by Payton Junkin 5K Lives Impacted
Our StoryA short trip to Haiti and a round-faced little boy, with a ponytail on top of his head serves as the starting line of our story. We now ca...
A short trip to Haiti and a round-faced little boy, with a ponytail on top of his head serves as the starting line of our story. We now call that little boy SON and our journey of bringing him from Haiti to home, embarked us on a journey that altered our lives forever.
Meeting a little boy so malnourished, that he had began to eat his own flesh and encountering multiple scenarios in which the lack of basic resources led to multiple children's deaths; Heather and I were compelled to act. We founded a non-profit in January of 2013 and in July of 2014 merged that non-profit with Help One Now. I(Payton) am now the Director of Strategic Partnership for Help One Now.
Help One Now is a catalytic tribe committed to empowering and resourcing high-capacity local leaders who care for orphans and vulnerable children in order to transform communities and break the cycle of extreme poverty.
Though our son is soon to be home with his forever family, our journey of bringing him into our family serves as a catalyst for a lifetime of advocacy for children and families living within the grips of extreme poverty. TOGETHER we can see cycles broken, communities transformed and lives changed.
In 2010, a devastating earthquake hit the country of Haiti, leaving nearly 300,000 dead and 1.5 million displaced. It is estimated that after the earthquake, the number of orphans in the country rose to over 500,000.The situation grew worse later that year when a deadly outbreak of cholera spread throughout the countryside. Over time, almost 10% of the population became infected and the death toll rose to nearly 9,000.
The hardest hit region was the Artibonite Valley, located near the center of the country. It is home to 90% of Haiti’s rice farms as well as the Artibonite river, believed to be the largest agent of cholera’s spread. The river acts as the main source of water for the residents of the valley and as the source of irrigation for the thousands of rice fields. The effects were devastating.
However, long before the earthquake and the spread of cholera, Haiti’s rice farmers had the deck stacked against them, due in large part to the flood of aid and subsidize rice from western countries. Thousands of tons of “Miami Rice”, or imported U.S. rice, are imported each year, continuing to drive down the market for the locally grown Haitian rice. This has left thousands of residents of the valley without a way to support their family, as it has become nearly impossible to compete with the steady flow of subsidized rice. Many families are forced to abandon or send away their children, in hopes that they may receive better care from someone else.
In 2010, Help One Now visited the community of Drouin for the first time. The effects of the outbreak could easily be seen all around, there was a dullness that sat in the air. We met with local leaders and heard their overwhelming stories of tragedy and loss, and we visited a school started by Help One Now local leader, Jean Alix Paul. During class, a little girl in the back fainted and fell to the floor. After talking with her, we discovered that her parents were only able to feed her and her siblings one meal every other day…just enough to keep them alive. She had also not been drinking enough water, out of fear of contracting cholera. She was so dehydrated and malnourished that her body could not even sit through a day at school. But she assured us that she had to continue, saying, “I have to go to school, it is my only hope.”
Hearing those words, we knew we had to do something. We met with Jean Alix and asked what we could do, he replied “we must sponsor these kids, they have nothing.” At the time, we only sponsored “true” orphans, and these kids had families. Jean Alix told us to come back in a year, and then they would be orphans. Extreme poverty was pushing these families to the brink of collapse. This completed shifted our thinking. We can’t simply care for the orphaned, we have to care for vulnerable children and families as well, so that they never become orphans.
This was the birth of our “orphan prevention” program. Each day, kids can now come to school, where they have access to clean water, a snack and a hot lunch. Our sponsorship program is community based, so no kids are left without care. All 300 of them are cared for at once, even those who do not yet have sponsors.Over time, sponsorship funds have helped to expand the school facilities and empower local rice farmers as well.
The #TenDollarTribe is a group of people who commit to giving $10 a month to our communities around the world. As the Tribes grow, their impact will exponentially increase from providing hot meals and educational opportunities to constructing community buildings and facilities. Your generosity will serve as a foundational element of support for the communities we serve. Through this, our hope is to alleviate the pressures of extreme poverty and keep families together.
JUST $10 per month...JUST $10 per month...the equivalent to a Netflix monthly subscription or a few less latte's monthly.
In Drouin, your $10 will be used to impact lives on a daily basis. Heather and I's goal as a couple is to activate 100 of our friends and family to journey together for impact. If we indeed hit this goal, that means that $1,000 monthly and $12,000 annually is available for true, life changing purposes.
For example, $10 alone could provide 20 school children with a hot meal. Or, it can help educate up to 30 children by paying a fair daily wage to a teacher. As the Junkin Family #TenDollarTribe grows and these regular needs are consistently met, the money can begin to accumulate to build things like clean water access points or a valuable playground for the local students.
As always, this work is being accomplished through amazing local leaders; in Drouin, this means Jean Alix Paul and the leadership of Spirit of Truth School. We truly believe that a Tribe of people giving $10 per month will bring immediate and lasting change to the Drouin community, and that will seep out into the entire country of Haiti.
100 of you saying yes to $10 a month, will truly change hundreds of lives. Join us in this story. Join us for impact powered by $10. Come on...TEN BUCKS!
Lets be honest, the majority of us, will not even know that it is gone!!!