September 7, 2010
Almost eight months after the January 12th earthquake, Haiti's children are still hungry, thirsty and uneducated. The billions of dollars poured into this devastated nation seem to have made little impact.
Granted, the Port-au-Prince airport has been renovated (nice for those of us traveling to and from Haiti). But little else has -- at least not in the areas where we work -- as I quickly discovered during a recent return visit with my husband, Louis.
Piles of rubble create a backdrop for shoddy tent-cities, where a lack of basics such as sanitary water (or, in some cases, any water) fosters disease. Pin-thin dogs lie limp like emaciated corpses, displaying wounds inflicted by locals who believe dogs must be beaten into submission. And children play in dirt or roam the streets begging for food and water. Few attend school.
Prior to the earthquake, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), half of Haiti's children were unschooled. Now, those numbers have increased significantly and poverty continues to propagate.
During a recent visit back to Haiti, Petersen, a twelve-year-boy, approached us in the street wearing ragged, dirty clothes and worn-out shoes. His parents had died in the earthquake and he was living in the tent city with his uncle. We gave him food and clothes -- temporary fixes. But we could not meet his request to attend school -- something that could provide a more solid solution to break the cycle of poverty.
Thankfully, the fifty children in the Maison-de-Lumière orphanage are receiving quality education in a Christian school created just for them. My husband, Louis, and I found ourselves teaching French to these children—orphans from "at-risk" backgrounds and whose primary language is Créole.
While we were thrilled to see fifty children thriving and learning, we couldn't forget Petersen's request to attend school. Our hearts were heavy for the hundreds of children in the neighboring tent cities who struggled to survive and who remained illiterate because they couldn't afford school. We began praying for them…
For over a decade, Orphans First has helped thousands of children attend school in Asia, Africa, Europe…and also Haiti. But since the earthquake, educational needs have given way to more urgent relief work; Christian workers in Haiti find themselves too overworked to implement (or continue to run) the needed infrastructure to ensure delegated funds are correctly administered for the children's schooling.
This dilemma needs more than a quick-fix solution. It requires wisdom, stewardship and time -- a case for prayer.
Subscribers to the Orphans First Prayer Chain have been praying for God to make a way for us to again help Haiti's children. Thanks to the founders of Maison-de-Lumière, doors have opened; we hope to start sending thirty children from the ravine tent city to school as soon as possible.
These children, and many others, already benefit from the feeding program (sponsored in part by Orphans First). School registration and funds per child per year amount to approximately $350. This excludes the additional price of a backpack and school supplies. For thirty children, Orphans First needs to raise $ 10,000. All this provides fodder for continued prayer on behalf of Haiti's impoverished children.
Orphans First is a non-profit organization helping suffering children around the world in diverse ways including through the creation of orphanages and programs. Learn more at: www.orphansfirst.org. Or contact by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Janey DeMeo is founder and director of Orphans First. She is also an author and speaker. Her husband, Louis, is a church-planter, mentor and pastor. They were formerly missionaries to France for 22 years and also worked in third-world countries. They are now based in Southern California where they continue their ministry. They both taught at the Calvary Chapel Bible College.