Music Man

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  Posing with Carline, her husband, and the youngest of their six children. Their five older children were away from home at the time of our visit.
 

Carline Etienne, her husband, and their six children have been in their home for about a year. Carline’s husband is a musician. He wrote a wonderful song that was sung for us at the ceremony where we inaugurated the village. Unfortunately, being a musician doesn’t really pay in Haiti. As a result, he struggles to support his family. He tried fishing, but he hasn’t had much success. He thinks the fishing in the lagoon is bad, but it is also possible that he lacks the skills and experience necessary to catch the fish that are there.

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Dreamers

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  Meeting the Dugue's. There is something special about this family.
 

When we were in the Village of Joy, a few families stood out from among the others. It’s not that their circumstances were different from the other families. Life is difficult for everyone. All of the recipients live in a simple 12’ x 24’ house. They all struggle to support their families. However, a few families showed signs of optimism that greatly exceeds their circumstances. They appear more than just hopeful, and I found myself especially curious about those families.

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Beaten Down

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  Delacis's youngest child. His hair color is a potential sign of malnutrition.

Delacis Roland is a widower with three children, ages 6, 8, and 12. His wife died eight months ago, making life even more difficult than it had been. His family appears to live in complete misery. “Look and see. My son is not well,” he tells us, pointing at his youngest child’s scalp. The boy appears to be malnourished.

Delacis is an example of a man, who has been knocked down one time too many and is now living without hope. For example, he used to fish, but he is not fishing now. “The water isn’t good anymore,” he explained, when we asked what he does to support his family. He doesn’t seem to see the point of trying any more. Other families in the community do what they can to help him and his children.

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Night and Day

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  Meeting the Melaide family.
 

The Melaide’s are a family of six—Desamour, her husband, two boys (13 and 17), and two girls (7 and 23). I didn’t get the chance to meet the boys because they were at school taking their annual exams. Desamour’s husband is a fisherman, and Desamour does small commerce. There was no small talk with this family. They got straight to the point. “In our old house,” they explained, “there were so many holes that there was no difference between night and day. Anyone could look right inside.”

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A Princess Lives Here

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  Ally, Tricia, and me with the Desorme family.

The Village of Joy is located in the town of Phaeton. It sits on a lagoon. As a result, many of the men who live in the village fish for a living. That was the case for the Desorme family. Every day, Mr. Desorme went out on the lagoon to fish. One day, three years ago, he didn’t return. He drown while fishing. Now, Mrs. Desorme is a single mom with two children, an eighteen year old son and a nine year old daughter. To support the family, Mrs. Desorme sells goods such as soap and dry spaghetti in the market when she can.

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The Jump For Joy Lady

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  Posing with Marguerite and two of her grandchildren.

Marguerite Louis is a white haired grandmother. She had two beautiful grandchildren with her when we met her—a 7 year old girl and an 8 year old boy. They visit her often, but they live in another house with their mother. As a result, Marguerite has the whole house all to herself. She is clearly overjoyed. She jumps up and down while she talks, making big gestures with her arms as she tells others about her new home. Like everyone else living in the Village of Joy, she used to live in a shack made of sticks and mud. When it rained, the goats would come into the house. "Now, I don't have to sleep with the goats when it rains!" she tells everyone. Kate, Food for the Poor’s Director of Projects in Haiti, nicknamed her “the jump for joy lady" because of her reaction when she first met us.

Marguerite hasn't forgotten how difficult her living conditions were previously. She has a simple twin mattress in each of the two small rooms. "Which room do you sleep in?" Kate asked her in Creole. "Sometimes here, and sometimes there," she answered with a grin as she pointed to each room. "I get to choose where I want to sleep." In reality, she shares the extra space with others, so they have a dry place to sleep when it rains. Now, she loves the rain because it keeps her cistern full. She has all the water she needs for bathing, washing clothes, and drinking. Her gratitude is clear, and she thanks God for her "wonderful gift."

If you have supported the Village of Joy, we want to thank you on behalf of Marguerite. Because of you, the Village of Joy is living up to its name.

Paula Mueller

Help 40 Families Escape Extreme Poverty


32 Square Feet Per Person

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  Meeting the Aristide family.

It can be surprising to see how many people can be helped by the gift of a new home. Mr. and Mrs. Aristide have seven children ranging in age from eight to twenty-four. With nine people living under one 12’ x 24’ roof, the Aristide’s enjoy a roomy 32 square feet per person. That’s small, even for tiny house living!

Mr. Aristide is a fisherman, but he struggles to catch enough fish to support his family. He believes his biggest obstacle to catching more fish is a lack of proper equipment (e.g., nets, boats, oars).

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Halfway There!

Milestone

We recently hit a major milestone. Together, we reached the halfway point for funding the Village of Joy. To date, twenty-three destitute families have received new homes, and we have funding to begin building homes for a few more families. To all who have helped us get this far, thank you for your support. Words are inadequate to explain the difference you are making! 

Never doubt the power of a few bucks when like-minded people come together to work toward a goal! 

Stay tuned for further updates on the construction effort and the impact these homes are having in the lives of the destitute poor.

With gratitude, 

Paula Mueller

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Help 40 Families Escape Extreme Poverty


Want to Receive VIP Treatment in Haiti?

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  Sign in Campeche where the Red Cross promised to build hundreds of new homes, a water and sanitation system, and a health clinic. Residents claim none of that happened. [Picture taken from NPR article.]

If you want to receive VIP treatment in Haiti, you just need to work with the right organization. In 2010, donations came flooding into organizations that promised to help rebuild Haiti after an earthquake killed 200,000. People around the world were generous, but, considering their generosity, the people of Haiti have received very little help. Many of the relief organizations that collected money lacked the know-how and skills to deliver on their promises, though they did take the cash. The Red Cross is the most recognizable charity among them. It raised almost half a billion dollars for Haiti, promising to build new roads, schools, and hundreds of new homes. Very little of that has happened, leading many to wonder where all the money went.

NPR and ProPublica went in search of the money and surfaced number of disturbing findings (Read NPR article). First, they found that the Red Cross used about twenty percent of the money it received to erase $100M of preexisting debt. Second, they found poorly managed projects and misleading and false claims by the Red Cross. For example, despite the Red Cross’s claims that it provided homes to more than 130,000 people, NPR and ProPublica found that the number of permanent homes built by the Red Cross was just six—that’s right, six!

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A Brighter Future

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  Meeting Mirline Antenor and her family.

Mirline Antenor lives with her husband and two boys. Mirline’s husband is an agriculture technician, specializing in seeds and plants. Both of Mirline's boys attend school. Her eleven year old wants to become a doctor. Her twelve year old wants to become an agriculturalist, like his dad. I told them, "Study hard. An education is very important." Kate, Food for the Poor’s Director of Projects for Haiti, translated for me. When he heard the translated message, Mirline’s husband looked at his sons and told Kate, “I am glad Paula told them how important school and studying are. It is the future.”

I was very impressed by the Antenor’s. They were different from quite a few of their neighbors, whose daily struggles have worn them down and, in some cases, caused them to lose hope. By contrast, the Antenor’s seemed to exude hope beyond the reality of their present condition, and they had taken the initiative to begin to create the new reality they hope for.

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