We have big news to share about the progress of our ongoing efforts to best serve boys on the streets who have come from Haiti in "search of life". In an e-mail to our supporters on Dec. 15th, I wrote a letter to Santa with several requests. Here is a piece of this letter:
Santa, I know it’s a big thing, but we’ve been renting for years now. I really wish we could buy land for our two grassroots schools and for the boys’ home, and build proper facilities with proper classrooms, an administrative office, some recess space with some playground equipment, bookshelves, cubbies to hold bookbags, and a cafeteria space. For the boys’ home, a building that 12 can live in would be amazing – 2 residents per room, a kitchen, a common area, some yard space, and a nice fence to close it all in. We estimate a lot of this, (the boys' home), could be done for $15,000 US, which isn't much comparatively.
One of the conflicts with renting is the conflict we sometimes have with landlords. In the boys' home, for example, a fixed electric bill is paid to the landlord, along with each month's rent. The other month, he opened the door early in the morning and found the fan on and the radio lightly playing. These are the only appliances in the house that use electricity, along with two light bulbs. He didn't talk about raising the fixed electric bill, but just cut off the lights. This past summer in Muñoz, a trained coach with a program called Sports for Life led a calm and organized game in the yard outside of the school. The landlord's father came and chased everyone away with a machete, making rude and racist/nationalist comments, (he is Dominican and the coach and kids are Haitian). These are just a few examples of problems we run into with landlords, not to mention the fact that we can't really ever do building or painting projects since the property is not our own.
Alright Santa, I almost ripped this letter up and began a new one because I think I may be asking for more than you can give and maybe I should've asked for something else instead. But I didn't rip it up because I know you can do big things and we are meant to wish big. This other thing is something I have asked for every year since we began. It is something that, if given, would make not having the first thing - actual property and building - much easier to do without in the meantime... and it would actually be leading us to that.
Well, on Friday evening I got a phone call from my mom who was at a friend's house. She said she would pass me to one of her friends who has supported our work in the past, as she had some news to share. She put me on the phone and this woman let me know that her husband had sold his business and they decided to donate the $15,000 needed to build the home! So we will get started on the process of purchasing the land as soon as those funds come in, and then constructing!
Now, we still have not started the soccer team back up and we still have not raised enough funds to do so. But we will need to coordinate the soccer team with the opening of the house. Through the soccer team, we will be able to meet the boys who are on the streets now, get to know them, and see who would be good candidates to enter into the home. We don't yet have an exact time frame for this, mainly because we have not yet received the funds and have never built property or constructed, so it is hard to predict how long it will take. But it is very important that we have extra consistent funding prepared to run the soccer team and to provide the extra food and other needs of new boys entering into the home. Which leads me to the next paragraph in my letter to Santa:
I want more monthly sponsors. Oh how I have always longed to have that security that each month the money we need to pay the basic necessities would be there. It was in the beginning, but hasn't been since 2008. As a result, we are always late on rents, teacher payments, and lacking basic things. For example, we have never bought a roll of paper towels. We spent years without any canopeners, doing the old rock and knife trick. We have never yet invested in a sign other than anything hand painted...and normally don't do that. We get so wrapped up in investing in human hearts, minds, and empty bellies, that those sorts of things get pushed to the back burner.
We currently have 21 monthly sponsors who donate a total of $1,479.25 a month. This is all we can actually depend on. These genorous folks give an average of $70.44 per person, most through direct withdrawal, but some through check or paypal as well. But the basic necessities of the services we provide (schools, boys' home, caring for a two-year-old) totals $2,642.86 Then we have other efforts to house and engage volunteers and set up sustainable businesses. Some months, the cost of all of this (efforts to set up sustainable businesses) is covered, at least in part, by volunteer fees, art shop sales, etc., but many months it is not yet. We're still working on that. Anyway, the costs to run these things, (hostel, English immersion pre-school, fair trade art shop), is $1,553.88. Lastly, we have some administrative costs: internet, phone bills, transportation, and bank fees. These costs total $442.36 and 43% of that is for bank fees! If we could do one monthly wire rather than several wires and withdrawals each month, then the bank fees would dramatically decline, but we can only do one wire each month when all of the money is available at once, as would be the case if we had enough income from monthly sponsorships to cover our monthly costs. This all totals $4,639.10, $1,553.88 which sometimes covers itself. Again, we can only depend on $1,479.25 each month from our monthly sponsors, which is why we need more monthly sponsors.
Please consider helping us to bring in more consistent funding... as the kids we serve need to eat consistently! Thank you for your support!
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