A new start….

It’s a new year, and I’ve decided the theme of the month is going to be “A new start…” As always, I haven’t really got a clue what this theme will lead me to write about. Maybe that’s the best thing about this blog…

I wanted to start  talking about new starts on a somber but hopeful note by sharing a letter I got from Fr Luc at Sheepfold School in Port Au Prince.

It was just almost a year ago where we were all wondering if he and the kids and staff of the school/orphanage had made it through the earthquake alive. Here is his description of the last year:

I love how Father Luc communicates things so forcefully and clearly across language, cultual and even religious lines. Four months living in tents. And they’re the lucky ones…

Haiti reaches the one year mark without much changed  –  one million homeless, now cholera (still) raging. Can it still be a moment of real change, revitalization and re-commitment? Here are some groups helping Haiti make a new start. I think they would answer yes, if we all help fight for it:

 Sheepfold of the Good Shepherd School  & Orphanage. To donate to them:

Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd
Community Development Office
P.O.Box 736
Momence,Illinois 60954 (
checks payable to The Brothers of The Good Shepherd and add a memo note “HAITI MISSION”)

 Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center.    I’ve been checking in with this blog for several months now and I recommend it. It’s so “on the ground.” This is one of hundreds of small grassroots groups so 100% dedicated to the needs of Haitian people- and working with them. They have served almost 700 people in their tiny 26 bed clinic since October. Amazing. They also feed starving kids and give us insight into the struggles of everyday Haitian people. There’s a paypal button on the site to make a donation. They have different needs they make direct appeals for and it’s very cool to be able to see your donation in action.

Partners in Health.    Long time partners with the Haitian people, PIH, based in Boston has an amazing reputation and provides medical aid and other resources. I look to what they say when it comes to issues in Haiti because they have a track record of caring and being effective for the very poor there.

Doctors Without Borders I suggest following them on FB. They have a lot of “on the ground” reports from Haiti and with cholera being such a huge problem now, they are still front and center in helping Haiti recover.

Social Enterprise Fund Haiti Fish Project: I  read about this about a year ago and I can’t get over how good it seems. Talk about sustainable and obtainable…

Lambi Fund Haiti.  This group gets into not just the grassroots needs but the underlying problems of Haiti including how women and the very poor farmers are often disenfranchised. Part of what I keep looking for is “big picture” answers or at least discussions and they definitely get into that stuff. But they also have a very friendly FB presence and a very good track record and lots of success.  I also reccomend reading articles by Beverly Bell on HuffPost. She’s with this group. They’re to the left, but, even with a grain of salt, they say a lot of stuff that isnt really being said elsewhere.

Meds  & Food for Kids    This is the group that a) provides jobs for Haitians and b) makes a product that helps starving Haitian kids be re-invigorated at places like the Rescue Center (listed above) . Win. Win. Overall win.

Like millions of other people, I’ve spent the last year wondering how I can help Haitians. I’ve been wondering also how their situation still hasn’t improved. I’ve read what I can find about  internal problems like  government corruption, elites hoarding resources. I’ve read what I can find about complex “extrinsic”  (you might say)  problems, like the USA dumping subsidized rice on Haiti and putting thousands of small farmers out of business, like the developed world not just offering help and good things but also exploitation  (which should make anyone who offers help and good things angry…). 

It’s a complicated, multi-faceted situation, it seems. So many problems, so many root causes, so many people suffering. It is frustrating to know I know so little about all of this, and that I can do, relatively speaking, so little to change it or help. But, if people in Haiti can as Fr Luc writes, still pray and sing and smile, then, I take my lesson from them.

It’s hard to concieve of any year being worse for Haiti than 2010, but here’s hoping 2011 is a better one and that it truly marks a real new start for the Haitian people.  

Here’s JayZ , Bono and Rhianna from last year’s telethon….I love this refrain.  Thanks for reading. Hope your year is off to a great start!

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