Joseph family

In the midst of COVID-19, hunger poses a greater threat

COVID-19 has brought Haiti’s already fragile economy even closer to collapse. The country’s stay-at-home order, issued in mid-March, has closed schools and all non-essential businesses, causing many who already live without a margin to have wages reduced or lose their jobs altogether.

The Pan American Health Organization has described the situation in Haiti as a “perfect storm” and warned of an impending humanitarian crisis.

During this confinement period, Grace Emmanuel School students are unable to receive a daily lunch. JiHM has instead been providing food relief each month to their families, distributing thousands of pounds of rice, beans, and flour.

But is it enough?

Juvena and Juvenson live with their grandma and sometimes receive support from an aunt.
Pierrena and Punjy, bottom, live with their mom and older sister. Their family relies on the generosity of neighbors for meals.

Over the last three weeks, Grace Emmanuel School counselor, Scindie Saint Fleur, has visited the homes of over 30 students to evaluate if the monthly food assistance has been sufficient.

As Scindie listened to parents and grandparents, she heard many similar stories. Mothers who sell in the market have had the high cost of living drain their meager incomes before basic daily needs can be met. Fathers with reduced hours at work have become unable to provide. Students without working parents who normally rely on neighbors or extended family to share food are no longer receiving this aid, as those families also cut costs.

Multiple families reported only being able to eat 3 to 4 meals every week, a fact Scindie could observe in students who had visibly lost weight over the last ten weeks.

After her visits with families in need, Scindie wrote to JiHM’s leadership, “For these families, our help is necessary. Their daily lives depend on it. They are already worried about their health with COVID-19, let’s spare them at least the worry of wondering each day what doors they will need to knock on to get help for food. These students are starting to lose weight. At least let’s remove from them the worry of starvation.”

JiHM’s national leadership team has put together a plan to reach these kids and their families with additional food assistance twice each month from June through August. Based on Scindie’s visits, they’ve created an initial list of 14 families (encompassing 19 students) to help with enough groceries to feed families of four to six people.

These staples (rice, cornmeal, beans, flour, spaghetti, canned fish, canned milk, sugar and oil) will cost roughly $100 each month per family.

As JiHM staff continue to visit homes, more students will be added to this list. Judging by Scindie’s findings so far, there could be upwards of 100 households that need this additional assistance, which quickly multiplies the cost of this relief program to $10,000 each month.

You all have rallied before to help out your brothers and sisters in Haiti, and now we prayerfully come to you again. We know that many of you have encountered your own difficult times right now, but we also know that God calls us to radical generosity no matter our circumstances, as Scindie so beautifully shared in March.

Would you please consider giving above and beyond right now so that a Grace Emmanuel School family can have enough groceries for a daily meal?

THANK YOU. We are overwhelmed by your generosity.

7-9-20: Please take a moment to read this thank you letter from JiHM’s Board Chair.