Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Call to Re-Launch Starthrower's Feeding and Nutrition Program

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day / Earth week is the perfect time to stop and reflect on one's place and role on this planet. As well, this Saturday, April 25, is Malaria Awareness Day. From the perspective of those who live in absolute poverty, every day is Earth Day and Malaria Awareness Day.

Perhaps those of us on this planet who live in comparative luxury need these designated days to jog our complacency and renew our commitments to do what we can to listen to the poor and work with them to make this Earth a healthier place for all.

[Perhaps we should advocate for an International Starthrowers Day, or a Starfish Day when we put names and stories on as many faces as possible, adding to and updating the information every year.]

On this Earth Day, I want to tell you about an email I received last week from Amy, a Canadian university student who visited us in Haiti several years ago. Amy continues to maintain an email relationship with several Starthrower Foundation staff and students in Haiti.

Several of these students have emailed her recently, telling her how hungry they are, and Amy, concerned, has passed this information to me. Sadly, the situation is not news to me, and has been causing the staff and me a lot of concern these past months.

I told her I know that our students are all hungry, and have been for some time, since last summer, when we were forced to discontinue the food distribution program due to lack of funds.

As you know, due to my health situation, I am currently unable to actively fundraise. Believe me, I would if I could. I value the time I spend talking with school and church groups, and with clubs and associations, sharing my experiences of Haiti.

Since I am unable to do this at this time, I am asking you to please do this in my stead. I am making a special plea to everyone who reads this to please help raise money so we can relaunch the feeding program. [See fundraiser ideas on the web site and a note at bottom of this update.]

Last trimeste (Christmas to Easter), staff reports that fewer students were able to get to Starthrower's centre in Cap-Haitien because they were, and are, weak from hunger. Most students seem to be eating, on average, about once a week, and often, what they eat are just scraps and leftovers that they have begged from a neighbor or relative.

Malnutrition and hunger translate directly into infections and poor school attendance. We all worked so hard to find the money to pay their tuition, set up a tutoring program and the text book program, and we gave them vitamins and clean drinking water. How sad, and frustrating, to have them not pass their year just because they are hungry and getting sick.

But, since the third trimeste has just started, and runs into mid-July, there is still time to help salvage their school year. We need to relaunch the feeding and nutrition program, then continue this program until mid July when exams finish.

On this Earth day, please take a little time to really think of these courageous young people. They are trying so hard to make their way in the world. Any amount you can part with, any amount you can raise, will make a difference.

We can transfer the donations to Jack and Auguste, our staff in Haiti, so they can purchase what is needed -- oil, rice, beans, etc. -- in the market in Cap-Haitien. And by buying what we can locally in Haiti, we give a small boost to the local economy; those shopkeepers can then earn money to feed their own families. Please help us feed them.

Pause for a moment and think: Could you eat once a week, and get up and off to school each day, often walking many miles to get there? Could your children? These young Haitians do it every day: Claudy, Fabiola, Kesner, Rose Youdeline, Severe, Bania, Rosenie, Christemene, Dieugrand, Alland, Jhennie, Jon-Charlee, and a hundred or more others.

On their behalf, thank you for taking the time.

Let's start with food, then we can tackle malaria!

Happy Earth Day

Note: (that accepts online donations on our behalf), advises us that Canadians can set up their own Giving Page with Starthrower designated as beneficiary. See Giving Pages for information and create your own fundraiser page for your friends, family, Facebookers to donate to Starthrower.

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