Friends of Messef

Supporters of Messef Orphanage in Haiti

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Posted by Linda Stapleton de Martinez on October 25, 2014 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Well, it's a full year since I last visited Messef, although the guys have been faithfully every single month since then.

Initially, my husband requested that I not go for fear of getting caught up in any kind of danger at the frontier, which was escalating around that time.  Things have continued to be tense between the two countries with the citizenship for Haitians in the DR issue causing feelings to run high on both sides of the border.  He has never tried to forbid me from visiting (he knows me better than that) but I do try to respect his wishes and value his guidance.

The frontier is volatile and things aren't made any easier for our Dominican leaders by having a gringo/a (foreigner) in tow.  Those of you who have visited with us know just how difficult the border staff on both sides can be and how extra money is always the goal.  If they catch sight of someone who may be better off, the complications increase. 

Just recently my husband has said that I must decide if and when I go and he won't stand in my way, in answer to my constant comments about how much I miss the children.  However, the journey and crossing take upwards of 10 hours and sometimes we get to spend less than 2 hours with the children.  They are usually in school when we go on a Monday or Friday.  Additionally, it has not been possible to take our vehicle across for some time.  The costly permit has expired and there are additionally costs and charges to enter with the truck and we just do not feel it warrants all this extra really doesn't make the trip the guys have to drive to the frontier, hire a cart attached to a motorbike for the supplies and cross on foot, hopefully getting motorbike taxis on the other side.  I have done this before and it was the one time when I felt decidedly unsafe in Haiti.

I do believe we have the Lord's covering and I am not a wimp, but for the time being I will continue to fundraise and love the children from a distance, as much as I miss them.  I feel as though I can convey better to you what is going on there if I have boots on the ground but I am trusting that with the photos and news that Pastor Quirico and Danilo bring us that you will continue to stand with us, as we try to make the best use we can of the resources you entrust to us. 

Here are the photos from our latest visit, yesterday.  Many thanks to all those who supported this trip.  More to follow in the next Newsletter on that.

Adopting a Haitian child

Posted by Linda Stapleton de Martinez on August 21, 2013 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I received a message today via Friends of Messef from a childless couple asking if we were able to help facilitate the adoption of a Haitian child.  Unfortunately, this is beyond our powers.  I kind of knew this as we have tentatively explored the question before, but I did some research and was shocked by what I discovered.

It broke my heart to find out just how extremely difficult the process is.  I knew it was long, hard and expensive from friends living here going through the hoops at present, but read this article and I think, like me, you will be shocked, too.

I know children have to be protected from trafficking and abuse, but it breaks my heart that there are thousands of wonderful couples who would give a child a marvellous home and there are thousands of desperate children in need of that, and both are denied the opportunity.

It makes me more determined than ever to try to give our children at Messef the best we possible can from our limited resources.  Please join me in that desire if you can.  If you live in Canada, the UK or the Dominican Republic you can contact us to help and avoid transfer fees.  Alternatively, you can donate here to our general fund for the food run and here to contribute to the roof fund for the boys' dormitory.

God bless you and thank you for your help.

Our Brush with the Haitian Government and Donna and Gerald

Posted by Linda Stapleton de Martinez on March 23, 2012 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Those of you who have had the dubious pleasure of crossing the frontier from the Dominican Republic to Haiti to visit Messef will maybe understand what I am going to muse on here.  You will know that chaos, self-interest, menace and profiteering are rife there and that seems to permeate every level of society, maybe less menacingly in the DR, but it is widespread here, too.

Now, let’s apply all that to our humble attempts to help Messef. If you have read the last Newsletter or are a member of our Messef Planning Group, you will know that the Government Inspectors of Orphanages have laid down some ultimatums – make 11 major improvements at Messef, or else!  Most of their demands are legitimate: the boys’ dormitory is abysmal, the dining room is pretty sad, the place is overcrowded, the kids cry out for a playground, we do need to have some regular medical input, qualified teachers in the school are vital etc., etc., but where does the money come from?  The government have made it perfectly clear that they can’t assist with any of this but they still threaten to close us down and find alternative places for the children (I hear you shout “where?”, we shouted “where?” when we had to listen, captive, to  all of this, but no satisfactory answers come. It doesn’t matter, shape up or ship out. 

As a group of supporters, our reactions to this vary – those of us who were there at the time tried to control our anger (helped by the prayers of Pastor Quirico for Jeanette and I to control ourselves and not make the situation worse).  We just about succeeded, with God’s help, but I see it as righteous anger on behalf of our children!  All of the following are legitimate responses and mine tend to vary between them all depending on my hope and energy levels on any given day:

1)     Some feel it’s all bluff – the men with pressed shirts and haughty opinions of themselves come and make a big noise and go away and leave us alone for another six months or a year, as they have in the past, so no need to take heed. 

2)     Others feel we should call their bluff and say “go ahead, close us down”. 

