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As tensions in Haiti escalate due to the current economic crisis, it is, once again, the most vulnerable that suffer. Our leadership team in Haiti has reached out to us with pleas for help from the older generation. Over the past years, men and women that were able to leave the country did so in large numbers. Historically in Haiti, a middle age person would help take care of their aging parents. As people left with dreams of an easier life, often they planned to send help back for their parents that couldn't leave. Unfortunately, many who left found conditions elsewhere(many went to Venezuela or French Guinea) just as bad as they had left. This has left parents without support.
On top of this, inflation in Haiti is extreme. Last year the exchange rate was about 62/1. Right now it is around 83/1. Wages have stayed about the same but since much of their food is imported, it has increased about the same as the rate of inflation.
The doctors have reported to us a much higher number of people coming in with signs of mal-nutrition than has been seen in this part of Haiti for many years
We are starting a temporary program to feed the most destitute of the elderly found in the local community.
People will be screened and only accepted if they meet the financial requirements, and will either be required to pay 2/5 of the cost(about $0.12/meal) or in the case of extreme poverty, the meal will be provided at no cost.
Our Haitian leadership team will screen individuals to determine eligibility. That person will then be allowed to come to an evening meal at our school. Part of the cost to provide the meal pays the cooks to cook the meal and wash the dishes after.
One of the local church leaders will present a devotional and be available to help meet the spiritual needs of any that attend. Our goal is to in no way limit people from receiving aid due to a lack of religious convictions, but to share the Living Water with any that will receive it.
The approximate cost is $.29/meal USD. This means that 100 adults will get a large meal for $29. The people receiving the meal will pay about $10 of this, leaving us with the other $19. Currently we do not have any funding for this and are looking for help to cover this cost.
Please consider helping us with this! Donations can be made though this website but we also would like to encourage people to see if your church is willing to partner with us in this. We have agreed on faith that the funding will come to feed 100 people, however the initial request was given to us with a list of 300 individuals that felt they needed help immediately just to have food to eat.
For more information about this, please contact one of the board members. I(Jared Zehr) can be reached at 315-486-9204
Amos Metzler and his family(including their yet to be born baby) traveled down at the end of June with Jared Zehr and his daughter. After a bit of difficulty, the six arrived safely at the mission. Amos had a prime objective, to get the Kubota ambulance back in operation. After great effort, he ran out of time but was able to teach Rouso how to finish the job. At last report, the Kubota is running but needs a bit of electrical work before being put back into operation.
Jared spent much of his time meeting with staff and looking over facilities. One of the most exciting moments of the trip was getting the report from the churches. The lead pastor, Edmo, reported that they are seeing spiritual growth in all congregations as well as seeing more come to the Lord. He asked if the church building could be enlarged due to times when there just isn't enough room for everyone.
The hospital has continued to offer excellent care and the staff showed me an amazing records system. There are facility needs that will need to addressed but the staff continue to put forth excellent effort in spite of some challenges.
The school is closed for the summer but the staff report another great year. The school was very highly ranked in the Southern portion of Haiti and have set a goal of moving up in the ranking by three positions to become the second best ranked school in this part of Haiti. Even though the school is not in session, the children continue to come for a lunch three days each week. Some of the children walk for a long distance in temperatures that make us up here in upstate NY cringe to think of, but the families are extremely appreciative of the generosity of those that are making this possible. We are nearly funded enough to switch back to five days per week at this point and are in close communication with the Haitian leadership to determine when to make this switch back.
Since our founding, we have established three healthy churches, a school that serves approximately 300 students, and a hospital that has served over 50,000 individuals. Not only have these establishments made a huge impact on the local population, but many families now have steady income through employment with them. While we continue to offer oversight, the mission is largely operated by Haitians, with the day-to-day decisions being made by the Haitian leadership.
SonLight oversees three churches. The churches act on their own much like a local church in the US might. They look to us for oversight similar to the way many of us look to a conference or overseer for advice. One of the churches, shown above getting a new roof last February, is in need of an outhouse facility. We are currently accepting donations to help erect this facility. On our last trip down, we were able to, with the help of several parishioners, replace the entire roof structure and make several updates to the building. Even though there is a need to continue the facility improvements, the congregation was extremely grateful for the help. At last report, all three churches are reaching capacity during the morning service. The churches typically hold revival meetings in April and again in June. They would love to have guest speakers for this week-long event. If you would like to support a pastor to attend this event, please let us know. Jared was able to attend one of the worship services this past June and was absolutely blown away by the heart of the people as they worshiped.
Our school lunch feeding program has been an incredible success, due to the generosity of many individuals as well as churches that have partnered with us. We have been able to feed all of the children every day since we began the program and are funded through the end of the school year. Thank-you to all those who were involved financially as well as those that have spent time in prayer for these young people!
We anticipate that we will need to continue this program next fall. Please check back or keep in touch with a board member for more information. There is a possibility that MCC meat might become available once again. This would be a huge blessing for the students as well as freeing up funding for our adult feeding program. Please pray for wisdom as we make decisions.
If you are part of a church or another organization, and would like to see your organization help out with this need, don't hesitate to contact us. We would be glad to come to you to speak to your group or just answer questions. One group of school age children has begun supporting the feeding program. Young children can understand the school lunch and the cost associated with it.
This lunch was provided by a young family. All of the financing for these lunches comes from people like this, people that just want to help others that are less fortunate than themselves.
As educators here in America will tell you, it is hard to learn on an empty stomach. For some of these children, this is the only meal they will get all day.
SonLight's hospital is licensed to operate up to 19 beds and serves the entire LaColline valley(population about 28,000). Two doctors are on staff with consultation appointments Monday-Friday, while the center is open 24/7 for emergency needs and longer term care.
The doctors perform small operations in the operating room and perform deliveries in the separate delivery room. Common issues requiring hospitalization include malaria, typhoid, and even diabetes. It is not uncommon for people to come in to be stabilized and then be transferred to larger hospitals.
We have seen a lot of change at the hospital lately. Many renovations have been made, including complete renovations to the laboratory and consultation rooms, as well as the bathrooms and staff kitchen. New windows have been installed in the delivery and nurses rooms. A new system was launched in February to ensure greater accountability by the Haitians to make the hospital an effective, yet economically viable entity. We are currently restarting our mobile clinics and are looking into the possibility of bringing on a part-time surgeon with a long-term goal of also hiring a dentist.
In October 2018, we re-started doing off-site clinics. We have restored a pick-up to act as an ambulance and to be used to transport people and supplies to the clinic sites. These clinics are used to treat, vaccinate, and educate people that may not be able to get to the hospital for any number of reasons.
The Haitian government continues to recognize the importance of our hospital. Many of the renovations are made possible through a partnership between SonLight and the government. We have long talked of having a protective wall around our hospital and are excited to finally see this dream coming true.
Last February, two SonLight board members took a week to meet with every employee at the hospital and implemented many changes at the hospital that have helped them become more efficient in both the service they offer as well as financially. Part of the changes were setting up a system whereby the pharmacy stays stocked and solvent at all times.