ASC Staff Reflection in Haiti – Part Two

 

 

The following is a continuing account from our Administrative Assistant Kyla, on her recent journey to visit ASC’s partner programs in Haiti. This was Kyla’s first experience visiting one of our project sites. Check out part one here! We hope this series will give ASC’s kind and caring supporters, like you, an inside look at what our team and partners experience in the developing world on a regular basis!

On the second day our team traveled to visit a partner school which ASC has supported for many years. Entering Father Jeri’s School in Haiti, I was immediately overcome with joy. At this school there are 351 students, ranging from ages 3 to 19 – enrolled from Pre-Kindergarten to 11th Grade. All of the children were dressed in uniforms and were very kind and well mannered. We took a tour of the school and were able to see all of the classrooms, meet with many of the loving teachers and staff; and learn about how the school first started and expanded to its current size– thanks to the passion of those involved at the school as well as kind supporters abroad!

For this school, I created gift bags with school supplies and other materials for the children to take home that day. I included a toothbrush, coloring book, a stamp, crayons, a marker, stickers, and a notepad. We also brought footballs, soccer balls, and basketballs for the children to play with. When we arrived, children were playing soccer with a beat-up soccer ball that was completely deflated. It was torn up and had holes everywhere. The looks on their faces when they received the new soccer balls were priceless. It was amazing to see how great an impact something as small as a soccer ball could have on an entire school!

Sadly, malnutrition is a daily reality for a majority of the children in Haiti. The food program at our partner school allows children that live nearby to receive a plate of food Monday through Friday. They serve over 800 meals every afternoon that include: fresh vegetables, rice, beans, and sometimes a small piece of meat or fish. We also help support a food pantry at the school, which allows local families in need to pick up rice, beans, and vegetables to cook at home. This ensures that each child is able to properly develop and maintain a healthy diet! Many families in the community simply can’t afford to pay tuition for school, but luckily, here they have offered a school scholarship program since 2001. This allows children, who otherwise would be unable, to go to school since only 10% of schools in Haiti are public and the tuition for private schools is too expensive for the vast majority families to afford. Thanks to the support of caring and compassionate donors, hundreds of children during that time have been given the life-changing opportunity to gain a valuable education!

The biggest impact on me in Haiti was that the children we visited all had the biggest smile on their faces, despite living in destitution. Families have to walk miles just to receive clean drinking water and the meal they receive at school could be the only meal that they receive that day, yet they were all still happy and smiling. We do not realize how well we have it and this experience truly made me appreciate all the things that I do have.

 

ASC Staff Reflection in Haiti – Part One

The following is an account from our Administrative Assistant Kyla, on her recent journey to visit ASC’s partner programs in Haiti. This was Kyla’s first experience visiting one of our project sites. We hope this series will give ASC’s kind and caring supporters, like you, an inside look at what our team and partners experience in the developing world on a regular basis!

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Since I was little, I have dreamed to be able to travel to and visit a “third world” country. Before I traveled to Haiti, I read news articles that suggested it wasn’t the safest place to travel and some even suggested it was a “big garbage dump”. There were government protests, road blocks, violent crimes and much more happening in Haiti at the time. I was prepared to see the worst, but hoping for the best.

When we first arrived at the airport in Port-Au-Prince, the nervousness that goes through your body as you are walking out not knowing what you are getting yourself into; and not knowing how different it is going to be, was such a crazy feeling. There are no highways or any type of traffic control, like stop signs or stop lights. Cars were driving bumper to bumper, honking horns and merging into every lane. There were thousands of people on every street selling clothes, souvenirs, food, water, shoes, and their artwork just to be able to survive and make some money. Here, children eat mud pies just to be able to feel like there is something in their stomach. We saw children walking to school all alone, not knowing how far they may have to walk just to get to school. To be able to see these Haitians live in such poverty and destitution, but still have a great attitude even when living with almost nothing, was an amazing experience to say the least.IMG_6219.jpg

On our first project day, I was not sure what I was going to experience. Driving down the dirt road to the school, I saw people cleaning their clothes in the water that runs down the street and people pumping water at a well and carrying it home on their head. Our partner Rescue Clinic was up a curvy mountain with tons of big rocks and dirt road all the way there. Along the way, there were motorcycles driving on this rough dirt road with up to five people on a single motorcycle, sometimes including babies. The rescue clinic is one of the few health clinics available in Haiti. Families in need of care have to walk or find a ride up to this clinic to receive medical attention. Some even walk ten to fourteen hours to seek medical treatment.

