For the month of October, I want to take the time to highlight a project that has become very near and dear to my heart; Love Family Homes. As you may or may not know, orphanages are very popular in the nation of Haiti, however, a number of orphans here are not “true” orphans. Unfortunately, due to loss and extreme hardship, many parents decide to relinquish their children to orphanages because they feel that their kids will be better taken care of than at home. “Love Family Homes” was designed to ensure that children with families in a small area in Carrefour, Haiti, were placed back into their homes. Also, for children that were going to the orphanage for meals and daily aid, the program makes it possible for families to care for themselves by providing financial support for education and monthly food parcels.
At Love Community Home with some of the live-in and live-out children
The program officially launched on October 2, 2018, when Light for Living International Ministries (LIFLIM) and Frontier Projects Haiti (FPH) hosted a special dinner for the 20 selected families. On that night, it was explained to the families that for this year, any of their children with international sponsors would receive a $200 US stipend for educational fees, to be paid by Pastor Reg, Myself, or our two social workers, Phalone and Sandra. Any additional fees can be used for other education expenses such as books, uniforms, etc. To my knowledge, many of the school and exam fees come out to over $200 US, per child, per year, so I can only imagine what families have to do to acquire that type of money in a nation like Haiti. For some, it is fairly easy to use their talents and gifts to create income, but for others, they simply do not have the means.
Visiting families with Cheryl Ward of FPH and Pastor Guy
At the dinner, we also explained that starting that night, every family would receive a monthly bucket of food that can be used in the home. The bucket contains staple Haitiain food items such as rice, corn, wheat, dried fish, black beans and spaghetti. The bucket also contains items such as a gallon of oil, a pound of salt, large packets of tomato paste, cans of milk, cans of sardines, etc.
Six of the families in the “Love Family Homes” program are also the students at Libellule Training Academy, which I highlighted in August. For them, receiving and returning their food buckets, which they have been receiving since training began in January, is a crucial part of their monthly routine. The students rely on the parcel every month to ensure that their children are eating. Now that we are helping to feed 12 extra families, there is a lot of extra work to be done in preparation, but also a lot of positivity and good vibes knowing that we are providing this kind of support.
Libellule Training Academy Students and Trainers
The food buckets are prepared every month by Madame Pastor, Johanne Celestin, the head administrator. With her team, including Cassandra, Chelo, Total, etc., she shops in the open market to purchase the right amount of all of the food items and then takes the time to evenly distribute the food into bags for each family. Think about it. She’s purchasing 100 pounds of rice in a sack, not a box of cereal per family. The buckets are packed in a way that fits all the items neatly and fills the bucket to the top. It is the responsibility of the family to come by the last Tuesday of every month to return their empty bucket and come on the last Thursday of every month to pick up their filled bucket.
Johanne Laine Celestin after purchasing food at the market
This month, I labeled every bucket by number to help keep track of which buckets were coming and going. As every family came to claim their food parcel, I was able to explain to them, with Johanne as my translator, the rules and responsibilities that the families must follow to continue in the program, and I was able to answer any questions related to school fees, meetings with the school directors and disbursement of fees. I did not plan on taking on such a large role in the program, but I’ve learned to trust and go wherever God leads me.
Visiting the ladies at Love Community Home
For me, my work with the program began when I arrived in Haiti this past July. It was my responsibility to visit the orphanage, Love Community Home, regularly, and start to develop reports on what kind of assistance the orphanage was in need of. After assessing those needs, I was in charge of visiting all of the families on our roster and checking on the kids’ safety, health and other needs. It took almost a week to travel up and down the mountains in the community and to reach every family. Assisted by Pastor Guy, the beautiful soul that started the orphanage and his daughter, Merline, the beautiful soul that is responsible for the children, we traveled near and far. The two translated for me as I asked questions and got to know each family. Now, I know every child by name. I know where they live and who they live with. I can point out their schools and have spent a lot of time meeting with school directors and teachers, trying to develop individualized plans for every student that we support.
Some of the LCH children after their school day
For some of the older kids in the program, or young adults rather, I have determined that there is a need for counseling and proper help in goal setting. Due to their upbringing in the orphanage and lack of opportunity and family support, I noticed that many of them think very small. They do not believe in themselves or their abilities, but I see so much potential in each of them. I have been working really hard to make sure that the money that is sent to sponsor these children, young adults and families, is being used in a way that not only helps them at the moment, but helps them to grow as people. I made it my duty to find programs and training to enroll these students in that would actually benefit their lives and what it is that they want to do with their future.
A group of children sponsored by Love Family Homes
Several of them come two days a week to take my English language course, and I am continuing to work on other placements. Jessica is satisfied with her window and door making class, and Vixama is looking to start training with a professional soccer club. After working with the school principals, Jerry and Jean Cornillon are now on scholarship, and Vanessa is being supplied with the extra learning support that she needs to conquer her learning disability. We are making a world of change, and I plan on continuing to develop programs with LIFLIM and FPH that will teach self-sustainability and how to use the foreign aid to better the lives of each family so that they no longer require it.
Learn English with Alyssa
“Love Family Homes” is a program that was put in place to aid families financially, but in the past month, and after countless hours of planning, developing, meeting, and discussing the future of the program, I believe it will grow into so much more. As westerners, it’s very easy to get caught up in the idea of charity. We think that if we send money, or send clothes to impoverished nations, that we are fixing the nations, but in reality, it takes support in so many other ways to really change lives. We must first start to change the way that adults think about themselves and the cards that they were dealt. Then, we must teach the young adults that regardless of your upbringing, you are able and worth it. Finally, we must teach the children that there is more to life than what they see on a daily basis. We must create for them the opportunities that they are unable to create for themselves.
Never get enough time with the kids
I get to consult and work as a key decision maker in all of the initiatives and I get to manage how things are running on ground. I have the ability to elicit real change and connect people with those that can help. I am allowed to ask the questions that people are afraid to ask and I get things done according to need. Working with “Love Family Homes” has made me so appreciative of the little things in my life that I’ve always had. I can go to places like the movies and the beach. I have money to take myself shopping at a mall or a supermarket. I’ve never struggled to buy school supplies or shoes to wear to school. However, these children face hardship and adversity every day. It is my goal now to find ways to not only find sponsors for the children who are not yet sponsored, but to find sponsors who are willing to sponsor the development of programming and the advancement of the program. At this point, I know that there will be some funds required to hire trainers and mentors, and to provide food and excursions, but I also know that I will be able to find good hearted people in the community that are willing to donate their knowledge and time.
Planning with Cheryl Ward
What I love about being here is that I’m able to show people selflessness and love every day, and that positivity has created an environment where others want to help and be selfless too. The money will come. The volunteers will come. The program will really come together and I am proud to have such a large part in making it happen. I feel empowered and motivated, and I hope that I have been an inspiration to somebody.
Appreciating the Earth and where God has brought me
Until next month, keep spreading love and keep inspiring. I have a new campaign in the works for you all, coming soon.
The LIFLIM and FPH teams developing programming
If you would like to learn more about the program, would like to sponsor a child, or would like to contribute to the further development of Love Family Homes programming, please feel free to use the buttons below.