Monday, August 31, 2015

Haitian Border Crisis: How is Your Money Helping?

There is a building deportation crisis at the Dominican-Haitian border and during the past month we've asked you to help those who are without anything at all ... no food, clean water or even a pot to cook in. You responded enthusiastically.

Here's how your money is helping:

Because of your generosity, FFP's Dominican staff purchased supplies to create 200 CARE KITS* (filled with food and cooking items). Many of our Dominican church partners worked with us hand in hand to help assemble the kits.
FFP's church partners in the DR help assemble Care Kits.
Our Dominican staff drove trucks loaded with these kits to the deportation camp in the border town of Anse-a-Pitre (at the very southeastern corner of Haiti). Our Haiti staff drove an arduous journey up and over the mountains to meet them there and join in the effort.
FFP's Dominican, Haitian and American staff in Anse-a-Pitre

The FFP team was surprised to discover that since Kristin and Heather visited the camp two weeks ago it had swelled from 200 families to over 400! This increase would really challenge the distribution.
Tents in the camps are built from sticks and whatever scraps can be found.
But first, they gathered the community together for a time of worship.
Pastor Valentin leads people in a time of worship.
"The people are hungry and scared, but they are also so hungry to worship God. Even though they have very little, they still praise God and trust Him to provide," said Pastor Valentin.

Any community distribution can quickly deteriorate into chaos, but fortunately due to our team's experience, they maintained an orderly and calm process. Knowing they wouldn't have enough for everyone, they first identified families with children. And they encouraged those who received to share with those who didn't.
FFP staff members distribute the Care Kits.
Said one of our partners, "This was the smoothest distribution I have ever seen! The FFP staff knew exactly what to do and handled the crowd with compassion and respect."
A pregnant woman is so thankful for her Care Kit.
While the long-term goal is to relocate these people into communities and with family, we saw an immediate need to provide life-saving help. We thank you for helping make this heroic effort possible. Your donations have literally helped save lives and given hope to many who feel like they don't belong anywhere.
Says Kristin Hamner, FFP's Dominican Director, "The crisis is far from over, and will probably continue through the end of the year. Our next step is to supply five-gallon water jugs, deliver clean water and distribute additional food. We're working with our partner Water@Work for clean water solutions. And we're talking with the government to see how we can work together to care for these wonderful people. We need continued support so that both our Dominican and Haitian staff can respond to needs as they arise."
Kristin with the Water@Work team discuss ways to bring clean
water to the deportation camps in Anse-a-Pitre and Malpasse.
*CARE KITS include rice, beans, oil, cereal, sugar, canned meat, pasta, salt, tomato paste, bouillon cubes, coffee, cooking pot, knife, cooking spoon, matches and a five-gallon bucket with a lid.

Thank you for your donations! We are grateful and overwhelmed with your generous support so far. But the needs persist!

We need at least 200 donors to give $30/month through the end of the year so we can continue to meet the basic needs of the people in the camps. 
Will you be one of them?  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Faces of FFP: On a Mission

Chris Goodyear (center) and the FFP mission team in La Victoria.

"I didn't go on a mission trip expecting my life to be changed, but that's exactly what happened!"

Chris Goodyear didn't go on a mission trip because he felt "called" or was looking for a life-changing experience. He went because his daughter was going and the trip leader, Frank Speranza from Long Valley Presbyterian Church (LVPC), needed more male chaperones.

"I figured my job would be to watch over the kids and keep them out of trouble. As a long-time soccer coach I was very qualified for that task!"

During pre-trip meetings Chris started to get a feeling this trip might be different than he expected. "For starters, we were going to be building a church--and I hadn't even attended church in decades! And when past trip members shared their stories about oneness and community I didn't understand what they were talking about."

It wouldn't take long to find out. "I was blown away by what I saw at the airport in Santo Domingo. The members of La Victoria church (LVPC's partner community) gr
eeted us with banners and singing. Americans and Dominicans ran to hug each other as friends were reunited. To witness this connection ... well, right there it was, 'Wow!'"

"On our first day at the work site I experienced a whole range of feelings ... expectation, exhilaration, excitement, humility and fatigue. The community was much poorer than I expected with unpaved roads, no running water and houses made from scraps. As we worked hand in hand with our Dominican friends to put in the floor of the church, I started to see for myself what community looks like ... how everyone joins together to help each other ... and how 'play' between children is a universal language."

