Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Putting a Bandaid On

  I wanted to share this experience from Haiti. As I get ready to go again in less than 2 weeks, I think about these people, who are just like you and I. They crave love, acceptance, forgiveness, hope, and comfort. They desire close relationships and value their families.  Remembering that we are created equal, in the image of God--Imago Dei--is essential in how we approach these beautiful people.  They may be the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, but their lives, hopes, and dreams matter. 
Our view as we begin our trek.

Boys from the village met us and wanted to help carry our things.

The sun slowly made its ascent as we worked our way up to Massikot. It was a rugged 3 hour hike up a mountain.  While the land was barren in so many ways, there was still beauty as the sun rays shone over the valleys behind us. We traveled with donkeys which were laden with “Manna Packs,” bags of dry rice/soybean fortified blend. We occasionally passed a dwelling, saw a few locals, heard babies crying, saw smoldering fire.  When a local woman would pass by, often with a basket on her head, she would look so serious until she sang her greeting with a wide smile, “Bonjou!”  

When we finally reached Massikot, we began immediately. The feeding program had begun in December. Kids who had been registered for the program in November had been receiving meals twice per week. “What do they eat the rest of the week?” I asked Krista, volunteer coordinator for the Artisan program. “They use clay and make them into ‘cookies’, dry them in the sun, and feed them to their children to fill their bellies.” My mind still is uncomprehending.

We began to work immediately, getting children’s names, ages, and pictures.  Getting the system organized is a huge task in itself. Children had been filing into the mercifully cool church building hours before the meal, sitting patiently on benches. Older kids—elementary age—held their baby siblings and shushed the younger toddlers. It was a scene not familiar to me in the U.S.  A few parents stood in the back or outside the building.  I wondered how they felt about us coming in? Humbled? Humiliated? Thankful? Relieved? Hopeful?
The kids were so happy eating!

While we were methodically working through the process, local women were in the outdoor “kitchen” cooking food.  When we were done, they came in and served the kids.  It was amazing how the kids’ energy level rose after eating!  We went outside, where the kids sang, and we taught them The Wave! 

Going home, many kids without shoes.
Before leaving, a young child (not wearing shoes, like so many), had scraped his toe. Thankfully, I had brought a little 1st Aid Kit from the Dollar Tree. I cleaned the scratch and wrapped the little toe with the help of Renee, who traveled with me from Eugene.  Soon, another small child was screaming after scraping his foot. I cleaned it off and applied a band aid. This was becoming a cool thing. Before I knew it, a mom came to me, showing me a very deep wound on the top of her foot.  It was not “fresh.” I imagine it was several days old. I cleaned her foot with an antibacterial wipe and found a large band aid in that little cheesy first aid kit.  I carefully laid it over the wound, wishing I had brought Neosporin.  Friends, it was in that moment that I realized that we were literally putting band aids on the problems.  It was a sobering thought.  And at the same time, we are bringing them Jesus, and he is bigger and better than anything else I can offer.

Seeing the kids in the 3 different feeding programs is heartbreaking—distended bellies, orange hair—signs of malnutrition, parasites, and bacterial infections.  Yet, it is amazing to see that the program is REAL, it’s happening, and kids are getting fed, even if only twice a week. I am excited that I get to go back to one of the programs in a couple of weeks.  I look forward to seeing how this program is making a difference.

In addition to going to the feeding program, I will be with a team of women, teaching ladies how to sew.  I'm still raising support for my trip. If you are interested in helping, please make a check to "UFC" with my name in the memo-Jessica Ubel Haiti Trip.  You can mail it to 25 W. 25th, Eugene, OR 97408.

For more information on the feeding programs and how you can help Chances For Children, here is their website. http://www.chances4children.org/ They are an amazing organization.  

Finally, here is a list of sewing items we need, preferably before Sunday 8/9, but we can accept items though Sunday 8/16.  Thank you!
The cooked meal is ready!

Fabric--need nice, clean, fashionable fabric to create clothing, purses, and bags.  Please nothing smaller than a "fat quarter" (18" x 22").  Larger pieces, at least 1/2 yard and bigger would be great for skirts, bags, and dresses.
Scissors--mini scissors, dressmaker's scissors, and regular scissors, new or in good condition.
Straight Pins
Needles--hand sewing
Needles--universal sewing needles
Fabric Pens (for marking patterns, not permanent)
Seam rippers
See-Through Rulers
Scotch Tape
Drawstring (cord)
Elastic (3/4"-1")
8" x 10" batting pieces or larger
Interfacing (light fusible & medium sew-in)
12" zippers
Sew-in Snaps
Extra bobbins or other parts for BROTHER sewing machines (Walmart carries some of these products.)

Will also take some ribbon, rick-rack, bias tape, and other decorative trim.

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