Saturday, October 6, 2012

This article was written back in 2008, but Haitians are still making these dirt cookies today.......

 Haitians trick empty bellies with dirt cookies

Yolen Jeunky sold mud cookies in Cite Soleil last fall. Even the prices for the edible clay, collected in Haiti's central plain, have risen as oil costs have driven up agricultural basics.
Yolen Jeunky sold mud cookies in Cite Soleil last fall. Even the prices for the edible clay, collected in Haiti's central plain, have risen as oil costs have driven up agricultural basics. (ariana cubillos /associated press)


It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud.
With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies.
Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.
The mud has long been used by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium. But in places like Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings, and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt, and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.
"When my mother does not cook anything, I have to eat them three times a day," Charlene said. Her baby, named Woodson, lay still across her lap, looking even thinner than the slim 6 pounds, 3 ounces, he weighed at birth.
Though she likes their buttery, salty taste, Charlene said the cookies also give her stomach pains. "When I nurse, the baby sometimes seems colicky, too," she said.
Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher prices for oil, which is needed for fertilizer, irrigation, and transportation. Prices for basic ingredients such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well.
The problem is particularly dire in the Caribbean, where island nations depend on imports and food prices are up 40 percent in places.
The global price increases, together with floods and crop damage from the 2007 hurricane season, prompted the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency to declare states of emergency in Haiti and several other Caribbean countries. Caribbean leaders held an emergency summit last month to discuss cutting food taxes and creating large, regional farms to reduce dependence on imports.
At the market in the La Saline slum, a two-cup portion of rice now sells for 60 cents, up 10 cents from December and 50 percent from a year ago. Beans, condensed milk, and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost $1.50. Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.
Still, at about 5 cents apiece, the cookies are a bargain compared with food staples. About 80 percent of people in Haiti live on less than $2 a day and a tiny elite controls the economy.
Merchants truck the dirt from the central town of Hinche to the La Saline market, a maze of tables of vegetables and meat swarming with flies.
Women buy the dirt, then process it into mud cookies in places such as Fort Dimanche, a nearby shanty town.
Carrying buckets of dirt and water up ladders to the roof of the former prison for which Fort Dimanche is named, they strain out rocks and clumps on a sheet, and stir in shortening and salt. Then they pat the mixture into mud cookies and leave them to dry under the scorching sun.
The finished cookies are carried in buckets to markets or sold on the streets.
A reporter sampling a cookie found that it had a smooth consistency and sucked all the moisture out of the mouth as soon as it touched the tongue. For hours, an unpleasant taste of dirt lingered.
Assessments of the health effects are mixed. Dirt can contain deadly parasites or toxins, but can also strengthen the immunity of fetuses in the womb to certain diseases, said Gerald N. Callahan, an immunology professor at Colorado State University who has studied geophagy, the scientific name for dirt-eating.
Haitian doctors say that depending on the cookies for sustenance risks malnutrition.
"Trust me, if I see someone eating those cookies, I will discourage it," said Dr. Gabriel Thimothee, head of Haiti's health ministry.
Marie Noel, 40, sells the cookies in a market to provide for her seven children. Her family also eats them.
"I'm hoping one day I'll have enough food to eat, so I can stop eating these," she said. "I know it's not good for me."

Monday, October 1, 2012

October is already here! I head back to Haiti at the end of the month. Wow! Time seems to go faster and faster the older I get. While it will be really hard for me to leave my boys and their families, my Mom and all the friends and relatives here in the US, I can hardly wait to get back to Haiti and the kids and people I love.

I have a dear friend in Haiti, Sandra, that is doing some amazing things. Her latest venture is building and equipping a handicapped school in Cite of the worst slums in the world; and who knows--it could be classified as the worst by now as Haiti was just recently named thee poorest nation in the world, and not just the Western Hemisphere. Since my ministry is first to the handicapped children I am really anxious to get there and visit the new school and spend time, when I can, helping there.


Friday, September 21, 2012

The main focus is the highlighted area, but wanted to include the whole blog

From the book: My Luggage is Not Heavy  reflections on life & laying it down by World Harvest missionaries
author: Anneliese entry. Oct. 12, 2007


One striking difference between most Americans and my Babwisi neighbors is our source of security.

