R e p o r t s
f r o m
t h e
f i e l d
In the Kitchen
Adriana, 6 Years old
Jonathan, 8 years old
.. .i f th is w e re y o u r fa m il y.
if you were scorned for having nothing
Imagine if you were so poor that even your impoverished neighbors ridiculed you and your children for having nothing … In the middle of a dusty community in Hatte Desdunes, Haiti, a family of six barely survives each day living in a cramped, thatchedroof hut that is not much bigger than an office cubicle. Benita stays at home and takes care of her four children, while her mother Valcinette goes out to look for work. “I go sometimes to ask for a job in the rice paddy,” said Valcinette. “Sometimes I find work. I went this morning, and they said nothing was available.” When she does work in the rice paddy she receives three small cans of rice for her work. After the children’s father died in November, the family had to move to their current home, a tiny mud-and-thatch hut, when the owner of their rented house asked them to leave. The days are long for Benita and her children. They are one of the poorest families in their community and they are ostracized by their neighbors. “I wake up with the sun, and go to sleep when the sun goes down,” Benita said, her shoulders slumped, her words quiet and sad.
“For me, I’m not living. This is no life.” Benita said
The neighborhood children run back and forth outside of Benita’s hut shouting and laughing, but they don’t stop to play
Our Family with Benita’s children. Instead, they make fun of Benita’s two boys, Rusben and Jerry, and their sister Shalina because they don’t have clothes to wear to school. “None of the children are in school because they don’t have clothes — no uniforms,” Benita said. Some of the only possessions they have are a small stack of old clothes, but they don’t wear them. “When we sleep it is really dark. We have no bed so we sleep on top of clothes,” Benita said. “When it rains it leaks.” All of their clothing is kept in one corner on the dirt floor of their hut because it is the only spot where rainwater doesn’t leak in.
“There is no life for us. We stay like this,” said Valcinette. “We don’t have food. Not even rice to eat.” Benita has no means to make money. She has to stay with her children. “I have nothing,” Benita said. “Sometimes I ask a neighbor for food, or I put salt in the water for the kids.” Little Rusben has been suffering from painful sores on his head from a fungus for months. Benita boils water and a leaf native to the area where she lives called “metisiyien” and rubs it on Rusben’s sores in hopes it will help. She has no choice, she can’t afford medical care. Benita’s children are reminded each day that they are poor. Their empty, aching bellies won’t let them forget and neither will the taunting of the neighborhood children. But, they remind each other to dream of what they’d like to be when they grow up. “I want to drive a motor taxi,” Jerry said. His younger brother Rusben smiled broadly and said: “I want a radio. I just love to play music.” Children like Rusben and Jerry are being robbed of their childhoods. They are hungry and yearn to attend school. You have the power to change this and to help them and their family have a life. Please do what you can to give this young family the chance to see their futures brighten. C
if she were your little girl Imagine if you had to leave your suffering child, not knowing if she would still be alive upon your return…
“I want my mommy.” Frail and suffering in pain, Adriana called out pitifully for her mother. A patient at the Matagalpa Recovery Center in northern Nicaragua, Adriana was dangerously malnourished. Her bones stuck out and she whimpered like a puppy, even when resting in a soft crib. Over and over again, she cried for her mother. But visiting hours were over and her grief-stricken, worried parents had to leave their little girl at the center. It was a difficult visit for her parents. Her father, Danilo, caressed his daughter’s hair and wiped away his tears, not wanting Adriana to see him cry. Her mom, Ana Isabel, hugged her little girl as Adriana’s shallow breaths became more pronounced. They can only visit on Tuesdays and Thursdays — regular visiting hours at the center — and pray their little girl will survive this latest bout with malnutrition.
Adriana is 6 years old and weighs only 22 pounds. Her
parents are poor and can’t afford proper nutrition for their little girl, let alone the medicine she needs to recover. Danilo picks coffee during the harvests. It’s steady work for only about four months, but, the rest of the year, he struggles to find employment and enough food for his family. Ana Isabel tries to find work as a housemaid to help feed Adriana and her three siblings, but she is often unsuccessful.
