School’s produce graduates, children and youth better equipped to succeed. It might be a step for them to the next grade or a job; it could even be a stepping stone to a degree or advanced degree. Whatever the grade level the individual has completed more education will generally give a better collection of education and tools for that person to succeed more in life than without an education; a generalization yes, but for the most part absolutely a truism.

In the developed areas like the USA it is a given, kids go to school and get an education through high school. However in many places in the world access to free K-12 educational the desired state. In the developing countries many see education as a luxury or even a dream. I think it’s a small percentage of our kids here in the USA that dream about school.

Of course as it remains a fact that in some places ‘even today’ on this blue marble, education is not a right it is a privilege. Unfortunately education in the US is a hot current topic, what class size, what schedule, what core groups, Christian or non-Christian, block schedule or period schedule.

Sometimes you hear people say “if we could get everyone educated then poverty would disappear.” There are many ideas on poverty and many opinions about why some people who continue to live by choice or not. In economically deprived or war torn areas where education is still in the local common people’s reality an item, “for the others.” This is a huge topic and I will not open the door further on it however I will say that a child in the US with a solid quality K-12 education should be poised to make much better life decisions for themselves than a non-educated person. My point being that our kids have education through the local school as a right not a privilege. What happens with this right is not a definable outcome however it is generally a more positive outcome than without government funded education.

What do you do if there is no school, where there are no laws that guarantee children’s rights to education?  Well; sometimes it is an easy fix; motivated teachers in Africa sometimes teach under a tree, in Timor teachers volunteered and taught in ruins with no roof, in the Philippines school is “free” but school fees are required for the most part and this excludes the poor. Others might use a church or assembly hall to teach. Sometimes though there needs to be a physical school, perhaps for more than educations sake perhaps to help build up a community.

It is my opinion that a Church or a school is a great place to start if you must anchor a community for development;  with the right partners and the right local community eventually a school is on the menu because it will produce graduates; it’s is not a necessity but adds to the institutions and the local community’s legitimacy.

So how is a school born where no government can assist but the need is real? In Infanta Quezon, the Philippines we had one such case. About a week before the huge Indonesian tsunami,  Infanta Quezon was devistated by one of the worst mudslides in history; then it was the center of the world news and over 180 international organizations were on site. Star of Hope had been in the area for a long time previously and we ended up building about 400 houses and apartments (Philippine style) and one area that received houses was Infanta. Of course we have built many schools and churches since then but this one was special to me as it helped develop the community and gave birth to micro business and citizens’ rights and much more as the community was well on the way to being a developing community.

The condensed version of how and why is this, after we built the housing complex we had many preschoolers who had no school and many of the older kids had to walk miles through mud and farm land to get to the nearest school if they could afford school that is. 

The Manager for the Philippines Gani Corunia and for Quezon pastor Ben Mergano told Star of Hope, of the problem and wanted to build a school on site to give quality education in a close proximity. It was a go on all fronts and we decided to build the school a bit at a time, in sections, starting with preschoolers and then first grade rooms would be built and so on. The donors of Star of Hope are lucky to be able to say; "we did this", and we have changed lives!

Call 1 (866) 653-0321 to be a sponsor!

 

Team completed their work at Rigaud. They installed the hurricane ties on 50% of the school. Not bad for 2 days work!

Alec Wetig and his Dad Jamie played football (soccer) with neighborhood kids. (they used an old basketball) Then they tried to teach the kids American football without words since they do notspeak kreyol.

 

Team visited the home of Emmanuela, the child orphaned by the quake and taken in by a family in the area. The visitors were unsure how to deal with 10 people living and sleeping in one room with only 2 beds!

Tomorrow the team heads to Marigot.

 

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At the Star of Hope's school in Rigaud in Haiti, a few years ago I met nine years old Negro Lorisme. He liked school but was also a very responsible boy, just like many other children have to be in Haiti.

After school, it was rarely play and sports that mattered. Instead, he gave the family's pigs water, chopping wood, and helping with other family chores.

The family with eight children was poor. His mother sold biscuits and other snacks along the way. His father managed the family's small piece of land where he grew vegetables. Usually it all went to the family, sometimes he sold some vegetables in the market to buy cooking oil and other necessities.

