Situation #1- She lost her husband and the father of 5 kids in the earthquake in 2010. He was crushed under their house as it collapsed in the earthquake. She had nowhere to go after the quake and ended up in the refugee camp in Montrouis. Through a bad relationship in the refugee camp she found herself pregnant. I met her in the camp but did not really know her until the day she was to deliver the baby. We were on our way to the hospital and we were told she was trying to have her baby but it was breach. She needed to go the hospital but did not have the money. We took her to the hospital and she had her baby boy. As time progressed and the camp closed she really began to struggle. In her mid 40's, a widow, a new mom, a refugee, an earthquake survivor, homeless, and unemployed in a community where she new no one and had no where to go.
We were blessed to be able to help madame Charles find a house to live in and rent it for her but she still had no way to provide for her family. Her baby became sick. She contracted malaria. When I went to visit her the despair in her eyes was hard to look at even though I see despair on a daily basis. She was slow to complain or seem ungrateful for past help, but she let me know that she did not know how her family was going to make it. I took her a week's supply of rice but decided we had to come up with a way for her to make some money.
Situation #2- She lived in a small house by the river. In June of 2009 she lost her home for the second time in two years. In September 2008 Hurricane Hanna washed her little rented block home away. She rebuilt a small place for her and her 3 children in the same place by the river but on that rainy day in June, it too was washed away. She found herself living in a Haiti Red Cross donated 3 person Coleman tent in that same little place by the river. Forced to drop out of school in sixth grade, Mary had her first child as a teenager. For the last 10 years she believed using her body was the only way to find food for her small family. Eight months after the flood, the tent shredded and providing little protection for the elements, she was desperate for a change- she humbly asked if there was any way we could help her find a place to live. She tells me how 2 days ago her 10 year old son found a bread fruit- a local starchy fruit prepared like a potato, and she was able to cook it for the family but for the last two days she has not had anything to feed them.
Situation #3- She had 3 little girls by the same man. Not a picture book marriage but she felt he took care of them as best he could. But his other wife did not feel the same way. She felt that the Paulette's kids were practically taking food off of her kid's plates. In a deranged, evil state of mind one hot evening, this second wife savagely murdered two of Paulette's daughters. It was more than she could emotionally handle. Over the coming months, Paulette slowly lost her mind. In a country with limited medical care of any kind, mental health facilities are all but none existent. I first met Paulette as she bathed in the middle of the street one sunny afternoon. I later learned she was not bathing. She is just fond of clothes. She doesn't always remember all of our encounters but she never forgets my name. She can't tell me her story but I learn it from neighbors. Paulette just tells me how hungry she is and how no one ever wants to help her. She is not able to take care of herself and I often find her sick and she is very malnourished. She needs someone to help.
God seems to love to work in these types of situations. Not necessarily in this order, this is how God helped His precious child in each of the above situations. We were just luck enough to be along for the ride.
We rented Mary a house. In exchange for her rent she had to join our work program and ladies development program. Her work assignment is cook food for 30 elderly shut-ins and others in the community like Paulette who cannot take care of themselves. The food is delivered hot and fresh to Paulette three days per week. We are working to add a daily vitamin and healthy juice to help maintain a healthy diet. There are 13 women that were in Mary's situation. They now all have houses for themselves and their kids and jobs to help them see that they can make a difference. They are paid with vouchers. The vouchers are redeemable for groceries at 4 local road side stands. Madame Charles and 3 other refugee widows are the owners of the stands. We helped them set up businesses where they sell rice, beans, oil, and other provisions to the community but specifically to the women in the feeding program. When they receive the vouchers, they bring them to me to buy more product at a reduced wholesale price. We help them understand business principles necessary to be able to keep their businesses viable.
Now Mary's kids eat every day. She can speak some English and has gotten me to help her start a little side business with her sister and friend selling various clothing and supplies needed for the kids that are starting school.
Paulette is currently sick and can't get out of the bed. I took her to the hospital but after several rounds of antibiotics we are sure what the infection is coming from. She is still getting her food and we even try to keep her dressed. She is not healthy mentally or physically, but she has people there to help her meet her needs.
This past week madame Charles came to buy more rice and supplies. She came with both a stack of vouchers and a handful of cash. I looked at madame Charles and asked her how things were going. As she held the stack of New Vision Ministry food voucher cards she smiled and told me her life had never been better. Now how does it get any better than that?