KareDrew Haiti Foundation
Posted on March 29th, 2012

My husband Pat and I are enjoying being part (or one component if you will) of the hopeful efforts of KareDrew Haitian Children’s Foundation. I’m writing this post to bring people up to date on how KareDrew is helping to provide Infants of Jesus Orphanage with am invaluable resource.

The Long Drink of Water

Thanks to members of the First Presbyterian Church of Franklin, Tennessee, the children and staff of Infants of Jesus Orphanage now have an ABUNDANCE of clean drinking water! Hooray! It was a long time coming, since the idea was born on July 9, 2009, and the first glass of water wasn’t poured until March 31, 2011.

To back track a bit, the project at Infants of Jesus was part of the common nationwide effort of the Presbyterian Church in the United States to purify drinking water in locations throughout the world. The system they use is called Living Waters for the World. The locations chosen, the fundraising, as well as implementation of the system itself is done by members of individual congregations.

When a congregation chooses to take part, even if it has yet to identify a location (which can be anywhere in the world), members of the congregation who volunteer for the effort divide up to be trained. Some learn to test water sources, while others learn to assemble, trouble shoot, and run the system. They also learn how to educate those on site who will be using the system what they have been taught so that the system can be maintained by its recipients.

Once a location has been agreed upon the entire congregation begins to raise funds, and make plans for the systems implementation. The kids of Infants of Jesus benefited when physician Kristina McCain, a member of the Franklin congregation, was in Haiti serving in a professional capacity for Family Health Ministries. She told us about her church, and its desire to take part in Living Water for the World by providing clean water to people who needed it. “Do you know of people who are in need of clean water” Dr. Kris asked? Wow! Did we ever! We took her to visit Infants of Jesus and to take water samples from the orphanage well.

The test results showed that the well water was frankly, Ugh! Kris went back to her congregation with the test results, and the question: “Do we want to take on this project, and provide the orphanage with a water purification system?” The answer came back a resounding “Yes!” The congregation agreed to take it on. The orphanage site lacked something besides pure water. It had no electric power, and no building in which to house the system. KareDrew was able to help by paying for the cost of bringing in the electricity, and also funding the cost of construction for the small building. First Presbyterian would take care of the rest. Within a couple of weeks the project was begun. The electricity was brought in, and construction on the building was underway. In fact by January 12, 2010 it was almost complete. And then the massive earthquake occurred. The orphanage building was so badly damaged that it had to be torn down. The children slept in “tents” made by draping tarps over their plywood dining tables. The little water building fared no better. Under the circumstances the effort has halted while more immediate needs were met.

Tents were eventually provided for the children with the help of the persistent urging of Saude de Portugal, a medical team from Portugal who learned of their plight. Monica, at that time the coordinator of their four member team, kept going to the United Nations cluster meetings on behalf of the children to try get them tents. She was eventually successful. However, following the earthquake, the number of orphanage residents slowly climbed from 40 to 80. The orphanage used a small purification system in the interim. But then one day, shortly after the earthquake, they pumped, but nothing came out. It appeared that the well had gone dry, which fortunately upon inspection turned out to be not true. There was plenty of water, but the shifting of the ground during the quake had cracked the pipes.

First Presbyterian came through again, and provided funds for a new pipe, purchased an electric generator, and a new well pump. Anther wonderful donor who wishes to remain anonymous again funded the reconstruction of the building.

In March, a two part team arrived from Tennessee. They provided educational materials, and showed the teachers some creative methods they could use in teaching the children about personal hygiene, and the use of good water. Then the teen residents who will operate the system received the academic portion of their training.

Those lessons marked the end of the educational teams work, and they went back to Tennessee the next day. The construction and operation team members had arrived the day prior to compare notes with the educators. They oversaw the assembly of the system, and made certain that the teens who were tasked with maintaining the system had learned their lessons, and could operate and trouble shoot.

To hearty cheering, the first purified water was poured on March 31. The next day First Presbyterian team members threw a water party for everyone.

The Living Water for the World system can provide enough water for the drinking, hand washing, baby tending, and cooking needs of the entire orphanage, the students from the community who attend the orphanage day school, as well as their families.

