Dear folks,

You should all share in my sense of joy over what the partnership is supporting on La Gonave. When I decided to go for three weeks to see what and how the programs were progressing, it was with some sense of trepidation. One never really gets a feel for how the programs work in just a weeks time. It is with a full heart that I report to you that amazing and joyful things are at work there. God’s blessings are all over the island.

I will send full reports on each project, but the week began with an initial visit by Trinity Presbyterian from Atlanta. They are in a period of discernment about partnering with St. Francis. I went down with them as their guest to introduce them to the partnership, show them around St. Francis and help them gather information to take back to their congregation. This was the culmination of work that Jim Ingvoldstad started several years ago. I am happy to say that the week was one of blessings and joy. They left with full hearts and a determination to get Trinity partnered with St. Francis. While they were there they met with the vestry and found that the two churches have much in common and the fit seemed good. We will await their formal decision with eagerness. They will be a welcomed addition to our partnership!

The second week brought down Sandy Chai and her wonderful work with Beatitudes and Pwoje Fanm, Laura Martin from Ties That Matter (to work with Sandy and the women from Nan Mango) and Laurie Sauerwein. Laura Martin is a friend of mine from Central Presbyterian Church here in Atlanta (and another potential new partner) who makes beautiful items from recycled silk ties. Laurie Sauerwein is our new best friend from Washington State, a student of the London School of Tropical Medicine and Disease. She came to our attention from an add that Sydney Schneider sent to me that she found on the internet. Laurie and I entered into an internet “relationship” nearly a year ago and she later volunteered to go down and help us with a nutrition plan for our clinic and community health workers. What a huge gift both of these woman bring to our program. I cannot begin to tell you all the wonderful things that came from these new friends, but will attempt to do that in my follow up.

The last week Lee Wilder, Laurie Sauerwein and I went around to visit some of the communities served by the Goat Project and to continue to work with Miss Ester at the clinic on the nutrition program and the Medika Mamba program. Both programs are doing an incredible job of serving the people and Jean Thoney and Miss Ester are doing an amazing job on very tight resources. The people of La Gonave benefit daily from their work and our support.

And last, but certainly not least, the new Adult Literacy program is up and running and in every community we visited the folks were showing up, with an eagerness that was so humbling, to learn to read and write!  Books in hand, homework done, they came, they sang and they learned. We lost count of all the people who hugged us, showed us their work and thanked us for bringing this program to La Gonave. Every community in the Partnership now has an Adult Literacy teacher. On your next trip down make a point to seek them out and observe the program. You are not likely to miss it as they will show up mid afternoon, dressed in their finest with books in hand. They will be they ones with big smiles on their faces.

Thanks to all of you for all you do to support us and make this Partnership work. Your hands are all over this island and your friends there appreciate you.  Pere Soner’s vision and hard work, the blessings of God and the people of La Gonave give us much to be hopeful about.  I return with a humble and thankful heart.


Deb Griffin



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