There is a certain satisfaction to be planning your 20th anniversary and to have so many new beginnings in the same year. It has made us all aware how vital and important this partnership truly is. Haiti continues to struggle after the earthquake. Progress is never as fast as one would like and people grow weary of waiting.
What we have to offer is a friendship of 20 years that has proven over time that we will be with the people of La Gonave no matter what. And not that we will just show up, but thanks to many of you, that we will show up with new programs to educate the adults as well as the children. That we will listen and show up with programs that address their need to have a way to earn money to educate and feed their children. That even when we can’t meet all their needs, we will never quit showing up.
Aid in times of disaster is important, but good development means the ability and will to accompany folks towards a fundamental change in areas of human justice: food, healthcare, education and economic development. It means sharing success as well as failure. Sharing meals, work, heartbreak and political upheaval.
This year has made us more aware of how important this commitment is to the people of La Gonave, Haiti. The success of our new Medika Mamba program that is now providing state of the art treatment for malnourished children has brought light to the eyes of mothers and their children. In six short weeks children are healthy and active once again. Mothers report it as if it were a miracle. What we have discovered is that the anti-parasite medication, part of the protocol for the program, is crucial in decreasing the worm burden in each child and allowing that child to fully use the nutrients from the food they eat. For this reason in the coming year we will begin an island wide program to get this treatment for all the women and children in our communities. This is the gift of long-term commitment to a community.
This year, acting on a request from a community of women high in the mountains, we have developed a program that provides sewing jobs to women who have precious few opportunities to earn money for their families. By connecting these women with Laura Martin of Ties That Matter they are developing products that are of interest to the Caribbean Craft Council and has the possibility of allowing the community autonomy in the marketing of their goods. This is the gift of long-term commitment to a community.
This year we heard the pleas of adults who work hard to educate their children, but cannot read and write themselves. Through the generosity of our friends we were very quickly able to respond to this plea and we now have 10 communities with Adult Literacy programs funded though the first year. Two to three times a week people flock to the churches and schools with their homework in hand to study, sing and rejoice in an opportunity that before this year had seemed almost impossible. This is the gift of long-term commitment to a community.
This year we visited a village that was two hours from a city over very difficult and sometimes impassable roads. We were there for a goat clinic. This was one of the first communities to benefit from our goat project and they have had an active program for over eight years. People came leading five, six, eight goats of all ages, telling exciting stories about how their goats support their families, stories about sharing their goat’s off-spring with neighbors who had less. More than a hundred villagers abuzz with joy and stories of successful goat farming. This is the gift of long-term commitment to a community.
So, for all of you who have supported the work of the La Gonave Haiti Partnership this year and will continue to support our work in the years to come, savor these stories of success for it is the results of your long-term commitment to our community. Without you none of this would have been possible. The people of La Gonave, Haiti work hard to be worthy of your commitment and they are full of appreciation.
Happiest of holidays and a new year of blessings for those less fortunate.