I pray that you are all healthy and safe in this time of change and uncertainty. What always brings me peace is living in the knowledge that God is the almighty and despite my failures and iniquities He has chosen to love me. The famous verse Philippians 4:6-7 “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This pandemic has many qualities, one of the qualities that fascinate me the most is how in its own troubling way, it unites us. Covid19 doesn’t care who you are, or where you are from, it doesn’t care about race, social standing or bank account. Much like God’s love, it doesn’t discriminate. God, however, does not bring troubles, but comfort and peace in our times of trouble. Here is a quick clip of my daughter Aria recites Jeremiah 29:11.
The world is a very different place than it was just a month ago. As the rest of the world adapts, plans and prepares, so does Haiti and so does Fond des Blancs. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and 6th in the world and as such has limited resources, little government efficiency and a poor healthcare system. As of today, there are 20 confirmed cases, with only 50 or so tests administered. All schools, religious entities, and factories (some have reopened to create medical supplies) are closed. According to a 2019 study by the Research and Education consortium for Acute Care in Haiti (REACH), Haiti only has an estimated 124 ICU beds and 64 ventilators for a population of more than 11 million. Other public health experts have put those figures even lower. With ports, factories and markets (where most Haitians buy and trade goods, as depicted below) closed, there will definitely be a food shortage to go along with the numerous other obstacles that most certainly will present themselves.
In Fond des Blancs, Haiti, we are grateful for the Farm. We are harvesting and planting as quickly as we can to create as much turnover in this demanding time. We just acquired a new water reel that will help with irrigation. It can cover an area of up to 6 acres. It is a great step towards keeping everything irrigated and watered evenly. The farm has already shown great potential for stability, longevity and prosperity. It will play a crucial role in the current and coming challenges.
We anticipate some serious food shortage in Haiti in the near future and the farm is one potential answer to keeping part of Haiti fed. God has already started answering prayers as we now have the opportunity to purchase 130 acres of farmable land. 100 of it has already been part of the coop between us and the local farmers, but by purchasing this land we can make more long terms investment to make the land even more productive now and in the future. We are looking forward to expanding the footprint of the farm to between 600 and 800 acres over the next three years. Owning this parcel would allow us to implement some more permanent improvements that are difficult to do in a loose cooperative environment or leased land.
We were approached by the land owner and have come to an agreement of $250,000, down from the $525,000.00 he was asking. He has given us two months to exercise our option to buy, but he would like for us to pay him $100,000.00 this week and the remaining balance within the next two months. A big thank you to Don Van Houweling, the founder of Van Wall Equipment, who has been instrumental in creating what the farm is today and in the purchase of this critical piece of land. We are looking to raise at least $50,000 in this short term and, of course, the remaining $150,000 in the coming couple of months. We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone, as the corona virus is not only attacking our health, but in many cases our jobs and livelihoods as well. Please pray and look to what God is putting on your heart. I am asking for 100 people to donate $500 or 50 people to donate $1000. Those are not set numbers, just target to achieve, if you are comfortable donating less, please do so and if you feel called to do more, please do so. We will continue to pray and believe in our Lord and rest this challenge in His hands. We love you all and thank you for your continued support!
L’Exode, like the rest of the country has closed for the forceable future. We have, however, been able to continue building additional classrooms and a library at the secondary school, while maintaining social distancing.
Haiti’s school system is based on the Napoleonic code, which used to be the French system, although they have abandoned it since 1968. Students are subject to three sets of trimestral examinations a year, plus finals in July. We had completed two of said examinations and were preparing to administer the 3rd, but then the world changed. We are now faced with the challenge of how we determine which students get to move on to the next grade and which do not. Many students have already shown proficiency and the knowledge necessary to move on to the next grade. We must however determine an appropriate system that allows for those below this line to make their case and show that they also deserve to continue.
This pandemic, I believe, will forever change how L’Exode operates. We are continually planning and reviewing how to approach such challenges and changes. Internet and computers, I believe, will become even more prominent in education. Internet continues to be a major obstacle in Haiti and especially for rural areas like Fond-des-Blancs. We are grateful to have some internet, although often unreliable and is highly expensive. I am hoping the age of 5G will offer some solutions to this problem. If anyone has any ideas or are able to make introductions to any satellite internet providers, I would love to hear from you. We are also always in need of new and used laptops and computers, no older than 5 years. As always sponsorships remain the backbone to supporting the education of our students. Sponsorship helps purchase text books every year for every student, with textbooks, state curriculums and prices changing every year, this is no small feat. Jean Francois, our field director, does an excellent job every year of acquiring these much-needed materials.
With very capable leadership in place, I have no doubt that they will continue to devise an effective plan for these coming challenges.
Like our schools, our church services have been suspended. We are exploring different avenues to keep everyone connected. With the lack of internet as mentioned before, this is no easy task. We are looking into radio broadcasting, but receiving shipments during this time can be difficult, so we are not sure if and when we can have this up and running. Above is a video of our choir worshipping during one of our last church services.
Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. I pray for health and safety for all of you. I would love to hear how all of you are doing at this time. Please reply to email and share your thoughts, questions and prayer request.
Yours in Christ,
Please ship all physical good donations to
Jean L Thomas
MFI/HCDF – Unit 2085
3170 Airmans Drive
Fort Pierce, FL 34946
All monetary donations can still be mailed to
P.O. Box 934696
Margate, FL 33093