Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many? - John 6:9
When friend and sister in Christ, CY sent me an article two months ago, about the Haitians who are forced to eat mud cookies as food, I didn't really know what I would do. What could I do, one woman, far away from Haiti? With what voice? With what money? What could I provide to these people that NGO's, the UN, and the Red Cross had not already done? However, I heard God say, it doesn't matter WHAT you do, just do something. So I did. I wrote a post (read it here), sharing my heart and asking if perhaps some of my Week of Menus readers would like to join me in my quest to raise $1000 to send to Haiti with friend, CY, who would use it to buy food for the people there, especially those poor children in orphanages. I made a promise that I would raise $1000, a seemingly huge amount to raise from a group of readers and strangers, but I knew it was something.
Like the young boy in the book of John, (John 6:1-14) , who offers up his lunch to feed the multitudes, I offered up my blog, my words, and my heart to this cause, not knowing really what God would do with it. But as God fed the multitudes with five loaves and two fish, I have seen how much God can do with just the smallest effort and a willing heart. One blog post, a few encouraging words on Facebook Week of Menus fan page, raised not $1000, but instead $2200, more than double original amount. I was humbled, astonished and oh so very blessed by the openness and willingness of strangers. It was with such humility and gratitude I took the money and then had the opportunity to give it to different projects for Haiti.
The money breakdown
$500 went to water purifiers, and the remaining $1700 was converted to cash, and given to CY to take to Haiti, with the expressed purpose of purchasing food so that for a short while at least, children could be fed. $1100 of the money went to feed orphans. An additional $200 was spent on a neighborhood celebration feeding 100 people, and the remaining money was left with Missionary SK, who will use it to purchase additional food for the orphanages. One of the reasons that a limited amount of food was delivered to the orphanages is to prevent the caretakers from being tempted to sell the surplus food for cash.
On the road to Haiti
I saw CY a few days before she left, and she was joyful and excited about the work in Haiti. She was overjoyed with the amount of money that she was taking with her, and promised she would actively take part in the food purchase and distribution. I sent her off with a prayer and a huge hug and a heart of gratitude as she was going to be the messenger for me and my readers who could not go.
CY left on the 24th of July, arriving in Haiti, July 25th. She had to carry the money in a secret money belt hidden between her underwear and her pants, as carrying it in a bag could mean it could get easily stolen. She shared with me, that the plane ride there was one of the most joyful plane trips she's ever been on, because about 90% of the plane passengers were going to Haiti, expressly to serve the country and its people in some capacity. There were many on the flight reading their Bibles and she knew that she was among those who truly went with a heart to serve God. Even the pilot knew what precious cargo he was flying to Haiti as he thanked all the passengers during the landing. Everyone clapped when the plane landed, excited for the opportunities that lay ahead.
On Thursday CY, AW, the local Korean Missionary SK, and his team, visited some of the poorest orphanages, including one in the poorest sections of Haiti, Cite Soleil, which literally means Sun City. Cite Soleil is THE poorest part of Haiti, originally a shanty town, and now just an area of debris since the earthquake has basically decimated what was already a marginally livable place. It is known to be one of the most dangerous slums in the northern hemisphere, and anywhere between 200,000 to 400,000 live there, mostly young adults and children. To paint a picture of how unloved and untouched by outside organizations this place is, Cite Soleil did not receive any assistance for a whole two weeks after the earthquake. No one wanted to go there; people were scared to go there, so Cite Soleil's people were the forgotten in Haiti.
I wanted my readers to see how the money was spent, and the faces of the people that the contributions affected. Most of the money went to the poorest children, those in orphanages. More than anything, this is about celebrating how God used our smallest effort and truly made it greater than what it was, to glorify His kingdom.
The following is a photo journal of Week of Menus' journey to Haiti. Thank you to all who joined me on this trip and gave their hearts with me.
WOM goes to Haiti!
Tap Tap truck rented by Missionary SK, in order to distribute the quantity of food.
Warehouse of food available to purchase. (Haitian Costco.) I saw this and was wondering why more wasn't being given out! All this food is available but only for PURCHASE. WOM readers bought some of this!
Bags of flour and rice. (Flour in 100 lb bags and rice in 50 lb bags)
CY and Missionary SK, purchasing the food. Woman in the background is writing up purchase receipt. Total spent on this trip, $1095 USD.
There were three orphanages set to receive the food. Each orphanage would receive 2 bags of flour (100 lbs each) and 5 bags of rice (50 lbs each.)
Receipt - also purchased: oil, fish in tomato sauce, tomato sauce, spaghetti noodles, detergent to wash clothes
The Tap Tap truck is getting filled up. They are dividing the food into three separate piles to make distribution easy and safe. The more time digging for food in the truck means that there is time for someone to try and steal or loot the truck.
The Tap Tap is full...where will we all sit?
Everyone squeezed in. But CY told me that riding a Tap Tap was one of the more physically grueling experiences as you have to hold on for dear life and the dust flies everywhere. As you can see, there is also no air conditioning in extremely sweltering conditions. In extreme rural areas, with poor roads, the passengers were forced to stand up and hold on because the bumps were so severe. Luckily no one was thrown out of the vehicle and all the food made it safely.
First orphanage. Almost 30 kids here. Food being brought in and kids looking on, joyful!
The kitchen. According to CY, this is a decent kitchen. There is some sort of cooking medium in the corner and a chair. Nothing else is needed. Humbles me and makes me reconsider complaining about my old-run down kitchen, which is now posh and luxurious by comparison.
Caretakers at the orphanage storing the food.
The second orphanage in Cite Soleil. Notice that there are no doors, or even walls. This is their sign, indicating their orphanage. The words "Help Us" - break my heart. WOM delivered food here.
Food being dropped off and organized. The tent with Missionary SK next to it, is where all the children sleep. 40 of them. CY told me that inside was so heartbreaking so she couldn't even take a photograph. Bunks upon bunks stacked on top of each other, with only cardboard as mattresses.
Little orphan boy with no clothes. It is easier to just not have kids wear clothes as it is difficult to do laundry.
See the smiles of all the kids carrying the food! Joyful to see this bounty! God is soooo good!
Third orphanage - almost 30 kids at this oprhanage.
The house mom in yellow and the kids receiving some candy from MK.
Kids playing...bigger tent is for care providers.
The fanciest kitchen out of three orphanages, but flooded with water on the bottom.
Local Neighborhood Celebration
Local women cooking for a neighborhood celebration. Food purchased by WOM. BK in the background smiling. This is an outdoor space converted into a kitchen. No counters, no cutting boards, just knives chopping things up. CY told me the technique for getting the finest shreds of coleslaw was amazing. Sort of like shaving off the top of someone's hair.
Neighborhood young adults, dressed in their party finest. Some came to attend a church service.
Beautiful smile on a young Haitian girl, dressed in her best.
Fried chicken, beans and rice, fried plantains, and spicy coleslaw. CY said it was GOOD.
After eating, time for fun. Full bellies, full hearts, big smiles.
This post is really just about celebrating how Great God is ...and how with the smallest of offerings, He uses it, magnifies it and changes lives. I just want to thank all those who prayed with me, all those who gave with me, and all those who now rejoice in all the good things God has done, and will continue to do for the children in Haiti.
I am so moved by how the money was used and how much it fed children, that I will be raising money later on this year, and so those who want to give, I will ask you to join me again.
God loves us and delights in us....who we are and our smallest efforts!