By Amanda Compton
Next week at Twin Oaks Christian School students get to donate their spare change to help fund schooling for underprivileged families in Haiti who, like parents in America, desire for their children to have an education and a future.
Launched in 2012, Change for Haiti is a non-profit organization that sponsors Haitian children by paying for their education through the Hope Community Project’s scholarship fund. In turn, money is freed up for food as well as other necessities and, ultimately, keeps families together. More than 80 percent of Haitian children live in orphanages because their families cannot afford to feed them. These families also have access to the charity’s medical clinic for a nominal charge.
Change for Haiti Founder and Coordinator Les Prouty spoke at the Change for Haiti Chapel on Friday, Jan. 18. Prouty said it costs an average of $480 to send a student to school in Haiti – as the country does not have access to free public education. Students are held accountable through an annual review process that ensures scholarship expectations are being met.
“Because many families take on caring for nieces and nephews whose parents have died, they literally have too many mouths to feed and often have to choose which children get eat,” explained Prouty. “It is not uncommon for children to get to eat three out of seven days each week as they wait their turn.”
Meanwhile, around the corner, parents see orphanages where children attend school and get two meals a day. This reality weighs heavily on moms, who are often widowed, prompting them to ask the orphanage to take a few of her children.
“These women are extremely sad but feel like there is no other option,” said Prouty. “She does it because she loves her children and wants them to have regular meals and an education. So, out of love, she reluctantly hands one or more of her children over to an institution.”
Change for Haiti has evolved over the past couple of years to address new needs and improve upon programs that are already in place. For instance, Prouty said, they recently purchased a new property to house a medical clinic, soccer field and a small community center where discipleship, Bible studies and Christian counseling will be held.
“We are also in the process of assisting them in creating meaningful work through our micro business program so they can work and make a living for themselves,” said Prouty. “We like to see them on a path to self-sustainability.”
Because the center of Haiti’s economy is agriculture, Les said, HOPE partnered with a Canadian-based organization with many years of experience to help develop an agricultural cooperative in the community they serve. According to the Hope Community Project website, “cooperatives provide a structure that utilizes the gifts and knowledge of the individual members both illiterate laborers and the educated.”
For several years now, Les and his wife, Helen, who is the Hot Lunch coordinator at Twin Oaks Christian School, have led a number of groups from around the United States on Haitian “vision trips.” These Haitian excursions allow team members to see and experience first-hand what the ministry is all about so that they might return to the United States with a passion to help the Haitian people from their hometowns in America.
Next week at Twin Oaks, students will have the opportunity to make a direct impact in the lives of the Haitian people by donating their loose change, which will fund the Hope Scholarship Program. Each day is assigned to a different coin denomination:
Tuesday: pennies and nickels
Friday: dollars and checks.
The class that raises the most money gets a pizza party. “Funds raised this week not only helps send these children to school, but also introduces them to the Savior of mankind, who is the only one who can truly transform lives,” added Prouty.
Donate to the Hope Community Project HERE!