Sunday, February 28, 2010

Haitian Schools

As we prepare for our trip to Haiti in 5 days, we think about the work we began teaching English at Mountain Top Ministries (MTM) school in Gramothe.

According to MTM, the government of Haiti has realized the following statistics about schools in Haiti:
  • 5,000 schools were destroyed
  • 80,000 teachers are now unemployed
  • 1 million students no longer have a school to attend
These are sobering facts that give us even more cause to thank God for what we have and for what our friends at Mountain Top Ministries can provide to the students of Haiti.

We are happy to report that MTM resumed classes at their schools in the villages of Gramothe and Dumay on February 8th, nearly 1 month following the quake. Students are attending, but not all are accounted for. Sadly, MTM confirmed that one of their 6-year-old students, Kenia Tilus (pictured above), was one of the countless casualties of the earthquake. While walking along the river bed with her father after attending a day of kindergarten at the MTM Gramothe school, the earthquake struck and a rock slide was triggered striking this beautiful little girl.

Many Haitians are still gripped with fear following this tragedy. Please pray for the students and their families to not be afraid as the aftershocks still continue. (Aftershocks were reported by MTM as late as February 23rd, 6 weeks following the earthquake.) Pray for the Haitian government so that they would encourage schools that were unaffected to remain open for students. MTM has heard reports of schools that have been forced to close their doors by the government until ALL schools are able to open. Please lift up all school administrators and teachers whose job has become all that much more challenging.

We are encouraged to hear that so many students have returned to school in the midst of this national crisis. They truly want to learn and we are happy to be a part of the process, teaching ESL classes. Although we don't know exactly what the upcoming trip holds for our team, we look forward to our departure on March 6th. We plan to do whatever work they need at Mountain Top Ministries and Rivers of Hope and are so very grateful for your support.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Teacher Challenge!

Okay teachers. It's your turn! Two ambitious elementary schools and their students have made a big difference for Haiti this week.

An elementary school in Montgomery, Illinois raised $826 for Rivers of Hope orphanage. A small school in Metarie, Lousiana raised $302 in a day to support TRTP.

How did they do it?

The school in Illinois had pajama day. Each child who wanted to wear their pjs to school brought in a $1 donation for The Red Thread Promise. A similar concept was used in the Louisiana school. Children who brought in $1 were able to leave their school uniforms at home and wear street clothes to school on a designated day.

What a simple way to support relief efforts in Haiti! We'd like to challenge you to bring this or other creative idea to your school and try it. Getting children involved teaches them valuable lessons in compassion, a trait that can only be learned by being involved in something that makes another's life better.

What can your school do this week?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Your Donations at Work in Haiti

Your contributions are truly making a difference in the lives of others. Whether it is the treatment of an individual orphan like Zheng LuYuan, or bringing supplies to an entire mountainside in Haiti, it is news like this that warms our hearts and reinforces that our work is effective. Thanks to your generous support, we have sent over $13,000 directly to the directors of Mountain Top Ministries and Rivers of Hope orphanage in the past few weeks! Your donations have directly impacted the lives of thousands of Haitians and we wanted to share some of the news with you.

Mid January
Willem was, and still is, highly engaged in helping relief supplies get to the people of Haiti. He met with the Minister of Commerce, the Prime Minister and President Preval on January 21st to discuss this massive undertaking in the mountains outside Port au Prince, where Mountain Top Ministries and Rivers of Hope orphanage are located. Willem worked closely with a team to set up food distribution points in Gramothe and Dumay. The villages of Madeleine, Boucan, Planchet, Tala and Depense were also served at the distribution point in Gramothe. Beth and their sons, David and Stephen, spent hours organizing supplies for rationing. They packaged medical items creating health kits as well as organized and filled large bags of medical supplies from the MTM clinic.

Hugs were shared and tears shed as they said goodbye to friends who evacuated to the Dominican Republic. Those remaining at MTM tried their best to keep their spirits up as they continued to search for classmates and friends. Even though the work was exhausting, sleep was an elusive luxury that many were unable to find for themselves.

