First off, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy and prosperous New Year.
As 2009 begins, I cannot help but look back at 2008 and feel grateful. Grateful to all the people who stepped up to the plate to make a difference in the lives of the people of Haiti, and grateful for all that was accomplished there. It gives me hope and a sense of optimism as we look forward to see what it is we will be able to accomplish this year.
Many of you may have seen in news and media reports that 2008 was a year in which Haiti was ravaged by powerful hurricanes that hit them relentlessly and repeatedly. What many of you may not have seen or heard about though were the teams of people that accompanied me to Haiti directly after the hurricanes to help with the rebuilding of the homes that were destroyed, and who helped with the huge undertaking of feeding the masses of people who were in such desperate need. People who were starving because of their crops and livestock that were swept away.
Going above and beyond the call, these rescue teams also helped with the repairing of roads and with the painting of the Chabin School both inside and out.
In 2008 Lifeline Haiti once again expanded to operates a total of 15 schools that sees to the need of 2700 students. Needs that include providing more than 700,000 meals each school year.
To help provide these needs Lifeline Haiti now employs more than 160 staff members, who are all Haitian residents. Staff members who provide all of the personnel that make up our administration, cooking staff, drivers, construction workers, and of course our teachers. Leading this amazing group of professionals is our Haitian Director of Operations Pastor Wilbert Placide.
The year 2008 also saw us thankful for those that who were able to help us in the purchase of a mission house. Currently used as an orphanage until such time as they are able to build a new home for the children, which is expected to be in the next year or so, the house will be used in the future as a safe shelter for teams going in to help with other projects.
This year we were also thankful for the receipt of sufficient funds through donations that allowed us to purchase two water trucks and a transportation truck along with 3 more motor bikes which will be used as taxi’s. Designed to be set up as their own businesses, the profit realized from these businesses will one day allow our schools to be self-supporting.
By employing local residents and teaching them how to operate these businesses, we not only generate much needed income to support our schools, other Lifeline Haiti operations, and future business operations, but we also provide much needed employment and skill sets in a country where unemployment runs rampant.
As 2008 began to wind down we soon found ourselves in a critical situation. With food costs rising to 300% in the aftermath of the hurricanes and our dollar worth 25% less after the exchange, I was faced, with looking at the heart wrenching decision of having to cut back our operations by 700 children, so that we would have enough for the other 2000. Just in time, I got word that a church from the States has offered to ship in enough food for 600,000 meals. This will be shipped into Haiti in January. For this we are so thankful as now we will be able to keep all of our 2700 students in school this year.
January will also see us starting construction of our Port au Prince school thanks to a church in Vancouver that is helping with this project. Other individuals and churches have also offered to help with construction of our Basin Blue, Basfrontal & Leogan schools
January will also see me bring another dedicated team to Haiti from January 12th to the 28th. As I am always willing to show as many as are willing to go, all of the work we, with your generous help, are doing in this beautiful but impoverished country, please let me know at any time, if you are interested in a future short-term mission trip.
Every 3.5 seconds somewhere in the world, someone somewhere dies of starvation. Individuals not unlike you and members of your family who want nothing more than a chance to live. A chance we have been given simply by virtue of where we live.
Perhaps this year as we make our New Year’s Resolutions, instead of focusing on what it is we can do to change our own lives, we should focus on what it is we can do to change someone else’s, because together, as we have proven time and time again in 2008, we can make a difference.
The best of the New Year to you all, may God bless you in 2009, as He has blessed Lifeline Haiti and the children who attend our schools thanks to your dedicated support in 2008, we hope to see it continue throughout 2009.
Because of His amazing grace …. Bob & Linda