DIRTY CARDS HELPING FAMILIES
Many of you have participated in our DIRTY CARDS HELPING FAMILIES over the past years. As I know you recall, one of our major tasks on each of the mission trips and the way we bless the community is to distribute supplies to needy families. These gifts make a huge difference in the individual lives of these folks. These bags of provisions and $20 cash have been changing everything about how life in the villages used to be and how it is now. There is economy, agriculture and animals all over now. It seems as though these little $35 gift packages multiply 100 fold. I really believe they do. Enclosed is one of the invitation cards that each family receives. These cards are cherished by each family who receives them. This $35 represents hope and help in a way that is hard to describe to those of us who spend that much on an average meal for two or one tank of gas. As always, my promise to you is that the Haiti Mission teams will personally present your gift to a family. I will also assure you that you will have a family praying for you asking God to bless you abundantly for your kindness. You will also get a “dirty card” back as a sign and symbol of their love and appreciation. That dirty card will represent joy and confidence that was in the heart of a Haitian family as they carried it throughout the day waiting for the prayer gathering and gift distribution that would make a profound difference in their lives. Why don’t you use these cards as a form of Evangelization also? Tell your friends about our Dirty Card Helping Families program. Invite them to put $35 to good use. Send us an email or write a note when you respond to this newsletter to send you some extra cards to give to interested friends and family. This has been one of our more popular programs, bringing immediate help to families hard pressed to survive. Each mission trip gives these $35 gifts to at least 160 families, all of whom benefit tremendously from this seemingly insignificant present. Because of Hurricane Matthew and all the families that suffered so much because of that event, we included another 150 families that Fr. Joe and his team recommended that we help to our list which bring our current number of families which will receive some provisions and financial help as HMI teams visit the area to almost 800. Thanks again for helping us help others.
Family Distribution –( The dirty cards helping families has been an incredibly powerful program. The simple idea of giving $20 of cash and $15 of provisions to a family has helped to encourage the families involved in such a practical way. Each year HMI helps approximately 800 families. Here is Deacon Lloyd and the team greeting the families and praying with them prior to the beginning of the distribution of the supplies.)
Why are they called “Dirty Cards?”
After HMI had been working in Haiti for several years, trying to improve the water situation, developing schools for the children and building a house here and there for some of the families that were in desperate circumstances, Fr. Joe asked us to consider helping the extremely poor families in some way. As he put it, “All the families here are poor, but some are in truly pitiful shape. Please try to help them somehow.” We asked, “What do you want us to do?” He replied, “Anything!” The mission group at the time started kicking ideas around and we came up with the idea of doing something similar to a Thanksgiving or Christmas basket as we do for needy families here in the US. So that’s what we did. Fr. Joe gave us the initial list of 28 families. We came back home and invited people in our church to give us $30 (we’ve since increased it to $35 to give them a little more) and we would give the families some cash in their own currency ($20) since they almost never have cash and $15 worth of groceries. We would buy sacks of flour, rice, sugar and beans from the local markets to help the economy and make family packets with them adding macaroni, soap and other items that we would bring from the states. We decided for the first 28 that we wanted to visit them personally so we set out on finding where they all lived up and down mountains, hills and into forested areas, so we eventually found them all. As we would present them their gift, after rejoicing and thanking us profusely, they almost always asked if we could consider helping their neighbor also. When we looked at their neighbor’s hut, even though we were visiting the really poor, their neighbor certainly didn’t look very much better off. I would write down their name, ask them to pray that we could find enough sponsors for the next year and hope that God would help us help these people. Every year so far we have been able to help until our list now has almost 800 names. At some point in time it became impractical for us to visit the families individually, so in order to help more people and keep the process orderly, we came up with the invitation card system. When we received a $35 sponsorship gift, the donor’s name and address would be typed on the card. Upon arrival in Haiti, a Haitian family would be assigned to that donor and the card sent to them inviting them to come at a specific time to receive their package. Usually there was a day between the time that the card was delivered and the time that the package was presented. During that time that card was carried in the individuals’ pocket or purse so that by the time they presented the invitation to us, most of them were crumpled and soiled. Thus we affectionately began referring to these precious cards as “Dirty Cards helping Families” or just “Dirty Cards.”
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading the Dirty Card Story and how the project developed. Thanks again for helping out. The families are deeply appreciative.