Late January
Willem was instrumental in food distribution in the outer lying areas of Port Au Prince as well as in the immediate areas around MTM. The people's desperation was mounting as their need for clean water and food escalated. Willem and Beth reported that there were a few "close calls", but thankfully, God brought them through without incident.

Mountain Top Ministries' school principals reported that all of their teachers survived the earthquake. Sadly, they could not reach each and every family at both the Gramothe and Dumay schools. They prayed for word from all families.

On January 28th, a dry food distribution was done in Gramothe. There was enough for each family to get a 100 lb. bag of food items. On the 30th, Willem, Stephen and a crew from the Gramothe / Thomassin area arrived in the village of Dumay with rice. They handed out one 50 lb. bag of rice for every 4 villagers to be shared; the very elderly received 1 full bag. Once the line of adults was complete, a new line was formed with children. There was enough rice remaining that every 5 children were allowed a full bag to share. Everyone in the village that came for distribution left with food.

Early February
The village of Madeleine is 2 mountain sides walk from Gramothe and is home to some of the poorest children that attend the MTM School. Coordinating a food distribution for this village was challenging. Only a tiny footpath leads to the village making it impossible to take a truck there. MTM assigned one of the older MTM high school students from Madeleine the task of making a list of one name from each family in the village who would receive rice for their family. That one person would come to the Gramothe church to receive their provisions. On February 5th, a large crowd of Madeleine family representatives appeared on the basketball court just below the MTM church. Two by two the family representatives came forward when their names were called and received a bag of rice to be divided between them. 127 families were given food that they otherwise had no way of getting.

Stephen and David were able to assist Willem in the food distribution to the remote village of Boucan on February 9th. 192 more families received rice and oil through the distribution work of MTM.

On February 12th, a family representative from each of the villages of Planchet, Tala and Depense gathered at the church in Gramothe to receive rice and oil. The villagers cooperated so well that Willem was able to give rice to two villages simultaneously, enabling the distribution to move quickly. The people were able to return to their homes before the night settled. 250 more families were served that evening.

From Willem and Beth: Together on behalf of the Haitian people, we are grateful for the donors that are helping to make these kinds of food distributions possible.

From The Red Thread Promise: Thank you for showing your love of humankind by supporting The Red Thread Promise's Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund.

National Day of Mourning in Haiti

Friday, February 12th was declared as a national day of mourning in Haiti by President Preval, marking one full month since the devastating earthquake that crumbled the government of Haiti to it's foundations. According to the last death toll we have seen, 250,000 people were killed in the earthquake. There are still many missing. We can only imagine how many are now homeless and jobless. We can only guess at the number of orphans now.

Many churches in Haiti took this call to mourning a huge step further. Churches asked the people of Haiti to pray and fast for the past three days, ending yesterday. Services began very early all over Haiti on the 12th; singing and praying filled the air. People cried out to God for this nation, repenting of their sins, asking Got to bring unity among the people, to provide for those in need, to heal the broken and to bring spiritual renewal to this land. Praises rang forth to the Creator who has been merciful and gracious; to the one who is the Provider, the Healer, the Protector.

Just as it's own people are praying, please take a moment to lift your voice to God on behalf of the people of Haiti. Please also pray for our team that will be flying to Haiti on March 6th to work with the people in every capacity possible.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

We Are The World

As this iconic song resonates in our minds, whether from the original 25 years ago or the remix from yesterday's Olympic Winter Games opening ceremonies, we are reminded of how important it is for us to come together when someone is in need. That someone is Haiti, an entire country of people who have been devastated time and time again.

In a statement given to MTV, Quincy Jones said, "Twenty five years ago, the entertainment industry showed the power of community to help our fellow man when we recorded 'We Are The World' to bring relief to those suffering from famine in Ethiopia. And while the need to assist Africa continues, today the country of Haiti is suffering immeasurably from the destruction due to the recent earthquake and is in immediate need of relief that will last long after the television cameras have left. As artists, we have joined together on this 25th anniversary and in the spirit of 'We Are The World' to help meet that need."

