While in Haiti a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with Norius, our school ministry director. He is doing such a good job in that leadership role. I appreciate Norius’ dedication to the education of the poorest of the poor in Haiti. Our 28 schools are located in about a 15 mile radius of Tricotte. Tricotte is home to our orphanage and is also the village where Norius and his family live. Norius is married and has two young sons. Each week he makes the rounds to each of the schools on his motorcycle. I asked him how the motorcycle was running when I met with him in May and he told me that it had some mechanical problems and needed new tires. So for the past few weeks he had been walking to the schools. Well, needless to say we immediately advanced the money to him so he could be back on two wheels and save the leather on his shoes. However, the motorcycle problems had not stopped him from doing his job – he just kept on going! We praise God for that dedication!
Unlike many humanitarian organizations working in Haiti, Starfish Ministries’ number one goal is to bring the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of that country. Building schools is a tool to facilitate this, but also has the added benefit of enhancing their lives by receiving an education. However, it has been our goal from the beginning that we do not want these villages to become dependent on us for the long term. And it is our plan to do whatever we can to help these villagers economically so that over the next ten years they can become independent. This is not easy to accomplish. To begin with, these people have a difficult time recognizing the value of education and then they have so little in the area of finances that they don’t think they could possibly pay even a small tuition to keep their children in school.
But Norius reports that we are making small advances. The goat project is beginning to pay off. Through your donations at Christmas, we have been able to give many of the poorest villagers a female goat. The agreement is that they will return to us the first female offspring. Then we will pass that goat on to another needy family. Since Christmas we have given out almost 100 goats. The recipients are very appreciative!! They are beginning to see the possibilities of paying for their children’s education.
Another way we have helped economically is through micro loans. Norius has identified three of the most needy villages in the Tricotte area. In each of these we have started a school. They are Ravine, Gardon, and Eau-Janvier. We have begun giving out small loans to female merchants so that they can buy and sell at the open market. This market is held twice a week at the river that runs near Tricotte. In Haiti it is usually the woman of the family who buys and sells and it is a common way for her to earn a little money to provide food for her family. These women might use the loan to buy a big bag of rice or beans and sell them in smaller portions. Or they may buy mangos or avocados from a neighbor. She also might buy peanuts and make peanut butter to sell at the market.
We have hired a young university student, Matia, to administer this project. Matia works with the pastor or headmaster in the village to keep the borrowers accountable. Again, these merchants are very appreciative of this opportunity and the results are already evident.
Thank you so much for your continued support. Please pray for Pastor Diogene and Lionette. They are on the front lines of ministry each day. God is using them very effectively. They always tell me to pass on their greeting to you and thanks for your partnership with them.
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie & Sheryl Bovenkamp
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