We’ve made the trip over the “puddle”, through Rome, and to Iasi (pronounced yash, light on the h), Romania. We spent about 30 hours in route, about 10 hours on airport layovers, arriving on Wednesday evening Romanian time. We were greeted by Aurora and her husband Adi at the Iasi airport and taken to a restaurant named Little Texas with an American and Mexican menu. We got a twilight tour of Iasi on the way to the Star of Hope Center for Rehabilitation where we are staying while in Iasi. We were soon asleep and slept for 11 or 12 hours.

In the morning among other things, we were served “mellon” which was very similar to cantaloupe only the fruit is oblong and the meat of the fruit is much closer to while than the orange we’ve come to expect in America. 

We were provided a tour of the Star of Hope Center for Rehabilitation, where children and families with disabled children receive therapy and assistance. Prior to the fall of communism, 20 years ago, children with disabilities were taken from their families and institutionalized receiving little care.

Star of Hope is an agent of change in Romania encouraging change for those with disabilities. Chase met and connected with Razvan who has Cerebral Palsy. Chase was pleased to see Razvan beat me in a game of ping pong. We met with speech and physical therapists learning more of what they are treating here at the Center. Later, we met and refined plans for the conference schedule.

In the evening we were able to meet a Christian Roma (Gypsy) family who live about one hour outside of Iasi. They have a daughter who is affected by Down’s Syndrome. Their home is still under construction with help from Star of Hope. They sleep 2-3 to a bed. They were most gracious. Friday we take a longer trip out to a rural area and will spend the night in a home.

 

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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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This is a repost and a cross post! But it is important!! (MP)

Friend's of Star of Hope, We are doing it again, join us and be a part of this! By Aurora Vatamaniuc

We are approaching the second time to be involved in a very special conference happening in Romania. The following information from Aurora Vatamaniuc, Director, Star of Hope Romania Foundation, will enlighten you of the value of this conference as she shares the results of previous conferences.

"For 4 years (2008-2012) we have organized a yearly conference with a Christian message for the mothers and specialists that work in the field of children with special needs. Most of them belong to the state Orthodox Church. I have witnessed how our Lord talked to them personally and these women demonstrated a significant increase in self-worth, confidence and their value as a person.

 

"Sam" plays at the center while his mother gets practical and spiritual counseling.

After these conferences the mothers started to meet in small groups at our centers where they are taught to read books that will guide them in increasing their faith. At the moment we have 5 groups with 25 mothers in each group. In one of the meetings the theme was a chapter title from the book "Calm My Worried Heart" – "How To Be Happy Being Myself", written by Linda Dillow. The discussions focused on how the Lord created the human being, the miracle construction of every cell in our body and how the Lord made all the organs to function, to have life. For this, the most relevant scripture was Psalm 139.

 

Maine and Aurora, give talks to help the mothers of severely handicapped children

Another miracle we talked about is that the Lord has a plan with us and this is why we have been created – to be part of His plans. Mothers talked about the role they have in their child's life (remembering that the child is disabled). It is a role received from the Lord, to raise, educate and love the child. They also spoke of the importance of the body, soul and character. – understanding that The Lord wants us to do our part and to let Him do His.

Our goal is to provide more opportunities for our parents to hear of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. To accomplish this we wish to work in 2 ways:

1. To hold a yearly conference for the families with disabled children. We wish to have a 5 day conference for at least 150 parents and their children. We would like to have young Christian volunteers to help during the conference by caring for and playing with the children while their parents attend various sessions.
2. To set up Bible classes to help the parents learn more about Jesus and living the Christian life and helping them study the Bible in small groups.

 

Praise during the conference

We intend to involve brothers and sisters from the evangelical churches to lead our groups of training, starting this year in Iasi, Barlad and Dorohoi.

For us to be able to fulfill this dream we need support, prayer and financial means. Today we have this opportunity to do what Jesus w ants us to do. If you want to be part of this mission, we invite you to stand together. Certainly our God will reward any effort for His message to be heard unto the ends of the earth and go gain new hearts for the Kingdom.

We truly want Him to transform our country, Romania!
Pray for us and our country!

Be blessed!
Aurora Vatamaniuc


Above are the desires that God had put on the heart of this dear woman in Romania. This year there will be a new component. THE FATHERS will be included as well. This is an opportunity to bring families closer together and in the process make the gospel come alive as never before in their lives. This is a new element added this year. It is a harsh country. The inclusion of men in the conference is a big deal. The men in Romania are not accustomed to being so directly involved with the hands on care of their disabled child. And we know that in general men are less active in Bible study circles. So, there is a great potential at this conference to make tremendous changes in the spiritual lives of these families.

 

Last years attendees

I will be attending the conference this year along with a family from Ellinwood Kansas. Not just any family but a family of 3, including a 14 year old disabled son. They are traveling with me to the conference to be an encouragement to men, women and children of Romania. They will have a major part of the conference in sharing their experiences. It will be highlights to have the dad share what it means to be involved in the care and spiritual teaching of a disabled child.

