Monthly Newsletter April 2009
Living the Haitian experience: Lynn students forgo modern amenities
Photos courtesy of Lynn University
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 13, 2009) – A group of Lynn University students will go without electricity, running water or even cell phones for an entire week this month as they live in a shelter they will build at the center of campus. The goal through several events this week is to raise awareness about the plight of Haitians living just an hour’s flight from Boca Raton.
The participating students are all members of Students For The Poor, a campus group organized in support of Food For The Poor, the international nonprofit dedicated to alleviating hunger and suffering in Haiti, the Caribbean and Latin America. The house they will be living in will mirror the two houses that Lynn students have raised money for and erected over the last year.
Gary Martin, Lynn’s associate dean for student wellness, has led one trip to the country with Food For The Poor. He says this is the first time a group aligned with the nonprofit is doing an event of this kind. It’s an idea that came directly from Lynn students.
“This was their idea; something they wanted to do,” he said. Groups of Lynn students have spent their last two spring breaks in Jamaica and Haiti working on behalf of Food For The Poor. And two dozen students were in Jamaica with the group for two weeks during Lynn’s new January term this year.
“So many of them come back changed by these experiences,” Martin says. “They’re hungry to help their fellow students see what they saw, and experience what they experienced. They can’t do that from here, necessarily, but I think with this week they’re hoping to give them at least a glimpse.”
Thursday, April 16 (7-9 p.m.): Students For The Poor members will host a forum on campus to discuss their experiences in Haiti and Jamaica. Food For The Poor Executive Director Angel Aloma will be on hand to address the group as well.
The students are raising funds for development projects in Haiti and Jamaica. To support their effort, checks should be made out to Food For The Poor and include a special source code "SC #64619" so the money can be tracked to Lynn University's Students For The Poor campaign.
Food For The Poor Delivers Easter Baskets
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 7, 2009) —Food For The Poor is again reaching out to South Florida’s children this Easter. Employees filled 160 Easter baskets for children living in The Salvation Army shelter in Broward County, The Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County in West Palm Beach and children being treated for cancer at Chris Evert Children’s Hospital in Fort Lauderdale.
“It is a blessing to know that we can be the hands and feet of Jesus to people in need,” said Angel Aloma, Food For The Poor’s Executive Director. “As Food For The Poor’s work is focused in the Caribbean and Latin America, our employees welcome the opportunity to contribute directly to our local communities.”
Staff at the Salvation Army and The Center for Family Services distributed the Easter baskets to the families they serve at their shelters. At Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, Food For The Poor delivered the Easter baskets individually to the children in the Pediatric Unit and the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Unit.
Rockford Friendship Village becomes a reality in Haiti
ROCKFORD, Ill. (April 7, 2009) – Several members of the Rockford-based Hope for Haitians Committee traveled to Haiti this month with Food For The Poor to meet the grateful people whose lives have forever been changed for the better through their efforts.
“Thanks to the dedication and commitment of Rockford, Ill. residents, there is a ‘Rockford Friendship Village’ in Prolonge, Haiti, that is brimming with hope and prosperity,” said Robin Mahfood, Food For The Poor’s President/CEO. “The Hope for Haitians Committee has done a tremendous amount of good – raising approximately $1 million since 2000 to benefit the people of Haiti.”
Proceeds from the 2008 and 2007 Rockford galas were used to establish the Rockford Friendship Village, including the construction of 50 double-unit homes, 50 sanitation units, two artesian wells, a solar panel light, a community center, three tilapia ponds, an agricultural project consisting of five acres of fruit trees, and the implementation of a feeding program for the severely malnourished children of the village.
“We witnessed the revitalization of an entire community,” said Pat Bachrodt, event co-chairman. “I only wish more people could visit Rockford Friendship Village. We would build many more villages.”
“Seeing the people as we did in the swamp, and then going to the [Rockford Friendship] village was just so gratifying,” Tom Lorden said. “To see the sadness in the swamp, and then happiness in the village made for a drastic contrast. I wish everyone could see the difference we are making, one person… one village at a time. It just makes the whole experience complete.”
This was the second time Bachrodt and Lorden traveled to Haiti with Food For The Poor, the largest provider of aid to Haiti that feeds and shelters millions of destitute children and their families.
Additional travelers to Haiti included Nancy Lorden, Danny Lorden, Kathleen Lorden, Bob McLaughlin, Fr. David Beauvais and Patti Rangel.
The Hope for Haitians Committee and Food For The Poor will host its eighth annual event, Seeds of Hope, at the Rockford Country Club on Aug. 22. Funds will be used to construct a second self-sustaining village in Haiti. You can support Haiti’s urgent relief efforts by purchasing tickets or request information, by calling 1-888-404-4248.