The Red Thread Promise says thank you to the 81 members of the choir who sang so passionately about this tiny little country and the world's efforts to assist. The celebrities truly grasped the red thread of destiny with their song. It is our hope that their united voices will bring people together from all corners of the earth to uplift our Haitian brothers and sisters.

If you've been following The Red Thread Promise's blog and FaceBook posts, you already know that we established a relationship with Haiti prior to the earthquake. We promise to continue our work with the children of Haiti, in the midst of this most recent crisis and beyond. We promise not to walk away when the media is no longer covering relief efforts and people begin to forget about this little country. We promise to use your donations to the best of our ability wherever The Red Thread Promise works with children. We promise to report back to you how we use those donations so that you know what a difference your gifts make in the lives of others.

And now we'd like to thank YOU, our supporters, who give their time, talents and financial support to The Red Thread Promise. Without you, we would cease to exist.

In the following post today, we will give an update as to how your contributions are giving direct aid to the people of Gramothe, Haiti and surrounding villages. Briefly, we have been able to send nearly $13,000 to Mountain Top Ministries and Rivers of Hope Orphanage! Food and medical supplies continue to be their top priorities and we have found it to be more cost effective to purchase these supplies in Haiti then to ship them from the U.S.

Please consider making a donation to our Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund where you can make a direct difference in the lives of the Haitian people today. Our mailing address, Global Giving and PayPal buttons are on the right in the sidebar. Mark your donation with "earthquake" in the subject line and 100% of the donation will go directly to Haiti.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Interesting Article About Haiti

Wanted to share some interesting historical background on Haiti as well as the author's opinion on how to best make a difference. If you click on the article, it enlarges so you can read it. (Author's note: I wanted to share this with you earlier, but it got buried in a stack on my desk!)

Penny Blessings brings wheelchairs to Haiti

Recently, several individuals and organizations have requested our popular Penny Blessings coffee can labels to help raise money for Haiti. Some have even asked that we make a custom one specifically for our Wheelchair Promise Program. We were happy to oblige!

The Red Thread has been doing this for simple program for years. It is a fun way to get the whole family involved in fundraising. If you haven't heard of Penny Blessings, the concept is simple:
  • Place an empty coffee can at home, work, church, or wherever you can.
  • Collect pennies and other loose change.
  • When the can is full, cash in the change and send a check to The Red Thread Promise.
This is a blessing that you, your family and friends can be a part of and is great fun for kids of all ages. It is amazing how much it adds up! Kids can get involved by counting the money and rolling the coins. Or, if time is tight, they can dump the can into the coin sorter at your local grocery or other store.

Here's what some people have said about the program:

“At first it seemed too small to matter—to impact anything—much less a child’s chance at a changed life. But we put a coffee can on the floor of the car and another can on the dresser. With the economy being so uncertain, we try to pay for everything with cash. Any change we get back from a purchase (gum, coffee at Starbuck’s, bananas) we toss in the Penny Blessing cans. In Hawaii, where we have no city or county recycling, we take our trash, plastics, aluminum and newspapers to be recycled. Any returned dollars go in the cans as well. At the end of each month, we roll coins, make a deposit and write TRTP a check. On a monthly basis, it has ranged between $20 - $60...surprisingly so, it just adds up! And we don’t miss a penny of it… it’s extra and easy to toss in the cans. We are making a difference.” ~ Kevin and Victoria (Kamuela, Hawaii)

"Our elementary school is in it's second year collecting change for The Red Thread Promise. The children are so enthusiastic about the Penny Blessings project. Knowing that they are helping other children who are in need creates a sense of caring about others, especially on a global level." ~ Susan (Middletown, Ohio)

If you would like one of our coffee can labels, please send an email to You can specify generic or wheelchair. Happy coin collecting and thank you for your support.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

First Wheelchair Donations

St. Paul's Episcopal Church-Lakeview in New Orleans voted to support the Wheelchair Promise Program this past Sunday. ECW (Episcopal Church Women) have already donated $650 which will allow us to purchase our first 2 wheelchairs and 2 repair kits! Upon the receipt of funding for an entire container of 95 wheelchairs, it will be shipped to Mountain Top Ministries for distribution.

