Happy Thanksgiving friends and family!
As we wrap up our time in Haiti this holiday season, we find ourselves incredibly thankful for the many blessings in our lives, one of which has been our long and strong relationship with a local orphanage not far from the Embassy.
Many of you have heard of our involvement with SMDT (Sant Mete Men Pou Defann Dwa Timoun, or Hands Together to Defend the Rights of Children [HTDC]) over the past two years. Every day can be a challenge in a difficult country like Haiti, but Carlo (the young Director) and his family do quite a remarkable job with their limited resources. Our Embassy community and a host of other groups and individuals from around the world provide help as they can, but with irregular food shipments, an unreliable supply of electricity, no running water, hard-to-believe prices for land and rent, and no stable source of revenue, it seems they are always operating from a deficit.
However, there have been several significant, positive changes over the last six months or so, and there are more to come in the next few. Perhaps the most major has been the formation of a Committee of loyal volunteers (Allies of SMDT) who are working with Carlo to coordinate efforts among the various partners around the world. This has eased some shortages, reduced the duplication of effort, and created a more seamless method of communication among the various partners. We are very proud and excited to be a part of this core group of people committed to the children of SMDT.
Perhaps the most exciting new development has been the creation of a sponsorship program which allows for more direct support by donors worldwide. Many of you have asked us how you can help these beautiful and smart kids, and working with our Allies of SMDT group we have partnered with International Disaster Volunteers (IDV) from the United Kingdom and the charitable-giving website Global Giving (www.globalgiving.org, a 501(c)3 organization in the United States) to establish a sponsorship program for the *direct benefit of SMDT and the kids who live there.
(* The Global Giving Foundation site does have a nominal 15% administrative fee, which covers all their costs. Many donors make an incremental extra contribution at checkout to help cover this fee to ensure more of their donation goes to the project they have chosen to support. This results in an average of 90% of all funds being donated directly to projects. See their site for further information.)
This is where you come in.
So many of you have mailed packages to us in the past containing clothes, toiletries, and art supplies, and we say mesi anpil (thank you very much), they are all greatly appreciated. And while most of you are not able to make a trip to Haiti to meet these wonderful children in person and experience their wit, intelligence and unconditional love, you continue to want to help.
This sponsorship program makes it very easy for you to help build a future for these wonderful children.
There are three simple ways to provide help for the educational, nutritional, housing and health care needs for kids like 13-year-old Nicholson, who came to live at SMDT in 2010 after the earthquake. His father had passed away, and his mother could no longer care for him along with her nine other children. He has a million-dollar smile and a very kind heart, and is always willing to help others whenever he can.
- Donating online. You can contribute directly at the Global Giving website, where funds are collected for the benefit of all the kids and their various needs. You can help meet all the basic needs of Nicholson and the other kids by using a credit, debit, or gift card, or by using PayPal, personal check, or wire transfer. Simply go to http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/fund-security-for-haitian-orphans/ to help out today.
- Sending a Text Message. You can easily contribute by donating $5, $10 or $25 to SMDT via Global Giving. Simply text “GIVE 6235” to 80088. Standard messaging rates apply. Check https://mgive.org/terms-of-service.aspx for more information. This only applies to mobile phones in the United States.
- ** Sponsoring a specific child for a specific need. You can also contribute via Global Giving to help a particular child at SMDT through what are called microprojects. This is funding to cover the specific educational, nutritional, housing or health care needs for a child, like a years’ worth of meals for Nicholson or to send Christelle to school for a year. You will see only two microprojects highlighted on the Global Giving site at any one time, and when the costs for that need for that particular child are fully funded, another of the 27 kids from SMDT will be posted to the site. For various technical reasons, the Global Giving site and IDV only post two microprojects at a time. If you have a desire to sponsor the entire cost of a need for a particular child (educational, nutritional, housing or health care), please contact us privately and we can send you some specific biographic info about a child whose needs have not yet been funded.
** It’s important to note that, while microproject funds are intended to be used in accordance with the stated description, SMDT needs maximum flexibility in using the funds to meet the needs of the children in the best, most efficient way possible, which means your donation may be used as part of the main project that supports the microproject. Feel free to contact us or IDV if you have any questions.
When all is said and done, the total cost to fund all needs for all kids averages out to just about $5 per child per day.
Of course you can always continue to support the kids at SMDT in all the usual ways, too. If you prefer to donate to SMDT directly through Carlo, bypassing Global Giving, please contact us for more information. However, as SMDT is not a registered charity in the United States, it is not a 501(c)3 classified organization.
Finally, consider sharing this information with your family and friends, church and school groups. If you are part of a group doing service projects or fundraising efforts, please keep the future of the 27 kids at SMDT in mind as a great option this holiday season, and beyond. We have the ability to have large amounts of non-perishable foods and clothes shipped to Haiti for no cost via the United States Air Force through a program allowing humanitarian aid to utilize unused space on cargo planes, so if you have plans for a program like this at work, school or church and wish to contribute to SMDT in this way, contact us for more information.
If you want to see regular updates from the kids at SMDT, check out their Facebook page where photos, videos, and comments from the kids and Carlo appear regularly. Find them on Facebook by searching for and “SMDT Orphanage – New.” “Like” their page and add your comments too!
Thank you all so much for your friendship and support, and we all wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season.