 

READ ABOUT CHASE AND A FAMILY'S HOPE

Now you know about this year's conference. These are all good plans and dreams but we need help to make them become a reality. Consider what your part will be to make this happen. Changing lives is such a rewarding experience. Even if you never meet the people affected - - -the blessings are felt.

Sincerely

Maria Presson

YES I CAN GIVE RIGHT NOW TO THIS CONFERENCE!

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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Twenty five, 25 students will soon be graduating from a Star of Hope sewing class in Hesse Haiti. They are young boys and girls, parents and adults that decided to attend the sewing school. The school is supported by Star of Hope Haiti. Now for the first time these courageous students will have a profession and will be able to make their own living after graduation. What a fantastic result.

 

 

Some of them plan to go find work that requires their new skill set, others have dreamt to open their own small business working as a professional seamstress to earn an income. For now none of them has a job yet but soon they will graduate and start their new adventure.

If Star of hope had not offered this class, for free, the students would not have had the opportunity to attend sewing class as it simply would have been out of reach economically, to become a seamstress or tailor would be very expensive for a normal Haitian. The tuition is one aspect but then you have the issue of being able to buy material to do the sewing practice in class and as homework.

As Star of hope provides free fabrics to the students they are able make as many samples of dresses after each lesson. Usually Star of Hope purchases the fabric yet sometimes we receive donations of pieces of fabric that we give to the students. The last time star of Hope received donated fabrics for the class was in March this year, it was bags full of different pieces of fabrics that was very welcome and useful. For practice all pieces count no matter how small. Not only are students making dresses for they also practice the economy of the raw materials as to save the precious fabric; any small piece of different color can easily be used to make collars, pockets, leaves, belt and so on.

It is to say that all donated fabric pieces that we received from the family of SallyLou La Pierre have been used and have been greatly appreciated by the 25 students. They are so grateful for the donation that they join star of Hope Haiti staff to greet warmly Karen and the family to thank them for this great donation that means so much to them. The pictures attached prove the students appreciation for the donated fabric.

Blessings
Tony B Star of Hope, Haiti

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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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One of our board members recently traveled to Indonesia on a Mission Trip with Grace Community Church; although Star of Hope no longer works in Indonesia we thought to share the article as a blog. Some text changes have been made for the protection of individuals home and abroad.

So our guest blogger is D & J Williams.

 

THE INDONESIA TIMES
Tuesday May 1, 2013

Great Bend, KS. Grace Community Church mission team returned to central Kansas late Tuesday evening, the 23rd of April to cold temperatures and snow on the ground after experiencing hot, tropical weather on the big island of Sumatra, Indonesia for eight days. Culture shock and weather shock were evident on all their faces!

Team members commented on their exhaustion after spending close to 40 hrs in transit from their hotel in Pekanbaru to their homes in Kansas. The transit included flights from Indonesia to Singapore, Singapore to Tokyo, Tokyo to Minneapolis/St. Paul, and from there to Kansas City, culminating in a four hour van ride home to Great Bend.

 Team members.

The in-country time was exhilarating, humbling, and eye-opening! As with many third-world countries, Indonesia is a country of contrasts with abject poverty side by side with wealth and affluence. For the most part, the team saw the poverty and spiritual darkness of the country, the largest Muslim country of the world. Many of the people are Muslim because they were given that distinction at birth and their religion is a mixture of Islam, animism, and superstition. The goal of the short-term mission team was to observe the work being done. Also the team was able to participate in some of the "platforms" or on-going activities, the work is slow and tedious, and requires much patience.

Team member JW stands to the side of one of the Reading Posts which are placed in schools and homes. Local missionary team members, like Maya, visit these posts weekly and read to the students. This develops the relationships from which faith discussions will hopefully follow.

 

After visiting four Reading Posts and an English school which also had a Reading Post, for the first part of the trip, the team was able to travel to West Sumatra to experience the culture of the Minangkabau people group. The team stayed in Bukittinggni, Indonesia where they visited local tourist attractions and markets. The goal there was to engage locals in conversations during which discussions of faith might be confronted.
The three-fold aim was to learn to "live out loud" as a Christian in a Muslim world, learn how to start spiritual conversations with a Muslim, and learn how to point them to the glorious Christ!

A row of shops outside a tourist attraction.

One day the team spent in the local shops and markets of Bukittinggni, seen above and below, and the next day was spent at lake Maninjau, a nearby crater lake in the mouth of an extinct volcano. Rice production and fish farming are the local means of income here in West Sumatra, while in Pekanbaru the economy revolves around petroleum oil and palm oil production.

A typical market scene. Here a woman is roasting bananas over a charcoal fire.

 

Team members J & D stop for a breather while on a hike through the jungle to a waterfall. Yu Chung, a local team member from New York, looks on from behind.

Rice production and fish farming are two of the local industries in West Sumatra. Here the rice paddies can be seen in front and the fish farming "pens" in the waters of a crater lake just beyond the trees.

DW teaching a lesson on good eating
habits and nutrition with help from Jonathan on the flannel graph and Maya as the interpreter.

JW reading a book about a little cloud and his imagination showing the children that their imaginations while reading a book can take them anywhere. Maya interprets the English for the children.

