[From Julie] All December I’ve been thinking about how to write something. We didn’t send out Christmas cards- it’s too hard from Haiti and I’m just not that on top of it.
Decembers have been significant in Haiti. Really really hard stuff has happened in Decembers here. It’s the month we processed the pain of stepping away from an orphanage and children we love, it’s the month Moses came into our home from a box of abandonment, it’s the month we buried a baby who was left in a trash pile.
It’s the month I acutely feel how far away we are. Far from friends, family, snow, lights, carols and familiar Christmas services.
It’s also the month where amazing and beautiful things happen. Where local schools have said yes to children because education matters, it’s the month where we were able to sit down and be a part of real community meetings where all people had a voice about what they want for their Haiti. It’s the month our family gets to take a vacation and just rest in a place our missionary budget could never afford because of some amazingly generous friends. It’s the month most of HOPE’s support comes in, allowing us to minister another year to this community we love.
It’s the month we are reminded that our hearts are in two places because we love and feel loved by so many.
It’s the month the longing is loudest- For family and friends and the familiar. But mostly for Jesus. That’s good and beautiful, I guess. Hard but good.
So we sit in the tension. The already and the not yet. Pretty sure life is in the groaning…
We don’t live in despair for He has come.
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
Merry Christmas- loving and missing you all!
Sometimes you just say yes.
Our scholarship program is full. Maxed out for the year.
Recently a family in our scholarship program took in 3 family members. She wasn’t able to put the kids in school but they weren’t being beaten anymore and were able to eat regularly.
When we sat down with their grandma we found out a little more.
Mom went to Chile to work to send money back to the family. Grandma found out the kids she left behind were being treated as slaves and so she took them in. Took them into her home. A house already full. A home full of grandkids as moms are in Chile looking for work. Kids who aren’t hers.
She took them anyway.
Kids need to be in school so we said yes.
We met with a local principal and she said yes too! She enrolled the kids at half price tuition and allowed them to start school without uniforms! This is unheard of but madam Benita knows the value of education and that missing a year of school can be devastating.
Now we need you to say yes. We try hard to stay within budget. We often have to say no, but we all wanted to say yes.
For us, this marks change. This is community working together. These kids aren’t restaveks (slaves) any longer. They are in a family and in school!
We need your help. We need 3 sponsors at $40/month.
And to continue to help families with education scholarships, family medical care, and economic opportunities (jobs!) we need even more help. Our double matching commitment only has 13 more days. As of December 18 we have raised just over half ($25,010) of the $50,000 we need to get the full $50,000 matching. So in the next 13 days we need $24,990 to reach our year end goal. Will you say yes to help us reach our goal? If you can help us reach our goal please CLICK HERE or on the red donate button on our website.
Agency Profile: Missouri Agent Volunteers to Bring out the Best in People
This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of The Agent’s Advocate, a publication of The Doctors Company and is reprinted with permission of The Doctors Company.
When speaking with John Keane, president of The Keane Insurance Group, you quickly learn that his business values mirror his life values. Some of the first words you see on his company website are protect, inspire, and solve. He embodies these ideals, and they all shine through his overarching belief in serving others.
Explaining his approach to business, John said, “If you boil down what we do as a business, it’s providing a service. We sell insurance and with that comes the idea of servicing our clients.”
And when you hear his story of the past seven years and his work that extends beyond his agency, it’s clear his business philosophy is reciprocal to his personal life.
Back in January of 2010, after a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti, John realized he was in a unique position to help serve others.
“After the earthquake occurred, of course it was in the news and there were a lot of humanitarian efforts being made,” recalled John. “Much of that was in the form of doctors going over to Haiti to provide emergency medical care for the Haitians that were injured. And being in the medical malpractice business, with a lot of physicians, clients, contacts, and relationships, we got involved in fundraising to help send some doctors over to respond to emergency medical needs.”
His service efforts built from there.
In April of that year, John flew out to Haiti with his wife, his oldest son, and two of his employees. They traveled the country to experience Haiti and the culture, and witness the devastation that resulted from the earthquake. The group particularly noticed the effect the destruction had on young children, with the creation of large numbers of new orphans.
“It was a life-changing experience—you will never think the same way again,” remembered John. “We decided after that trip that this was something we wanted to get involved in and focus our resources on. So we took our charitable group, The Keane Charitable Group, rebranded it as the Haiti Orphan Project, and partnered with another organization to build an orphanage.”
In addition to the orphanage, over the next couple years, John and his volunteer groups also built a school, and developed and implemented a clean water system in the community where the orphanage and school were located.
“At that point, we thought about what the next thing could be to continue to help and support the folks in this community, and decided medical care was the biggest need,” John explained. “We started taking doctors over to Haiti on a regular basis. Every two to three months we would take trips with doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers, and set up mobile medical clinics with a tent and see as many patients as we could.”
From Survival to Stability
As John made plans to build a more permanent medical clinic, his efforts took a turn when he discovered orphan care in Haiti wasn’t quite what he thought it was. He found out that 80 percent of the children in orphanages were what they called “economic orphans.” These were children who had a living parent or relative who could physically take care of them, but financially were too poor to do so. Because of that, the families gave up the children for adoption.
“That troubled us,” John said. “We were discouraged by the idea that families would be giving their children up for economic reasons and sending them to orphanages when they weren’t technically orphans. We determined we wanted to focus on the root of the problem—economic issues—and began working towards orphan prevention.”
They identified a three-prong process to stabilize family units, so families could afford to keep children in their homes and not be tempted to give them over to orphan care. The first prong was job creation, to help lift them out of poverty. The second was education, something only available to children in orphanages or to families who paid for a private education; Haiti has no public education. The third prong was to continue to pursue the healthcare part of their project. Once they expanded the strategy, they renamed the initiative to the Hope Community Project.
“And that’s pretty much where we are today. Just recently, we secured a piece of land where we will be building our permanent medical clinic and housing our job creation program,” explained John. “Up until now, we’ve been renting and leasing properties. We’re going to aggregate everything on that piece of land in the community we’re working in and grow our programs there.”
Creating a Service Culture
John’s work in Haiti has inspired many others to volunteer their services. He says his eight children nearly fight over who gets to help next.
Several of his business partners have been motivated to go to Haiti. One of these was Bill Fleming, chief operating officer of The Doctors Company. Bill coordinated a father-son trip with his own son, and John and his son of the same age.
And more than 20 of John’s employees have made a trip out there. One way he encourages this is by offering each employee a paid service week, and he also gives six scholarships a year to cover travel costs.
“We try to make it as feasible and as easy for them as possible,” John said. “That’s really encouraged our employees over the years.”
In addition to his service in Haiti, John also gets his agency involved in fundraising activities throughout the year.
“We sponsor a golf tournament, a 5K race, wine tasting, and a concert in our community here. We do all kinds of fundraising events that are all put on and run by an amazing group of employees who freely volunteer their time,” he said.
In explaining the culture he is developing, John elaborated, “To the extent that you can create a culture of service, externally, in doing projects and serving the community and the world at large, you’re encouraging that mentality in people.”
“I think it flows through the way they do their job and the way they serve our clients—and serve one another .”
©2017 The Doctors Company