July, 2020 HCDF Newsletter

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Thank you to all of you who donated, created fundraising pages and given support towards our goal of raising $260,000 for the purchase of 130 acres of farm land. I am happy to announce that with the inclusion of the K2 Foundation’s $80,000, we have now raised $197,670.96. That is amazing! We are now so close! One final push can get us there, please visit Jubilee Farm Campaign. This campaign link provides everyone the platform to easily create an individual fundraising page that can be used to reach countless charitable people within our networks. I believe there are many within our own networks that are searching for ways to make a change in the world, a place they can believe and know is making a difference. They just need someone to reach out to them, and that someone can be you. HCDF’s believes in holistic ministry, in creating a community made out of love, and we work towards creating a self-sustaining community that raises people first and seeks to bring God’s will and Kingdom down on earth as it is in Heaven.

Farm

The farm is a great blessing. We were recently able to distribute food to 150 of the most vulnerable in our community. Drought continues to devastate surrounding farmers and communities. Subsistence agriculture farmers are all losing their crops. For thousands of Haitians, this has been their main means of survival for centuries. With erosion, climate change, droughts, natural disasters subsistence farming is becoming more and more precarious. With the introduction of mechanized farming and working in cooperation with local farmers we can help create a more sustainable way of farming that can withstand these challenges and not only feed a community, but allow it to thrive and prosper.

L’Exode School

We are excited for the continued construction of the preschool campus and our secondary campus. The library for the secondary school is starting to take shape and the same for the new pre-school cafeteria. I always like to tease that the current students have got it easy, when I attended L’Exode we all had to stand to eat at our cardboard and cinder block tables. The new classrooms should also start to take shape in the next couple of weeks and I cannot wait to see them.

The government is looking to reopen school starting in August. However, we do not feel comfortable reopening at this time. There is still so much unknown, and we do not think that the health of our students and families is worth the risk of exposing them a typical classroom. We will be providing opportunities for students who did not achieve a passing grade in the first two semesters, to improve their grades. This will be done with social distancing and mask. Classrooms will only hold up to 10 students. Our biggest obstacle, in this current climate, to providing school for our students is internet and computers. The number of people who have these is so miniscule, that it is just easier to say no one has them. If you are reading this on a laptop or PC and are thinking about getting a new, sleek and powerful to lookup vacation trips that you hope will be a thing again soon, or just want to get rid of it so you children talk to you again, please consider donating your old one to us. Tell Google and Facebook that they can have all my data, if they will provide internet for the Fond des Blancs community.

Church

The Haitian government has allowed the reopening of churches again. Fond des Blancs Baptist church held its first service on July 12 since closing several weeks ago. Sadly, the government has issued no opening safety guidelines or assistance to anyone. To try to keep everyone as safe as possible our church now provides three Sunday services and a form is filled by everyone for the times that best suits them. Thermometers are also on hand to measure everyone’s body temperature before entering the building. Mask are also distributed to those who do not have one. With the support of ADF.org we installed hand washing stations. We pray these precautions will keep everyone safe and healthy.

Jean and Joy’s retirement home

In some good news, the construction of my parent’s retirement home is underway. They have been serving in Fond des Blancs for almost 40 years. Their impact is nearly impossible to measure. They have lived their lives on the foundation of Jesus’s calling in Luke 4: 18-19 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
They have sought to bring the kingdom here on earth as it is in Heaven. I love to dream of a world where we all work together to free prisoners of abuse, help those in need to rise and stand on their own, and release those weighed down by the bondage of oppression. A world where we cast aside our petty difference and stop waiting for God to come and “save” us, but choose to go to Him instead. I got to live some of that through my parent’s ministry. We are all created in God’s image, we have all been given the capacity to love unconditionally and we all have been given the light of God in our hearts, but it is up to each of us to decide how much of that light we share with others. My parents have shared that love and light brightly and unconditionally. Help me pray in blessing their new home.

Signature Row at End

April, 2020 HCDF Newsletter

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Church

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

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,

Lémec Thomas

P.S
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

HCDF May 2014 Newsletter

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Hi Everyone. I am not sure our news from Fond-des-Blancs comes as often as it has in the past, but we are still here and doing well.

We held our first of two annual board meetings at the end of March. Eight HCDF board members came to Fond-des-Blancs for visiting, meetings, and evaluations. We are pleased to announce that our oldest son, Lemec, and his wife, Tara, have joined the board. Phil Reed, the longtime president of the board was not able to attend so Lon Fendall presided over the meetings. Since he is the one that normally records the minutes of the meetings that job was given to Tara with Lon typing up the last version of the minutes for all the members present and absent. There were two main focuses of the meetings: the agricultural (farm) project and the Caleb project. There were also short reviews of the churches, schools, and of course, the budget.

The farm project is about five miles away from where the meetings were being held so all the board members went on a field trip to see the land. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much more than that for them to see at that time. We were still working on getting farm equipment and supplies in two large containers out of customs. It took months of paper work and phone calls and negotiations to get them from the wharf of Port-au-Prince to the Fond-des-Blancs area. I am happy to report that they are now in our possession and positioned where they will serve as part of the walls for the parking and storage shed for the farm equipment and materials. Darwin, the retired Iowan farmer dedicated to helping us, will soon be returning to help get things started. He will be driving some more machines from Iowa to Florida to be shipped to Haiti so we will be dealing with customs again. We appreciate your continued prayers for this project.