Negro Lorisme had big dreams for the future and wanted to be a teacher or a chauffeur. I hope he succeeds with it.

Water, just plain old water and yet life giving. So easily we take for granted our clean fresh water, yet not even in the Midwest especially Kansas are we completely spared from water troubles, just think about the fields the last few years, an entire section of the USA is currently affected and the outcome for more farmers than ever is up to chance alone. Right now there is a bit more than the last 3 years however some US farmers have used up their allotment for the year!

corn in bad shape

Even if not historically groundbreaking, an unwelcome sight in the Midwest.

Of course for us who live here we are solaced by the fact that the water faucet just needs a small turn and the life giving liquid will flow, almost never do we give it a second thought; faucet on-water flows. In many places where we work, people live constantly under the exact opposite condition. We have children in some of our schools that may spend several hours each day to get water, and then there is still no guarantee that the water is clean, in fact in many places where the water is not clean one would fib about that fact as life is just easier that way. Can dirty water be better than no water, I wonder.

More than 1.1 billion of the world's 7 billion people lack access to clean water. Last year over 1.5 million children died in diseases related to dirty water and poor hygiene. Many of the diseases that plague people in developing countries today would not exist if there was access to clean water and good sanitation was the norm. The international consensus states that if current trends continue it is estimated two-thirds of the world's population lack access to clean water by 2025. Let’s just break that down in a different syntax; only one in three on earth will have clean water in the future, come on it’s just water!

Not a normal situation across the globe.


Humans can survive without food for up to three weeks, but without water we will die in less than 3 days. I fear that the lack of water will lead to more conflict and deteriorating living conditions for the worlds already vulnerable. Even when it comes to something as obvious as water, it is the poor who take the biggest and hardest hit. They cannot afford to buy bottled drinking water, they do not have city water nor can they buy the water treatment products needed to make the water drinkable. They do not even have the ability to protect the natural springs, rivers, streams where some for centuries they have obtained water. Extreme poverty and ignorance makes it difficult for people to take responsibility for the future of natural resources. But our Western lifestyle has also led to an over use of water and in that context, even we with our good access to water are complicit in belittling water availability.

Did you know that it takes 1 and 1/3 pound of chemicals and 3000 gallons of water to produce a pair of jeans? Many of the clothes we wear right here in the USA are manufactured in countries that already have a shortage of water and some of the manufacturing processes do not help the water situation with illegal dumping and leakages.

Think instead that for many, all the time spent to get water or time in sickness due to bad water , could actually be used for something more productive, such as work, school, or why not rest or play. I think our world would look different. Of course there is no shortage of methods to solve the world's water problems, but we need to take joint responsibility for the water. Cultivation, supply, respect and hygiene can be realized only if people have access to the resources and knowledge needed to be a steward of the resource.

Large schools need large amounts of water.

Sometime we have to go deep!

I feel Star of Hope has an important function; in our schools and in the projects where we work, we want to provide knowledge about the importance of water. In several places we work we have water because water systems have been built; dams, wells, irrigation canals or made rainwater capture a workable technology of course sometimes we have to run ½ inch pvc water pipe for long stretches. We teach children and their parent’s hygiene and the importance of sanitation; we give them the tools to fight for their rights - and of course the right to clean water something that without a doubt is worth fighting for and something that must be respected.

The finished product, right thing at right place.

That's what it's all about, sweet water!

When you sponsor a child through Star of Hope we make sure water is also a deliverable to that child’s school or community and that is a good thing my friends!


Mark Presson
Star of Hope

If you would like sponsor a Child Today, click here to get started.

Today is the first ever International Day of Happiness!


“When we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. Compassion promotes happiness and will help build the future we want," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in his message to mark the day.

 

Some pics of happiness:


 

 

 


 

It has been very political unstable in Kenya over the last couple of year. But will there be “Amani” (peace) for everybody now?

Newly elected Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has hailed his poll win as a "triumph of democracy" and peace. After being declared winner of Monday's poll by the slimmest of margins - 50.07% - Mr Kenyatta said voters had upheld "respect for the rule of law", and promised to work with opponents.

However his main rival, Raila Odinga, vowed to challenge the result in court.

