I recently returned to Jérémie, Haiti after spending several weeks in the US. Here are some highlights of my visit there:
1. The second annual Hope for Haiti fund-raising banquet was held at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee on April 17, 2010. Over 250 people attended and it was an enjoyable evening for all, with silent and oral auctions, Haitian market, wonderful food and great company. Much thanks to all the volunteers, banquet sponsors and participants. Our fantastic volunteer planning committee, headed by Barbara Tyler and Carla VonRoenn, is already planning next year’s banquet!
2. Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) has chapters in 41 high schools throughout Wisconsin and they chose Friends for Health in Haiti as their state-wide service project this past year. They held a final recognition dinner in the Wisconsin Dells on Monday, April 26, 2010 which was attended by myself, Dr. Gregory VonRoenn (FHH Vice President) and college student Becca Mahn. We were presented with 299 backpacks for school children in Haiti, replete with school supplies, hygiene supplies, tennis shoes, socks and underwear. In addition, the HOSA students raised money for shipping the backpacks to Haiti and for conducting school exams for the participating school students (checking for anemia, giving vitamins and treating for parasites). The backpacks were packed in 55-gallon plastic drums and taken in a truck to New York, where they will be put on a shipping container. It will take a couple of months for them to get to Port-au-Prince and be cleared from customs, after which they will be taken on a truck out to Jérémie and distributed to schools around our clinic site in Gatineau. There will soon be 299 very happy Haitian students and their parents!
3. In order to fill in the spaces between the backpacks in the drums, I asked for donations of used clothing and shoes from people in my home church in NJ (Kingston Presbyterian Church). Well, it is definitely true that you have to be careful what you ask for, because the outpouring of donations was incredible, so much so that we had to buy another 12 fiber drums in which to pack everything. Members of the congregation stayed after church on May 2nd to help pack the additional drums and they also were taken to NY for shipping. The clothing will be donated mostly to earthquake victims in Port-au-Prince. The backpack project and NJ clothing donation was featured in an article in the New Brunswick News on April 28, 2010.
4. While in the US, I was able to share some updates about our work in Haiti with several groups from Eastbrook Church in Milwaukee, Elmbrook Church in Waukesha, the Center for International Health (affiliated with the Medical College of Wisconsin), Kingston Presbyterian Church and other churches in the New Brunswick Presbytery in NJ. It’s always good to share with others what we’re doing here and encourage their continued participation with us. In addition, I met with several individuals who are interested in our ministry. Important contacts were made and we’ll see where the Lord will lead us all in the future.
5. While I was in Port-au-Prince, I found out that the final paperwork was submitted for release of our new jeep from customs. Hopefully, we will soon be able to bring it home! Thanks for your prayers