Dear Friends of Haiti and Forging Futures,
The Haitian proverb for this year is: Si ane pa t’touye ou, jou pa ka touye di ou. Bondye di ou: fe pa ou, m’a fe pa m’. Literally, it means: “If this year didn’t kill you, today cannot kill you either. God says: do your part. I’ll do mine.” There is a broader meaning to take from the proverb: “You have survived the worst of it. You can keep going. Do what you can and God will take care of the rest.” Faith Alive and at Work!
If this year didn’t kill you… COVID-19 has done its best and it is nowhere finished. I surely am not going to rehash the statistics because we know them well. Considering the effects of the pandemic here, imagine what has happened in Haiti. It has been devastating. Sometimes, we hear it said that God favors the poor. I suppose that might be true. The poor live in danger zones. Poverty is a misery and a vortex which forces a person down and once down, it is so difficult for anyone to escape its pressure. COVID-19 has spread in Haiti as it has here. Perhaps one example can indicate how difficult life can be there. Face masks cost $1.00 — such as they are — but most Haitians would rather tear a shirt or use a bandana as a face covering. If you earn $3.00 a day, that just might be a sound decision. There are less reliable statistics, so who knows the number of the ill and the number of those who have died.
What about our schools? Our schools are in session and the students are attending in person — one of the motives for attending in person school is the opportunity to have a nutritious lunch. Our faculty have roamed the streets and the hills delivering assignments, retrieving them after a week and grading them. In Haiti, “online learning” is delivered on foot. It has been a struggle.
I wish I had better news about our finances, but again no one can be surprised. COVID-19 has hurt us as it has everyone. Last year, 2019, Forging Futures was able to send over $70,000 to support our schools of 600 students and 75 faculty and staff. This year, 2020, we were only able to send $48,000 — decreasing our monthly support from $7,000 to $5,000 a month. It no longer covers the small salaries of our teachers, and we have struggled to maintain our lunch program. Our funding is dependent on three funding sources: one, generous gifts from our donors; two, our Fall BBQ, and three, our Spring Wine Tasting. It has been a heavy pull. The weight of the world falls heaviest on the poor. That is the way of things.
I spent one Christmas/Holiday Season in Haiti and I will remember those days forever. Haitians see gift giving as a way to make amends for grievances and to express love and devotion. The gift that Forging Futures gives the children in our schools is most likely the one gift they will receive. So many of our donors are among my dearest friends, and I am grateful to each of you. The antidote for anxiety and loneliness will always be gratitude. If you are able to assist Forging Futures as the curtain falls on 2020, we will be very grateful. Quite frankly, we owe you everything. Li se yon bon bagay… It is a good thing.
-John J Porter
215 Abington Drive NE, Sandy Springs, Georgia 30328