"I'm a naturally cynical person, especially when it comes to organized religion, but at our first worship in La Victoria I witnessed genuine outpouring of faith--unlike anything I'd ever experienced. In the unabashed sharing of love for God I felt within myself gratitude and joy. And I felt God banging on the door of my heart saying, 'Let me in!'"

"As we spent ten days working, playing and worshipping together, I watched two very different groups of people join together in oneness, bound by a common goal and shared faith in God. And I was now part of this group."

"This experience was a turning point in my life. I learned so much from the Dominicans. I saw what working hand in hand looks like. And I realized that God hadn't deserted me. He had been there all along waiting for me to turn back toward Him. When I returned home I joined LVPC and am now an active member. This year I plan to return to La Victoria for my third mission trip!"

"I didn't go on an FFP mission trip expecting my life to be changed ... but evidently God had other plans!"

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Faces of FFP: Why I've Dedicated My Life to FFP

Kristin Hamner, FFP's DR director, and Pastor Alejandro share ideas for future projects in Batey San Joaquin.

"You help me be the pastor I've always desired to be!" 

Dear Friends,

After nine years of serving as a missionary in the Dominican Republic, I've grown accustomed to being asked questions like, "Why do you stay with FFP when you're so far from family and friends?" "With your new Master of Divinity degree wouldn't life be easier in the US?" and "Haven't you been there long enough?"

I have standard rehearsed answers that include things like completed projects...clean water...quality education...and improved medical care. But sometimes even I need to be reminded about why I stay. 

Recently my friend and colleague, Pastor Alejandro called me. A member of his congregation in Batey San Joaquin had broken a bone during construction of the community center. The man needed orthopedic surgery but neither he nor the congregation had money to cover the cost of it.

Looking for help, Pastor Alejandro's first call was to me. I contacted FFP's directors Ken Culver and Wendy Patchin who immediately agreed FFP would cover the cost of the man's surgery.

When I told Pastor Alejandro the good news, he exclaimed, "Thank you! Thank you for helping us! I feel so blessed and privileged to work with you and Foundation for Peace because you help me to be the pastor I've always desired to be!"

Tears filled my eyes. This is why I stay! 

Every single day--in ways that often go unseen--I am part of an organization that helps equip amazing pastors like Alejandro who dedicate their lives to improving life in their impoverished communities.

Yes, I could live a much easier life in the US. But the Lord has given me gifts and skills to use right here, working hand in hand with Dominican pastors to help truly transform communities. And there is no place I'd rather be.

I'm not asking you to give up your life to join me (although you're welcome to), but I am asking you to make a donation so FFP can continue saying "Yes!" to the many people who desperately need our help, like Pastor Alejandro.

Your contribution will directly help our staff build up pastors, congregations and communities. Will you please say "Yes" today? 

I thank you, and Pastor Alejandro thanks you.

Love and Blessings,

Kristin Hamner
National Director, Dominican Republic

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Connecting Two Communities

Our partner KONETKE's summer mission trip to Haiti was recently featured in the Princeton Packet (August 21, 2014).

Participants of the Princeton Haiti KONEKTE summer service trip returned enriched by the experience, bearing messages of thanks and gratitude for the Princeton community.

“The mission of KONEKTE is to make a connection between two very different communities,” said Anne Hoppenot, KONEKTE co-founder and trip leader. “It is a connection based on mutual learning and appreciation. We couldn’t do it without the help of our friends in the Princeton area or the NJ-based Foundation For Peace which hosts our group in Haiti.”

The team of 5 adults and 15 teenagers worked on a wide variety of activities, including mixing cement by hand, teaching business, soap making and art classes, bringing solar power to an orphanage dormitory, distributing mosquito nets and organizing the third annual KONEKTE soccer tournament.

“We had an ambitious schedule of activities this year, it was a lot of work and organization,” said Judy Sarvary, KONEKTE board member and a trip leader, “but it is worth it when you see the difference you can make and how much it is appreciated. The enthusiasm and eagerness to learn is inspiring.”

17-year old PHS student Theo Devlaminck, whose mother, Noum, a teacher at the Princeton Charter School, also came on the trip, described it as “an eye-opening experience.” He was amazed at how many of the local villagers came out to help with the construction of a new school. “Not only did we have the opportunity to help the Haitians, but they also taught us something important in return, how to act like a true community,” he said.

