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 January 2020 Newsletter

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HHello Family and Friends,
What a blessed time the holidays, Christmas and New Years are! It is honestly my favorite time of year! its a time that really brings people together; a time that provides us the opportunity to look at the world through a lens of love, put aside our petty differences and remember that our Lord Jesus Christ came down to live among us, share our struggles and die for us.
His message wasn’t one of condemnation, separation or of nationalism, but of love and salvation for everyone. I love the Haiti Christian Development (fund) and our supporters with all my heart because everything that we do is guided by His message. HCDF’s guiding light and mission has always been to bring good news to the poor. How else do you bring good news if it is not with love? What wonderful news it is to know that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, but that you are loved by an almighty God, the alpha and the omega, and that He has a place for you with Him and in His presence for eternity.
We start this year with great anticipation, joy, love and thankfulness. Last year was filled with so much blessing and growth! Thank you to everyone for your steadfast stewardship last year. Our Lord’s hand is truly on Fond des Blancs and HCDF, and his impact is undeniable. Through natural disaster, political unrest and an ever-changing world, Fond des Blancs can truly be seen as a community like no other. It is truly a community of togetherness; a community where everyone is welcomed and loved. Our passion at HCDF is to continue that legacy and open this new decade with servant hearts, open arms, thankfulness and love. Thank you to everyone for supporting HCDF! Our connection to one another is greater than earthly bonds; our connection is certainly heavenly bound!

 

Lémec Thomas
Development Director

Current updates:
In good news, Haiti’s unrest seems to have subsided. It is now once again safe to travel in and out of the city of Port of Prince.

Church

The church celebrated the new year with a week of a week of awakening as a prelude to the new year. The church brought in the New Year at midnight together with worship and fellowship.
Baptism were held last week.Several young people gave their testimony and dedicated their lives to our Lord and Savior.

Decade in Review:
HCDF and Haiti had what some could call an adventurous 2010 decade. The previous decade started about as terrifying and bad as decade can begin for an impoverished country like Haiti. We were hit with a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that literally shook the fabric Haiti’s existence. We lost of friends and loved ones, feared an uncertain future filled with more questions than answers. But through the hardship and despair Thousands of Haitians worship Jesus in the streets.
Fond des Blancs responded in kind and God has provided. The previous decade brought new schools, new leaders, a farm and more.

Please watch this video:

Pre-School

We are nearing the completion of phase one of the pre-school construction. We will be beginning the second phase this year. We are eternally grateful for the support from our friends in Iowa; Sukup Manufacturing and Vanwall equipment !

Farm

The farms continues to be a blessing.We will be harvesting our first corn crop of 2020 in March. We however have been struck with some bad news. Our dear friend Darwin, who has been instrumental in the creation and growth of the farm suffered a serious hand injury while working on some farm equipment. He was so excited to come back for another visit from Iowa and set up some new equipment and train our local farmers on how to use them, but sadly this will not be so for the foreseeable future.  He was able to get bandaged up at the local hospital and has since been flown back home for more extensive treatment. Please keep Darwin in your prayers and pray for a full recovery.

Secondary School

Despite the unrest in the country and other set backs were able to continue construction of new classrooms at all levels of Exode’s school. Thank you to everyone for your generous donations and support. The kids now have beautiful, light filling classrooms.

Primary

We are nearing completion on adding a new cafeteria and multiple classrooms for the primary school. Before this new cafeteria the students would stand and eat outside under a tree.

HCDF October 2019 Newsletter

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Haiti is going through some very serious struggles right now. Issues that are affecting the fabric of its existence and the livelihood of everyone living there. Please take a moment to read this article by Keston K Perry, it really hits on the history of Haiti and how that has led to where Haiti is today.

Despite the unrest in Haiti, Fond des Blancs and HCDF are moving forward safely, though not untouched by the issues facing the rest of the country. The Exode school is the only school in the area to continually be open and operating since opening day on September 9th. Construction at the primary school has come to a halt because of the inability to garner more construction materials and cement due to the fuel shortage. The local market gathering that happens every Friday where a majority of people get the weekly shopping done is still happening, but with much less product to sell which is causing a rise in prices. Roads leading in and out of Port au Prince are either blocked, burned or barricaded. The effects of this current crisis can be felt across all institutions in Haiti.

We are not sure when and how this crisis will end, but are thankful to God for always watching over Fond des Blancs and HCDF. Your prayers are being answered and your support are a continued blessing.

