Friends. I want to personally (as personal as something like this can be) invite you to join us for our 6th annual HOPE 5k this coming Saturday Sept. 24. The walk/run will be at 7:30 am in downtown Kirkwood. It’s only $25, but that $25 means a lot to our ministry in Haiti. All proceeds from the registrations will be used for our medical clinic in Gonaives. And we need the support to keep helping babies like Loude Sarah. She came in to our clinic early August nearly starving at 6.8 lbs. Now? 12.54 lbs!. Our medical clinic formula program makes that possible. Our staff makes that possible. People like you make that possible.
St. Louis area folks, can you join us? Register at hope5k.org
A few days ago I (Les) was speaking at an event, talking about Hope Community Project. I pointed out the three main things we do to help keep children with their families–education sponsorships, affordable health care, and job creation assistance. I showed some photos of the children, their moms and dads, and of course some of the chickens.
I also pointed out our US staff living in Haiti. Luke and Julie and their children Micah, Chloe, and Jude, and Moses. Then Holden, Katie, and Caitlyn. And I shouldn’t forget Jeff and Becky Peters who served with us for two years on the ground in Haiti.
And as I drove back from the city where I spoke my thoughts rambled around in my head. I had enjoyed a very nice dinner with ice water. Yes. Ice in my water. And superb lighting and ample technology for my presentation.
The roads I had traveled for the two hours to get to my speaking engagement were all paved and striped. And there was absolutely no debris in or along the road. The GPS on my phone worked just fine. Verizon LTE Advanced!
I got home, had a snack, and ran my toothbrush under the water (you know we like to have our toothbrush wet when we use it) as the water magically came out of the faucet, pristine and clean. Turned on Direct TV for a few minutes and then fell asleep. In a very comfortable bed. In an air conditioned home.
I could go on. You get where I’m going, don’t you? Our US staff in Haiti work very hard and live in very difficult conditions. They daily live with a lack of many if not most of the conveniences we enjoy every day and frankly take for granted. Days all run together with need after need presenting itself from daylight till well after dark. They can’t really get away from the incredible poverty surrounding them. The people who are hungry and sick and, yet wanting to work some way some how.
But this amazing small band of servants doesn’t want to get away from it. Most days. The very reason they’re there is to come along side these wonderful yet struggling people. And build relationships. And help if possible.
To Luke, Julie, Micah, Chloe, Jude, Moses, Holden, Katie, and Caitlin…do know that many, many people back here in our relative comfort zones love you and deeply admire and appreciate your daily sacrifices. We pray for you and want God to affirm to you that though we all are far away in body, we are close in prayer and love. And that your sacrifices and service to those Haitian families is so important. And beautiful.
Oh, and if you read this and want to help our team in Haiti here are two very tangible ways. Donate. These Americans living there and serving? Just to be frank, it costs money. The big red button is in the upper right side of our website page. Also, register and run in our HOPE 5K coming up September 24 in Kirkwood, MO. That $25 registration fee will all be used for our medical clinic.
And join us in thanking God for and praying for, the Haiti team.
Hope Community Project update from the field. On September 1, we told you some about the egg cooperative we have up and running in Haiti. See A Ton of Eggs=Jobs. Here is more about the business behind this important part of what we’re doing in Gonaives. Told by Hope Economic Development coordinator Holden Meyers.
Although it has been only six weeks, it seems as if Hope Cooperative has been in business for several months. Working out the kinks has resulted in numerous changes and tweaks to perfect the operations of the business. This is not unusual for any new business, but these minor changes have made major improvements in a relatively short amount of time.
Currently, the daily tasks of the co-op run extremely well, and only slight alterations are done sparingly. Our staff has adjusted to our routine rather well, and to date, there are no considerable failures or disasters. It seems odd for a business to run this efficiently in such a chaotic place, but we blame the grace of God and the hard work of our staff.
Our summer started by getting our chickens weeks before we had originally planned. Our customer base had been previously informed that we would start selling eggs in September. However, we had a large amount of eggs waiting to be sold in July, so our business officially started on August 10th.
With most of our customer base away in the States and no local Haitians aware of our business, the first half of August was disappointing. Selling eggs was slow business, and many days resulted in giving away older eggs. Nevertheless, the situation took a positive turn the last few weeks of August when our large American customer base returned to Gonaives and business started to come together.
In the month of August, our 194 chickens produced 3,201 eggs. All of our eggs are sold in one of two ways. First, eggs are distributed on weekly orders to local customers. These customers pay $4.75 for 30 eggs. They are guaranteed our freshest eggs and those eggs are delivered directly to their homes. Over 400 of our eggs each week are accounted for by these customers.
The remaining eggs are sold from our home. Thanks to our aforementioned customers, we can sell these cartons for a much lower price of about $3.17, the same price as an imported carton of eggs. This means that women can come and buy eggs from us, then sell them at a small markup in the market. This mode of sale consequently provides more jobs for our customers while combatting the problem of imported products. To date, over 1,000 of our eggs have been sold to these women in the market.
Because of our early and slow start, our business started out losing money in August. However, if we discount the first two weeks of August, we began to make a profit in the last few weeks of the month. Considering our business was not planned to begin until September, we are excited that this summer is ending with our cooperative being a profitable, sustainable business.
We look forward to the fall now. Our co-op is self-maintained, no longer needing outside financial assistance for routine operations. We expect weekly orders to rise and egg production to be near 300 dozen eggs per month. Now because of our successes, we can look to expand and innovate. Our first step in growth is brooding 46 new chicks. This gives each farm owner 80 chickens, and in six months, our egg count will be increased by 25%. We are also looking at ways to produce our own feed. According to our research, we believe we can save nearly $100 a month on feed if we manufacture it ourselves. Lastly, our co-op is looking to have a permanent setting in a storefront in the city. This puts us out in the community, making it more convenient for our customers and helps us avoid selling eggs from our front porch.
Logistically, starting any business in Haiti is financial suicide. Starting a small business in Haiti can be even worse. For no other reason than the grace of God, Hope Cooperative is thriving. Not only do we employ four community members, we are beginning to turn a profit. We owe a lot to the wonderful staff we are blessed to work with on a daily basis. Each of these Haitians is incredibly hard working and takes immense pride in their work.
Continue to pray for us as business progresses. And again, thank you to all the donors that made this possible.