Have you ever noticed how many layers of security lie between many Americans and trouble? We have home insurance, health insurance, car insurance, life insurance...Insurance for our mistakes, others' mistakes, and catastrophes. And one of the first things we learn about what it means to be a responsible adult is that we start paying into the funds that provide security for us and our loved ones:  401 K's, mortgages, college funds, disability, Social Security, long term care. 

I really noticed this difference at a recent small group when I contrasted our sources of security to the Babwisis', summed up in a word----relationships. In a place where insurance policies do not exist and very few have savings accounts, relationships provide all this and more. 

As the family comes together for funerals, money is handed in to help for the burial costs and family care of the one who died. When a child is sick, extended family and friends pool resources to buy necessary medicine. And of course the old and those of have lost parents rely on the compassion and generosity of the family around them to care for them. Our part of Uganda currently has no orphanages, a testament to the strong traditional families within our villages...every child is cared for by someone. 

I met recently with a small group of women, discussing "stuff" and our complicated lives. I realized again how much our material possessions are a form of security that we as Americans depend upon so deeply. As we talked about simplifying our lives, many of us felt compelled to hold on to our things, "just in case..."

We're holding onto baby things in case we have another; holding on to extra toys in case our children want to play with them again, holding on to clothes that used to fit in case they fit again. We hold onto things that no longer work for our lives or homes because they provide security of a memory of a loved one, time, or place. 

Two of my closest friends were raised in other cultures and came to the United States as young adults with little to their names. Now both of their homes are spare; comfortable and liveable but without many of the accoutrements that we Americans find.....well....comforting.

Looking around, there is not much to do in these homes-----no big screen TVs with cable to watch or pool or Foosball tables to fool around on. The toys are few and well-loved.  In fact, if I think about it, there is precious little to do in these homes besides relate; cooking together, eating together, reading or working in the same spaces, enjoying the outdoors together, sharing the conflicts that rise out of boredom together! This is what happens in a simple home. 

Now I'm not criticizing insurance or big beautiful homes. I know that each of us can be convicted differently by the complex God we serve. God is often honored in abundance and good stewardship. Both material possessions and bank accounts holding the solutions to some future crisis are meant as gifts from a Creator who knows our real joy and security will only be found in a relationship with Him. 

Every joy of our remarkable lives as blessed inhabitants of a developed country speak of the One who holds it, and us, in His hands---just as He holds in His hands each person in my small village of Bundimalinga who is the insurance, retirement, and savings account for his neighbor.  And just like us, each of those neighbors' greatest delights will be found in each other and in Him. 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The 4 guys in the following video are simply amazing. Some people just wish they could help---wish they even knew how they could help. These guys went beyond the wishing and hoping. They got on a plane and landed in Port Au Prince. They got brave and they engaged.....for 28 very long days. If you've ever been to Haiti you'd know how impressive and crazy --- I might add --- it is for 4 white guys to show up in Haiti and not know a single person there.

4 guys from the USA....Home of the free. Land of the brave? Though most of us are not really all that brave; are we?  But they were.....these 4.

The 28th day wasn't the end of their journey. It was really the beginning. 

By The way.......Haiti has been classified as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere for quite awhile. I just read an article that states that they have been bumped up to THEE poorest country in the world!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The most profound moments in my life have occurred in Haiti.  In the mountains - at our open air clinic - are the 2 most significant ones; and mainly because they were the first. I can share one picture. No explanation needed. It was at this clinic that I learned to 'suck it in' and not burst into tears. The suffering and  misery in the mountains is hard to describe. It's huge. Observing the Octopus of poverty that wraps its tentacles around every fiber of your being, your family, your health, your very life - for generations - is shocking. Unimaginable.

The second picture would be too much for most people to handle, so I won't show it. I'll just tell you about it: A man hobbled into our clinic. He had a gaping wound on his shin....It started out as a cut when he was doing something with his machete. It progressed from a machete slice to a good portion of his shin missing exposing muscle, tendons, tissue, nerve endings. I'd say it was almost a foot long gouge and the whole front width of his shin. It was the ugliest thing I had ever seen. It took my breath away. The shock to me was so deep that there wasn't even a hint of tears. I was NOT prepared for that. I'm pretty sure I held my breath for the whole hour we tended to him. This is the kind of thing that makes your knees weak. But you have to deal with it and do whatever you can to help. After all---that is what we showed up to do. To help and not buckle under the degrees or situations of extreme poverty.