Led by Stuart Country Day School graduate, Vanessa Li, the team organized a series of art classes. “It was always my dream to learn to draw and paint but I never had a paintbrush in my hand before,” said a 16-year old student. “I have realized my dream and I thank you profoundly,” he said.

While some team members were organizing classes, others were installing a solar suitcase in the dormitory of a local orphanage, Le Centre d’Action pour la Developpement (CAD). “On behalf of the children, I thank you,” said a thrilled Marline Mondesir, orphanage director. “The children will now have electricity to study, read and play at night.”

This ‘solar suitcase’ was one of two which had been assembled by students at Stuart Country Day School as part of a 2-week project learning program. The ‘suitcase’ is a compact, transportable system designed by We Share Solar to provide solar powered lighting and device charging to places without regular electricity. “Part of the learning process is for our students to understand energy poverty and learn about the community that is receiving the suitcase,” explained Ms Hoppenot.

Another suitcase was installed in a local middle school, ‘La Reference de Ganthier’, so that students can study after dark. Makesnel Ulysse, a 20-year old co-founder and administrator of the school, plans to expand into adult education. “We will now be able to use the building at night to teach how to read and write to adults who did not have the opportunity to learn at school. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Makesnel is putting his own dreams of college on hold to educate others. “He is inspiring,” said Noum Devlaminck. “He spent countless hours teaching us Kreyol and cultural facts about his beloved country.”

The visit included a celebratory graduation at College Mixte Marius Carnold, the school that KONEKTE sponsors. “It was wonderful to be invited and see the school community come together to celebrate the importance of education, an education that KONEKTE supporters make possible through donations to our teacher salary fund,” said Ms Sarvary.

This was the first year KONEKTE offered a business seminar, a rare opportunity anywhere outside the city of Port Au Prince. “We are very moved by the fact that you worked so hard to prepare these classes for us,” said participant Taika Antoine. Taika also attended the soap making class and would now like to start her own soap making business.

A highlight of the trip, for participants and the community of Ganthier, is the KONEKTE soccer tournament. “We have the families of PFC to thank for helping with the prize money and soccer balls for this year’s tournament,” explained Ms Hoppenot. “The prize money goes to the clubs for purchasing much needed balls and other equipment. The Haitians love soccer - we love watching the games as much as they love to play.”

With the help of Hillsborough Presbyterian Church, two young team participants, Eric Kinney and Celena Stoia, raised money to pay for over a hundred mosquito nets and mosquito repellent that the team distributed in the village of Kwa Kok, where residents are exposed to the fast spreading and extremely painful Chikungunya virus. The team also distributed hundreds of toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste which had been donated by Princeton area dentists.

No service trip in Haiti is complete without construction work. The team worked on the foundations for a new remote village school as well as the second floor of the Men Nan Men vocational school, a Foundation For Peace project. One trip participant, Scott Lillis, a former Princeton resident who now lives in Gwynedd Valley, PA, felt he had never worked harder in his life. “I would have never imagined how hard it is to make and transport cement with only shovels and buckets! But how rewarding it is to do this hand in hand with Haitian people! Moreover, sharing this experience with my 16-year old daughter, Ingrid, is something I will never forget,” he said.

This was the first trip to Haiti for Pennington resident, Olive Coghlan. “There was a great feeling of community, collaboration and common purpose,” she said. “This is reflected in the progress KONEKTE has made. Seeing three schools was a wonderful example of this progress; a graduation in one, classes in another as we passed cement to finish the top floor, and in a third, working alongside the community to pour cement for the foundations.”

“Our connection strengthens each time we visit,” said Ms Sarvary. “But there is so much more we can do by connecting people, schools, even businesses. And for that we need the ongoing support of the Princeton community.”

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

FFP Announces Director of Global Missions

Wendy in Kenya

We are delighted to announce that Wendy Patchin is joining the Foundation for Peace staff full-time as of July 1, 2014! As Director of Global Missions, she will be responsible for working with our in-country staff and mission teams to continue enhancing the quality and efficiency of our mission programs in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Kenya.

Wendy went on her first mission trip with Foundation for Peace in 2004 and has been on countless trips since. Since 2010, Wendy has served as Associate Director, working in various aspects of the ministry in the US and abroad, including education, personnel, and team preparation. She also serves as the Chair of the Board of Missions.

