Spring in Haiti
“Disaster makes existing inequality worse.”
There are so many ways that this is true, but the one we want to focus on for this report is how it impacts our small corner of the world. Prior to COVID-19, our tight group of 15 board members and dedicated volunteers were managing projects that provided healthcare, health education, nutritional support, sports and exercise, social activities, vocational programs and religious celebrations for hundreds of children and the adults that work with them, all with a focus of wellbeing and sustainable living.
COVID 19 shut down:
-Our fundraising as donors themselves now struggle;
-Medical clinic trips that had included 15 healthcare specialists that the children, and some of the adults, have never seen;
-On site counseling for children who have experienced trauma;
-Our ability to test and maintain fresh water systems to our high standards;
-Construction of new and safer dormitories, and the planned expansion of the Sho-Ping Chin Clinic building; and,
-A source of income for over fifty adults and their families.
Our tiny yearly operating budget of $30,000 which supports all of these programs had to be partially redirected to provide additional security for the children on site as police and security resources in Haiti got more and more strained by the economic shut down, additional sanitizing supplies and face masks, and additional support for our healthcare workers, all while food and fuel costs escalated. While we are happy to report that all children under the care of Fondation Montesinos are healthy, we are also sad to report that without these programs, the children are becoming less healthy physically and mentally, with backward steps that take enormous strides to regain.
Being “all in this together” also means we need to address structural injustices that are, themselves, also a plague.
Here’s the good news about what we’ve been up to these last four months:
We are exited to welcome Tommy to our Board of Directors. He is a co-founder of Boilermakers for Haiti, a partner based in Indiana, on the campus of Fondation Montesinos who has been focusing largely on the well being of the children through primary education, food and sporting activity programs. Tommy secured a grant from Hens for Haiti, and with additional private donations, we have begun filling our hen houses with egg-laying hens. These hens will provide a greatly needed source of income for the orphanage as well as provide supplemental food for the children. Our team has made significant and exciting steps towards setting up a robust Poulaye in the last few weeks. Our agronomist has purchased 600 out of the 800 total chickens we will have for Phase 1. We are beginning to see a production rate of 50-65% with the 20-week-old hens laying smaller sized eggs.
We hope to see significant progress towards ideal laying rates in the next 4-8 weeks! We are actively seeking to fund the expansion of our Poulaye project! We have 3 total chicken houses with the capacity to fit around 2,400 hens.
Our February trip was successful in providing organization around the transition of Foundation Montesinos leadership since the founder, Father Charles, was transferred by the Dominican Church to France. There is a new Haitian Board which will provide administrative and legal support for the organization. From SHH, board members and volunteers met with the new leadership on campus which includes the agronomist, a comptroller, spiritual leaders, an educator and a nurse and a psychologist. We also signed an agreement with a new medical partner, ALOM, who has opened a beautiful and up to date clinic on land neighboring the campus to provide support beyond our local clinic's capacities. And finally, we met with Food For The Poor who will be leading the effort to reconstruct the dormitories, bathroom and shower facilities on campus.
Our ongoing activities include rolling out a brand-new web site, continuing to raise funds for non-disposable sanitary supplies for the girls, planning our next medical trip for, hopefully, November, and repurposing the existing solar panels on site to be able to drive the water pump so that there is no disruption to safe and clean drinking water during power outages.
The Board of SHH and our Volunteers wish you all good health.
Children Gather for Good Night Songs
Sunset bring a calmness to uncertain times