This river water was used as the local bathroom, water for dishes, drinking, and laundry and only 20 yards from one of the Reading Posts we visited.

Team members J, M, D and J doing the motions of mimicking a rain shower after Jan had read the book about a cloud.

We thank all of you, our supporters, for both the financial support given to allow us to take this trip and also for the abundant prayer support. We truly felt the presence of your prayers while we were traveling and in Indonesia. For Jan and me, we were kept from sickness and any harm while on hiking trails, traveling on the roads, and sampling the local cuisine. We are convinced this was due to the many prayers being offered on our behalf. Our continued prayer request is for you to pray for the Unreached People Groups (UPGs) of Indonesia and for the national church planters and their families as well as for the missionary families that team with them to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to these people living in a spiritually dark country.

Morning egg delivery. Note the jumble of cars, motorcycles, and pedestrians.

 

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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GUEST BLOG - Mikael Good, social reporter, documentary photographer, philanthropist, graphic designer, communicator, social commentator and artist. Location Huskvarna,Sweden

 

 

Places like Jayer in St. Petersburg are dark places that make far too early graves for young people who never stood a real chance in life. Even if the situation is tough for young adults who´s graduated from institutions in Russia there are some oasis of Grace to be found in the darkness.

When orphans turn 18 they are dropped from the institutions where they grew up. One day they where kids and the other day they were grownups who don´t know how to live in the real world on their own. The problem is that they have not learned to deal with the various problems of life that they now encounter. They are completely left alone and don´t have any parents, siblings, grandparent or other persons who care about them and can help them in this new situation. They often lack the everyday knowledge that others children learn in their families, such as washing clothes, cooking, managing household cash. They often feel lonely and left out, and in reality, they really are.

The statistics for orphans who graduate from institutions in Russia is very dark. Only 10% of them can adopt to a normal life in the society after graduation. The other 90% are doomed to a life in misery which often puts them in far too early graves. Some of them are lured into prostitution and criminality, some of them becomes alcohol or drug addicts. some of them end up as homeless or couch surfers and some of them take their lifes.

Jayer is street talk for a girl who is willing to do any kind of sexual act with everybody she meets. It´s also the name of a unfinished hospital in S:t Petersburg. Jayer is a house of death were young prostitutes sell their bodies for drug money and they spread HIV to customers who often refuses to use condoms. It´s a place where heroin addicts injects slow death into their veins, most of them are HIV-positive and when they share their needles they also share the deadly disease. Jayer is also a place were homeless people live and young hipsters get together to have Squat Parties in the weekends. Those who come to Jayer are exposed for GHB and heroin and many of them end up as addicts.

Nearly 70% of all heroin addicts in Russia are young people and you can find places like Jayer all over the country. It´s estimated that between 1.5 to 3 million out of 142 millions Russians are heroin addicts. The Russian authorities are not powerless before the big drug problem in the country. In recent years, the authorities have invested a lot of money on drug prevention among young people. And they try to limit the supply roads of heroin and other drugs flowing in from Afghanistan. 21% of the heroin produced in Afghanistan goes to Russia.

Even if the future for former orphans are very dark. There are some oasis of Grace to be found in Russia. One such oasis are Grace Family Center which is located in a Russian Orthodox monastery in St. Petersburg. The work at Grace is very successful and according to Valentina who is the volunteer director at Grace 90% of the orphans who have received help and support at Grace after their graduation have been able to adapt to a normal life. For orphans who has never had a family of they own, places like Grace Family Center must be worth one's weight in gold.

At Grace Family Center, orphans meet and spend time with adults who give them support and encouragement and help them develop into independent people with strong self-worth. The staff, at the project, prepare an individual plan for each young person who comes to it. The work is based on Christian principles. They live and work in an environment where they can meet and know the saving grace of Jesus. Even if the work at Grace Family Center is very successful. They are in a desperate need of money so that they can continue with their important job.

Maybe it's you who read this article that shall provide an economic miracle so that Grace Family Center can continue with their important work among the least of our brothers and sisters.

You can support Grace Family Center and donate money to them via Star of Hope, USA

"Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done". - Proverbs 19:17

 

"We can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by the society - completely forgotten, completely left alone. That is the greatest poverty of the rich countries." - Mother Teresa


Click the following link if you want to see the pictures in the slide-show on your cell phone or on your pad: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chasid68/sets/72157633493146234/

Text and Photo © Mikael Good, All Rights Reserved
Note from Star of Hope, we do not currently prioritize or report about this project as we concentrate our efforts on different countries, however if you wish to donate we will be happy to funnel your gift to Grace.

DONATE TO GRACE

 

 

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.

SPONSOR A CHILD FOR 1 DOLLAR A DAY

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

SPONSOR A CHILD TODAY

 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!

SPONSOR A CHILD

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.

Did you know that...

18 landerThanks to you, Star of Hope works in 15 countries around the world.

30000 barn

Also because of people like you, more than 30,000 children receive education and care through Star of Hope.

GOLDSTAR REAN

Trusted for over 50 years to "make change happen".