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And then, God’s Grace Shines Through! How Presbyterians Are Responding to the Call to Feed the Hungry

A Letter from Cindy Corell, serving in Haiti

November 2020

Write to Cindy Corell

Individuals: Give online to E200482 for Cindy Corell’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D507566 for Cindy Corell’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)

 


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Greetings, my friends, from Haiti, by way of Virginia. I am still here working on behalf of our Haitian partners and enjoying the four seasons. These are hard times across the world, and the U.S. and Haiti are no exceptions. Sadly, violence in Haiti continues: kidnappings, gang warfare and political assassinations occur with startling regularity. We are all relieved when someone who has gone out to visit family, purchase goods in the market or to school returns home safely.

Happily, the COVID-19 pandemic seems under control. While it is impossible to know how many people have perished from the virus, Haiti seems to have weathered the pandemic better than most countries. The government fully and quickly sealed its borders, ports, and airports on March 19, 2020 when the first infection was reported. The border to the Dominican Republic is officially closed except for goods and official business. The airports are open, and passengers must pass a negative virus infection test when they enter the airport.

So, where does this leave the average Haitian?

Families struggle more than ever to put food on the table. Parents skip meals so children can eat. In some places, many people don’t eat every day. The World Food Program warns of a coming famine if the security, political, and violent storms continue.

But even in the midst of dire poverty, violence, and a thick air of uncertainty, we, Christians, know that there is good news. God is with us at all times, and when I am facing difficult times, I do my best to remember to recognize God’s grace. During these recent crises, like I so often do, I resorted to a real fear that families in some of our hardest hit regions would not survive without an answer to this hunger.

Here is the story of how one answer came through the power of God and in the form of hearts who love Haiti.

Where and how is God’s grace showing up?
Men and women are working even harder to find funds or raise food. Fondasyon Men-lan-men Ayiti/ Hand in Hand Haiti Foundation (FONDAMA), our partner in Haiti, is initiating a project to help families build and nurture gardens at their home. It is an ambitious project. Fabienne Jean, our coordinator, has applied for a large grant, but it will be months before we hear anything. I shared this great need a few months ago, and you responded, donating almost $1,000 to FONDAMA through the Presbyterian Hunger Program. Thank you! Sadly, the need will continue to grow, especially with the Haitian economy in an uproar, so please continue to give if and when you can.

When they heard about the dire need to feed people in Haiti, members of the Presbyterian Women of The Presbyterian Church, Fredericksburg, VA, who have a community partnership with the community of Gros Morne near Leogane, asked if they could help. They responded to the need by sending several thousand dollars to FONDAMA. The small fund was growing.

Then, in September, I had a conversation with Mary Jane Winter of the Presbytery of the James’ Haiti Ministry. The Presbytery of the James has been a faithful partner to FONDAMA and me for years, sending teams to Haiti every year as well as supporting FONDAMA financially. Mary Jane Winter told me there was a possibility that the Presbytery would agree to redirect the funds set aside for travel to Haiti to FONDAMA. The amount available was $10,000. I called Fabienne. “How much would we need to get the garden project started?” I asked. She hemmed and hawed before she gave me the impossible amount.

We would need at least $10,000, she sighed. When I shared that the POJ was coming through with just that amount, Fabienne had only one word, “Wow!”

Thanks to the love, support, and creativity of the Presbytery of the James, Fabienne, and members of FONDAMA are developing a budget and an action plan. We have chosen a coordinator, Herve Delisma, who assisted in a similar program after the earthquake of 2010. He will teach families in the hardest-hit areas to reuse old tires, learn how to make compost-rich soil, plant seeds, nurture produce to harvest, and save those seeds for another season.

There is hope in Haiti. It lies in the people who live there who love their neighbors. Hope lies in you, Presbyterians, who respond to the call for help – in large and surprising ways. I rarely have to deliver such a dire report of current events in Haiti. It is even rarer that I can give you the good news – wrapped up in bows of deep gratitude – that we have a plan that will bring God’s love directly to our friends in Haiti.

You and Presbyterians around the U.S. sent me to Haiti. You support me with prayer, financial support, and accompaniment. You invite me into your homes and churches, and you visit me in mine.

Thank you for all you have offered our dear friends and me in Haiti. They are in great need, and they believe in the hope of Jesus Christ. It is in this hope that we long and plan for the day when we again can be with our friends, to hold their hands, to hear their stories, and to discover how we can continue our sharing in God’s love together.

To help fund Yard Gardens in Haiti, please use this link to give online https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/h000014/. When giving online, write “FONDAMA gardens” in the box that states: “Comments/Instructions/Name of local congregation.”

If you prefer to send in a check, please write “FONDAMA gardens” in the memo line and mail to:

Presbyterian Church (USA)
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700

The generous donations to this hunger alleviation project have been enough to get the work started. The dire need to feed families continue to grow, however. FONDAMA’s goal at this point is to match the amount we hope to receive in grants: $25,000. Please consider helping families in Haiti grow food at their homes.

With gratitude

Cindy


Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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