Starfish Ministries became involved in an education ministry in September 2000. At that time we took over the operation of four schools in the Tricotte area. The next year we added one more school and began a feeding program in our schools as well. Over the past 12 years we have continued to add schools each year and as a result this year we have schools in 39 villages. We started some of these schools after seeing the need in uneducated villages. Others we stepped in to help struggling schools that were without support. Still others we simply helped by paying for a couple of their teachers.
Our vision for the students of our schools is to provide a good education in a good environment along with a hot meal five days a week. It is also our prayer that each of these children hears the gospel of Jesus Christ and has the opportunity to trust the Savior. Then we expect and encourage the student to take the Bible stories, songs and verses home to share with their parents. Our hope is that God will use this to soften the hearts of the parents and that they will come along with their children to the evangelistic crusades we conduct in the villages. Ultimately we pray that they will receive Jesus as their Savior and become part of a church plant in their village.
Much of the finances to operate these schools come from child sponsorship. We are so thankful for our faithful sponsors, some of whom have been sponsoring children from the beginning. Sponsorship covers the educational and feeding costs for many of the students, and God has provided for the rest each month through specific and general gifts to the ministry. Thank you for your partnership with us to help meet the needs.
During this current school year our Haitian director, Daniel, and I have been evaluating this school ministry. We met several times together with all of our school headmasters. Then we met individually with each one as well. During these meetings we shared the Starfish Ministries’ vision for our school ministry, and we have evaluated the schools to ensure that each one is operating within the parameters of our ministry. The majority of the schools are indeed operating this way. We are working with others to refine their operation. But still others – primarily some of those that were in existence before Starfish arrived in their villages – are committed to a different vision (for example, some are seeking to operate as for-profit businesses). And (praise the Lord!) there are even a few villages that are now economically capable of supporting the school without outside help.
So Daniel and I have identified schools that will no longer be supported by Starfish Ministries the next school term, 2012-2013. This will give us the opportunity to focus on fewer schools and students and lay a strong foundation and models that we can effectively build from.
One of the results of this will be some of the children currently sponsored will no longer be in our sponsorship program. Also we have discovered that since the earthquake there has been some migration of students to other areas. We have had a difficult time keeping tabs on some of our sponsored children. We are in the process of sorting this out and will communicate with you sponsors as soon as we have further information. We are also going to hire a Haitian sponsorship coordinator in order to be able to communicate concerning your child/children on an annual basis. Thank you for your patience!
Your sponsorship is making a difference in the life of your sponsored child. I recently talked with some of these kids. Wilben, a fourteen year old third grader from Ti-David, was one of these kids. He said he never knew his father, and his mother lives in another town. He lives with his grandmother. He told me that he had nothing to eat that morning before coming to school and often went hungry before starting school. He likes school very much and is working hard to be successful. Without school he said life would be so difficult but now he has food and a future because of this education. He also shared that he recently became a Christian.
This is what we hear from many of the children. We thank God for you for making it possible for these needy kids to be part of the Starfish Ministries’ school ministry. We really appreciate your prayers!
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp