Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wheelchair Promise Press Release


Four Canadian employees of Halliburton extend the company’s charitable activities by supplying all-terrain wheelchairs to Haiti’s amputee population

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – The Red Thread Promise, a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to providing medical care to orphans around the world, announces the extraordinary donation of 50 all-terrain wheelchairs, plus shipping costs, by the employees of the Canadian office of Halliburton (NYSE: HAL). As part of The Red Thread Promise’s Wheelchair Initiative, these desperately needed chairs will be distributed to people in Haiti. TRTP is supporting this donation with its own contribution of the maintenance and repair kits that will keep these wheelchairs in operating condition for years.

We have all read a great deal about the crushing circumstances facing the survivors of Haiti’s January earthquake. Among the most needy are thousands of new immobile amputees: men, women, and children. Haiti’s economic and social structure has always provided special challenges to a physically handicapped person. In the post-earthquake period, amplified lack of resources coupled with extremely poor road conditions make traversing the mountainous country even more challenging.

A new All Terrain Wheelchair (ATW) can do wonders to help this underserved population. Developed by Mobility International, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, this wheelchair bears little resemblance to a typical wheelchair. Instead, it is geared to rougher urban or rural terrain. Its back wheels are mountain bike tires and it sits lower, with a special seat cushion that absorbs bounce. Special automatic flex suspension controls side-to-side movement, and the front end extends forward to provide front-to-rear stability.

This rugged vehicle is therefore suitable for a wide range of indoor and outdoor use, from hospitals to city streets to off-road terrain. Its heavy-duty construction is ideal for passage over the steep ascents and descents characteristic of the roads and pathways in rural areas of Haiti where it is most critically needed. Kathy Korge Albergate, President of TRTP, says, “This generous donation will make an immediate, direct, and profound difference to the recipients, enabling children to return to school and adults to find or return to work.”

Each year Halliburton hosts the Halliburton Academy, an event that brings together over one thousand employees from all over the world in Business Development, Technology, Operations and Functional groups to learn more about company's strategies and technologies. During the event, employees play the Chairman’s Cup Golf tournament, with part of the entry fee earmarked for a charity that is chosen by the winning team. The Red Thread Promise wishes to thank the members of the winning team, John Gorman, Sheldon Harbinson, Fred Farmer and Trent Ulmer, from Canada, for choosing the Wheelchair Initiative.

The donated chairs are scheduled to land in Port au Prince in June, and then will go to Mountain Top Ministries (MTM) in nearby Gramothe for distribution. MTM is a well-established institution that provides a school and clinic to impoverished mountain residents of Haiti. One of the organization’s chief priorities has been to help fellow Haitians take ownership of their nation and work to defeat generational poverty, village by village. Willem Charles, founder of MTM, says, “We are delighted with this promising response to our great need for all terrain wheelchairs. Not only will this donation provide independence to handicapped members of our community, but we have a well-equipped workshop ready to provide training in assembly and maintenance of the wheelchairs.”

About Halliburton

Founded in 1919, Halliburton is one of the world's largest providers of products and services to the energy industry. With more than 50,000 employees in approximately 70 countries, the company serves the upstream oil and gas industry throughout the life cycle of the reservoir - from locating hydrocarbons and managing geological data, to drilling and formation evaluation, well construction and completion, and optimizing production through the life of the field. Visit the company's Web site at

About The Red Thread Promise (TRTP)

The Red Thread Promise (TRTP), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing medical care to the world’s orphans, has a long-standing relationship with Mountain Top Ministries. Members of TRTP visit Haiti regularly, hand-carrying supplies and teaching English in the school. President Albergate says, “The Haitian mountains are a constant obstacle to impoverished disabled children, adults and seniors attempting to maneuver through the rough terrain. These all terrain wheelchairs can provide a life-changing experience for those who are immobile. We are grateful to have the opportunity to directly impact the lives of so many people in need.” Learn more or donate at

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

CHINA :: Global Giving Bonus Day - Gong Li

Do you remember Gong Li? We posted about her back in March 2010 on our blog and FaceBook page. She is the beautiful little girl living at Swallows Nest Children's Home in China who has never been able to walk unaided due to a birth defect on her left leg. Both of her thighs are shorter and disproportionate to her 4 year old body. However, her left leg is the most affected: she has no lower thigh, knee or calf.

In March, we were able to provide her with a walker that improved her mobility. Today we are THRILLED to share the most current news about her and just in time for Global Giving Bonus Day, tomorrow, Wednesday June 16th.

Gong Li is truly a lucky little girl, having received generous support in the past, but now she is being given the opportunity of a lifetime. Through our work in the US and our partnership with Swallow's Nest in China, Gong Li will be coming from to the US to stay for a year and receive medical care including surgery, a prosthetic leg and physical therapy. She has a foster family ready to travel to China to bring her here and take care of her through all of her procedures and therapy.

The surgery and prosthesis will allow Gong Li to do something she has never done before: walk unaided. For the majority of her life she has crawled on the floor or walked with the help of a loved one, a stool or now a walker. With the increased mobility, she'll be better able to complete the tasks of everyday living on her own as well as run and play just as other girls her age. What a blessing for this little one!

Our current fundraising needs to make this a reality for Gong Li are minimal at this time:
  • $3,400 - airfare for both Gong Li and her foster father
  • $1,000 - prescriptions
  • $250 - lodging in China (most lodging is prearranged with Chinese friends)
  • $200 - ground transportation in China
  • $200 - medical visa fees
  • $250 - unforeseen
Imagine: $5,300 can transform this little girl's life.

And the best part about it is that tomorrow is Global Giving Bonus Day. In short, that means that all donations received through The Red Thread's project on will be matched at 50% up to $1,000 per person / per project!

If enough Red Thread supporters donate, we can transform this little girl's life for $2,650! Please consider making a donation through Global Giving so we can make this a reality for Gong Li. You can make your donation by following this link: Gong Li. (Please note that the link provided takes you to a project for spina bifeda surgery. Gong Li is included in this project.)

Remember, your donation works twice as hard on Wednesday June 16th! But you can make a contribution in Gong Li's name at any time. Please share this information with friends and family. Together, we can make a difference.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Honor Your Father

Honor your Dad or other special man in your life this Father's Day by making a $25 donation to The Red Thread Promise. Dad will receive a special e-card commemorating your donation in his name. (Standard postcards are available upon request.)

To make a donation via PayPal:
  • Click on the PayPal donate button on the right
  • Enter the amount you wish to donate
  • At checkout, in the "Add special instructions to the seller" field, enter your father's name, his email (or physical address for a standard postcard) and who the donation is from (your name, your family name, etc)
  • We will send him an e-card (or postcard) as soon as we receive the donation
To make a donation via check:
  • Mail a check payable to The Red Thread Promise to the address on the right
  • Mark "Father's Day" on the memo line
  • Include your father's name, his email (or physical address for a standard postcard) and who the donation is from (your name, your family name, etc)
  • We will send him an e-card (or postcard) as soon as we receive the donation
With your support, we can make a difference in the lives of needy and orphaned children.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

35 Seconds

Many of the same buildings that we photographed in our March and May trips are seen in this video. It also shows footage from some of the storms that wracked Haiti in 2008.

Lastly, and most importantly, it expresses some of the country's plans to re-build a better Haiti for the sake of future generations. The Red Thread Promise plans to be a part of this effort.

Palais from Morgan Freeman on Vimeo.

The Red Thread of Destiny

Did you know that The Red Thread Promise takes its name from an ancient Chinese proverb? It states that there is a silken red thread of destiny which connects one person to another. It is said that this magical cord may tangle or stretch but never break.

It is always interesting to find out how the red thread of destiny brings people together. So we have a simple question for you:

When and how did you learn about The Red Thread Promise?

Photos of Blanc and his ATW

(Author's note: I always have to laugh when I've finished a post. Inevitably, as soon as it's up, additional information about a project or photos shows up in my inbox. This is no exception!)

Kathy (foreground), Willem (left), Blanc's wife and son (background)
and Blanc at the entrance of his home

Blanc demonstrating how the chair works

Explaining to Kathy how the chair has helped him with his therapy

Joking with the team

A grateful smile and thank you

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Haiti Unprepared for Hurricanes

The Red Thread Promise is experiencing an uncanny feeling of deja vu as we read some of today's headlines about Haiti.

Back in March, we were devastated by our first-hand look into some of the tent cities in Port au Prince. We toured one that was deemed "nice" in which we were allowed out of the vehicles to look around and interact with people living there. There were rows of tents as far as you could see, side-to-side with little space in between. People walked from all over the huge camp to share small communal water stations. There were no bathroom facilities that we were aware of. People milled around aimlessly. Residents came from every direction to see who we were, who brought us and what we may have brought for them. It was emotionally devastating to try to comprehend the volume of people living in the camp at this level of poverty. Many people had nothing more than the clothes on their backs.

A look inside a "nice" tent camp

Getting water from a communal water source

A resident shows us inside her "home"

People came from all around to see us

Erin, TRTP Board Member, surrounded by curious residents

Next we were taken to a very different camp that helped us understand why the first camp was labeled "nice". We were given strict instructions to stay in the vehicles at all times and not to interact with anyone. Our guides were even carrying concealed weapons for our safety. It was filthy, trash everywhere, crumbled concrete, blazing hot sun, tents made from next to nothing that provided little shelter for those inside, people begging at the cars, a desperate child trying to climb into ours. It was one of the most heart-shattering experiences of the trip. By this time, we were all emotionally numb. Not many words were exchanged as we wondered what it must be like to "live" like this.

A look inside the "not so nice" tent camp

Makeshift tent

Unexplained isolated family

Child who tried to get in our truck

Close up of some of the "homes"

Living conditions in both tent cities were horrifying. Our overall impression was that of despair and hopelessness. In our debriefing session that night, we discussed our concern for the residents currently living in those conditions. We also pondered what may be their fate as Haiti moved toward the upcoming rainy and hurricane seasons.

Again in our trip in May, these same concerns were discussed at length. How are people living in these tent cities going to weather the tropical storms and hurricanes that will certainly come their way in the coming months?

Conditions are no better; in many cases they are worse. Add to it the fact that humanitarian aid workers are beginning to return to their home countries and it is cause for even greater concern. We noted Europeans, Israelis, Brazilians, and Swiss relief workers leaving in May. The only obvious groups remaining are Canadian and Americans.

In today's news, we caught several articles that articulate the concern we have had for months regarding Haiti's homeless.



PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, June 1 (UPI) -- Authorities say earthquake-ravaged Haiti is far from ready for big stormsthat could hit during this year’s hurricane season, which officially began Tuesday.

Meteorologists predict the Atlantic Ocean could have at least 15 hurricanes, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

An estimated 1.5 million Haitian earthquake victims are living in tent and tarp camps, many in low-lying areas at risk of mud and flooding.

The Haitian government has established just two new emergency relocation camps amid a rush to finish more temporary dwellings on higher ground, the Herald reported.

An estimated 120 camps in Port-au-Prince are at risk of flooding, landslides, or standing water from heavy rain, said Shuan Scales of the International Organization for Migration.

Aid groups said suitable land is desperately needed to relocate camp-dwellers and too few drainage ditches exist to keep storm water flowing away from populated areas.

“We have made progress, but we still are not there yet,” Chris Milligan, a U.S. response coordinator said recently in Washington.



In disaster-prone Haiti, nearly five months after a catastrophic earthquake that killed some 300,000 people -- according to government estimates -- more than 1.5 million quake survivors are still living in over 1,000 fragile, crowded tent camps in and around the wrecked capital Port-au-Prince.

Relief workers are bracing for the extra-active hurricane season and hoping against hope that it does not unleash the kind of flooding and landslides which have killed thousands of Haitians in the past -- even without the kind of vulnerable situation that the poor Caribbean country now finds itself in.

“This is a prospect that we’re certainly not happy about ... We don’t want to have a secondary disaster on our hands,” Julie Schindall, international media officer of Oxfam, said.

An evaluation of 28 camp sites where Oxfam works has concluded that thousands of survivors are vulnerable to landslides and flooding due to hurricanes, the organization said. It called on the Haitian government to urgently implement a public communications campaign to inform people about risks.

Extreme overcrowding, little natural drainage and weak land structure were major problems highlighted in the Oxfam survey. Relief groups were working to improve drainage and help the communities to place sandbags around their shelters.

“When you see someone living under a plastic sheet, on a dirt floor, imagine that under a foot of water, Schindall told Reuters, saying there were concerns too that water pooling in the camps would increase the risk of epidemics.

The government and its aid partners have moved some survivors to more secure sites and are clearing storm drains.

U.S. relief and development group Food for the Poor said housing remained one of the biggest needs. “It takes only a few inches of rain to put lives in danger because that’s all that is needed to produce flooding and mudslides,” it said.

In 2004, Hurricane Jeanne killed over 3,000 Haitians. In 2008, hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike killed some 1,000, destroyed 20,000 homes and wiped out 70 percent of crops.

Please keep the homeless of Haiti in your thoughts and prayers. Please also consider supporting The Red Thread Promise's efforts to help this devastated country.

Visiting Blanc

The team visited Blanc during the May trip. It was great to see how the all-terrain wheelchair is making a difference in his life. He was very thankful for the transformative gift and expressed his deep gratitude to The Red Thread Promise.

Blanc and his wife in front of their home in Gramothe

Blanc shared that he is now able to do his prescribed therapy more comfortably and that his upper body strength has greatly increased. He appears much stronger and healthier than the photos taken just weeks earlier when the wheelchair was delivered in April.

The path to Blanc's home

The Haitian terrain is a constant barrier to mobility for disabled citizens. Pictured above is the roof of their home. As with many residences, it has been built into the side of the mountain. The path leading to the front door runs steeply down the left side of the house. Due to the rainy season, many mountain roads and foot paths are completely washed out and the wheelchair has allowed Blanc mobility that he would not have had otherwise.

Saying goodbye

Kathy & Sally Meet the Bishop of Haiti

The remainder of the recent Haiti trip (mid May) was a whirlwind of activity for Kathy, Tom and the team. After spending 2 days in Gramothe, Petionville and Thomassin visiting the villages, school, clinic and orphange, most of the team traveled to Port au Prince for a few days.

Beginning stages of the Presidential palace demolition

Sadly, the conditions are no better there than what we observed during our trip back in March. There appears to be little progress in demolition (with the exception of the palace), rebuilding and general living conditions. The tent cities are still filled to the brim with homeless people and the tents themselves are barely weathering the rainy season. The heat and pollution were, as Tom put it, "unbearable". Electricity was spotty at best, thus our lack of blog posts during the actual trip.

Church of the Three Crosses

They visited the sites of several heavily damaged churches as well. The team dubbed the one pictured above "Church of the Three Crosses" since all signage identifying the building was destroyed. The woman in the foreground was begging for food, water and money, a common occurrence in Haiti.

The Rt. Rev. J. Zaché Duraçin

Bishop Duraçin speaking with the Diocese Task Force

During their stay in Port au Prince, Kathy and Sally were privileged to meet the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, the Rt. Rev. J. Zaché Duraçin. They met at his office in Petionville and shared information about The Red Thread Promise, the Diocese of Olympia (WA), the Diocese of Louisiana (LA) and St. Paul's Episcopal Church-Lakeview (LA). They also discussed the desire of both of the American diocese to partner with their Haitian counterparts on a project in Haiti.

The remains of Holy Trinity Cathedral

Kathy in front of the cathedral entrance

The brightly colored stones in the background are what remains
of the cathedral's once famous murals

Church rubble with temporary open air worship space

Church bells recovered from the rubble

Bishop Duraçin talked about the destruction of the Holy Trinity Cathedral, which Kathy and Sally were able to visit, and Holy Trinity's Complex, which includes elementary, music and trade schools. The cathedral, once known for its' beautiful murals, has been reduced to ruins. Thankfully, the schools have resumed classes in temporary buildings while plans are made for a more permanent site.

Rubble that was once Holy Trinity's School Complex

Temporary classrooms at Holy Trinity

Following their meeting, beautiful young voices filled the room from a boy's choir that was practicing behind the crushed church in a tiny building that survived the earthquake. A sole cellist from the music school practiced in the temporary outdoor school area. According to Kathy, "it was very moving to hear these children singing and playing music in the midst of everything they have endured."

Cellist practicing

Following further tours of the city, Kathy and Sally returned to the states and re-acclimate to their lives in Louisiana and Washington state while Tom, Randa and Noor remained in Haiti for 4 additional days.

Please read our next post to hear about the architectural team's trip to the port city of Jacmel and the exciting project over the horizon.