3)     Do nothing until we have absolutely everything signed, sealed and delivered in writing is another logical response but, remember folks, this is Haiti.   Apparently, written Rules and Regulations for Orphanages do exist and we are promised a copy.

4)     Yet more, and I tend to fall into this group most of the time, feel we should press on with our own priorities which, with the exception of the Bakery and the sewage system (which was strangely ignored although running water and toilets are abysmally lacking), are pretty much the same as the problem areas identified.  By doing this, we will incorporate most of the things demanded by the inspectors.  They have given us time to work on all this.

The things we know need addressing are largely the things that appear on the “men from the Ministry’s” list.  I wouldn’t close Messef down for any of them without knowing that the children have somewhere better to go, together, where they could be guaranteed improved conditions, care and love.  I would stage a sit in if need be, not that it would get me very far, but whoever had to carry me away may feel  the results on their back for a while to come!  Maybe a hunger strike would do me more good…  I digress.

I know Messef is very far from perfect, but I suspect there are many orphanages in Haiti that may have the coveted LICENCE that aren’t any better, or maybe even worse.  Maybe they have found other ways of procuring their treasured piece of paper.  I have to say that I haven’t heard any demands or requests for “incentives” to smooth the way so it would be wrong of me to imply this, but it has been known to happen.  I wonder how many orphanages in Haiti actually are licensed…another little piece of research for me.

In the meantime, take a look at the new heartwarming photos from Donna and Gerald's recent visit and remember why we do all this.  Thank you so much Donna, Gerald and friends for your faithfulness, sacrifice and extreme generosity.

I have just sent off an application for an "Extreme Makeover" for Messef and I am just plotting the next Father's Day assault, so watch this space.  If any of you have any good ideas for fundraising for the boys' dormitory, please let us know of your actions or ideas and we will back you in whatever way we can.

So we press on, battle weary but not defeated.  Please bear with us if you have contributed to the Bakery Project.  Your money is safe and we will return it to anyone who only wanted to support this project and to see it realized in the near future. We cannot legitimately start work on this with all these other needs higher on the list, in order to keep Messef running.  This change was beyond our control, as the worst types of change are.  We will keep you posted, but if you would like to transfer your donation to the general fund, please let me know.

This is one blog post  that I would really appreciate your comments on.


New Year Hope for Messef

Posted by Linda Stapleton de Martinez on December 31, 2011 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Strangely, although Friends of Messef work for a better life for the children of Messef, this photo somehow represents to me my hopes and prayers for the future of those children.

Fritz, the man in the middle, is Pastor Altesse's older brother.  Both were orphans and given the chance of a better life by a loving family who gave them the key to a different future. They came to know God and to believe that it was possible to do something worthwhile with their lives.

Fritz takes care of the large vegetable garden at Messef.  Against the odds, with drought and poor soil, he manages to produce a quantity of food to feed the hungry mouths of the children and adults living at the orphanage.  Over a long period he has been building, little by little, the modest but delightful house behind him in this photo.  When it was ready, he married his sweetheart, the woman to his left, and they also care for her elderly mother, to his right.  This just touches my heart.

My prayer for our children at Messef is that they are learning similar values and won't have been spoilt by the visits from us, where blessings are poured upon them.  Compared to children in "our" countries, they still have incredibly little, but we want them to understand that  these things have been worked for by you and that they will have more value if they are able to produce them for themselves and their future families. 

This is why we are so keen to forge ahead with our Hen Coop Project.  Sandra, April, Posie and Stu will be arriving during the first week of 2012.  We will be constructing the hen coop here in the Dominican Republic, dismantling it and then taking it to Haiti to rebuild on site.  We will fill it with the chickens that many of you named in honour of loved ones in the Father's Day Appeal (more to follow) .  This has been delayed due to April's close-to-death accident, but God is good and she is now well enough to join us in this adventure.

Our next most fervent desire for 2012 is to move ahead with the Bakery Project.  Shay, who lives in the DR, is investigating everything necessary to help this project succeed.  We are a good way ahead in our fundraising, some of you having donated to this in lieu of Christmas cards etc..  We will then make some important decisions as to how best carry this forward so that the children can not only learn the value of work and the satisfaction of producing something for themselves and their younger "brothers and sisters", but to learn many other skills valuable for adult life.

We wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year.  Thank you for your support and interest in 2011 and I hope that you will still be with us in 2012, bringing all these exciting changes to fruition.  God bless you.

Not Just Tourists provide a mountain of Meds

Posted by Linda Stapleton de Martinez on November 16, 2011 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)

After months of liaising with and visiting Not Just Tourists, an organisation which sends donated medicines to developing countries with Canadians travelling to those places, Posie Ross just sent us that great report on getting through the airport:

"I met Kay and Lisa at Pearson Int Airport today. We had meds flying across the suitcases. I wanted to take pics of the scene BUT Stuie had removed my SD card!!!! Lisa and Kay were too focussed on the caper to search out their cameras. So, as hard as it was...I let the pic idea go...for a moment.


