When Discrimination Helps Everyone

I smiled over my morning coffee when I read this headline: Haitian food distribution efforts focus on women.  It’s about time. Seeing the news images of jostling, fighting and full on stealing in food lines has been so disheartening, knowing because of that aggression less food will get out and, that which does get distributed, won’t necessarily get to those who need it the most (especially children).  Most, no, all of the aggression I’ve seen in news images on TV are of men. Of course that makes sense. Men are physically the strongest, often most able to get to the food lines because women are caring for children, and many men are just trying to provide for their hungry families. But there are also some men who abuse that physical power to take advantage of the situation. There have been problems with donated food being resold on the streets of Port au Prince – out of bags clearly marked “not for resale.”

Changing distribution strategy like this is nothing new. The UN World Food Program has used such an approach in other disaster zones to great success. When women are given food they are far more likely to wait their turn calmly and to make sure it gets to their children, elderly parents, as well as to the men in their household.  So the men aren’t actually left out, they just have to be nice to their wives to get fed.

Speaking of husbands and wives, my own dear husband, Steve, will be leaving soon for Haiti. He’ll be working with two fabulous organizations, Medical Teams International and Haiti Foundation of Hope.  He’ll work a week in mobile health clinics in Port-au-Prince followed by a week in HFH’s community health program in northern Haiti. This is his fourth trip to work with HFH’s community health program, a program that empowers community members (men and women alike) to be agents of health change in their own communities.  The Haitians he’ll be working with are true change agents, the real future of a brighter Haiti. I appreciate your prayers for him and for the rebuilding of Haiti.

Incredible Haiti Blog

I just had to post this blog link from a Mennonite Central Committee missionary in Haiti. His account of experiencing the moments immediately following the earthquake, before any one here even knew what had happened, are awe-inspiring.


Small Stories of Hope From Haiti’s Rubble

I have wept each day since the earthquake hit Haiti last week. I find myself compulsively drawn to CNN’s news coverage but then so burdened by the despair, the death, the horror. Especially hard for this pregnant mom are the images and interviews of moms and children. Yesterday MSNBC’s medical correspondent interviewed the mom of a 5-year old with a broken leg. The mom had just found out her daughter’s leg was infected due to lack of antibiotics and would have to be amputated. In front of her small child she told the interviewer she’d rather her daughter die than be an amputee. The fear and despair in that child’s face when she heard her mother utter those words tore me to the core.

But in a tragedy with a death toll possibly topping 200,000, THERE IS HOPE. This hope is all I, and even more so every single Haitian now in mourning, have to cling to.  There are the news stories of dramatic rescues of the living still taking place, a full week after the quake.  There are the stories from our dear friends, Dr. Joe and Linda Markee, now serving on the ground in one of Port au Prince’s few remaining hospitals. There is the outpouring of generosity from foreign nations, including ours, and the promises to make sure that aid continues beyond the immediate to help Haiti rebuild.  There is the above picture, of the Terre Blanche clinic about 120 miles north of Port au Prince. It is still standing and is expecting the arrival of the wounded from Port au Prince seeking medical care. Haiti is a largely Christian nation and the images of the newly homeless singing hymns together in the face of the destruction is a testament to the hope the Haitian people still somehow have.

Like so many Haitians, my hope and comfort comes from Jesus Christ. The horrific images I see on TV make no sense to me but I believe in the words of Jesus in John 11:4 when he says “…this is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  May small stories of hope encourage and lift your spirit as well in the face of so much sadness.

For more on how you can help in Haiti visit Haiti Foundation of Hope.

Tragedy Strikes Haiti – You Can Help

I am utterly dismayed by the news of the 7.0 earthquake to strike Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, last night. In a country where 85% of the population already lives in poverty, infrastructure is almost non-existent, and the government is perpetually unstable, this earthquake’s effects will reach farther than we are even yet imagining. Information out of Haiti has been slow-coming and, when the dust settles and TV crews can get footage out, I believe we will discover a major city of 2 million, just a short flight from Florida’s coast, has been totally destroyed.

I spent just a short week in Haiti in 2004 as part of a disaster assessment following Hurricane Jeanne.  While I have not returned my husband, Steve (MD, MPH), has since traveled multiple times to Haiti to participate in the community health work of Haiti Foundation of Hope.  HFH works in an area north of Port-au-Prince that, as far as we know, has not been heavily damaged by the earthquake. However the founders of HFH, Dr. Joe and Linda Markee, are leaving later this week for Port-au-Prince in cooperation with Medical Teams International to see how the two organizations can help at the heart of the disaster.

