August 2021 – Steps for Safety

We were all vaccinated and ready to visit. Unfortunately the political instability kept us in Virginia. The team did a great job on a set of steps up the mountain. These steps help make the walkways safe and help with water management.

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January 2021 – more toilets

Who knew we’d be doing so many sanitation projects? While we couldn’t visit and work along side our friends, we funded another public toilet project in a nearby neighborhood.

Digging the hole
Team leads posing by the toilet.
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Sanitation Project: Construction of 4 community toilets

This project really was one that answered the cries of the community. With the completion of 4 community toilets, the neighborhood of Bel Aire in Cap Haitian will be cleaner and more sanitary. We wish we could have traveled to work with the team on this project but they did a great job on their own.

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Still working despite the Pandemic

It’s July, we should be leaving for Haiti this week. But of course, the COVID-19 Pandemic has stopped us. The impact of this pandemic is so far beyond just the medical impact. Many organizations have been unable to continue providing aid in Haiti. So many are hungry. There has been more political unrest.

But we continue to do what we can, grateful for your generosity and support. We are still running a “soup kitchen” of sorts, providing hot meals twice a week to the very poor in Cap Haitian. We have been able the last few months to supplement this with bags of food to families, an AIDS patient group and blind adults.

In addition to the feeding program, we’ve been asked by our team in Haiti to still do a building project even though we can’t go down and work side by side. The project on their minds and that has rallied huge community support is the creation of public toilets. Most people who live in the neighborhood of Bel Aire in Cap Haitian do not have running water. They live in small garage-like houses built into the side of the mountain. They walk either up or down the mountain to get water from public wells. Most people do not have access to even a rudimentary toilet (a hole in the ground). Often human waste is left out, or put in plastic bags and left in the gutter. The organization that we work with in Haiti has secured a land donation to build 4 public toilets. Their initial estimates is that this will serve the community and will be cleaned out in 3-4 years.

We are grateful to still be able to participate, even if it’s just with the gifts of funding in this good work.

Soup kitchen lunch for children
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End of year 2020 – Thank you

The pandemic changed life significantly for all of us, but it didn’t stop us from continuing our work to help the poor in Haiti. Because of our many years connected with the people in Cap Haitian, we were able to fund projects and continue the feeding program even though travel was not possible.

We are grateful that our friends in Haiti have stayed healthy with respect to the pandemic. It’s unclear exactly why but the % death rates due to COVID-19 are not as high in Haiti as we’ve experienced in the U.S. Unfortunately, the pandemic has had secondary effects such as extended school closings, a reduction of international aid, and an impact to support industries for tourism and missionary visitors. One thing that we’ve noticed is that it has become harder and more costly to send money to Haiti. Our team there worries about kidnappings and violence in just receiving money. Thankfully, everyone has remained safe and our programs have provided needed aid in this troubling time.

Highlights of the 2020 programs:
– Infrastructure projects that impact to the quality of daily life
– Feeding the hungry
– Support for children
– Health kits and medical bill support

Our sister organization, Foundation Patrick Charles, organized two very successful infrastructure projects for us, one in January and one in July. In January, we helped a church build the walls enclosing the building. Churches often serve as schools during the week, temporary shelters for the homeless, and as well as a central distribution point for food to the poorest. In July, we built 4 public toilets. The toilets are great new feature in the community and yet they are so basic; just a huge permanent outhouse that can be emptied as needed. We’ve had lots of new requests for this same project in other parts of the city and we will plan to build two more toilets in January. There are just so many people living without access to running water or toilets. This kind of project makes a huge impact on the day to day life of the poor.

Foundation Patrick Charles continued to provide a feeding program throughout the year to address the continuing problem of starvation and malnutrition in Haiti. We gave away 195,000 meals in 2020, that’s an increase from last year of 60%! Food distribution included multiple days a week of hot meals to the poorest in the community as well as rotating support to churches and communities with dry beans and rice distribution.
Children continue to be a focus of our work in Cap Haitian. We provided scholarships for many students to attend school. The two children of our deceased friend Patrick, continued living with their aunt and grandmother. We continue to provide food and financial support for them.

Often when we work in Haiti, we will be approached by people in desperate need of medical care they cannot afford. While this year, we couldn’t visit hospitals to offer and pay for prescriptions; we did help pay the medical bills for some needed surgeries and hospital care for several people recommended by our team in Haiti. And at Christmas, we distributed over 200 health and hygiene kits.

As always every dollar of your donation supports the work in Haiti. Nothing is deducted for administrative costs, bank fees, insurance, or the cost of our travel (if and when we do get to travel again). Thank you for your continued faith and support for this work in Haiti. We could not do it without you.

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Merry Christmas 2020!

We were excited to hear that the president of FPC, Antoine Pierre, is a proud father to twin baby girls born 12/16/20. Pierre is working hard to secure health kits to distribute this Christmas in addition to the coordination of our weekly food program. It was so hard to be unable to visit our friends in Haiti this year, but we are grateful that the work there has continued.

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2019 Thank you

2019 – Haiti is still hard. The contrast to life in the US is still dramatic. The city is dirty, the homes inadequate, clean water, and food are hard to achieve for all but the most wealthy families. This year saw absurdly high gas prices of $20 a gallon, the closing schools, riots in the streets, and mass malnutrition.

Michael and I feel the pain and poverty on our hearts. We go there to offer ourselves, our skills, our time, our money, in service to fellow humans who seem to have it so much harder and rougher than we do. In and amongst the suffering, we forge on, doing our little bit to continue to offer a whisper of hope.

