By Harry Covert
CITE SOLEIL, Haiti — I was on a working visit to Port au Prince, Haiti, a few weeks ago. The people are so poor they make “DIRT COOKIES” and sell them for 2¢ each. I saw how they are made — with dirt, salt and butter or lard. Then put on cardboard to dry in the sun. We went to the community in Cite Soleil, the poorest, the dirtiest and the neediest place in the world, bar none. I’ve been sending containers of food and clothing for a long time. I’ve been seeing first hand our facilities. Taken lots of photos. I had a picture taken with a 108 year-old woman at the Sisters of Mercy sanitarium. She was spry and talkative–Sister Charles vouched for her age. She had been married in 1920 at 19. Others there were elderly and crippled, truly infirm and it was spotless. The other facilities are indescribable at the moment. I am worn out emotionally and exhausted physically.
There are so many street children, from one year up, which it makes you cry. Tiny infants crawling around the dirt and mud while other older children just run around in the muck and mire and the open-air sewer. Our visit was to inspect the Good Samaritan Foundation, a church of about 400 poor as can be people and with a school for boys and girls from ages 3&4 to 17. The pastor is only able to feed the children once a week and it’s usually the only meal they get — rice, beans. On Monday, fried chicken legs were included, one to each child. You have never seen such orderly classrooms — cute kids in uniforms quiet as mice and minding the teacher. We helped pass out aluminum bowls of food to 600 children — at one point, we were scared there wasn’t going to be enough to go around. At the end, we distributed a cup of fortified milk. They all were fed in 95-degee plus heat.
In a combined effort of World Emergency Relief-United Kingdom, Stichting Wereld Nood Hulp (World Emergency Relief-Holland) and Ripples of Hope, a project of International Relief Federation, we’re going to raise enough food so these kids can eat every day at school. Otherwise, they won’t be eating but once a week.
A one-time gift of $650 will feed the 150 school children for one month.
The six-piece church band, made up of the school’s boys and girls, played The Star Spangled Banner, first to welcome me, then the U. S. Army anthem, the Caissons Keep Rolling Along, and then several others. The band had two trumpets, trombone, drums, guitar, and saxophone. It was motivation.
Our team included Alex Haxton, WER-UK chief executive, Russell Griggs of Cross International, Haitian Pastor Astrel Vincent and myself. We had dinner with the German Ambassador to Haiti. He was delightful. He had been Germany’s ambassador to North Korea. That was an interesting experience he said. I’ll be writing moe about this shortly.#