The plan is to plant cash crops such as corn and millet, transform and market them. The profit and part of the harvest will be used to feed the children in our schools.

The Caleb project is in the middle of its second year of a three year commitment. You probably know there are six young men participating in this program. They have all chosen communities where they have begun churches and development projects. They spend four days a week in their communities and three days a week in class with Jean. This week we had a visitor that gave them an excellent seminar on how to write project proposals. She also gave them homework to help them attempt to put into practice what they learned from her. The board members divided up into six groups so that each community could be visited. The visits were to assess each student’s commitment and involvement in their communities. They all came back with great insights of what is going well and suggestions of what also could be done or tweaked. The board members were impressed with this beginning and the students were excited to have the visitors.

During the board meetings Jean and I recognized our 33rd wedding anniversary and Tara celebrated her 26th birthday. She and Lemec were able to stay a few days longer so they got a second trip to the beach and we had the pleasure of having them around.

Jean and I remain in excellent health. For the past year I have been in the process of getting two new teeth implants. These are replacing a worn out crown and bridge. They were finally put in place the day after my birthday. I also had a root canal done that day. It was uncomfortable, but a relief and a blessing to have all that work completed.

The months of May and June are busy months for all the students. They are currently involved in an intra-school soccer tournament. This is the first year so many schools are participating to make it an actual tournament. The 6th graders and the 9th graders are both studying for their government exams. Please pray especially for them. Both Mother’s Day and Flag Day will see fun activities for everyone.

Pray for the Caleb students as they continue to integrate into their chosen communities. Pray that the agricultural project will soon be off to a good start. This past Sunday 24 believers from the main church and the satellite churches were baptized. Pray for their continued growth in the Lord. Even though not everything happens on our timetable, do praise the Lord with us that ministry and development are still happening here.

Yours in Christ,

Joy

Do You Have a Working Laptop to Donate?

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We only have 10 working computers to share between 100 students. We’d like to increase it to 25 — four instead of ten student per computer. If you have working laptops that you would be willing to donate, please contact me to arrange shipment of the computers.

Would you prayerfully consider joining us in this project or any other? Your partnership in joining what God is doing in Haiti to help the people of Fond-des-Blancs is a tangible expression of Christ’s words in Matthew 25:40: “Anything you did for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” You can make an online contribution here via our website. We also invite all of our supporters to see for themselves how their financial and prayer support helps exemplify the love of Christ in providing for the basic needs of the poor; if you are interested in visiting us in Fond-des-Blancs, please let us know and we’ll be in touch to help you arrange a trip. In the spirit of of proclaiming good news to the poor, we are grateful for you and the work that God has called us to.

More Student Sponsors Sought

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The numbers in L’Exode schools continue to rise, and with the addition of university-supported students, there is a great need for more student sponsors. Of our 1,500 students, less than 10% of L’Exode students currently have sponsors. The annual contribution is $300, which can be paid in one lump sum, monthly or quarterly. This amount covers school fees, their uniform, a hot meal each day, and their school supplies for the year. You may select a boy or a girl and you are welcome to visit your sponsored child during a visit to the area. In addition, we help sponsors keep in touch with their children through online correspondence and sponsors are welcome to send gifts to their children for their birthdays and the Easter and Christmas holidays.

Shipping Fees for Farm Equipment Needed

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A national program that supplied food for the schools in our region closed this year. This left us with an urgent need of resources to feed the children in our schools. To fill that void, as well as provide the Fond-des-Blancs community with increased food production, income, and job opportunities, an Agricultural Coop venture will begin in early 2014. The project, which will ultimately include production on 100 acres, has already received encouraging support through a couple of successful pilot projects, local participation, and the generous contributions of materials by several donors. However, we still need approximately $70,000 for shipping and custom fees to get all the farm equipment, generators, storage containers, etc. to the farm.

Top Graduates of L’Exode Secondary School Offered University Scholarships

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To break the vicious cycle of poverty and superstition, HCDF has been offering a quality education to the children of the community since the 1980s. Currently L’Exode educational programs include over 1,500 students in HCDF-supported schools across seven campuses. Responding to the tragic destruction of so many high schools in the 2010 earthquake, HCDF launched its own high school in 2012, partnering with University of Tennessee Knoxville in the US to assure the buildings are durable in earthquakes and other storms. The academic standards at L’Exode schools are as high as any in Haiti. HCDF began extending even greater opportunities this year for its top high school graduates by offering university scholarships to advance beyond high school and then return to the community in leadership roles. We finished some critical areas of the main campus this year, which includes five classrooms, a library, a computer lab room, a cafeteria, and restroom facilities. Much remains to be done but the campus is already a beacon for the community.

Caleb Leadership Program Update

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To assure that there is a new generation of leaders for the holistic community development programs, churches, and schools, HCDF began the “Caleb Project” in October 2012, a three-year, intensive training program for promising young leaders. The six current students, pictured here with the HCDF Field Director — from L to R: Evetual Theicien, Smith Fauvelt, Jean Francois Thalon (Field Director), Sheslaire Georges, Jean Joab St Louis, Kemsom Lumoy, and Eddie Edouard — have been learning throughout the year, and have already selected areas that are in need around the perimeter of Fond-des-Blancs. They are currently dividing their time between Fond-des-Blancs in continued course work and hands-on learning, and their respective communities where they are focusing on the most pressing needs and positioning themselves as leaders in those communities.