Mr Kenyatta is set to be tried at the International Criminal Court over violence that followed the 2007 polls. He is accused of fuelling the communal violence that saw more than 1,000 people killed and 600,000 forced from their homes.

On Saturday the election commission said Mr Kenyatta had narrowly avoided a run-off by winning 50.07% of votes in a credible and transparent poll.

But there are worries about the future. Many hope Mr Kenyatta will uphold the new constitution and continue to co-operate with the International Criminal Court, where he is fighting charges of crimes against humanity.

What does this new president mean for Kenya? What does it mean for the children and families that Star of Hope support? Can the country now move forward peacefully?

 

One-third of all food produced for humans is lost or destroyed annually. This is equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes. The cost for this is 680 billion dollars a year, among the developed countries, and a further half the cost in developing countries.

This corresponds to 95-115 kilos of food per person in Europe and the U.S. The food that is thrown away in Europe could give food to an additional 200 million people. The food that is thrown away and lost in production in poor countries could provide food for another 300 million people.

Sad but true!

 

This girl, eating well at a Star of Hope project in Brazil

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 Just finished yet another delicious meal here at out Host Home of Tony and Myrtha.  Fried chicken with cornmeal as one of the sides. Cornmeal and rice are  also  common staples of the Haitian diet.
The kitchens in all the homes we have toured since our arrival ( whether it was a sod,tin or concrete) have been outside related to the heat and lack of electricity to air condition the home.  This morning we woke up to a breakfast of Pumpkin soup!  I have to admit I did take a look at the time to double check if I had overslept of not!   Pumpkin soup is a traditional Haitian breakfast.  A soup Haitians were not allowed to have back in the days of slavery! It was very good and something I could get use to having for breakfast.
AsI enjoy all the new and interesting food I can't help but think of all the people outside of those gates that are not eating...and again I wonder, How can I make a difference, I'm just one person...THERE ARE SO MANY OF THEM WITHOUT FOOD HERE, why do I have so much and they have so little? Its true they have so little, but why are they so happy?  It seems the longer I am here, the more questions I have then answers!  Maybe tomorrow the answers will come!

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One thing you notice in Haiti when you get there is the large number of street children. Even right outside the airport they wandering around, and around in the capital Port-Au-Prince, you see them everywhere. Many live on the street, others live with their parents in basic shelters.

Children sometimes have lost both their parents and have nowhere to go. Others have previously been slaves and have fled harsh conditions.

Some begging on street corners. Some clean car windows when they stop at traffic lights, and hope they'll get tips for his job.

Tragically, in many ways, of course.

Visiting Haiti always affects me in many different ways. This last trip was no different. Looking into the eyes of the children, so bright and full of life saddened me tbis time. I thought of the life before them. It will be hard.Bois Negresse Life

I watched as the Wetig family came to grips with the realization that what they held as a worldview needed to be changed. For Jamie Wetig he came to see a young Haitian girl we met high in the mountains as a family member. He saw her as his daughter. Then he acted and chose to become her sponsor. He saw with his heart.

Jamie Wetig Learns how hard this is!

Upon returning home my wife Linda found "the song"  I want to share it with you. It is filmed in a children's home not far from our Marigot School.

 

Please consider becoming a sponsor. Just $1 a day makes it possible for a child to go to school.  Can you spare a dollar? They could be your sons and daughters.

 

One of the things I am privileged to experience is leading StarTeams. Right now I am in Haiti with a team comprised of a family. Three generations of the same family. As Haiti makes its impression they grow and come to better understand the fantastic people of Haiti.

Today at the Boyer school, they were mobbed by the children. All 400 plus that were in attendance today. They loved to touch and be close to the "blanc". The youth were excited when Alec brought out an American Football and showed them how to throw. Tomorrow we go Rigaud and begin doing the roof work they came to accomplish!

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Last week the UN rejected compensation claims by victims of a cholera outbreak in Haiti that has killed around 8,000 people and infected 600,000. Evidence suggests cholera was introduced through a UN base's leaking sewage pipes.

Maybe this sound cold-hearted after all the suffering the country had over the last decades, but it was right as a legal matter.

I have been waiting to see some reactions. The case against the United Nations was brought by the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. They said they would appeal the case.

