Food Arrives in Haiti!
If you’ve been following the unrest in Haiti, you know shortages of food, water and fuel are creating frightening conditions throughout the country. ER’s two partners in Haiti, Lemuel Ministries and House Of Hope (Children’s Home for Haiti Orphans), continue to bravely minister to their communities.
Life in Haiti has been a continuing drama for both partners. In Haiti’s Western plateau, Lemuel Ministries has had to suspend its school because of severe shortages of basic staples. Lemuel’s supplies flow through Port-Au-Prince, which is racked with violent protests. Transportation to and from the capital city is dangerous as protestors are setting up blockades and robbing travelers.
House of Hope Nutrition
House of Hope is located on the Northern shores of Haiti and is able to get supplies through a shipping port located nearby their location in LaPointe. With 80 kids and a couple dozen workers, HOH provides up to 300 meals a day. Finding the funds and food for these meals often feels like a daily miracle.
That’s especially the case in Haiti where ongoing protests are making food even more scarce while inflating prices. Unfortunately, ER partner House of Hope has 100 mouths to feed three times day, so hunger is a constant concern. Hunger doesn’t wait for a boat filled with food to arrive. It gnaws at your stomach, leaves you listless and detracts from your ability to learn.
However, Nov. 2 was a day of celebration as HOH received a desperately needed shipment of food staples. You can see the joy on the faces of the kids! Thank you to all who are helping Lemuel and House of Hope.
Meal Math: House Of Hope Serves 100,000 Meals Annually
By Tim Fausch, ER Communications (Nov. 20, 2017)
ER staff recently visited our partner House Of Hope in LaPointe, Haiti. Our time was memorable as we stayed at this children’s home and witnessed the challenges of caring for 80 kids.
Thousands of kids have passed through the House of Hope (HOH) over the years. Started in the 1950s to care for Northern Haiti’s abandoned and orphaned children, HOH cares for 80 children concurrently. About 40 are semi-permanent and 40 are transitional. Transitional kids typically are recovering from severe illnesses or operations and their families are unable to care for them, so HOH becomes their home for weeks or months.
HOH operates in unique fashion. It’s part children’s home, part recovery ward and part community center. HOH is located on a compound with a mission hospital where many of the kids are first identified as at-risk and needing special care.
The main facility houses the children, nursery, offices and play space. It was built about 60 years ago by work teams and endures 24-7 use. Not surprisingly, it’s in constant need of repair.
Caring for so many children on a too-small budget means Linda Felix (daily operations director) and Jenny Reitz (development director) must employ constant creativity to meet needs. Their top challenge is generating the funds to provide food, clothing, school supplies, utilities and medical care.
Meal Math is Astonishing
The biggest single concern is feeding the children. Linda worries where the funds will come from for the next meals. Doing the math on meals is intimidating. Feeding 80 kids requires 87,600 meals a year (80 kids + x 3 meals/day x 52 weeks). Add 14,600 meals for staff and volunteers (2 meals/day x 20 staff/volunteers) and the total zooms to more than 100,000 meals a year!
Linda and Jenny have learned to navigate this incredible challenge by buying in bulk and living by faith that funds will come in to pay for them. They order rice and other staples from Miami, which are shipped to a local port and transported to HOH. Vegetable and meat purchases are negotiated at local markets.
Cooks then prepare huge meals using labor-intensive processes. Some of the older children pitch in to help prepare the food. Despite the overwhelming task, the children rarely miss a meal and receive better nutrition than many kids in the community.
Not a Walled Fortress
With La Pointe’s high unemployment and temptations on the streets just outside the HOH compound, it would be easy to keep the kids walled off from the community in order to protect them. But HOH chooses to open its gates in order to impact the community.
Neighborhood youth are welcomed inside the compound to play basketball, attend an annual camp (200 kids attend, including 120 neighbors) and interact with staff and children. The engagement with local families allows HOH children to connect with friends and schoolmates, which helps them develop social skills and prepare for life outside the walls.
While life inside the compound may feel a little hectic to North Americans, the children are experiencing deep compassion, care and love. HOH truly is a place of hope.
‘These are my Special Girls’
Jenny Reitz has seen hundreds of hurting kids come through the children’s home in northern Haiti during her years serving at House of Hope (HOH). While all the children are worthy of love and compassion, two girls have captured Jenny’s heart in a special way. After moving to Haiti, she ended up as an administrator and program manager for the home, which can accommodate up to 80 children. Jenny didn’t plan to have any “favorite” kids.
But that was before she met Lala and Nannie.
“They are my special girls – the ones I call mine, because they don’t know anyone else but Linda (Felix – HOH Director) and I as mom,” Jenny said. “The girls consider themselves sisters and have an inseparable bond.
“We’ve had our two girls since they were newborns. The one on the left (see photo) is Dieula. We call her ‘Lala’. On the right is Silianna. We call her ‘Nannie’. Lala is 13 and the best ‘mom’ HOH has. She was 10 days old when she arrived after her mom died. Every new baby or child that comes in spends time with her as their ‘mom’ to get them settled into life at the HOH.
“Nannie was tiny when she came to HOH at 15 days old. She weighed only 1.8 pounds. She is our miracle girl and such a joy to everyone. Nannie has so much energy and life – she brightens everyone’s day. She will be 11 in November (2017).”
Jenny shared a few of the reasons Lala and Nannie have gained a permanent place in her heart.
“Lala is in grade 7 at a local school. Here favorite subject is French. She loves music and dance.
“Lala will take charge of the most difficult and needy babies as they arrive,” Jenny shared. “Once they don’t need a lot of help, she’s happy to move on to the next one. We’ve seen Nannie start to follow her lead, although she tends to pick kids who aren’t quite so needy. They’ll spend time holding and playing with the babies, combing their hair, changing diapers, feeding and whatever else needs doing.
“Nannie is in Grade 5, also enjoys studying French, and loves to watch movies and then act out the scenes. She just loves to tease everyone and doesn’t care who you are. Nannie finds joy and comedy in the everyday little things of life. Her laugh is infectious.
“Lala wants to work with children, either as a kindergarten teacher or to have her own children’s home to run. Nannie is content to just help Lala for now. She doesn’t really have any firm ideas of what she’d like to do one day.
Girls Bring Joy
“Both of the girls bring me such joy,” Jenny added. “They are so different, but have such a close relationship that it is special to watch. Both of them are survivors and fighters. They won’t let anything stand in their way, but at the same time have such compassion it just pours out of them.
“We have always had a special relationship, they show me such love and I love them dearly. Linda always pays me the highest compliment. She tells me, ‘those girls love you more than meat’!
As far as the future goes, Jenny hopes the girls will make good choices for their lives.
“My hope is they will grow to know how much they are loved and allow this love to carry them through any dark places…that they would care more about helping others than making a comfy life for themselves…and that they find what they like to do and do it with all their might.”
Jenny Reitz is an ER staff member supported through ER Canada. She serves with House of Hope, a children’s home that cares for children who are abandoned, abused, neglected or orphaned. Jenny is available to share about HOH with your church or organization. You can reach her via email here.