Many Hands Education Manager, Liz Clarke, reports exciting news concerning our newest campus in Maliarette, Haiti! As the First Thousand Days Program continues to expand we are reaching more lives to show “Love In Action”. Keep reading as Liz introduces a couple families who participate in our program and the impact it is having on them!
January 2020 was a very special month as it not only marked the one-year anniversary of our Maliarette campus and programs, but I also personally celebrated 4 years of service with Many Hands IN Haiti! Praise the Lord! What an exciting time as we continue to see our organization developing well beyond our Sylvain borders. It was a leap of faith and the results have blown us away!
Since starting our programs, Many Hands for Haiti has believed that “every child deserves to be fed from 0-2”. We stand by this foundational value through the First 1,000 Days Program. Within this program we are investing in the child’s future by ensuring proper nutrition today. Daily, over 3 million children all over the world are missing the mark of their developmental potential. This is due largely in part to the lack of nutrition available to them. Serving over 350 meals a day between our two centers, we know the efforts of this program WILL pay off!
Rusunie Nelson with her son and twin daughters
Of course, not all of the pay-offs will be immediate.
Meet the Nelsons. Mathias and Rusunie, parents of 22 month old twin girls, were the very first family to enroll in our Maliarette program and they have continued to be faithful participants. Micah Aurand, who has been visiting and spending time with the family, shared: “Through the First 1,000 Days Program, Mathias and Rusunie are beginning to understand the connection between proper nutrition and development and the role these will play in their daughters’ capacity to learn in later years. Even Mathias said to me: ‘I see the value of this program which is why, if my wife cannot attend on a certain day, I make the effort to bring the girls to the program myself.’
“The Nelsons are also already dreaming about their children’s education. Rusunie wasn’t shy to share her hopes and dreams for her daughters: ‘I want them to grow up and be able to go to college. They can choose what they want to study…but really, I would like one of them to be a nurse.’”
Viola and Cristelle
For some families, the future gain is the focus. For others, the effects of good nutrition today bring immediate and life-changing transformation.
Having already missed the mark to a healthy start, Christelle was 12 months old when she joined our Maliarette First 1,000 Days program. Her big brown eyes, lifeless, seem to pop right out of her tiny head. Just below you couldn’t miss her big puckered lips that were not yet able to maneuver a spoon. She hadn’t begun teething and for these reasons alone, she was miles behind in her nutritional development. Stunted growth is usually related to economic distress. Viola, Christelle’s mother, was skin and bones. At the rock bottom of poverty, she was desperately struggling to feed herself let alone her two young children.
Today, through daily meals and extra interventions, Christelle is working towards a healthy growth chart status and Viola’s face has changed. Old Christelle was lethargic and uninterested. New Christelle has energy, is full of life, reasoning, laughter, and has become very opinionated! She LOVES the program and all the staff. As she receives weekly weight checks, the First 1,000 Days assistants have all become trusted friends. This is where the First 1,000 Days program is about so much more than food.
I once heard someone challenge a group of young people with this question: “How can we use physical hunger to impact spiritual hunger?” When we met Christelle, her tiny body was physically hungry. She was weak therefore susceptible to illness and stunting, keeping her from living out of her fullest potential. On the same side of the coin, something we aren’t able to measure with a scale, her spirit was also weak. Christelle lives in a home where evil spirits are honored and called upon to help with various problems. In a culture of voudou, fear reigns, inhibiting people from living out of their fullest potential spiritually. Now, with their friends at First 1,000 Days, Christelle and her mother are not only fed physically, they are also fed with God’s Word, the bread of the spiritual life. They partake in various classes that teach about life-saving nutrition, sanitation practices, and the health of their eternal soul.
As I reflected on the question of using physical hunger to impact spiritual hunger, I realized that is exactly what we are doing! In the process of simply offering a meal today, we are building tomorrow: physically, cognitively, emotionally, communally, and spiritually.
This is Love in Action.