Spring Newsletter 2021
Brothers and Sisters,
Haiti, my beloved country, has been in the news for a long time due to the constant unrest that seems to characterize this Caribbean country. Recently the situation has worsened as the circle of violence has escalated, reaching many cities and towns but mainly the capital, Port-au-Prince, where the armed mobs are defying the authorities. People are in the streets protesting against this cycle of violence and also against hunger, lack of medicine, and decent shelter. In other words, against the current living conditions.
The government and the political parties do not want to sit down together to negotiate and put an end to the crisis. They do not speak the same language. They are at an impasse, very far one from the other. All the while, our people are suffering enormously as a consequence.
But despite all, our people believe that this situation will come to an end soon. They interpret it as the way to Golgotha or the crossing of the wilderness. They believe that God will deliver them from all evil (the resurrection) and will give them a new country where honey and milk will be abundant in the land. This is the spirit which animates our people and gives us life.
In Terrier Rouge, our organization Espérance & Vie, sustained by Bethlehem Ministry and all of you, our innumerous loving friends, keep alive this strong faith by reaching out to the people of our community through our different programs: Education, Health Care, Housing, Farming, Food Distribution, and Counseling.
Our purpose has always been to accompany our people in their needs. We believe that they will see the light at the end of the tunnel. We know that as sons and daughters of the Lord, we will overcome our situation.
On behalf of myself, my family, the communities we serve, and the many servants helping us, I want to thank you for your support of the work being done. May each one of you have a joyous and wonderful Easter. Proclaim with us: The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed! Alleluia.
In His Name,
Everything at JP is going according to schedule in the first quarter of 2021, as we continue our endeavor to help the people of northeast Haiti better PROTECT, GROW, and EARN - that is, protect more land, grow more food, and earn more income. We continue to work in the rural farm communities in the mountains between Terrier Rouge and the town of Perches to the southeast. This involves building terraces on steep slopes, reforesting land, planting wood production woodlots, and planting durable, high value food cash crops. We are again planting yams this year. Those that were planted last year have done very well and we are able to get some of our plant stock from them. The big news is that yams this year will become a nutritious and dependable part of the local diet and will bring income to the farms that grow it when sold. (This is a notable achievement that would not have happened without JP’s acquisition of plant stock and expertise in its planting and husbandry.)
JP is currently ramping up a program to help farmers make high value food commodities from their harvests, focusing on guava and cashews in particular. This entails various kinds of processing equipment and how-to training. It also includes building a small sales building on the main highway along the frontage of JP’s farm. We have been testing the idea of highway- oriented sales, using a temporary sales tent to sell soap products over the past year and have found it beneficial. The sales building will allow farmers who live in remote locations to sell their specialty products and give them access to better sales in Cap-Haitien and other population centers. JP is assisting farmers in quality control, marketing, and pricing. Connecting farmers and markets is very important. While farmers have weekly markets in their local village, they don’t have a place to sell their high value cash crops and products.
Within the programs discussed above, JP is currently mounting a women’s business initiative and a teenager club initiative focused on engaging rural youth in environmental awareness and conservation. While women are a strong part of farm work, women have an unmet need to be the proprietors of their own businesses and managers of their own money. It is the women in Haitian communities that shoulder the responsibility of children’s education and family welfare. In rural Haiti, a goat is a savings account that is sold when money is needed for schooling or some special need. We are setting up a way to oer women the opportunity to have goats, make fruit jelly to sell, and prepare cashews to sell. Each can give a woman some financial independence.
For the teens club, we are organizing it outside of school so as to include those who are not able to go to school. It will have various field trips and science projects done in the field - all under the banner of a good time and camaraderie. JP’s agronomists are great teachers and role models for these teens.
In other news, JP Savon, (soap and oil products) is functioning as a viable enterprise, despite the dicult economic waters of Haiti’s domestic economy. It is exploring ways to gain access to the Haitian diaspora market in the US. The great challenge is finding a way to ship its products to the US—easy to ship into Haiti, not easy to ship out. JP Savon’s growing sales volume in Haiti however has increased the demand for Jatrofa, which has stimulated more cultivation of Jatrofa throughout Haiti. JP Savon, as intended, is powering an agricultural supply chain that is putting more money into the pockets of poor farmers. JP now buys Jatrofa from the Central Plateau, the Northeast, and the Southwest of Haiti. JP Savon is a model of how economic connections increase farm income and reduce poverty.
Director, Partner for People and Place
Clinique Espérance et Vie at a Glance
Clinique Espérance et Vie has been busy in the first quarter of 2021, seeing nearly 2,000 people in just a few short months. Your donations are healing thousands of people each year and we are so grateful! Looking ahead, they are preparing for the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine. They have proper refrigeration to house the vaccine and new solar panels to keep everything running smoothly.