St. Paul's Haiti relief task force meets this weekend with members of St. Paul's, The Red Thread Promise and the greater community to strategize on how best to make a difference to the people of Haiti. The ECW group will be introducing the wheelchair program to other ECW groups, Episcopal schools, community groups and those that might want to team with TRTP and St. Paul's. We are so grateful for their support!

We'd love to hear the creative ways people are putting their compassion in action. If your church, school, family, group is doing something to support The Red Thread Promise, please contact Kathy with your story.

Haiti trip

You may have noticed that the posts this week are still coming from the US. Our trip to Gramothe, Haiti, was originally planned for January 30 - February 5 to complete our second week of the ESL program. However, due to the unrest in Haiti following the earthquake, our hosts at Mountain Top Ministries (MTM) requested that we wait a few more weeks before visiting.

In the words of Willem and Beth: At this time, Haiti is far too volatile and MTM cannot guarantee provisions nor security for our groups [visitors]. WE STILL NEED YOU! Please, we ask that you stand ready to come and that you would stand with us in prayer to make wise decisions about Mountain Top Ministries teams that travel to Haiti.

In a short while, all of the aid will leave Haiti, but the people will continue to desperately need your care and assistance. There will still be much work to do.
  • Please, do what you can where you are at to keep people praying for Haiti and giving toward the purchase of medical supplies, food and building materials. Encourage Red Thread supporters to do the same. MTM is totally engaged in relief aid at this time. Again, we must all be busy doing what we can, where we are.
  • Please, pray, pray, pray and pray some more for this little country. We are confident that God is in control. We can never encompass the scope of His plan, but we trust that He has one and we will continue to be obedient to what He has called us to do.
Thank you for your faithfulness to this ministry, we can't do it without you. We deeply appreciate your friendship as well as your partnership for the glory of God in Haiti.

And that's just what The Red Thread Promise has been doing: praying, coordinating Christopher's care, helping to identify potential adoptive families for Rivers of Hope's orphans, collecting much needed supplies that we will hand carry in suitcases when we travel to Haiti, and (of course) raising money to send to MTM and ROH. We have already sent over $6,000 to Willem, Beth and Rachoul so they can purchase the supplies they need for Mountain Top Ministries and Rivers of Hope orphanage. And the donations keep coming.

Please take heed to Willem and Beth's request and continue to support Haiti through your prayers and donations to The Red Thread Promise. Our plan prior to the earthquake was to create a long-term relationship with the country of Haiti. This plan has not changed. Our support of the Haitian people will not wane with time, when the earthquake is no longer a top news story. Rest assured, we will be there, on the ground, working with the orphans, providing medical care and teaching English for many years to come.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wheelchair Promise Program

The Red Thread Promise is coming to the aid of those who have been immobilized by the loss of a limb from the earthquake by bringing all terrain wheelchairs to Haiti.

According to CNN, "Haiti's earthquake is creating 'a generation of amputees,' something that will pose a challenge for Haitian society for years to come... The number of amputees created by the disaster is hard to measure, but Handicap International estimates it is at least 2,000 and growing. Dr. Mitra Roses of the Pan American Healthy Organization said some hospitals were performing between 30 and 100 amputations a day after the earthquake... Amputations in Haiti are especially difficult for patients because so many people get around on foot or by bicycle. Sidewalks and roads are poor and wheelchairs, crutches and canes are few." (photo above is from CNN) Read more.

