For 40 years now, we have been providing food and medical supplies as well as the Gospel to the people of the poverty-stricken mountains and plains of Haiti. Much of this once-fertile land is now barren and dry, where the trees have been long since chopped down, mostly to make charcoal. During the rainy season, mudslides and floods are common, as there is nothing to hold the soil in place on the steep mountainsides. It is extremely hard to grow crops in these regions, and for the people trying to scratch out a living here, every day is a struggle for survival.
Some basic recent research shows that less than 50 percent of households have access to safe water and only 25 percent benefit from adequate sanitation. One-hundred thousand children under five years of age suffer from acute malnutrition, while one in three children is stunted, or irreversibly short for their age.
Not only are the people of Haiti grateful to receive the physical food, many are glad to hear the good news of the gospel. We are glad also to have the privilege to tell them of the good news of the Gospel, and how there is actually a real hope in Christ, especially for them.
During our feedings, we teach them a Bible verse, and sing and pray together before we distribute the food. Before, during and after this, we find plenty of opportunities to communicate with them one-on-one, explain to them more about Jesus, or help with particular cases of urgent need. It is a real blessing to see how thankful they are for even the small bit that we can give them.
At these feedings, we distribute food given to us through the organization "Feed my Starving Children" and well as other generous organizations such as "Gleanings". Many of the people will walk for miles, even all day long, in order to arrive in time to receive one of these bags of food.
With so many hungry people all in one place at one time, it can sometimes become difficult to keep everyone orderly. We tell the people that Jesus sent us, and sometimes keep everyone singing together while we distribute the food. We also exhort them to thank Jesus after receiving the food.
Many of the children in our orphanages have come from these areas, as it is not uncommon for us to take an especially needy or malnourished child (or a few) back home with us after the feeding for extra help.
Recently we have especially shifted our focus to aiding smaller, Haitian-run orphanages that are especially in need of food and other aid. There are many, many of these, some of which are more established (though still poor), and some which do not have much more than the roof over their heads. They may have few children or many in their care, but either way, their need is great, and we have found that this way we can reach out to help many more children besides those we take into our orphanages.
Here is brother Kevin attempting to communicate with some interested friends...
When we first found this orphanage, it was very overcrowded and not in good shape...
Thankfully, we were able to help them relocate to this much better and roomier place!