when it all seems like too much

by Kayla Raymond

I came across this article last night and boy did these statistics overwhelm me.

With mounting violent unrest and pressure for President Jovenel Moïse to step down, 35 percent of the Haitian population – 3.67 million people – is now in urgent need of emergency food assistance.

In a statement, Action Against Hunger’s Country Director in Haiti, Cedric Piriou said:

“Our teams are committed to reaching those struggling to survive, but roads are often closed, essential commodities are scarce, and the threat of violence permeates our lives every day.

We are witnessing a political hunger crisis that grows by the day. The world cannot continue to stand by – we must respond to the complex ins and outs of this multifaceted emergency, which includes addressing a major food crisis and a crippling lack of access to basic services like clean water, health care, education, and safe sanitation.

Haiti entered these most recent months of political unrest as the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with more than six million people living on less than $2.41 a day. Now, food insecurity has reached crisis levels. The humanitarian community is sounding the alarm, but once again, the world is not responding to a crisis in Haiti fast enough – if at all.”

The most vulnerable populations are particularly hard-hit by security issues, inflation and severe shortages in gas, food, and essential medicines. With fewer employment opportunities in rural areas, many men are moving to urban areas, leaving vulnerable women, children, and the elderly behind and at risk of exploitation and gender-based violence. Many mothers are struggling to support their households by working long hours in addition to childcare and household responsibilities.

Without immediate action, an anticipated 1.2 million people will be one step away from famine between March and June 2020. Overall, the number of Haitians facing serious food insecurity is expected to increase to 4.1 million in the coming months, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis. Rural areas in the North West, Artibonite, Nippes, and Grand’Anse are among the most affected, and have the highest percentage of people in need of immediate assistance. Their needs are compounded by a drop in agricultural production following the 2018 drought.

As a result of economic, social, and political instability, malnutrition has reached alarming levels and is expected to worsen in the months ahead. In some communities, such as Thiotte and Belle-Anse, the rate of acute malnutrition exceeds 10 percent, a serious emergency by World Health Organization (WHO) standards. Chronic malnutrition affects more than 30% of the population in Thiotte and more than half of the population in Belle-Anse.

The additional burden facing women is one of the causes of increased malnutrition rates in children under five, according to a survey conducted by Action Against Hunger in Grand’Anse in September. This deterioration in nutritional status may be due to a number of factors, including a reduction in mothers’ breastmilk due to extreme stress, mothers not having enough time to breastfed, and mothers lacking the time or resources to adequately care for their children.

Concern for the worsening crisis led the U.S. Congressional House Foreign Affairs Committee to hold its first hearing on Haiti in six years. During the meeting on December 10, witnesses and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle discussed the crucial need for local, sustainable solutions created and led by Haitians.

Written by Action Against Hunger on actionagainsthunger.org

I think the issue with Haiti and extreme poverty on a global scale is that we don’t know what to do with it. When we read that we have the money, resources and knowledge to end extreme poverty, curable diseases and provide clean water to the world’s population, we still don’t know what to do with that. As Haiti’s economic and political issues continue to go on, I think we continue just turning a blind eye to the small nation because it’s a nation that has kind of become like the little boy who cried wolf plus how would we ever begin making an impact?

I feel this overwhelming sense of defeat all the time, especially within the Starfish program. Are we really making a longterm difference? Is it worth it to invest all these resources? Should we be doing things differently? It’s hard to sort out what direction God is leading us in and what are actually just lies from Satan. God says, “nothing is impossible for me” and Satan screams just a bit louder, “you won’t ever be able to make a difference.”

Webert’s theme verse for the school since the day he started is, “With God all things are possible,” and who would have ever imagined we would have gone from a palette and tarp structure with 60-some children to a beautiful mountaintop campus with five school buildings, a cafeteria, computer lab and office building serving our 1,200+ students. Only God. When we read statistics that less than 5% of students will ever graduate from high school and still less than 50% of children attend school in Haiti, we naturally become overwhelmed and think we won’t ever be able to beat those odds; but then you visit our mountaintop, it is obvious God is in the works of beating odds.

When I think about Rosie’s and the expectations I had for the business when I first opened the doors in 2014, I never would have imagined that today we would be employing 34 people full-time through our efforts and buying tens of thousands of dollars worth of inventory for our stores, empowering 10+ partnering businesses in Haiti as well. I could have never dreamt up the expansion, the greeting card ministry or the people God has sent to help me make it all become a reality. I also never would have guessed my own mama would be my business partner. But, God did, He saw it and brought it all to life.

When I’m overwhelmed by Starfish, I need to remember why the program was started to begin with: to bring change to just one family, one by one. It’s named after the parable of the man with the starfish on the beach. If you’re not familiar with the parable, it’s a story about a shoreline that is covered in starfish as they’ve been washed onto shore. A man is there throwing them back in, one by one. Another man comes up and asks the man what he’s doing, mentioning he would never be able to throw them all back in because there were so many of them. The man picks up another starfish, throws it back in the ocean, and replied, “it made a difference for that one.” The moral being, we won’t be able to help them all, but one by one, we can make an impact on many.

We have a choice to either be paralyzed by the overwhelming statistics, allowing ourselves to believe Satan’s lies that we will never make a difference or we can start investing in small ways towards things that are making a direct impact on the lives who are bombarded by these statistics.

With Touch of Hope & Rosie’s, there’s a few ways you can make an investment this holiday season, helping us break these barriers and statistics in the community we serve in Haiti.

1.) Sponsor a child at our school.  Even though our school has been closed the last two months due to the countrywide lockdown, our commitment to our staff still stands. We have been paying their salaries regardless of our doors being opened or closed. Sponsorship allows to meet our monthly budget of $13,500. The budget pays the salaries of our 85 employees, buys all textbooks and supplies, provides all students with their uniform material and feeds our 1,200+ students a hot meal each day at school. We estimate that 80% of our students would not be in school at all. A $35 monthly commitment can make the biggest of impact for the children in our area to be provided a free education. In order to have our monthly budget fully covered for the year 2020, we are need of 50 more sponsors. Click here to sign up and start sponsoring a child today!

2.) Make a one-time donation of $111.41 to ensure our Starfish families go home with food each week. It is probably safe to say that if some of the women who are in our program weren’t in the program right now, they would be the ones facing the food insecurity mentioned in the article above. Your donation makes an impact todayfighting the statistics. We need fifteen more people to rally together for this need to be met. Make your donation here.

3.) Lastly, shop at Rosie’s. It’s not a marketing scheme when I say your purchases make a difference. The more we sell, the more we get to buy. The more PO’s we make with our partnering companies means more money pouring into the hands of their artisans. The more greeting cards we sell means more work for our mamas. No matter which angle you look at it, a purchase at Rosie’s is a win-win-win. Also, did you know that boutique profits are also put back into the Starfish program and our longterm goal is to be able to fully support the program through our profits?! Start your shopping here.