If you are looking for a way you can help, I strongly urge you to GIVE GENEROUSLY to Haiti Foundation of Hope.  With Dr. Joe and Linda on the ground right away they will be able to assess the best way to use the funds given to meet immediate needs of those affected by this disaster.

Please also PRAY.  HFH still has not heard from its in-country contacts, Pastor Delamy Bazilme and his wife Elvi. They live in Port-au-Prince so naturally we are all concerned.  Assuming they are healthy and well, the first place they will be is out helping their neighbors and so prayer for their continued safety is essential.  As a nation Haiti was already so desperately in need of miracles. That need is only now exacerbated.

Holiday Trunk Show Three Weeks Away – And You’re Invited!


What: Bambootique’s 4th Annual Fair Trade Holiday Trunk Show

Two full days of fabulous fair trade shopping!

When: Saturday November 14th 10am-4pm
Sunday November 15th 1-5pm

Where: 17552 SW Shasta Trail, Tualatin, Oregon (Bambootique owner Beth Sethi’s home), 503-781-3244
View map

Who: You and all your closest friends, family and neighbors. Bring your girlfriends along to introduce them to everything you love about fair trade!

Messenger BagWhat: Two days of holiday shopping that makes a world of difference! This year’s trunk show features products from India, Afghanistan, Bolivia, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Guatemala, Honduras, Togo, South Africa and more! Bambootique’s fair trade selection includes handbags, candles, scarves, skincare products, jewelry and handmade paper products, all made by women artisans in the developing world.  We’ll also have a fabulous selection of Christmas ornaments and nativities from Haiti, Afghanistan, Thailand and Peru.

Stuffed LlamasWe’ll have a fun play area to keep little ones busy while moms shop.

Other features of the show include fair trade freebies such as take-home samples of Strictly Organic Coffee, Kalahari tea and copies of The Conscious Consumer for every attendee. Plus don’t miss our incredible Clearance section, homemade chocolate chip cookies, fresh fair trade coffees and teas, and great music!

Haiti Foundation of HopeThis year Bambootique is thrilled to partner with Haiti Foundation of Hope to support their community health program in Terre Blanche, Haiti. 10% of all sales from the trunk show will be donated to HFH. There will also be a selection of Haitian arts and crafts of which 100% of sales will support HFH’s excellent work.

This event is open to the public so please come and bring your friends!



Photos From Haiti

I just received these photos this morning from Linda Markee, a trusted friend and one of the founders of Haiti Foundation of Hope. They show just how inundated the Haitian city of Gonaives has been. This same city had still not recovered from hurricanes from 2004, so the devastation of this additional flooding is beyond belief.

Devastation in Haiti: How You Can Help

I am dismayed by the devastation storm after storm has wreaked on Haiti in recent weeks. Most recently Hurricane Ike, now headed for the US coast, has brought massive flooding and landslides in and around the northern city of Gonaives. Hundreds have been reported dead, but the worst casualties will come later, the result of the inevitable scarcity of food, clean drinking water, and shelter. Even further down the road will come the greater disaster of children growing up without education, healthcare or proper nutrition because they grew up in a society consumed by survival, with no resources for anything more.

Haiti is a desperate country on the best of days. It’s the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and on par with some of Africa’s poorest countries as far as infant mortality, illiteracy rates, poverty levels, etc. I visited Haiti in 2004 after Hurricane Jeanne struck the same area in northern Haiti. Poverty is not foreign to me but experiencing Haiti, just a short plane ride from the wealthy coast of Miami, was truly shocking.

Now that even greater destruction is happening four years later I am sickened. Nothing has been improved in four years. Hillsides are still deforested, exacerbating the risk of landslides. Food and clean water are always scarce for most of the population. There is virtually no formal economy to speak of, people live hand to mouth and have nothing saved for times of disaster. The reasons Haiti is as it is are complex, with foreign powers like France and the US carrying a portion of the blame. Restoring it to any semblance of a habitable place will also be complex and I can only pray that, before the next storm, enough long-term help will arrive to put the country back on its feet.

In the meantime we can all help. When I traveled to Haiti in 2004 it was in part in cooperation with Dr. Joe and Linda Markee, former missionaries to Haiti with a long-term involvement in rural communities near Gonaives. The Markees now run the organization, Haiti Foundation of Hope, and are involved in community development including education for over 800 children and healthcare for hundreds of rural families. They will be providing financial support through local Haitian leadership to offer relief to those same families. You can donate directly through the HFH website. I’ll be donating 10% of online sales from Bambootique through October 15th to Haiti Foundation of Hope as well.

Every little bit helps. Please pray for the people of Haiti.