My little girl
When Adriana was only 2 ½, her frail body was infested with so many parasites, they had punctured her intestinal wall and her colon ruptured. She had surgery to save her life. Ana Isabel prayed to God to stop her daughter’s suffering.
“I prayed to God each day and night that she’d get better. I wanted her to stop suffering. She has suffered a lot already. I cried, thinking about it all the time. But at one point, we thought she was so weak, so gone, that God would take her,” said Ana Isabel. “Like any mom, I love her so dearly and just can’t stand to see her suffering,” she added. It grieves Adriana’s parents to see their little girl tortured with pain from the effects of starvation. The family is doing everything they can, but lately they are barely surviving. If they could, they would plead with you directly to help their daughter. “I want to give her a good life,” Ana Isabel said. “We want to see her grow up. We are short on means and we may not be able to repay you directly, but I know God will pay you back with all His grace and love.” Despite the severity of her condition, Adriana has a strong, resilient spirit. Nurses at the clinic are hopeful for her recovery, and try to give her extra attention and lots of loving care. Children like Adriana urgently need your help to survive and recover from the ravages of severe malnutrition. You can save an innocent life by providing food and medicine to a child on the brink of starvation. Imagine if she were your little girl. Wouldn’t you give anything to save her life? C
if the hom mud w
Jonathan, Fixing the roof
Imagine if you lived in a home where every time it rained, you had to huddle in the only dry corner of your house to keep dry. Summer is the rainy season in Guatemala. For many families, scrambling to keep the rain out of their makeshift shack is a daily chore. When our Food For The Poor staff was visiting with Elvira, a single 36-year-old mother of four young children in Guatemala, it began to pour down rain. Each drop clanged loudly and echoed through her shack constructed from tin, scraps of tarp and other discarded material. Upon hearing the first drop, Elvira’s eyes shot to a gaping hole in the roof. With a look of distress, she knew something needed to be done quickly, or the rain would leak through the large hole and the dirt floor would quickly turn to mud. When it rains, Elvira’s two oldest children, Heidi, 10, and Jonathan, 8, are tasked with covering the hole in the roof with a black tarp that is normally used for covering an exterior wall. To cover the hole, they must carefully balance on opposite sides of an elevated, smoking fire pit used for cooking and warmth so their feet do not touch the burning embers. Gazing at her mother, Heidi said, “I ask God
for a house so my little brothers and sister are safe. It rains, and we get all wet, and my little brothers and sister get sick.” Poor families like Elvira’s must take desperate measures to keep their families safe from not only the elements, but also animals and insects in their ramshackle homes. Often they are unsuccessful, especially during the rainy season, and spend long days and nights huddled together in misery.
e floor of your me turned to when it rained Our family Elvira’s children also take advantage of the rain by placing buckets outside to collect drinking water. For poor families the nearest source to collect water for washing, cooking and drinking is often very far away or polluted with contaminants. So when it rains, they seize the opportunity to collect whatever water they can. Elvira and her family live on the outskirts of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, an area known for its extended periods of drought and rain. Frequently, days start out sunny and warm, but, without warning, the temperature could plummet from a cold, damp mist that rolls in from the mountains. On these days, the children take turns sharing the only wool blanket they own to keep warm. The weather is not the only struggle this poor family endures. On most days, Elvira must forage for food at a nearby garbage dump.
the opportunity to speak with you directly, she said, “I would
first talk to God to touch that person’s heart because some people don’t like when I ask for help, but I would say we are brothers and sisters in Christ.” You can help end the suffering of Elvira and families like hers by providing a home with four strong walls and a solid roof to keep the rain out. With your help, a poor family will no longer have to panic when they hear the sound of rain, or be forced to huddle together in a corner to stay dry and warm during a raging storm. You can give Elvira and her children the chance for a better future. C
Elvira prays in the morning and at night. She asks God to help her improve her situation and to touch the heart of a generous person who might be willing to help her desperate, struggling family. When asked what she would say if she had
“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” (Isaiah 32:18, NIV)
if you had to choose between a safe home or food for your children When faced with giving her four children either a safe shelter to live in or food to fill their hungry stomachs, Suyapa, 28, made the difficult choice. She moved her family from a solid home on a hill to a plot of dirt below it next to a busy road. She was renting a home above her current house for the equivalent of $20 per month, not including water. “I still owe money on the rent,” Suyapa said. “They are asking me for the rent.... I tell them I have to feed my children first.”