There is a major need for wheelchairs in Port au Prince and surrounding areas due to the rapid increase in amputees, especially in the mountainous areas. While beautiful, the mountains are a constant obstacle to impoverished children, adults and seniors attempting to maneuver through the rough terrain. All terrain wheelchairs can provide a life changing experience for these people. A bit about the chairs:
  • Rugged all-purpose manually powered vehicle
  • Suitable for a wide range of use; from hospitals to city streets to off-road terrain
  • Heavy duty construction ideal for passage over rocks, potholes, bomb craters and steep ascents and descents characteristic of the road and path ways where it is most critically needed
  • Easily disassembled and re-assembled for ease of transportation as well as repair
  • Common bicycle wheels and other readily available parts are used as replacements
  • Replaceable cushion reduces or eliminates body sores
It is our goal to send an entire 20 ft container of wheelchairs to Mountain Top Ministries (MTM). MTM has a well-equipped workshop at their facility and is eager to provide their expertise by training Haitians how to assemble and completely maintain the wheelchairs.

In order to meet this lofty goal, we need your support.

Each chair costs $250 for an adult or a child. Optional features include:
  • Hand brake mounted on armrest: $25.00
  • Speed governor set at 15 MPH: $35.00
  • Lumbar profile accessory: $30.00
  • Repair kit: $75.00
  • 3-Year maintenance program: $225
Please consider donating to The Red Thread Promise to make this goal a reality for the disabled people of Haiti. Our mailing address, Global Giving and PayPal buttons are on the right in the sidebar. Mark your donation with "wheelchair" in the subject line.

Monday, February 1, 2010

ORPHAN UPDATE - Christopher

We are so grateful to all of you who have reached out to us to see how you can help the children of Rivers of Hope orphanage following the earthquake. Your support in prayers, email and donations has been astounding. It is amazing to see how a tragedy can really bring people together and bring out our own compassionate spirits. The silken red thread of destiny is indeed visible again.

At this time, we are particularly concerned about Christopher, the adorable two-year-old with sickle-cell disease. Previously, when Christopher would suffer a sickle-cell attack, the orphanage staff would take him to the hospital for emergency treatments. For obvious reasons, this isn't an option right now.

In late December / early January, we were working out the details with Tulane Hospital to bring Christopher to meet with sickle-cell specialists in New Orleans. The specialists have graciously agreed to access Christopher and prepare a more sustainable and preventative treatment plan, addressing his ongoing medical needs. In the midst of the planning process, the earthquake hit. If Christopher's treatment plan in his native country was difficult to accomplish prior to the earthquake, it is much more complex now, causing The Red Thread Promise to accelerate our plans to bring him to the United States.

In order to bring him to New Orleans, Rachoul, Rivers of Hope director, is working tirelessly to get Christopher a visa so we can expedite his trip. Thankfully she managed to secure his passport on January 29, 2010. Stateside, our mountain of paperwork is moving along as quickly as possible. One of the many things we have to do is prove to the Haitian government that we have been in contact with and worked with Christopher prior to the quake.

Please check in for more details in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you want to make a real difference in the life of one needy Haitian orphan, please consider donating to help cover Christopher's expenses. Tulane has put together an incredibly generous package for his treatment, but we still need your help to cover travel and other expenses.

How Sweet is That?

For those of you who didn't grow up in Pennsylvania, you may not have heard of Wolfgang Candy. However, if you are from the York area (which is my old stomping ground), Wolfgang is a household name. They have been making fantastic sweets since 1921.

Wolfgang has been supporting The Red Thread Promise for years. Through a special program, Wolfgang donates 50% of all orders placed on their website that use TRTP's account during the checkout process. It is a fantastic way to earn money for your favorite charity while doing something nice for your Sweetie.

Simply point, click and purchase:
  1. Visit and click on Wolfgang’s on-line SweetShoppe.
  2. Order any of Wolfgang’s legendary chocolates.
  3. Use our account (REDTHREAD) when prompted.
  4. 50% of the purchase price will go to The Red Thread Promise!
  5. Orders will be shipped directly to your door.
They have even made a special gift basket called Wolfgang's Red Thread Gift Basket, full of delectables that will make everyone smile.

Think about gifts for your family and clients or just treat yourself! And know that you are making a difference with every sweet bite.

(Author's note: Wolfgang's peanut butter marshmallows might quite possibly be the tastiest things on the planet!)