Wendy is currently an elder on session at her home church, United Presbyterian Church, Flanders, NJ. Upon her retirement in June from the Andover School District, where she is teaching mathematics to middle school students, she will dedicate herself to the FFP full-time in the US and abroad.

We hope her addition to our staff in this capacity will enable us to more completely address the needs of a growing organization and allow us to expand and improve our service to those in need.

Please join us in congratulating Wendy!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bright Idea and Joint Partnerships Bring Power to Haiti

This story comes from the Montgomery News 

A Joint Project with Local Independent Schools to Build and Install Solar Suitcases in Haiti 

Stone Hill Church of Princeton (formerly Westerly Road Church) has long had a fruitful partnership with churches and ministries in Haiti. After the devastating earthquake in 2010, Stone Hill increased its commitment to its partner ministries in Haiti, with regular short- and long-term service trips and volunteer efforts.

This spring, Stone Hill is partnering with a number of local independent schools and nonprofit organizations to bring portable solar energy units to key sites in Haiti. The Stone Hill missions team has coordinated efforts with KONEKTE (an educational nonprofit implementing initiatives in partnership between Princeton and Fond Parisien, Haiti), Foundation for Peace (a NJ-based nongovernmental organization with an office based in Haiti), and We Share Solar (a nonprofit dedicated to supporting collective solar-energy education and initiatives). Together, these organizations brought curriculum and materials to enable students from Princeton Day School and Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart to learn about the engineering involved in generating solar power and build four solar suitcases to be installed in Haiti.

This is an example of a solar suitcase.
A single solar suitcase can be used to provide highly efficient lighting and power for mobile communications, e-readers, and small electronic devices. Each suitcase is a fully integrated system, with lighting appliances and power production components delivered as a single unit, designed for daily use. The system is designed to be low-maintenance, with no fuses to replace and very simple battery replacement every 2-3 years. The system is plug-and-play and can be installed without need for an experienced solar technician, but is also designed for future expansion.

Installing the solar suitcase on the roof of the church in La Hatte Cotin
The strategic partnerships in Haiti already developed by Stone Hill and KONEKTE helped to inform the decisions of where to deploy these solar suitcases. Two suitcases built by the Princeton Day School were delivered to Haiti in March by a team from Stone Hill Church, comprised of local residents and University students. Two more suitcases, built by Stuart Country Day School, will be delivered in June by a team sponsored by KONEKTE – a team comprised of local residents and students from the Princeton area Upper Schools. These suitcases will be installed in schools and churches (whose facilities are also used as schools and community centers) in Fond Parisien, Haiti.

The suitcases themselves will provide sorely-needed power reserves to these sites, and Stone Hill Church and KONEKTE will continue to support training and education initiatives that will enable the staff and students at these sites to maintain and expand these solar energy systems.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Seeing is Believing!

Even the snowy, blustery, icy grasp of winter storm Titan couldn't stop FFP's February 13-18 review trip to the Dominican Republic and Haiti! (Although taking off at JFK in the midst of the storm was nothing short of a miracle and an experience we won't soon forget!)

Yeah, we took off in this!
If God makes a way, it's going to happen!

Twice a year Foundation for Peace leaders, prospective trip participants, donors and anyone interested in FFP are invited to join us on a review trip in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. For six days we travel between the two countries visiting many current FFP projects, meeting with community leaders and scoping out prospective projects.

Meeting with Pastor Jackie and visiting Batey Algodon

Time and again trip participants express amazement that FFP has done—and is doing—so much in the two countries. Said one February trip participant, "I've been on a mission trip and thought I knew all about FFP. But seeing the scope and reach of FFP completely blew me away. I am so proud to be part of an organization that is truly making a difference!"

Said another participant, "Usually when I give money to an organization I'm never sure if the money will actually used the way I hope. Going on the FFP review trip and seeing with my own eyes how much Foundation Peace has accomplished, how communities are literally being transformed and how much hope is being shared ... I can see every single penny I donated is being put to amazing use!"

Linet Madeja was so inspired by the experience that she created a video of the February review trip. Watch it, and we promise it will be the most uplifting and inspiring 15 minutes of your day! Click and see for yourself . . .

The next FFP review trip will be November 6-11, 2014. Contact Wendy Patchin if you're interested or would like more information. The cost less than $300 (plus airfare)!

If you're interested in going on a Foundation for Peace mission trip, click to see the calendar of upcoming trips. Or contact Ken Culver if you'd like to lead a mission group from your church, organization or school.