Even though no US missionaries traveled to Haiti on our behalf of in January, the Foundation Patrick Charles team in Haiti ran a very successful project, building a huge church in the community.

We had hoped to adopt Gloria and Gomex Charles after the death of our dear friend. We were unable to do so. They continue to live with their aunt and grandmother. We provide food and financial support for them.

Anna Goldston, a dentist, and Michael Goldston, a UMC pastor, joined us in July for a wonderfully uplifting mission trip. This included running a Dental clinic for the second time in which we worked alongside a local dentist. We pulled lots of teeth and cleaned many more. We even performed a root canal and constructed a new front tooth for a teenage boy.

Pastor Goldston ran a class of local pastors discussing the purpose of the church in the community. We distributed Creole bibles.

We helped our local team build more stairs up the mountain, this time with a landing for safety. (OSHA still wouldn’t approve, but it is safer than that last set of stairs we built!)

We provided scholarships for many students to attend school. Unfortunately, the schools closed due to the rioting this fall. We were happy to hear they finally reopened in early December.

And while our budget is small, we were able to amp up the feeding program in October, November and December to help the growing problem of starvation and malnutrition in Haiti after this desperate year of rioting and political turmoil. We gave away 119,000 meals in 2019!

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Still reeling from the loss . . .

We didn’t even get to posting information about our January 1, 2018 trip when we learned that our Haitian leader, Patrick Charles passed away from an illness relating to high blood pressure and kidney failure.

This was tremendous emotional blow to our entire team. We are still reeling. . .

Patrick left two children orphans and we have been working diligently to ensure they are cared for, fed and educated. MaryLu is personally working hard to bring these children to the US, per Patrick’s wishes and to adopt them.

Patrick also left the Haitian team without a leader. The community came together to mourn him but also, inspired by him, determined to carry on the mission of Espoir Haitian and Empowering Haitians. The Haitian organization was renamed Foundation Patrick Charles (FPC). FPC hosted the July 2018 mission team and continued great work running a vacation bible school and adding more steps to the much needed sidwalk up the trechous mountain.

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End of year notes – 2017

2017 in Review

  • The feeding program started in 2013 continued by providing over $22,000 worth of beans and rice to the neediest people through 30 neighborhood churches. (That’s about 88,000 meals!)
  • Again, we provided 1,200 lbs of beans and 600 lbs of rice to AIDs patients who cannot take their medicine without food.
  • Our teams in January and July worked on the construction of two church community buildings. One was completed with a roof and the other, much larger and much higher up the hill was partially completed.  Our US teams work side by side local laborers.  Blocks were hauled up a mountainous hike, along with bags of concrete and rocks.  These church buildings are more than just churches, they are also schools, community centers and often serve as emergency shelters for orphans.
  • We organized 10 days of vacation bible school for children from multiple communities of Cap Haitian.
  • We provided funds for critical home repairs damaged by hurricane flooding.
  • Hosted a Christmas Party for the children in the community where we work.
  • We helped our Haitian Leader, Patrick Charles get access to dialysis and medical tests that we hope will enable him to have a kidney transplant. While this may seem routine in the States, the poor of Haiti have little to no access to basic lifesaving medical care.  Many people there suffer and die from curable and preventable diseases.
  • Vilouse Charles passed away in February 2017 from Breast Cancer. We are so saddened by her loss.  She was a dear friend and instrumental in our micro lending and sustainable feeding program.

For the future:

The health of Patrick, our leader in Haiti, continues to concern us.  We have laid plans for him to receive a new kidney this month.  Please keep him in your prayers.

We traveled again to Haiti on January 12.  We put a new roof on a church and built stairs up the mountain.  Previously, the path up the hill was mud and rock.  It was very difficult to navigate.  Now the new steps make traversing this well worn path much easier.  This kind of project really lifts up an entire community and we find we have many volunteers from the neighborhood who give of their time to help us build.

As we prepare for 2018, we also recognize that the feeding program may very well end this year from lack of funding.  This is unsettling.  We feel like we’ve done great work feeding the hungry.  But even if this program ends we will continue to do our best to lend a helping hand in other ways to our impoverished brothers and sisters in Haiti.

Our long-term vision remains the same that we may find new ways to encourage economic growth and truly ease the suffering of the poor.

Thank you again.  We are so grateful for your gifts in 2017 and hope that you will continue to consider our mission in Haiti one worth supporting in 2018.

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In Memoriam: Vilouse Paul

Vilouse Paul, Espoir Haitian leader

Vilouse and MaryLu

We are saddened by the loss in our Empowering Haitians family. Vilouse Paul, our microloan program and sustainable feeding program lead died 2/9/2017 after a valiant fight with cancer. She leaves behind her devoted husband, Patrick, and her two children Gloria (14) and Gomax (10). She also leaves a hole in our heart. She had such love and desire to serve her community.

I have some great memories of our Haiti adventures. Once taking our sons to the market to buy food for the community meals; she indulged my son’s interest in coconuts. She thought he wanted to eat one, but really he just wanted to cut it in half and play with it. Our boys spent hours playing with the “coconut toy”. We also took several road trips out to the country to buy goats. I didn’t have any idea what we were getting ourselves into. We all couldn’t help laughing at the raucous noise that 6 goats made when tied up in the back of our station wagon! Even when she was sick, she wanted to participate in the community work. She organized a vacation bible school day for the children in her neighborhood and opened her home for us to gather and play with the children. I will miss Vilouse’s smile, her friendship, and her energy in our work together trying to do good.

Donations to Empowering Haitian’s in memory of Vilouse will go to continue the projects of her heart.

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