– Lémec Thomas, Development Director

First Day of School

The first day of school was very exciting for all the students, especially the primary school and preschool. The primary school has been open for almost 30 years and just got its first paint job. It is beautiful beyond words and the joy and pride it brings to all the students to have such a beautiful school is priceless. We thank all of our donors for their support and prayers. We strive to continue bringing Christ, joy and smiles to all our students everyday and that work never ends. Please help us continue this great work by donating, sponsoring and sharing your love story for HCDF to others. For more information on how to do that, please see the end of this newsletter for my contact info, donating info and social media info.

(Click on any of the pictures below to select a child to sponsor.)

Farming

Last season’s harvest was distributed among the participating farmers last week. The farm is able to produce three plantings a year and the farmers receive a share proportional to the amount of land they have in the project. HCDF has the lion’s share of the land being farmed and its share goes to feeding the students at the school. One thousand (1,000) meals are served every school day, and to many of the students it is a lifesaver. The need for the farm becomes ever more clear as the acquisition of food and natural good becomes more and more scarce.The farm and its continued growth and success is crucial to the self suitability of the Fond des Blancs community and beyond.

HCDF Supporter of the Month: Dixie Noble

This video was created as a memorial for Lowell who went to be with the Lord last June.

“A pair of the dearest and longest supporters of the ministry in Fond-des-Blancs are Lowell and Dixie. Lowell went to be with the Lord last June. The following video is a memorial to his contribution to the Kingdom of God. Dixie is a prayer warrior. She is now having to continue  her mission here without the loving support of Lowell. They have been as a mother and father to me. We are eternally indebted to them for their support and generosity.”

– Jean L Thomas, Founder/President of HCDF

 

“Lowell and I stayed connected with Jean and Joy (founders of HCDF) since the first time we met. We were inspired by what we saw and heard was happening in this very rural town that was practically untouched by any type of Christian Community Development (CCD). With HCDF, CCD is truly thriving; there is now a school with 1000 students, a church with seven satellite churches, credit union, and a farm. They have also done reforestation, water projects and more.

HCDF has also inspired and trained 6 young men, who have taken HCDF’s CCD model and applied it to 6 other communities. These wonderful young men and their families are answering Jesus’ call and bringing CCD to these very rural and deprived communities.

Lowell and I felt so blessed to have been exposed to HCDF. With very little to no overhead, when we give to HCDF, it goes directly to the people in need.

We love to support a place where God is transforming lives and shalom is coming.”

– Dixie Noble

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HCDF November 2016 Newsletter

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T“hough the fig trees do not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops fail and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I (we) will rejoice in God my Savior.”

Habakkuk 3:17 & 18

Dear Friends and Family,

The above verses perfectly describe our community in Haiti.  As we have seen in the past, the Haitian people are of strong wills and strong faith.  They do not give up easily and they are not giving up now.  Their crops are corn, peanuts, plantain, beans, papayas, as opposed to figs, grapes, and olives, but the loss is just as real and the rejoicing and hope for the future is just the same.

Fond-des-Blancs was severely hit and damaged during the storm of Hurricane Matthew.  We are very grateful that we did not have any loss of life in our area, but there is damage in many other ways.  Everyone lost their gardens and many of their animals both of which are crucial to their daily livelihoods.

Our first response was to send the bulldozer to be the first to get out on the road to start the clean up to allow traffic to flow again so supplies could get into the area.  Schools in the area were closed for a week so the buildings and yards could get cleaned and dried.  They are all open and functioning again.  We have begun giving tuition assistance to all our students to allow their parents to use those resources to fix their homes or start their gardens again.  Through the churches and in-community surveys of needs, financial assistance is being and will be given to those most in need.    The first aid is going to families of those in our church, however the aid won’t stop there.  We are here for all citizens of Fond-des-Blancs and the surveys that have been completed will ensure that those with the most urgent needs will be at the forefront of receiving assistance.

Many, many trees went down everywhere including our yard.  We still cook with charcoal at the schools and these trees will be repurposed to become charcoal which will be used for the cooking of food for the students.

Everything at the farm was destroyed.  We had one small patch that was not destroyed during the middle of the storm, but then the rain kept coming and destroyed that patch also.  However, we did have a reserve of corn in the grain bins which were not ruined so we are still able to feed the students temporarily.    We will use the extra assistance donations coming in to buy food for them until another crop from the farm can be planted and harvested.

A group of six people, all who have come before and worked together before even though they are from three different states (Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky) came to put the roof back on the multi-purpose building.  They worked tirelessly to get this done which they did plus a few other extra jobs.  We are grateful to them, their families and their churches for making it possible for them to come.

“The Sovereign Lord is my (our) strength; He makes my (our) feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me (us) to tread on the heights.”  Habakkuk 3:19   We continue to move forward.

Your prayers and generosity have been a major encouragement to us and the people of Fond-des-Blancs and we hope you understand that.

Yours in Christ,

 

Joy Thomas