I happened to be doing wound care that day. Thank God I had help. Not sure I could have handled it on my own. The man was in extreme pain and everything I did hiked his pain level up beyond any kind of endurance that we are familiar with.  But he did endure. It's probably all he's ever known. It's what extreme poverty is all about. Endurance. We had nothing to give him to deaden or numb his leg. I'm pretty sure we were all thinking the same thing. This man is going to lose his leg. The worst moment for him was me cleaning the wound out and then having to pour Hydrogen Peroxide over it. I knew it was going to be bad when I did that and I have to say I held the bottle over the wound trying to gather up the courage to pour it out. I fully expected the man to pass out. I thought I too might pass out. I know my hands were shaking. My chest was tight. He did not pass out. He did, however, grab both sides of that leg and let out a sound that came from deep down inside him in response to the Hydrogen Peroxide hitting a ton of exposed nerves.( Mountain people are more tough than any people I have known). There was a group of people standing around us praying. Two of those people happened to be from PBS, Florida. It wasn't enough for him, or I, to deal with the wound...let alone to have a cameraman filming the whole process. Unnerving; to say the least. We finally got the wound cleaned out and bandaged up and found some extra strength Tylenol, or something for him. Nothing much, but hopefully it would at least take the edge off of the pain for him. We had him lay out on a bench and moved on to the next person.

At the end of the day we loaded this man up in the back of the truck to take him back to our camp. We needed to get him cleaned up and ready for transport to the hospital in Les Cayes the next morning. The guys bathed him (and it may have been the first bath he'd had in ages) and everyone contributed a piece of clothing for him and shared their sheets for a bed for him in the church and took turns looking in on him. The cameraman spent the most time with him. He told the leader of our group that the man kept repeating the same thing over and over again. She asked him what he'd been saying. He repeated to her:   kidonk sa a se renmen an menm. SO THIS IS LOVE! I did lose it then. An elderly man experiencing LOVE for the first time----in his life? No words. That's hard to wrap your mind around. For the rest of the trip I would tear up every time I thought about what he said. And 6 yrs later---I still tear up.

It took me a long time to process that first trip to Haiti. I'm forever thankful that John and Todd were able to come with me. It was life changing for all 3 of us.

PS. The man did not lose his leg. He walked into our clinic the next year with an almost totally healed up wound!! Amazing. All he really needed this time was food. He got plenty of that, along with hugs and love from all of us. We all enjoyed that reunion and the continual smile on his face.

Monday, September 3, 2012

September 3, 2012

I was not able to figure out why I couldn't upload photos....but.... my daughter-in-law, Linda, figured it out in 5 min! For some reason the blog site shows up on Internet Explorer with a ton of missing icons....Linda had me switch to Firefox and 'Voila' the whole row of icons appeared.      Goodbye Internet Explorer!

I think I posted a YouTube video of Christela's story before on Facebook....It is such an amazing God story that I am posting it again here.

Mark Stuart is the lead singer for Audio Adrenalin. His parents lived in Cyvadier, Haiti and operated  the Hands and Feet Orphanage.

I was fortunate to have lived at the Hands and Feet Orphanage in 2011 and Christela was still there. She is now living in the US with Mark and his wife and little John....also from the HAF orphanage. I never get tired of watching her rescue. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 20th, 2012

Greetings to all…….
I thought I’d better start working on blogging again as I am preparing to return to Haiti in late October. I know I won’t have much to write about until I actually arrive in Port au Prince, but I don’t want to leave things on my “to do” list for too long…So, getting my blog reorganized now, in the summer, while I have a ton of down time is a good thing.
I will be returning to Zanmi Beni in Port au Prince. Can’t wait to see how much the babies and toddlers have grown and changed and anxious to get my arms around ‘my’ handicapped kids…especially Alicia that loves me to sing “Jesus love the little children” to her. There have been many changes at the compound while I’ve been home “resting” and getting Mom moved and settled into her gorgeous retirement home--- (That’s a whole God story right there. It’s amazing how things always seem to fall into place for Mom. Sure makes it easier for me…..
For now…..( and mainly because I really don’t have anything to say…yet…) I am only posting pictures of Life in Haiti that are not on my facebook page. That is... I will be posting pictures as soon as I figure out how!!! I still haven’t located the ‘upload pictures’ button.

I am looking forward to reconnecting with everyone in Haiti and also with all the people here in the states that have followed my Blog and have supported  me financially or with prayers; or both; or anything else!  Thank you to all that have hung in there with me over the years. I appreciate you and I am forever GRATEFUL.