“The other house had a better roof and mud-andstick walls, but I had to feed my children,” Suyapa said.
Suyapa began building a makeshift house to shelter her three boys and daughter. Her husband left a couple of years ago to make money on the coast of Honduras and she hasn’t seen him since.
To feed her family, Suyapa works picking beans or coffee and must bring all her children with her. The family has a system in the field: Ronney, 10, picks two gallons worth of beans. Miguel, 7, takes care of his younger sister Josselyn, 2, and Orlin, 5, picks up the beans that fall to the ground.
“I built the house myself. It took about a month because I am by myself,” Suyapa said. “The nylon and tarps were given to me, and I went into the forest for the wood.”
Often Suyapa doesn’t make enough money to feed the family. “We almost always come home to no food for dinner,” Suyapa said. “When I don’t have it I have to beg for it. When I have food I try to feed my children three times a day, even if I don’t eat.”
There are many problems with the house, where the family has lived for about six months. Rainwater cascades down the mountain and floods the shack. “The water goes through the house and it leaves a lot of garbage behind,” Suyapa said.
Suyapa does her best to comfort her children. “I tell them, ‘What can I do? I have no food.’ They understand,” Suyapa said. “I feel very bad because I cannot provide, and there is so much I want to give, but over time they understand and they don’t ask as much.” Every day Suyapa glances up at the house on the hill where they used to live and tries to convince herself she made the right decision, even though she is still struggling. “I get frustrated when I don’t have the courage. It happens almost every day when I think, ‘What am I going to do to provide for them,’ but then I keep going,” Suyapa said. Families like Suyapa’s need your help to survive. You can help give them the strength they need to keep going. When you share your blessings with desperate mothers, they no longer need to choose between a safe shelter or feeding their hungry children — they now can have both, thanks to your loving generosity. C
The house I built on my own
to watch a slideshow about Suyapa and her family.
Imagine this: You brought great joy to this family!
“I feel very, very happy,” Maria said. “I’ve never had a real home before. I feel very thankful, and safe. I’m not afraid of anything anymore.”
Faces blured to protect identity
You don’t have to imagine the joy of Maria and her family — just look at their beaming faces! Their happiness is real, all because of you. You helped to answer the fervent prayers of a mother whose children were endangered. Through your generosity, you turned their sorrow into rejoicing. You are the reason this once-terrified mother now praises and thanks the Lord for the blessing of a new home. Maria and her family (featured in our November 2012 newsletter) lived in a rickety wood-and-plastic house—a home she built by herself. The house had a flimsy door without a lock. Her worst fears came true when a stranger broke inside while she was gone and raped her 14-year-old daughter, who as a result became pregnant. Traumatized
by the event, Maria’s younger daughters were terrified of sleeping in the same house where their older sister was violated. You heard their pleas and became the answer to their prayers by building them a new, secure Food For The Poor house. Now Maria and her family have a solid door that locks out those who might harm them. They can finally sleep in peace. The biggest change is for Maria's oldest daughter, who no longer worries about men breaking inside and hurting her. As she held her baby in her arms, she gave a shy smile. “I feel peaceful now,”
she said. “When we go to bed, we don’t worry because no one can get inside the house.” Maria’s younger daughters can now sleep through the night as well. Both Lexana and Apollonia take great pride in their new home. Every morning they insist on making their beds, because they want everything in the house to look nice. If she could thank you personally, Maria would. Instead, she asked our staff to pass along her deepest and most sincere thanks for the home you have built for her family.
“This is a blessing that fills my heart with joy,” she said. “I hope that God protects you. Wherever you are going, I hope that God will take you by the hand and lead you there.” C
‘‘You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.’’ (Job 11:18 niv)
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Imagine if this were your family.