The clinic sees about 250 people in one day. The services available at the clinic include, but are not limited to, health care education, preventative medicine, prenatal care, primary care (including treatment of infectious diseases, hypertension, diabetes, malnutrition, etc.), limited emergency services, minor surgeries, wound care, as well as limited lab services for a small fee of $1.50. This clinic also dispenses medicine required for treatment of whatever illness is present for free. If the clinic is unable to help these clients, they refer them to a larger health center. Next door to the clinic, they have a rescue center primarily specialized for young children who are treated in the clinic and diagnosed as having severe malnutrition with complications.

On average toddlers suffering from severe malnutrition stay 4-6 months and babies stay as long as 18 months until they are restored to full health. They receive a daily packet of “Medika Mamba”, a ready-to-use therapeutic food made out of peanut butter, which helps children recover from malnutrition. It is a transitional food supplement for children who cant process solid foods due to malnutrition. They started with caring for 8-10 children in their home, and now they are caring for about 70-80 children, outpatient and inpatient.

Without the care and love provided at this program, the child pictured below was not going to make it. The staff ask the mothers if they would like to stay, but most don’t stay since they may have other children to care for at home. They had to call this child’s mother to come back and stay with the child in hopes that the baby will make it and restore back to full health. It is still early in the process, but thankfully, the prognosis looks good.

IMG_6252.JPGAt the end of my first day, I felt very overwhelmed with my emotions. I felt happiness that the administrative work I do helps to fund raise for these sick children to be able to restore their health. Then I felt the sadness of leaving these children behind, hoping that they are going to make it and that they all find a loving home. The biggest impact on me in Haiti was the children that I visited always had the biggest smile on their faces, despite living in destitution. Families have to walk miles just to receive clean drinking water or medical support. We do not realize how well we have it and it made me appreciate all the things that I do have.

 

Offloading Love in Honduras

Did you know Honduras is ranked 9th in the world (WHO) for “violent death?” When a nation is so impoverished that it doesn’t have the resources to provide sufficient protection to its citizens, especially from those trafficking in drugs, we know that the average citizen is living with dread every time they or their children leave home.

ASC Team offloading with our partner in Honduras.
So as to do its best to provide more police, the government is throwing most all of it resources in this direction. One of the dire consequences here is that there are no medicine for hospitals and doctors to help those suffering with diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart problems.

That’s why we are here.

On this trip, we are offloading tons of invaluable medicine and distributing it all to doctors who are working both in the capital and out in the most remote villages. To make sure the medicine get to these villages, the military has volunteered to help.

These are the children and mothers that need our help.
I wish you could see the faces of these doctors as they are receiving their portions of our delivery. They look like children on Christmas morning!

South Sudan: Travesty & Tragedy

When working in South Sudan words like “travesty” and “tragedy” take on new meaning.

 

One woman is picking leaves off of a tree. She will boil these leaves, hoping the “soup” will provide some nutrition for her children.

Another woman is hiding in a swamp, infested with diseases I can’t pronounce, for three days. She’s waiting for the men who are killing her family and friends, and burning her village to the ground, to leave.

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These are the people ASC is serving in this war torn nation.

-Monte E Wilson, President, Aid for Starving Children

 

Delivering Medicine In El Salvador

We are so grateful that every year, with the support of our caring donors, we have the ability to provide life saving food, water and medicine to children in need across the globe. It is our mission and purpose to care for and share God’s love with children and families who cannot care for themselves. Each year we are thankful for the opportunity to provide vital medicines and medical supplies to our partners across the globe! This is an incredible program which allows us to multiply our donation dollars and expand the impact of our work around the world!

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For the past several years Aid for Starving Children has had the opportunity, and privilege, to be able to donate containers filled with valuable, lifesaving medicines and medical supplies to our partners in El Salvador. Our ASC team recently traveled to the capital, San Salvador, to meet with our long trusted partners here to see first-hand the massive need for these types of goods that exists in the country; as well as the impressive network of hospitals and clinics who receive the goods we work so hard to provide!

