaps one having a bullet removed! Our 3 medical students are back in Les Cayes for the summer and one is assisting LFBS at the hospital.

EARLY in the summer months we started having school uniforms made for the coming school year! We have 4 students in vocational sewing classes this summer. When we are able to purchase sewing machines, we will be able to hire our own youth and family members to make school uniforms in future and add that into the Small Business Program! Other youth are attending vocational training and apprenticeships, including learning masonry work and photography/videography – future LFBS activity Updates will include photos that young man has taken! We were able to hire some of our youth and family during summer construction projects including the Phase 1 security wall on our land and house building for one of youth and his family.

SUMMERTIME learning opportunities also included taking a number of Agronomy students and LFBS youth leaders to the Haven Foundation’s Agriculture Training Center. A wonderful opportunity to learn and be inspired! The agronomy students we are assisting with their University courses are creating a plan for the planting and harvesting of crops on the LFBS land that is not under construction. They will be implementing the plan and looking after the crops. Work experience and continued growth in action!

LFBS’ Head of Haiti Operations participated in a workshop held by the National Committee against Child Domesticity (Comite National de Luttee Contre le Travail des Enfants). A national plan is being prepared to raise awareness about laws surrounding child labour in Haiti, and the Committee is currently reaching each region of the country to gain input for that plan! LFBS staff and Operation’s Head also participated in a workshop facilitated by Bethany International focused on the need to support families to be, and remain, together in including various methods of doing this. LFBS was able to provide examples of successful reunification and steps toward family strengthening and measures toward healthy independence. The participants will meet again in December to discuss the progress, challenges and successes they have had.

A YOUNG man asked to talk with Morgan, LFBS founder and Head of Haiti Operations. He is a former street boy we've recently supported to begin an apprenticeship. He's previously not had a very easy life, already has a child, and has spent a day in prison. "I've been wanting to speak with you to say thank you," he told her, "because I'm starting to see myself differently. I can see myself having a different future." THIS is the reality you make possible!

MEMBERS of our Outreach staff traveled to rural Jeremie and held a training session for a group of parents and youth in the far southwest Grande Anse Region on Family Planning and assisted the parents currently in our Business Start-up program reinforce their businesses. Along with assisting with a workshop and bringing important supplies, they also began detailing preparations for school uniforms and supplies for the upcoming school year! What an incredible, hard-working team - so much is accomplished each day!

PLEASE share this Update with your friends and let us know if you have any questions. THANK YOU SO MUCH for all that you make possible. “Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one”. Thank you for being a catalyst in this journey of challenge, discovery and transformation. 

Learning Tailor Skills
Learning Tailor Skills
Agronomy Training
Agronomy Training
Changing Child Labor Laws
Changing Child Labor Laws
Empowered Women in Business Program
Empowered Women in Business Program
Youth Are Development
Youth Are Development

Links:

 
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