Three of us will be traveling to Haiti next week to work at Mama Baby Haiti, a birthing center in Cap Haitian that employs Haitian trained nurse midwives. They have received a grant from Dining for Women which allows them to expand their program to include well woman care. A community health worker will be trained to educate area women about sexually transmitted disease, contraception and cervical cancer screening. The goal of our trip is to train midwives, physicians and nurses in the technique of cervical cancer screening with VIA(visual inspection with acetic acid). 285,000 women die each year of cervical cancer, 85% of them in the developing world. Read more
by Leslee Jaeger
My April 2015 trip to Haiti will mark the 10th year since I first journeyed to the island in 2006. Just as my parenting methods have evolved over the past 24 years, so have my views and methods of “helping” others, both here and abroad. For the first time, the April trip will involve much more teaching and not as much doing, as we work to train midwives in methods of cervical cancer screening and treatment. More information about this venture can be found here.
Haiti is an example of how too much “helping” by outsiders (usually Americans) can be a disadvantage. Too many projects have been started or promised and never finished… Read more
Thank you to those of you who contributed during our Give to the Max Day fundraiser. While we were not as successful financially this year as we had been the previous year, we were able to increase the awareness of our organization.
While we were in Haiti last week we were able to meet with many of the microfinance recipients. These 135 women continue to have a 100% payback rate and are eager for larger loans and loans for their friends and relatives. It was difficult to explain to them that we do not have an unending supply of money to distribute and if we increase the size of the current loans ($200), it will mean less loans available in the future. American seems like the land of never ending funds when you see mission groups arrive at the airport daily and spend money hiring translators and eating in restaurants.
One women wanted to impress on us the ongoing benefits of the loan program. While she is able to use the profits from her business to send her children to school, the unemployment rate when children graduate from high school is still very high. Alcoholism and petty crime is increasingly more of an issue in rural villages as young men have no jobs and ample spare time. Other young adults travel to surrounding islands for employment, where they are often treated poorly and are far from family support. The hope of these mothers is that more loans will create more local business opportunities and allow children to stay home after they finish school, working with their parents.
Many aid organizations in Haiti have worked diligently to build schools, making an education possible for children. Helping Haiti Work is taking the next step in Ranquitte and Limbe to help to create job opportunities for families. Consider a donation that will help us to fund more loans.
Jeff and Leslee Jaeger, and Tim Neary are on volunteer medical mission and sending updates on Helping Haiti Work projects. Leslee stresses the importance of your donations to promote women’s businesses in northern Haiti:
3 years ago we started a cervical cancer screening program. Yesterday it became very apparent why this education and screening is necessary. We diagnosed 3 women with end stage cervical cancer. One of these women will probably die in a few weeks, another is only 34 years old and has 5 children that depend on her. Even in the US, these women have such advanced disease that they would only be eligible for hospice type treatment. The screening test is simple, taking only 5 minutes and costing 50 cents in supplies. Precancerous changes can be caught early and easily treated with a 90% cure rate. Unfortunately, all of these women have had their disease for many years and will die of a disease that is the number one cause of cancer death for women in the developing world. We are working to expand our program, teaching local physicians and nurses how to screen and treat. Later today 2 of our nurses will visit a local church and provide education to a women’s group. When we visit our micofinance recipients this week, we encourage them to bring their friends for screening and to spread the word about the preventive services available. The microfinance women are leaders in their community and are respected for their business knowledge. We hope they will also be listened to when they spread the word about cervical cancer. By funding more loans, we will be able to involve more women in not only businesses, but also to serve a role models for their communities.
This great event will occur October 4th, 2014. We will gather at Tim Nearys home, 162 Peninsula Road, Medicine Lake, MN , promptly at 7:00PM.
We are inviting everyone who has had a hand in supporting all the microfinance projects that Helping Haiti Work has proposed over the last few years to celebrate our accomplishments and look forward to new endeavors. Now is the time to turn your support to the renewable menstrual pads development which will be sold and distributed in Haiti. An evening of drinks and desserts will be served while learning about the manufacturing and distribution of renewable menstrual pads. Please invite any friends who are willing to help in any way.
Over 70 women attended our first menstrual pad awareness event held on July 15th at Messiah UMC in Plymouth. The first part of the evening was spent hearing about the need for reusable feminine hygiene in the developing world, how the lack of resources impacts a young girls’ ability to attend school, and the development of a sewing center that constructs the pads as part of our microfinance program. Special guests from Zimbabwe shared their stories about how universal the need is for these products. The evening ended with those in attendance cutting and sewing some of the menstrual hygiene kit components for later distribution. Donations totaled $745 to be used in supporting the sewing center.
While in Haiti last week on a medical mission trip, 2 of our board members took a side trip to Ranquitte for 24 hours to see first hand the initial loan group of 7 women and distribute solar powered cell phone chargers to the second group of 5 women. Father Charles, the priest who has assisted us with finding the local women, meet us at the airport in Cap Haitian and then drove us the 2 hours over 30 miles of rutted, pothole filled roads into the mountains of the central part of the island. We crossed 3 streams by driving thru them and then wound our way up the side of a mountain, descending into the valley between mountains where Ranquitte is situated. We were quite impressed by the cleanliness of the paved main street and even filled garbage receptacles by the side of the road. Father Charles gave us a tour of the school that he has started, currently with an enrollment of 400 students at a cost of $12 per year.
Since Ranquitte has no electricity, all work occurs during daylight hours. The Catholic church service started at 7 am and lasted for 2 hours. Following mass, we met with all of the microfinance women and gave instructions on the new cell phone chargers. It was during this part of our visit that we learned that one of our loan recipients had walked 4 hours from her home in the mountains to be at the 7 am mass and receiver her charger. Most of her walk had to have been in the dark if she arrived in Ranquitte at 7 am.
Another of the original recipients had been widowed and left with 5 children, in addition to another 5 children of her sisters when she also died. She said that the extra money she made with the loan program was helping to provide for one meal a day for her family. This woman traveled that long road to Cap Haitian each week to buy gasoline and then resell in smaller quantities to motorcycle owners in town. All of the women were proud to show us their credit books, with on time payments made each week and the amount to be paid back decreasing. They were eager to pay off their loans so that they could qualify for a second, larger loan and expand their businesses.
A $200 loan to these woman will probably not move them from poverty to a middle class life. However, it will make poverty a little easier when you can count on one meal a day and possibly enrolling your children in the school so that they can have a brighter future.
Our second loan group of 7 women successfully paid off their $200 loans and were awarded a second loan of $225. Thus far, we have had 100% payback on our loans. Word has spread of the microfinance program and there are now 50 women on a waiting list for loans. A group of 10 new women in Limbe will start the microfinance program later this week. This program is making an immediate difference in Haitian lives. I would love to see all of the women on the waiting list benefit from our program before the end of 2013. Consider donating to help us make this happen.