Note: South Florida Haiti Project is an adjunct charitable organization of St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, and many other partners and donors have joined the ministry. The mission of South Florida Haiti Project is to improve the living conditions of the people of Bondeau, Haiti, by raising funds, providing in-kind gifts, sending volunteers for programs focused on creating a culture of brotherhood and spirituality in the Episcopal tradition, and providing clean water, basic education, health care, nutrition and shelter.
By Deacon Anita Thorstad
Hello from Bondeau, Haiti. I love my ministry with the children at Kay Timoun Children’s Home. Thank you to all who have supported that ministry. Living here in the middle of a poor peasant village in rural Haiti, I see situations with people and families that we couldn’t conceive of in the U.S. Sometimes it seems surreal. It seems that there is no end to the poverty here. So many kids wander around partially clothed, dirty, and hungry! Families are broken when a child is sent away to live with a relative or friend, usually serving as a restavec (a child slave). I don’t know the percentage of children that are sent away, but I hear about it from time to time. Nor do I know the percentage of children in the village that are not in school, but there are many. Without an education they will grow up being illiterate just like their parents, and face a life of poverty just like their parents, and bring children into the world that will face a life of poverty just like their parents, and the cycle goes on and on. I see all this around me and can only do so much to relieve the suffering. It’s so frustrating!
Some families here have so many children they can’t feed them. A woman showed up one day asking for food. We got into somewhat of a conversation, given my limited Kreyol language ability. She told me she had twelve children! How in the world, I wondered, can a woman bring twelve children into the world when she can’t even feed herself? She agreed to help with washing dishes in exchange for food. We talked about family planning and she agreed that she needs planning but doesn’t have the money. Thoughts ran through my mind about medical missions supplying some type of birth control and instructions on how to use it, available to those women who want it. The upshot to the conversation is that when she left, the staff told me that she has sixteen children!
Somehow the poor do survive! They have strong faith in God, believing that they will receive all that they need. They thank God for everything. I see and hear people thanking God for rain, for a good night’s sleep, for today. They survive one day at a time, believing that they will have enough for tomorrow.
You can support this amazing ministry through clothing donations, packing food to send to Haiti, financial contributions, and many other ways announced periodically through St. Gregory’s depending on the need. To learn more about South Florida Haiti Project, click here.