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Planning Mission Thomas Food Project REPORT
The Thomas Food Project is a UMC project consisting of a series of programs for sustainable methods of transitioning humanitarian relief to humanitarian assistance and ultimately self-reliance.
“It is hot. Every day in Haiti things begin to happen without us and with us at the same time. Ginette, Vanitte and Cynthia rise early before sunrise every single day. They gather kindling and start a fire. Breakfast is being made. Fruit is squeezed and sliced, coffee is brewed and spaghetti is cooking. Our table is set with peanut butter, jelly, ketchup and honey. Bread on the table covered and we are waiting for all of us to gather before a prayer is given. We rotate the pleasure and today James says our morning worship in Creole and translates it to English for us. He and Stiven sing a hymn. It is a good way to begin the day.......we have lots to do.”
(Excerpt from Warren McGuffin’s journal)
Our mission team, consisting of myself, Terry Sherman, Sara Glazebrook and Sean Ryan, recently spent eight days in Haiti to engage in planning for the implementation of the Thomas Food Project. Our plane landed on September 27 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city which was devastated in the January 2010 earthquake (and has not yet recovered). We stayed overnight at the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) guest house in Pétion-Ville. The guest house is the old Swiss Embassy now owned by the Englise Methodist Church of Haiti (EMH), and serves as a transit point for mission volunteers.
While in Pétion-Ville, we met with the President (Bishop) of EMH and the education director to discuss plans for a computer center in Thomas and four other schools. We discussed the Project and the computer curriculum. Only 20% of the teachers are computer literate. Lots of training to do.
The next day we rode for two hours in the back of a tap tap (beautifully decorated pick-up trucks used to transport people in Haiti) to Thomas. On our way, we stopped at a computer supply store in Port-au-Prince to get pricing and also visited Access Haiti to get a quote on the cost of internet access. In Thomas, we stayed the week at the home of James Lazarre’s grandfather. James is the in-country manager for the Project. Although sparsely furnished, the house is a nice home with tiled floors to help keep it cool. Running water is not available and electricity is intermittent. Food is cooked over charcoal. Water is not potable and we drank only bottled water.
The team accomplished the following during our stay:
· Completed a site survey of the Thomas Methodist campus by measuring and documenting the structures and grounds for the benefit of mission teams that will be on site in the next few months to improve the water delivery system for the facilities, paint the interior and exterior, repair the church roof, implement a new cooking area, build gardens, install computers for the children to use and for a cyber-café, install solar panels to provide electricity, and install a new septic system and bathrooms.
· Met with Inveneo representatives to plan for internet access at the school. Inveneo is a non-profit organization that provides sustainable computing and broadband technology to those who need it most in the developing world. Inveneo partners are the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Microsoft, HP, World Vision, and Voila Foundation.
· Delivered a water purification system purchased with money donated by Sandy Bennion’s children’s ministry and the Methodist Men, and trained three Project team members to operate it. Terry willingly drank the first cup of purified water.
· Met with a local furniture maker to build furniture for the computer rooms.
· Assessed and planned for the use of a computer room and for campus security. Appointed Reuben Julien as security manager for the Project,
· Distributed dresses and other things from nan misyon ansanm, Dawn Boyd’s small group. Thanks to Dawn, Donna Lindquist and the many women who did outstanding work (Bon Travay!) making dresses and packing them for us to take to Haiti. The children and adults loved the dresses. They were beautiful in them and smiles were everywhere.
· Traveled three hours in a tap tap to the mountain town of Hinche to investigate and plan for a school lunch program for 50 students at the Methodist school there.
· Researched and investigated material availability - propane, plumbing and water storage equipment and many other items.
Now that we have returned the ball continues to roll. We have a team in Thomas this week and another in November. Steve Elliott is taking a team of electrical engineers and ICT Tech team for teacher training and computer center set up in Thomas in January. I will be co-leading leading a team of 20 in March. There is much to do.
Project partners are United Methodist Communications (UMCOM), Inveneo, United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) and UMCOR. Harvard Business School has supplied a MBA student to the project to assist in the development of a business plan. We have begun dialog with UC Davis for Agronomy advice and curriculum development for farmers. Also, Inveneo has offered to set up a computer lab and provide solar power at our next school in LeVeque. This will give us two computer centers in a 6 month window in addition to a new Lunch Food Program in Hinche.
I am very proud of our church and the other churches in our conference that are helping this Project become a reality. It is a different way to approach Humanitarian Aid - a way toward self-reliability and sustainable programs. Your donations of money and time and material are extremely important to the success of this mission Project, which is designed to use the talents of many persons in many ways to reach sustainability. Many talents are needed and anyone is welcome to join a team in Haiti.
There is a thirst in Haiti for knowledge and a brighter future. I believe we can nourish some of that thirst. This Project has gotten large. Way larger than me. It is a faith journey in its self and has built my faith in God and mankind.
It is an honor to represent my church and conference in this humanitarian effort toward sustainability.
God bless you all.
The short movie the Project made last February is available online at: http://defygravityfilm.com/.
For those of you that like to see things on Google earth here are the coordinates of this trip:
Petion-Ville 18.5167° N, 72.2833° W
Thomas 18°46'53.98"N 72°29'15.02"W
Hinche 19.151619° N 72.012688°W
Mirebalais 18.834759° N 72.104849°W
This program is an extension of the UMVIM mission teams serving in Haiti. Being in Virtual Mission provides you the ability to be in mission establish relationships and make a difference with out travel. Communications is via teams, email, Skype as well as other forms of communication.
This is a great opportunity for a small groups to go in mission with an UMVIM Team and beyond. Please help support this program.
Our Haitian friends in Thomas are waiting to hear from you. Be in Mission.
Contact Warren McGuffin for info : Warren@mcguffin.com