Food For The Poor Organizes Easter Prisoner Releases
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 3, 2009) — In anticipation of Easter Sunday, Food For The Poor has made it possible for groups of prisoners in four countries to begin new, honorable lives. Prisoners in Jamaica, Guyana, Haiti and Honduras who committed nonviolent offenses, but were incarcerated due to their inability to pay the required fines, will be released in time to spend Easter with their families. A total of 69 prisoners will be released in these countries.
“Easter Sunday is an important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year,” said Sandra Ramsey, Food For The Poor’s Jamaica Prison Ministry Program manager. “It is beneficial for families to be united on this Holy Day.”
“The Prison Ministry Program has an incredible success rate,” Ramsey said. “The program enables those who were unable to pay their required fines an opportunity to start their lives over with dignity. Food For The Poor provides them with the necessary tools and training to start a fruitful business venture so they will experience success and not revert to crime.”
Since the inception of Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Program in 2000, Food For The Poor has assisted in freeing, training and reintroducing approximately 800 persons into the community as productive citizens. The prisoners who were released were incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, such as stealing food. Food For The Poor works with the prisoners before and after they are released to ensure they will not be repeat offenders.
“Jesus’ resurrection verified all that Jesus preached and taught during His three-year ministry,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “Through His resurrection, all of His people have the ability to begin a new life.”
Prison authorities have found Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Program to be so successful that they have implemented a similar program themselves. Some prisons now offer inmates jobs in the prison where they are held so that they can earn money to pay off their fines.
Twice a year — during the Easter and Christmas seasons — the Food For The Poor Prison Ministry Program releases inmates who have committed minor offenses.
Fishing to Fix Hunger
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 1, 2009) — A Florida-based charity is using a little freshwater fish that’s been around for a long time to help solve a big problem that’s been around just as long.
Food For The Poor, the nation’s largest international aid and development agency, has just launched a massive tilapia farm in Nagua, Dominican Republic. With the support of the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF), the charity established the Rio Baqui Tilapia Farm Project as a way to battle poverty and hunger in the area.
“Tilapia farming has been around for thousands of years and poverty has been with us since the dawn of man,” said Angel Aloma, Food For The Poor’s executive director. “As Jesus provided for his disciples when they cast their net and reaped a bountiful catch, we know that these self-sustainable enterprise projects give the poor a chance to provide for themselves and break the cycle of poverty that traps them.”
Since 2005, Food For The Poor has developed more than 200 tilapia farms throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. The Rio Baqui project is the largest so far with 20 ponds at a cost of $6,500 each. As each pond can hold nearly 7,000 fish averaging one to one-and-a-half pounds each — and the tilapia can be harvested up to three times a year — Rio Baqui has the potential to produce approximately 420,000 pounds of tilapia annually. The harvested tilapia will be used to feed the poor.
Food For The Poor has partnered with the Most Rev. Julio Cesar Corniel, bishop of the Diocese of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, to oversee the day-to-day operation of the project. Working in his capacity as president of Caritas Dominican Republic, the bishop plans to add another 10 ponds to the Rio Baqui project, ultimately expanding the fish farm to 30 ponds with the potential to produce more than a 600,000 pounds of tilapia yearly.
Food For The Poor At InfoPoverty Conference
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (March 31, 2009) - The work of Food For The Poor was highlighted in the recent InfoPoverty World Conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The March 18-20 conference focused on development in poor countries, with emphasis on alleviating suffering through education and health initiatives.
A representative for Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization serving the Caribbean and Latin America, was among those who addressed the conference and spoke about what the organization is doing to break the cycle of poverty through education.
An affordable computer distribution program is one such project. The organization’s plan is to supply vocational centers, training facilities and schools in poor communities with the equipment needed to provide students a life-changing opportunity to enter the workforce prepared with highly marketable skills.
Food For The Poor already has shipped 1,495 monitors for schools and training centers in Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana and the Dominican Republic, and 560 more will be shipped to Nicaragua by mid-April. By installing workstations using a shared system -- with seven monitors attached to one central processing unit -- FFP is able to cut costs on both equipment and electricity.
“This is a very real commitment to helping people in these countries engage in sustainable development in health, education, food production, and economic and social development, thereby alleviating poverty and reaching toward the Millennium Development Goals,” said John Steffens, executive director of the Public Service and InfoPoverty institutes.
Steffens organized the conference, which included other nonprofits as well as corporations such as Siemens.
“Food For the Poor is honored to be included in this high-level discussion of issues that are so important to our mission and the people we serve,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “We not only want to meet the more immediate needs of those who need food and water, we want to provide a means for sustainable change and break the cycle for those who have so long been ensnared in poverty.”
The computer program is funded through the generous donors of Food For The Poor, which has an ambitious goal of putting these computers in all the schools and community centers it sponsors. Those who want to donate can go to www.foodforthepoor.org/computers or call 1-800-427-9104.