Friday, June 25, 2010

Feeding the poor - Haiti, Part 7

I began this story (Parts 1 & 2) by introducing you to 2 of the children that Grace Mission feeds at the Poor House in Limbe but their ministry of feeding the poor doesn't end there.  Hunger and malnutrition are enormous problems in Haiti.  Grace Mission in Limbe provides food to the hungry of Haiti on a regular basis.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the handful of staff at Grace Mission hands out food to 100 needy people.  The provisions that they receive are modest and usually consist of some combination of dried beans, rice, occasionally ground corn, and a little cooking oil.  I had the opportunity to help grind the last of the corn one day.  Because this was the end of the supply and had been stored for awhile, it was heavily infested with weevils.  We sifted the corn in a wire screen box to remove as many of the weevils as possible before grinding but many of the insects were just ground up along with the corn.   It was all that we had to give.  On the last day that we assisted them in this, they were down to just beans and cooking oil.  People bring their own containers in which to receive their ration of cooking oil and those containers ranged from empty soft drink bottles to empty motor oil containers.  Yep, that's right  . . . empty motor oil containers like the ones in which you would buy motor oil for your car at the parts store.  When you are this poor and this hungry, you use whatever is available to you.

While these provisions are helpful to the 100 folks who receive them, there are hundreds more that line up to receive food but walk away still hungry on each of the distribution days.  Resources are limited and the mission staff practices prudent stewardship of those resources to ensure that as many people as possible are helped.  They've designed a simple color-coded card system to ensure that those limited resources are distributed fairly. 

Even as the last of the corn and rice were given away while we were there, there was word that another container of staples was en route and would arrive in Haiti next month. The problem, however, is that it would leave at least a 2 week gap between the end of most of these provisions and the potential arrival of the next shipment of provisions.  Fortunately, there will probably still be dried beans and cooking oil to last until then.  Additionally, the government is so corrupt that there's no guarantee when or if they will actually get that food.  It's not uncommon for the government to seize donations of goods and sell them to people to be sold on the streets.  While that still gets those goods into the hands of some, the poorest people have no means by which to purchase the things that were intended to given to them freely. 

Paul & Belle and Ray & Bonnie don't let this stop them from continuing to serve in the place where God has called them to serve "least of these."  They are faithful because they know that God is faithful and there is still hope. 

On Monday, I'll conclude the story by sharing some ways that you, too, can be a part of the ministry in Haiti.