Giving Tuesday ~ Madi Manje

HOW-giving-tuesday2014#GivingTuesday proves that the holidays can be about both giving and giving back. It celebrates how Americans can do more with their wallets than just shop – and that we Americans can give as good as we get. It’s a special call to action and creates a national day of giving around the annual shopping and spending season to inspire giving every day.

As part of that initiative, we’re raising $1,000 or one month’s food budget for Heart of Worship School in Viard, Haiti.

Read our story below, donate and follow along with our progress!

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HOW school exterior

In March of 2011, I (Carolyn Evey, HOW Executive Director) traveled to the mountains of Haiti to visit my friend Robenson Cesar; to see the school he had recently begun.

During the first day, I observed the children and teachers. Class sizes were small, with total enrollment at just around 50 students. Grade levels had mixed ages due to the fact that most students did not have an opportunity previously to attend a school.

Beans for lunchAs the morning progressed, students were eventually dismissed for an outdoor free time. My stomach was growling and I remember feeling thankful it was lunchtime.

But no lunch came.

A young child standing by the door opened a baggie of dried beans and proceeded to pluck them out with his fingers, one by one. Four or five classmates gathered around him and simply watched him eat. After taking his picture, I fled to a private room and lost it.

When Robenson came to find me, I asked, “Where is the food???” He said to me, “C, this is what I deal with every day.”

“Food for thought is no substitute for the real thing.”  Walt Kelly

Their “recess” was more like just getting fresh air. They just didn’t have the energy to run around and be silly with their friends. As my heart was breaking over this realization and reality was hitting me full force, it occurred to me that God was about to do something. I couldn’t see their faces and then do nothing about it. In the spring of 2011 God connected me with an organization that donated bags of rice from their surplus. The children now had lunch 3 days a week.

I visited HOW again that summer to do a summer camp (like our VBS) and was asked to help sew school uniforms. In November, soon after classes resumed, the invitation came to speak about Heart of Worship at a conference for the National Day of Prayer. The day before I called the Director in Haiti and inquired of him: “How can we best pray for the school right now?” Without skipping a beat, his reply was, “C, there’s no food. Please pray for God to bring food.”

“Courage, cheerfulness, and a desire to work depend mostly on good nutrition.”  Jacob Moleschott

The other group had provided the bags of rice through the end of the previous school year but they could not continue their help into the next academic year.

The journey to help these children continued. I shared the story, prayed constantly, and the donations came in. In 2012 I launched a non-profit, which the Director of HOW School in Haiti and I chose to call Heart of Worship Ministries, Inc. A Board of Directors was formed, Bylaws written, and the application was eventually sent to the IRS for 501(c)3 status. Since August 2012 we have been pending confirmation.

Food is readyOur effort has largely been a month-by-month endeavor, and sometimes when funds are especially thin there is a temptation to worry. But God has been so good. Only by His grace, from the onset of the Lunch Program in November 2011, there has not been one month of school that the students have gone hungry while receiving their education.

School enrollment at Heart of Worship has steadily increased. From the beginning with 50 students, in this, the fourth academic year for HOW School, enrollment is at 185 students. Many children are sent to school because they know they will be fed, and in turn they receive a quality education.

LunchThinking clearly and reasoning with sound logic is much easier when bellies are full. Students play and laugh. They smile. Moreover, the general health of the children has increased exponentially since we have begun the Lunch Program.

Our cost is $50 for the whole school to have lunch in one day, or $1000 per month. Many people mistakenly believe they must give a large donation to be of any significant help. This is just not the case. Considering that $5 equals the amount for one student lunch for one month, that is really not a bite out of most people’s budget. It’s less than the price of a fast food combo meal. It’s one less latte per month. And it makes a profound difference in the lives of these children.

Uniforms 1The majority of our students are required to walk long distances over rugged terrain to come to school. Knowing there will be a lunch lifts their spirits, encourages them, sustains them through the day, boosts their memory, helps them to think clearly, smile, and playfully interact with their peers. Their overall health is better.

For God to use us to make this kind of impact is deeply rewarding and such a blessing. To think our work now may possibly reach into the future of Haiti, because the difference the school makes in the lives of the children is mind boggling.

Our goal for Giving Tuesday is to fund an entire month of meals for the school. To do that, we need to raise $1,000. Can you help?

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  Galatians 6:9-10

This is an abbreviated version of the story of Heart of Worship Ministries, Inc. For more, click here.

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