Let's Build Something Together!
By now you’re probably aware of many of the humanitarian projects of the NGO, Espérance et Vie (EEV), from food distributions to community wells to educational seminars. Your gifts help support all of these humanitarian efforts. But did you know they also build houses for families most in need in northeast Haiti? That’s right! For the past 12 years, EEV has been building 3-4 houses a year, donations permitting. Recently, Bethlehem Ministry was approached by a long-time supporter from Houston with a groundbreaking opportunity (pun intended!). He and his family have promised a matching gift up to $10,000 to build 2 homes in Terrier Rouge. Yes, you read that right. It takes just $10,000 to build a home for a family in Haiti! And these homes are life-changing for the folks who receive them. A typical house in Haiti is constructed of mud walls and floors with a thatched roof. This type of house cannot withstand the flooding that is all too common due to the rampant deforestation of Haiti’s landscape. Espérance et Vie is constructing homes built on a solid concrete foundation with block walls and solid, working doors. These small homes provide a secure nest for the multi-generational family who will live there. We hope you will support this effort financially and prayerfully as we work to raise the full $10,000 needed to maximize on this grant and to give 2 families peace of mind, hope, and a solid foundation on which to build their life. We will be tracking the progress of our fundraiser on our website so stop by to see how your donation, in whatever amount, is making a difference in Haiti!
Meet Our Newest Board Members!
We are so grateful for our retiring Board members—Jane Kidd, Rich Wheeler, Eric Lokker, and Deb Myers—whose unflagging dedication over the last 6 years has charted the course for Bethlehem Ministry’s current path. We now have 3 new Board members who bring their own unique skills, perspectives, and ideas to the table. Welcome Judy Hess, Carol McKay, and Trey Scott!
Judy Hess is an epidemiologist who works for Shell Oil Company and lives with her husband in Houston, TX. They have 5 adult children, 2 still in college. Judy lived in Haiti for a summer during the 1980s and as she puts it, “Once you live in Haiti, the experience doesn’t leave you.” She has been a long-time supporter of Father Bruno and Bethlehem Ministry. As an epidemiologist she has an interest in international health, particularly children’s health and development. Judy will serve on the Programs Committee where her knowledge of public health will be a great asset in our partnership with Clinique Espérance et Vie.
Carol McKay is a member of First Presbyterian Church in Athens, GA, where she currently lives. She has been a volunteer for numerous non-profits over the course of her life ranging from her church to an enrichment group for inner city girls to an artisan guild (she’s also a jeweler!). Of her life of service, she has said, “I have learned that the highest calling in life is to serve those in need.” Although always active in her community, Carol has long wanted to get involved with outreach beyond the borders of her town. Luckily, she found her way to us! Carol is a member of Bethlehem Ministry’s Donor Engagement Committee where her publication experience and communications skills will be invaluable.
Many of you will remember Trey Scott, Bethlehem Ministry’s former Executive Director. We are so excited to have him back, now as a Board member. Trey, his wife Anna, and their 3 children live in Athens, GA where they are members of Milledge Avenue Baptist Church. Trey began his career as a physical therapist but transitioned into finance about 6 years ago. He now works alongside his father-in-law as a financial consultant. In making the decision to return to the work of Bethlehem Ministry, Trey stated, “My desire to work with my Haitian brothers and sisters to improve the economic, health, and educational conditions in and around Terrier Rouge are at the heart of who I am.” We are so fortunate to have Trey with us. He will be putting his new financial skills to good use, serving as Treasurer of the Board.
Spotlight on the Next Generation
The Bonner Scholar Program at Mars Hill University in North Carolina has served Bethlehem Ministry for 8 years in myriad ways including sending student volunteers to Haiti, hosting fundraisers, conducting presentations, sewing reusable sanitary pads for high school girls, and so much more. Our own Executive Director, Kristen Pace, was a Bonner Scholar! Today, we are proud to share that we have partnered with this program in a more profound way by adding Bonner Scholar Dylan Davis to our team as an intern for the 2020-2021 school year. As a Bonner Scholar, he completes 140 hours of service each semester in exchange for a scholarship to further his education at MHU. Dylan has gone above and beyond in his service to our organization! He hosts trivia and movie nights and other events where students can have fun and learn about Bethlehem Ministry and Haiti. He is raising awareness by giving presentations to various church groups and reaching out to local businesses to ask for their support through “percentage nights” and/or providing a space to advertise Bethlehem Ministry programs. Dylan has a huge heart for Haiti, and we are so lucky to have him on our team! If you are interested in hosting Dylan at one of your group functions and hear more about the great work he’s doing in partnership with Bethlehem Ministry, please reach out to us!