As I was flipping around Kay's bag...there was a lot of rattling.... a guy near us curiously asked what on earth I had in the bag...when i said meds he laughed and said oh sure.....rolling his eyes...


Now is our turn to check in. We are called to move to the counter to check in BUT there is a big gang ahead of us...and a ruckus in progress. The airline staff were weighing EVERYTHING...including hand luggage...Air line staff were showing signs of wear and frustration (the people ahead of us were the FIRST people the staff were checking it did not bode well for the home team!!!) Kay and Lisa are madly shifting things...when another airline person came along and whisked us down to another line...THE ELITE check in!!!


When Lisa said she and Kay had Not Just Tourists' luggage...there was not a flicker of an eyelid. The bags were all checked (as in.... they did not have to fly standby!!!!!!) and WE were giddy with success.


We took some pics so when Lisa and Kay are home, I am sure they will forward to NJT and to Linda for the Messef site.


So thanks to all of you for making this was exciting. We appreciate all of your efforts."

I am just awed by how so many of you are working together to give these children a better future.  It's really humbling.  Thank you all.


The Way Forward

Posted by Linda Stapleton de Martinez on July 2, 2011 at 10:37 PM Comments comments (0)

After a very successful fundraising effort for Father's Day, where we reached our target of US$500 to go towards constructing a hen coop to house 30 chickens, repairing the dormitory roofs and possibly building a play area, we are now looking ahead.

Our next target is to arrive at a budget for Messef so that we can work towards raising that amount on a monthly basis.  We are considering introducing a Sponsorship system and will be announcing details as soon as our plans are finalised.

We have a visit coming up from a new Friend of Messef, Trudy, and hope to visit Messef with her and her husband in the near future.

The monthly food runs continue and Danilo, Pastor Quirico and the rest of the Team are doing a fantastic job in bringing that about.  As always, we have a huge debt of gratitude to Donna, Gerald and their band of supporters in Canada.

Canadian Friends of Messef will be bringing a Team down at the end of September and the beginning of October and we will carry out all the work outlined above when they are here.  We have a lot of planning to do before the trip but are very excited by the prospect of spending a longer period of time with the children and making improvements in their lives.  We also hope to have a lot of fun while we are there!

The final good news is that we have managed to set up a means of donating on line via PayPal, so please be sure to check that out on our How to Help and Donations pages.

Thanks for your continued support of the children of Messef.

God bless you.

LInda Stapleton de Martinez

Recent aid to Messef

Posted by Linda Stapleton de Martinez on February 26, 2011 at 6:59 PM Comments comments (0)

We may not have posted for a while but the children of Messef certainly have not been forgotten.

Donna and Gerald Cole from Canada continue to be most faithful Friends of Messef and have helped with all recent needs.  Thank you for your continued support, without which I really don't know what would happen.  As the name of my church says, Jehova Jireh, God Provides.

Having heard about Messef from Donna and Gerald, Rhonda Obiero and her friends Bernadette, Erin and Freda have also become major supporters of the children and will return as often as possible to continue their involvement, meanwhile helping from a distance.

We had a donation of a large supply of antibiotics, toothpaste and toothbrushes from Jim Hafnagel who was visiting the Dominican Republic from the United States and brought the supplies down with him for just such a cause.  Jim also provided us with detailed instructions on the use of the medication.

Vivienne and Bert Robertson, from England, made the decision to donate to Messef instead of buying Christmas cards and some gifts this year.  We had hoped to buy a few "treats" for the children from this windfall.  However, it coincided with a desperate plea for help with extra cleaning and hygiene supplies following an outbreak of sickness at Messef, which resulted in some children being the money was used for that.  It was the exact amount required to complete the task!  Pastor Quirico promised the orphanage that he would find the money from somewhere, although he didn't know where, and I informed him of the donation within hours of his promise.

Last but not least, perhaps the best news of all is that the much needed and long awaited water filter has now been fitted and is fully functioning, providing sufficient water to meet the immediate needs of the orphanage.  This is especially welcomed in view of the ongoing threat of cholera.  Thanks once again to Carol Jerold and her church in Essex, England.

Thanks to everyone else who is helping by giving their time, money, skills and prayers....they are all vital for our continued friendship to Messef.

Facebook Link

Posted by Linda Stapleton de Martinez on August 21, 2010 at 1:17 PM Comments comments (0)

Lately I have been trying to bring people who have supported or shown an interest in Messef together via emails and Facebook.  The response to my mailing does not seem to have brought much response, so maybe it was just too boring, but I have been encouraged by the number of people who have signed up as liking our Cause page on Facebook.  I had hoped this would lead to the same people becoming members of the website and Messef, but to date I am still the only member!  This is a good lesson in perseverance and trusting in God.

If you do find your way to this blog, please click on Members on the side Menu and register.  I undertake that you will not be bombarded with requests for money, although of course that is one of our primary needs.  We would still like you to join.

God bless you.

Linda Stapleton de Martinez

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