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HAITI : More Than A Year after the Earthquake

Staring at the 10-inch worm vomited up by a toddler, it dawned on me: More than a year after Haiti’s huge earthquake, life is back to normal. The new normal! Worms, after all, have always made their abode in the bellies of children. Only now—thanks to some aid getting through (emphasis on some!) — dewormer is more accessible.

Janey holding a little girl with her new dress
(Photo credit Louis DeMeo)

Little Adnaika is one of the beneficiaries of such aid. After being treated for worms by the staff at the Maison-de-Lumière orphanage (MDL), she threw up several huge white worms. Just a few weeks prior to arriving at MDL, Adnaika was in bad shape. Today she is thriving—and worm free.

But sadly, that is not the case for so many. Too many children are still undernourished or even starving.

During our recent time in Haiti, Canadian missionaries introduced us to Jean-Eddy, an 18-month old infant who had suffered such severe malnutrition, he couldn’t even hold his head up. Thankfully, Jean-Eddy is now growing stronger each day in the care of the Canadian missionaries.

But not all children are so lucky. Worms, malnutrition and squalor are only some of the problems children face. Most children are also uneducated. Even before the earthquake, half of Haiti’s children didn’t attend school for lack of funds. That number has only augmented since. But progress can be seen; some children are receiving help thanks to various Christian and humanitarian groups, including Orphans First.

Children in the ravine
(Photo courtesy of DarrenOrnitz.com)

Orphans First provides homes and programs for impoverished children in many countries, including Haiti. Among these programs is a feeding program implemented by MDL with approximately 100 children attending to receive food and Bible teaching. But many children are still not in school.

Thanks to generous partners, Orphans First recently helped 30 children attend the MDL School where they now receive a quality, Christian education—a crucial step to breaking the cycle of poverty inflicted on so many Haitians. In partnership with Child Hope Intl, Orphans First hopes to help many more children receive an education as well as other basic needs.

Girls wearing their new “Dress-A-Girl-Around-The-World” dresses
(Photo courtesy of DarrenOrnitz.com)

One stateside group, Dress-A-Girl-Around-The-World, generously gave 100 dresses to Orphans First, some of which we handed out at the feeding program. Various women’s groups throughout the USA make the dresses and, as the picture testifies, they are stunning. That day, a lot of little girls donning bright dresses and smiles walked back to the tent city like a parade of princesses! (Next time we hope to bring more dresses and also something for the boys.)

As well as material needs, solid Bible-teaching and discipleship is lacking in Haiti. This is in part because those most qualified to do this work, friends like the Manaserros, founders of MDL, are maxed out working on urgent relief efforts. Louis took this need to heart during our stay in Haiti, and taught leaders and pastors each morning. One Haitian pastor who holds church in a tent in the ravine was discourage. He wanted more help on every level, but his greatest need was to take the simple truths of the Bible and separate them from Haitian voodoo culture.

The highlight of my time includes my many visits to the tent city. There’s something about the rawness of it all that draws me and awakens such deep love for the people. Perhaps it’s their gratitude as they receive small tokens given to make their lives a little brighter—a hat, shirt, jeans, whatever—that woos my heart like a mother drawn to her cooing infant. Or perhaps it’s the sight of women cooking meager scraps over wood-fires while tiny children play in the dirt among the worms, oblivious to their poverty. This tent city is no longer a temporal habitat; it is the people’s home.

During my last morning in Haiti, I revisited the tent city, reluctant to say goodbye. Children were hanging on to my arms and giggling as we climbed the rickety, ravine pathway together. I felt as if I belonged there. Suddenly, as if gauging my thoughts, something odd happened: My foot felt slimy and wet. I looked down to find the culprit—a pool of wet cement. As if capturing my heart wasn’t enough, Haiti was cementing me in.

The DeMeo’s with children from the MDL school (Photo credit Louis DeMeo)

We plan to return to Haiti next month with a group of young people eager to get their feet wet (pun intended) and see God at work on the mission field. Whether they end up stepping in wet cement as I did or not, one thing’s expected—feet firmly planted in the plan of God walking with Jesus!

Orphans First is a non-profit organization helping suffering children around the world in diverse ways including through the creation of orphanages and programs. Learn more at: www.orphansfirst.org, or contact by email: info@orphansfirst.org. More on the work of Orphans First in Haiti here: http://janey-demeo.blogspot.com/2010/09/orphans-first-helps-haitis-illiterate.html



Janey DeMeo was born in the UK and is founder and director of Orphans First. She is also an author and speaker. Her husband, Louis, is a church-planter, mentor and pastor. They were formerly missionaries to France for 22 years and also worked in third-world countries. They are now based in Southern California where they continue their ministry mentoring people to walk closer to Jesus. They both taught at the Calvary Chapel Bible College. Janey can be contacted by e-mail at: JaneyDeMeo@aol.com



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