Detroit Muscle Crew and Medical Staff Head to Haiti

The first of four trips to the Have Faith Haiti Mission in 2011 is set for January 10-13. The entire Detroit Muscle Crew— seventeen men ready to work—will return to continue the repairs begun nearly a year ago. They’ll be joined by a medical team who will set up a regular medical and dietary program designed to care for the continued growth and development of the orphanage’s children. This first trip will set the foundation for the mission’s new operations, made possible by the generous donations from our community. Roger Penske of Penske Auto has graciously donated the plane and fuel to transport the volunteers and supplies.

Structure, inside and out

Through our work this past year, we’ve built new bathrooms with flush toilets and real showers when they had none before, installed a new electrical system with back up battery, enclosed a kitchen to protect against bugs and provided the first ever sink, refrigerator and freezer. Repairs were also made to the plumbing system, and the damage to the dormitories caused by the earthquake.

With this trip, the Detroit Muscle Crew sets its sights on completing a new three room school building. Having a school on the premises will ensure that all children receive an education daily. The older kids, who normally attend school away from the mission, have been unable to travel since the election riots shutdown transportation. With the new schoolhouse in place, a new education program, taught in English and French, will be set in motion.

Every child will be getting a new bunk bed and mattresses. Prior to the repairs made to the dormitories’ infrastructures, children were sleeping outside on the ground, too afraid to return indoors after residual tremors.

For the first time in the mission’s history, there is a dining room and there will now be  a large dining room table adjacent to the kitchen. Usually, the children eat their two daily meals— rice and beans—wherever they find a space to settle. Our hope is that communal meals—shared around a table and after Grace is recited—will continue to foster a nurturing sense of family and community.

To their health

Val Gokenbach, Medical Administrator of the Mitch Albom charities (including the S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic for homeless women and children) will lead a three person medical team from Detroit to implement the Mission’s new medical program. A pediatrician and general practitioner will establish basic records for each child and administer inoculations. A nutritionist will custom design a food program to include three healthy meals per day—another first for the orphanage—as well as an executable shopping and food preparation directive. Such programs are a crucial part of what the Have Faith Haiti Mission is committing to these children. The need for regular medical attention was only highlighted when three young children were initially diagnosed with malaria and were unable to receive any care until A Hole in the Roof Foundation stepped in with the necessary funds.

Medical care will continue through a collaboration with RHEMA International, who will set up on-site visits by a doctor every other Saturday and provide support through their hospital in Bocozelle, Haiti.

How you can help

The 2011 operating budget for the Mission is projected at $80,000. We hoped to reach that number by Christmas.

And you responded.

Since our announcement at the beginning of December, more than $58,000 in micro-donations through the web has been raised. Your support is so important to us, and we hope that it can continue as we work to reach our goal.

And now, you can make a donation as a holiday gift—help save the life of a child (and send a special gift card with photos from the mission to its recipient).

Stay in touch

As we have with the trips this past year, we’ll be posting daily updates and photos on www.mitchalbom.com, and through Mitch’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. We want you to see how your help goes directly to the children at the Have Faith Haiti Mission.

As always, thank you for all of your help and support in spreading the news and making life just a little bit better, one child at a time.

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