The U.N. has never acknowledged its culpability in the outbreak and has been unforgiving hostile to what amounts to near scientific certainty. I thought all the way since the outbreak that the UN should to really put in some big efforts (read money) to sort the cholera out in Haiti.

And a few days ago the following message came from the UN:

The United Nations called on the international community today to contribute two billion USD to fund a new Haitian government plan to wipe out cholera transmission in ten years. The call, made by the World Health Organization and the Pan-American Health Organization, is focused on heavy investment in water and sanitation, according to a document distributed in the UN headquarters in New York. At least 1,500 cases of cholera still register in Haiti every week, according to PAHO.

What will happen now? Will the international community come up with the money?

 

In 2008 and 2009, the Star of Hope made multiple help efforts in the women's prison outside Mombasa, Kenya. Many detainees and sentenced women have their children with them in prison. Usually there is no other option for them, especially for the poor prisoners.

It is tragic in many ways, of course. I suffered really with the little kids who got to grow up inside a jail behind bars.

Star of Hope handed out clothes, toys and hygiene item for the children so they would have a little better living conditions. The mothers and children were very happy and grateful for the help they received.

Some of the mothers and their children who were helped and I met:

Josephine had been sentenced to four years in prison for theft and had been in for eight months of the time when we met. She and her one and half years old Latifah lived behind bars.

Eunice and her one year old Mary Ayan was waiting for the sentence. They had already been detained for four months.

Nzoki was suspected of manslaughter and was waiting for the sentence with seven months old Mwantjuma.

Haiti Day 2 (The Need Is Great)

Today we had the opportunity to deliver over 100lbs of school supplies, as well as a suitcase full of shoes, and several soccer balls, football balls, and basketballs to two schools.

It was a great experience meeting the students and staff at Boyer School, but I soon realized that the need is GREATER than I could have ever imagined. I wish I could have given more..., but we simply didn't have enough. Some of these children walk up to three miles one way to come to school, to get one hot meal, and to learn. It is amazing how happy one little piece of candy, one new pencil, a pad of paper, or a folder, etc., can make a child, who on any other given day may or may not have the essentials to survive.

I continue to be unable to express the living conditions we see, but, I can tell you the people of Haiti are friendly, happy, and grateful.


 

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         Was a bitter sweet day yesterday. We finished the job to do and am sure that the kids will be safer in the windy days and the school will remain strong. It was a beautiful moment when they gave us a goodbye,and I realized that it will be awhile before I see those beautiful smiles and smiling eyes.It makes my heart sing to know that they see the love of the Lord so early in life. And I feel blessed to show my love for the Lord by helping their education and growth
        Today we visited the other schools in the Mountains and I see the same joy and love. I know that my time in this beautiful land is far from from over, even if  my body is not here my heart will stay with the people of Haiti and the children that are in the schools. They are the future of this country and a truly worthy investment of our time,prayers, and tithe to the Lord.
           Thank you for the opportunity to serve the Lord in this great manner, And I will return.. Rick S.



Today is World Water Day. Two thirds of the earth is covered in water, one percent is drinkable. Every day one billion people struggle to find clean and safe water.

 

Day 1 in Haiti. I cannot describe the poverty and living conditions, about 80% live day to day. Today was an orientation to where we are staying, which for us is with a Civil Engineer. We have good food and accommodations that really would rival what we have in the U.S., minus the fact that electricity is unreliable, the roads or alley to the house is non-existence, and all around is poverty. ...

The wealthy houses are surrounded by walls, often with barbed wire or broken glass on the top to prevent intruders. Not to mention the fact that you really are locking yourself in the house. We were able to go to the ocean today via an old club med facility that is open for tourists. You can forget about the poverty for a while when you are in the ocean, however, it is still there outside the gates. Tonight we visited with a few families and were able to give them some candy, school supplies, a basketball, and shoes for their kids. I will try to post pictures soon. Tomorrow we are visiting three schools to hand out school supplies and some basketballs, footballs, and soccer balls. Goodnight or should I say Bonne nuit.