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Conducting a Medical Brigade in a Rural village

During out visit we were fortunate to meet with many local doctors, nurses and medical volunteers who described the current state of medical care in the country. They informed us that while the facilities they had in place were quite impressive (which we agreed with, we were all very impressed by the modern and cleanly facilities) there is a severe lack of medicines to be distributed within them! This is especially true for poor woman and children who have no ability to pay for necessary medical care. They shared what a blessing it has been to receive these donated medicines as it greatly supplements these facilities to help patients in truly desperate need!

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Distributing ASC donated Glasses to those in need

The facilities that we work with provide ASC donated medicines free of charge to individuals who demonstrate the highest levels of need. We are proud to be able to work along side these great medical professionals who care so deeply for their people, especially those less fortunate.  This is all possible thanks to you, Our ASC donors. On behalf of everyone at Aid for Starving Children and the countless children and families whose lives you have helped to change; thank you!

 

ASC Team Delivers Aid in the Horn of Africa

Earlier this month the Aid for Starving Children Emergency Relief team traveled across the globe to one of the most dangerous and impoverished regions of the world, the Horn of Africa. I traveled with one of our dedicated Board Members and our Emergency Relief Director, to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somali Land, to meet with our local project directors and help provide emergency aid to starving children and displaced refugees across these regions.

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Preparing for our journey into a remote village.

Preparation is one of the most vital aspects of any emergency relief trip. Our team has to be prepared for any- and everything, and accept that things will likely not go exactly as we have planned. We always have a plan A, B, and C in place in order to ensure that our ultimate goals–to help save lives and provide for those in need– are achieved. Even with all of my mental and psychological preparations, I know that the conditions and suffering I will witness will be shocking, especially the sight of diseased and malnourished children. It’s quite encouraging, however, that on this trip I will be with two of my closest friends. We are all so thankful to have the opportunity to engage in our passion of caring for children in need.

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One of the most physically and emotionally taxing periods of the trip, was our endeavor in to South Sudan. Having traveled into South Sudan multiple times during their initial attempt to secede from North Sudan and having seen these people gain their freedom from such a repressive and cruel regime; and now, seeing this new nation again ripped apart by warring tribes, is heartbreaking. Innocent people are not only suffering from lack of water and food but the violence of a civil war. They are desperate for help.

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We traveled to several war torn villages throughout South Sudan, and the sheer devastation within the country is shocking. Hundreds of thousands of women and children have been forced from their homes and are constantly on the run. I spoke with one woman whose story was tragic, yet at the same time, while she spoke with us, she exuded such courage, grace, and a nobleness that was humbling. When the fighting broke out, she ran to the nearby swamps, where she hid with her children for 5 days.  I can’t even begin to understand how terrifying that must have been for her, especially knowing her husband had just been killed. She is not alone in stories like this, there are countless families constantly fleeing conflict without a stable source of food or clean water. SS_Aid7

We located several villages which had mass influx of families who have been displaced from their homes, on the run from the devastation of war. In speaking with local leaders, we learned that the population of one village had grown from around 42,000 residents to about 92,000 with the influx of displaced families– and more are streaming in every day. This village of 92,000 had only two water wells and extremely limited resources for food. Women lined up daily to wait for hours and hours to have the opportunity to fill their containers with a few gallons of water.

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I don’t have the words to describe the impact of being with people suffering such deprivation. All the while having to remain vigilant every moment of every day; in case a battle breaks out. I grieve for them, fear for them, and hope to do more for them. Nevertheless, I am deeply grateful for all we were able to accomplish on their behalf.

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Thanks to you, our caring ASC donors, during our relief mission in this village we were able to provide several tons of maize, wheat, sorghum, soap, water containers, tarps for shelter (plastic sheets), mosquito nets, fishing line and hooks, plastic chairs and 3 tables. The smiles of relief and appreciation on the faces of woman and children were breathtaking. In that moment, despite the underlying fear of a nation suffering from war, all seemed calm. The mother’s could relax  knowing they had food to look forward to and the children could play and smile as all children should.

Thank you and God bless you,

Monte E. Wilson, President