First Presbyterian will also provide 250 five gallon bottles so that the orphanage can earn money selling their excess water. The team from Tennessee will return in a number of months to check the system, and trouble shoot any problems.

In Haiti, as in many parts of the world, when residents of an orphanage reach 18 years of age, they are required to leave. Lesly, the Infants of Jesus director, wants to avoid this. Three residents will reach 18 before the end of this year, and Lesly wants to enable them to remain. (The following quote has been roughly paraphrased from Creole) “These children came late to education. They are still in school, and not instructed to live in the world as adults.” He has been looking for ways in which they can begin to earn a salary while continuing to live at the orphanage and finishih their education.

The water system will help with that effort. The system has the capacity to produce 300 gallons of water every two hours, and there is not much good water available in the immediate area. The student residents should do alright bottling, and selling the orphanage’s excess water, earning both enough to keep the system running as well as earning something for themselves, and their future.

Thanks to all of their efforts, and many, many thanks to the congregation of First Presbyterian Church of Franklin, Tennessee who made it all possible. We raise our glasses of fresh, clean water to all of you. Cheers!

Posted on February 28th, 2011

Welcome to KareDrew’s new blog.  We’ve decided that this will be easier than the way we had been communicating in the past.

Matthew 25 House has been humming with activity since we arrived early in January.  Individuals, as well as groups or teams in all types of configurations based on their particular interest or mission have been arriving,  be it medical, dental, eye care, education, or simply to visit their twinned parish.

The activity has certainly kept up busy, and away from the computer, and hence the opportunity to communicate with all of you. However, at the same time it has provided KareDrew with some additional donations, as well as needed information, and suggestions in relation to our efforts, especially as they relate to the orphanages.

For the past week a medical team from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Carmel, Indiana has been here with a mobile medical clinic.  As they have for the past three years, they’ve provided physical exams for all of the children at Melissa’s Hope, and Infants of Jesus orphanages.  We visited both of them twice within the past month, and we’d like to share some of the progress from both facilities.

Melissa’s Hope has been receiving quite a bit of structural rehab assistance from a Japanese organization.  They have rebuilt the security wall that had been damaged in the earthquake, while at the same time putting in a new septic and grey water drainage system.  It is so very much drier, and the mosquito population has noticeably decreased.  They have also funded roof repair, and new window screening.  All in all things appear to be in sound structural shape.

The children are doing quite well, and we are happy with the staff.  We arrived unannounced which we occasionally do, and found all of the children clean, well fed, and smiling. Pat, and I went out the first time with fellow KareDrew founder, and board member, Frank Fayne.  He was interested in learning about the school that Pascal has set up for children in the neighborhood whose families are too poor to send them. The more highly functioning residents of the orphanage attend also, and it keeps them from being too isolated. Hopefully KareDrew will be able to provide some extra training for teachers.

Food is provided each day with funding from an organization called “Love A Child.” The moms of several of the students volunteer their skills at food preparation. The only downside to all of the structural repair is that it has not been safe to let the wheelchair bound kids go outside until the workers leave for the day.  It limits those kids considerably.

It is the hope of Pascal, the director, to provide the children with daily physical therapy, and it is the hope of KareDrew to be able to provide the funding.  We are currently in the process of researching the cost, as well as the qualified individual who can provide the service.

Infants of Jesus now has 80 residents.  When we first became acquainted with them the total was 42.  The earthquake left more children in need of a home. That raised the number up to 60, which has increased yet again to 80, which I believe is about the facility’s capacity.

There is a Presbyterian church in Nashville, Tennessee that is going to come down here at the end of March to install a water purification system.  KareDrew has provided the orphanage with a small out building to house the system, as well as providing the cost to bring in the electricity necessary to run it.

We have also been providing $1,000 per month to offset the cost of food.  All of this was done before KareDrew became a formal organization.  It was just done through friends.  Now however, donors can receive a tax deduction.  It also gives Patrick Sr., Mary and me an opportunity to be more accountable.

Now the blog makes that even better, as we can keep in touch with all of you, as well as receive feedback, and ideas.

Thanks for “listening”.