The State of Starthrower Foundation
As you may know I am back in Canada until the end of June before returning to Cap-Haitien, where the situation will be very different for the foreseeable future.
Due to lack of funds, we are no longer able to support the nutrition, medical care and education support programs at Lakay Fondasyon in Haiti. Until sufficient funds become available/are raised, I will continue to pay the rent out of my personal retirement funds. I will try to keep the house there as long as possible as it is one of a kind - - location, number of rooms, garden etc. and well suited to our needs. I have enough money to cover 3-6 months of rent in Cap-Haitien. After that everything is finished. I feel badly for everyone -- the kids, their families, our staff. With us they have had regular work and pay for the first time in their lives and it will finish July 1st. It should be interesting trying to run the house by myself.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN -- SHORT TERM:
We now have a total of $600 (Canadian) for the summer, with grateful thanks to the web site donors. Due to the banking system in Haiti, I cannot access our bank account funds unless I am in Canada, so there is always a lag between donations and cash in hand. There's a very good chance we will not be sending anyone to school next year (with the exception of Marcellus, who is being sponsored by a donor in the UK), nor providing medical/dental support nor food sacks. As June 1st approaches, I want to let you know that I am trying to keep the house with my own money, which I estimate will last 3-6 months. That is my money to live on for the rest of my life. Even though bits will come in, without a sizable donation(s) :
• the house in Cap-Haitien will be closed as a drop-in centre -- no daily meal and no tutoring, which is crucial to academic success
• no school support -- no fees paid, no uniforms, no books, no hygiene supplies
• no food distribution program, no weekly sacks-
• no medical/dental support for anyone; currently there are 10 young people in need of medical attention but we have no money.
• all current full time Haitian staff laid off and no summer jobs for Haitian students. Though we pay them a minimal salary, it has been invaluable in supporting them between school terms, and helping support their familes. The self-worth engendered by earning one's own money is priceless.
This situation will become effective on July 1st. This makes it impossible to receive shipped clothing items as there will be no distribution network. Also, because the kids have no phones and their little shacks have no addresses, many will just 'disappear' and we will never find them again. It costs $80US per box to ship to Florida. After that, it costs me money to pick up. It is so much more reasonable to send the money. It can do more good. It can save lives. Used jeans, however much appreciated, can't do that. The schools and stores want money. Plus these items do no good if these young people cannot attend school, pick up a food sack each week, go to the hospital/clinic when ill, and have no summer job.
WHAT IS BEING DONE (to the best of my knowledge)::
• Francilien, who is running in a UK marathon on June 11 in support of Starthrower Foundation, reports this week: "I am ready and have been doing a lot training. I am sure, I will be able to raise some money. Thank you once again for your social works and we do appreciate it."
• Cindy and Paula in the US report that once they have raised funds to cover their current project of sponsoring Haitian students in US schools, they will donate subsequent funds to Starthrower Foundation. Again, thanks to their (greatly appreciated!) efforts collecting and shipping supplies to Haiti, many students had new clothes and shoes. Unfortunately, as previously noted, clothing shipments are no longer viable.
• In July 2005, the board was advised to check a publication called CANADIAN DIRECTORY TO FOUNDATIONS AND CORPORATIONS (available at university or other large libraries as an in-library-only reference book or for sale at a cost of several hundred dollars) as a resource for determining those corporations likely to support charities working off shore. Unflortunately, there are no volunteers available with the time needed to travel to a university library and spend the time poring over the material. If someone in Canada can help with this resource, please contact us.
This past week, an Orangeville, Ontario resident (Bev) wrote to the local paper noting that "I am hoping that you can meet Sharon and perhaps publish an article before she returns to Haiti in late June. I believe there are many in our community who would be interested in the true story of the tragic conditions in Haiti, and who might access the Web site and ultimately help in some way. I am trying to help to raise the Foundation's profile in our community and have arranged a couple of speaking opportunities at Service Clubs." [Editor's Note: Sharon will address breakfast meetings of an international service club on May 31 and June 14 in her area.]
Bev also wrote to Canada's Haitian-born Governor General with a view to raising Starthrower's profile in the community at large. As well, she asked the Governor General for specific help in shipping goods and for access to government funding. She says, in part :
"Excellency, I have read that you have facilitated shipments to countries in need through our armed forces. I am wondering if this is a possibility in this circumstance. Sharon's apartment is full of school supplies, vitamins, clothing, shoes, etc. She tells me a container shipment costs $10,000. We also need help to apply for and access Federal Funding. And perhaps there is a way that our cause could become known to the Haitian communities in the Province of Quebec. I am sure there are many persons of Haitian descent who would help with the Foundation's goals."
• Hamburgers for Haiti :: This annual fundraiser in London, Ontario in support of Starthrower will go ahead at St. Thomas Aquinas School only. It will be held on June 20 and I have been asked to be present. I will rent a vehicle and drive to London (I gave up my car last year).
• On the morning of June 20 (when I will be in London for Hamburgers for Haiti), I will meet with the administrator of the peace and justice degree program at the University of Western Ontario to make him aware of what we are doing and ask if he has any ideas or contacts.
And as I am in Haiti much of the time and so unable to attend board meetings, I am resigning from the board at the next meeting. I will leave with the challenge to recruit new members, and to take the initiative for fundraising. If everything we have worked for has to stop for a year while Starthrower Foundation's regrouping takes place, then we stop and regroup. The Board meeting is set for Mon. June 12 at noon, and will be held at John Paul II high school in London, Ontario, in the office of Chaplain Pat Materiuk.
Although I welcome these positive fundraising initiatives and am hoping that they come to fruition, the sad fact is that right now, there is no money. Thanks to everyone who supported us this past year, and thanks to those who are currently working to raise funds.
Like so many of the world's charitable organizations, Starthrower Foundation is greatly affected by the so-called 'Donor Faitgue' occasioned by recent natural disasters (the December, 2004 tsunami in Asia, the Summer 2005 hurricanes in the United States, and the current massive earthquake in Indonesia) that understandably draw the bulk of the world's government aid and the public's charitable donations.
Ironically, aid to the tsunami and Katrina victims is mired in distribution problems. Many months after the fact, much of it has still not reached those affected. (See Anderson Cooper 360 CNN blog and the Times report) for details.)
Donations to Starthrower Foundation go directly to those who need them, just as fast as we can get them there. None of the donations to Starthrower Foundation are used to pay administration, web site costs, travel or other expenses. Those expenses are borne by the volunteers.
'Making a difference, one child at a time' is our slogan. If we are able to help only *one* child at a time, then that's what we'll do. And keep working so that we can sponsor more and more, as funds allow.