 

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Feb 27,2013: Starteam finished all roofing reinforcement work  in jeanton school today. The 2 school buildings roof have been completed, church has been repaired, candy and gifts have beedistributed to preschool children and first graders. school staff and children meet starteam on the school yard to pray for them, to sing for them and to tank them for good work they have done for the school to be stronger and for their love. starteam will visit Boyer  tomorrow and Carrefour orphanage on friday. it is a successful mission work for SOHH and for Jeanton community. May god bless them for a safe trip back on Friday.
Tony 

Wow!  The first 4 days we saw alot of poverty...or so we thought, but on day 5 we drove through the slums of Port au Prince.   "This is where the poorest.. people live" is what we were told.
We ended up having a meal at the seaside, a beautiful sight available to the poorest!

What started as am opportunity to walk across the road and share some candy with a little Hatian girl, that's when it hit me!  The realization of just how urgent the needs of this country are.  Although we did not speak the same language, we did have something in common, family. 
There was a woman that must not have been  far away, because as I approached her child she approached me.  She began struggling to find words I could understand.  She was asking me to look closer at the haqnd  that was supposed to accept the candy.  It was hyper extended and the contractures  made it impossible to hold it in a normal position. At the same time I was looking at this deformed arm, a man suddenly appeared. He was pointing at his eyes that were shining like frozen tears. The scleras were yellow. Even with the language barrier we both knew he was in discomfort. I laid my hand gently on his abdomen and he shook his head yes. That was where the pain was.
My heart broke for this man and for the little girl. I knew how I would feel if it was my family.  How can this family get help with no means of support, no transportation and in some areas no clinics.
 My first night in Haiti and while I was laying in bed I  a sked myself, now what?  How can  I, one person make a difference when the need is so great, so urgent? 
 Maybe I will discover that over the next few days, maybe not!
Nancy Wetig, Great Bend Kansas

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Haiti Day 4  worked on putting up the hurricane ties on day 4, but my favorite part of the day was meeting the little girl Ellinwood Hosptial in Kansas will be sponsoring.  This little angel touched many hearts when she was found wandering around after the earthquake.  She has many medical needs but was still taken in by a family of 10!  What I observed during my visit to this familys home was that they only had 2 beds.  All the  kids seemed happy and well kept.  One of the older boys in this family told me he is coming to America! As I was leaving I yelled to him, "See you in America"  he gve me the thumbs up and they all laughed!  Maybe he is the one I should sponser!

Deforestation in Haiti is a severe environmental problem. In 1923, over 60% of Haiti's land was forested; by 2006, less than 2% was. There are several reasons for that.

It started with the independence Haiti won in 1804. For the freedom France demanded a payment of 90 million gold francs (equivalent to some 20 billion dollar today) for lost property. Haiti's trees were felled and exported to France, in order to service the debt.

One of the main problems in more recent times has been logging operations, in response to Port-Au-Prince intensified demand for charcoal. And most people in Haiti still use wood / charcoal for cooking.

A direct effect to this deforestation is soil erosion. Each year some 15,000 acres of soil is washed away. It also damages dams, roads, houses and more.

I have seen all this during my time in Haiti. It is really sad. So I’m really happy to see the nursery tree project at the Star of Hope school in Bois Negresse. The school is preparing coffee and grapefruit plants to distribute to children in the end of school year. This will among other things teach the kids how to guard the trees, which is very important for the future. You can really see on the images that the kids are eager to learn more about tree planting. Great stuff!

Pictures below by Tony Boursiquot, Star of Hope project manager in Haiti.

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Feb 25th, 2013:

first day of work  is a successful accomplishment. Starteam members  worked from 9:00 to 15:00,  lot of works have been done screwing hurricane-ties and nailing wood brave cross to strengthen the main tresses of the school roof. if they continue working at this speed, by tomorrow job will be at 3/4 done. They are fast and efficient full with energy . Children and school staff are all happy to see and meet members of the team that had been  welcome with  two songs: welcome song and evangelical song.  It was also great occasion for some kids to know how play American football with team members.   it was was a joyful meeting and working day for  starteam members as well for the children of Jeanton school. Tony

Did you know that...


18 landerStar of Hope has projects in 15 countries around the world?


30000 barn

Also every day, more than 30,000 children receive education and care through Star of Hope? Also, we touch over 35,000 children each day with services!

 

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