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March 2021 Newsletter
Village of Hope 2020 Christmas Gift Project
Once again this year, Holy Spirit was given the opportunity
to participate in sorting, packing, and shipping the nearly 800 Christmas gift
bags for the students, teachers, and staff of the Village of Hope School and
Health Center located in Ganthier, Haiti.
We reunited our team from last year: Martina Wagner, Maureen Lay, Julia
Soistman, added Cara Rucker and were off to an early September start. Working with Marni Maree, VoH Board Member
and Christmas Project Coordinator, and Maryse Sterlin, VoH Field Director, we
made age appropriate gift selections for Kindergarten through High School
students. Large quantities of over 20 different gift items were ordered and
shipped to HSLC. Room 207 in the
Learning Center was stacked high with boxes as deliveries began to arrive!
The project is funded by the VoH network of churches and
other supporters. Marni recruited a lot of volunteer helpers who made over 800
beautiful cloth drawstring bags to put the gifts in and 900 facemasks for
students and adults. One church donated 75 handmade dresses for young girls and
50 pair of shorts along with matching tee shirts for young boys. HSLC
volunteers created 700 plus handmade Christmas cards with friendly greetings
for all students and staff. Two hundred
eighty-nine of the cards were contributed by Girl Scout Troop 20644. Each card
was an original design with a heartfelt message. HSLC also collected and sorted over 500 pair
of reading glasses and sunglasses.
Last year we had one big packing party, 50 people came, and
we had 700 bags packed in under 2 hours.
However, this year because of Covid-19, we had to come up with another
plan. We set up Room 208 in the Learning
Center with 3 long socially-distanced tables. Teams of 2 or 3 people came at a
time and packed individual bags with the appropriate items for each class. Those who did not feel comfortable coming to
church to work, stopped by and picked up premade boxes of items and packed
their bags at home. Deliveries and
pick-ups of kits were also made. Soulfire
packed 100s of snack bags and HisKids assembled gif bags for boys in Grades 4 thru
7. After about 2 ½ weeks all grades were sorted, stuffed, checked, and packed
into 27 medium sizes storage boxes and made ready for shipment.
Eileen and Mark Fiedler, HSLC members, volunteered to
deliver the boxes to JP Logistics in Miami where the boxes were loaded on a
cargo ship and delivered to Port au Prince, Haiti. JP Logistics’ Haitian staff then drove the
shipment directly to Hope House (VoH Mission House) where it will remain until
the second week in December when it will be taken to the school for
distribution at the Annual Christmas Party.
We can only imagine the excitement the children will feel
when they dig into their bags. Gifts include: Mini-flashlights, crayons, coloring books,
wooden 3D puzzles, train whistles, race cars, dolls, hairbrushes, combs, hair
ties, scarves, neck ties, playing cards, soccer balls, basketballs, packages of
healthy snacks, facemasks, and handmade greeting cards. An age appropriate selection of these gifts has
been designated for each grade level.
High school students and staff members will also receive a gift card
which they can use to purchase a gift of their own choice.
Well done, Holy Spirit members and friends! Your generosity, love, and caring will bring
joy and happy smiles to hundreds of Haitian children and adults this Christmas
Season. Our hands reaching into God’s
Kingdom! Thank you all!!
EDUCATION UPDATE: The 2019-2020 school year was anything but normal – and it’s not over yet! It began in September with 629 students and 47 teachers/staff.
Soon after school opened, civil unrest and transportation disruptions prevented many teachers and students from getting to school, so the school was closed. On-line learning was not an option as neither electricity nor internet is available in most of our students’ homes. Teachers devised a system for making and picking up assignments through community points of contact, until school was able to reopen in late November. Classes continued into March.
Second term had just begun when the pandemic arrived in Haiti. All schools were closed on March 20 and remained closed throughout the spring and summer. The 2019-2020 school year resumed on August 10. The year ended on October 23. The 2020-2021 schools year begins in November.
Campus life is much different these days. Everyone must wear a face mask. When arriving on campus, everyone must go to one
of the two hand washing stations, as well as have temperatures checked. Visitor access is restricted to prevent contact with the
students. Classrooms are equipped with hand sanitizer and social distancing is required in the dining hall.
To maintain social distancing in classrooms, half of students in Grades 1–6 attend from 7:30 – 10:30 am; other half attend from 11:30 - 14:30. Secondary grades are also divided in two groups, with each group coming to school every two (2) weeks. Devotions are done in the classrooms. Recess and gatherings are prohibited. Parents must pick up their children as soon as possible.
Thanks be to God; the coronavirus pandemic has not spread in Haiti as widely as had been feared. We must keep the students, faculty, and staff in our prayers for safety and health as classes resume.
HEALTH CENTER UPDATE: We had to close the Health Center for 8 weeks while we tried to secure
PPE. PPE was very scarce in Haiti as it was in the States at that time. We had some wonderful donors provide funds to purchase the equipment and Field Director, Maryse Sterlin, and Dr. Joseph Edwige were able to locate and purchase the needed materials in time for a June reopening of the center. In the month of June, we treated 275 patients. The number seeking care has increased by approximately 100 each month. Dr. Joseph reported 8 patients who arrived at the Health Center with Covid-19 symptoms and 5 of these patients ended up testing positive for the virus. The staff quickly isolates a possible Covid-19 patient. They immediately call the MSPP (Ministry of Public Health and Population) agents who come and take the patient for testing. Dr. Joseph is keeping his staff and patients safe by requiring everyone to wear a mask, social distancing, decreased coming and going in the center, wearing of protective gowns and shields by staff, and daily disinfection of the working environment.
Thank you to the individuals and church families who have provided
prayers and funds to keep the Health Center operational and saving lives. Please continue to pray and give as you are able. You are providing hope to so many!