Dear Ministry Partners,
As always, time goes by so quickly and we realized it has been six months since we sent out our last newsletter. It is time to give everyone an update on all the great things God is doing through Touch of Hope in the community of Simonette. Perhaps the biggest (or best) thing since the last newsletter was the birth of Rubie Jo to Kayla and Webert on October 11. It was a blessing that Kayla’s whole family was able to be in the States for the birth. It was a very difficult process to get her other three kids their VISA’s, but they persevered and God answered all of our prayers. We are looking forward to Kayla’s family coming back in the month of June for our daughter Megan’s wedding.
Our newest ministry, the bakery (Boulangerie Liberte’, which means freedom bakery), opened in September. The bakery was built five years ago by a Haitian businessman that has a weekend home in our village. He was trying to help the community by giving it a business and the profits were to stay in the community. Unfortunately, it was seldom open because he could never get decent managers. He gave TOH the building and equipment to use indefinitely. Justine Otero joined our staff in July to become the bakery manager. Today the bakery employees 10 people and puts out 4-5 thousand pieces of bread a day. We are struggling to get it to break even financially because the price of bread is so low in our area. Please pray for Justine as she diligently works to develop new products and markets for the bakery.
In January we reluctantly had to say goodbye to two of our North American staff at Tytoo. After nearly two years of serving at Tytoo, both Ben & Lindsey decided it was time to return to the States and Canada (Lindsey is from Ontario). They are both terrific young adults and are greatly missed. They both worked very hard on training Haitians to take over most of their responsibilities. We then spent a lot of time in prayer about how God wanted us to proceed with leadership at Tytoo.
The result of this time of transition and prayer is a new “Ministry Team” that will be the leaders of all ministries at Tytoo. One of our goals of this team is to have the Haitians being the points of contact. We are trying to keep the “white people” in the background. Our leadership team consists of Francia, Sarah, Gary, Taunya, Kayla, and Webert. Francia previously ran our medical clinic and has been going to college for a degree in social work. She will be involved in all our ministries at Tytoo as a social worker and will be conducting various classes at the school including sex education. Sarah started at Tytoo as a cook and we have gradually given her more responsibility as we saw her many talents. She is a great leader in the Starfish program among her many duties at the orphanage. Gary has been a security guard at Tytoo for the past few years and is a leader in our church. His main focus on the team is mentoring the boys and being the spiritual leader of the ministries. Taunya will continue in her capacity as orphanage director (it is hard to believe that in June she will be celebrating 4 years of service at Tytoo). Kayla’s focus will be the starfish program and Webert will be in charge of all the government and legal issues. We are very excited about this team and are praying that this will overcome some of the issues we had with leadership in the past. We are also praying that the “team” approach will help with some of the “burnout” issues that we have been experiencing. We are also encouraging more breaks for our North American staff and helping to cover some of those expenses.
The Starfish program continues to grow and develop. There are usually 25 ladies in the program and 50 on the waiting list. With an average of 3 to 4 children per household, this program directly ministers to a lot of people and is vital to keeping kids out of the orphanage. The goal of this program is to help each of these families to become sustainable by assuring that they have a livable house, the kids are in school, and the mothers have some type of income. We average building one house a month for the Starfish program. One of the awesome things lately is how some mature Christian ladies in our community have started mentoring these Starfish ladies. Also a couple of our employment initiatives are really starting to take off. Rosie’s Greeting Cards is currently employing nine ladies and three are working for Salsa Sisters. We will be going public in a couple of months with our plans for Rosie’s Expansion, which will include building a new retail store in Haiti that will also have space to operate these two ventures out of.
The school continues to provide a quality education to over 1,000 kids in our community. Webert has such a great staff there that he has the ability to travel to the States for a month at a time without any problems. We are so blessed to have such an awesome staff. We believe our next project at the school will be a computer lab, not sure of the time frame or details yet.
As always, we stand in awe of what God is doing through Touch of Hope. We started TOH six years ago to build one simple school building and give Webert a small operating budget. Today we directly employ over 125 people and minister to 100’s of people on a daily basis. We could have never imagined it. To God be the Glory!!! Thank you for your support of our ministries, we absolutely could not do this without each and every one of you.