Published Sun, Dec 04, 22.
Written by Rebecca Honorat.
It's hamper time again!
We almost made a mistake.... we thought that featuring Soup Joumou ingredients in our hampers again this year might not be appropriate given the extended unrest and general sense of despair that covers most of Haiti. We mentioned this thought to Luckner & Garry (our Program Administrators), and a few of our families in Haiti, and their feedback was unanimous - Soup Joumou is something to be celebrated regardless of circumstance!
For those of you that are new to Alongside this year, let us introduce you to Soup Joumou...
Soup Joumou is not only an incredibly flavorful, hearty, and warming dish, but it has a powerful story behind it. This traditional Haitian soup, made with a Caribbean pumpkin called Joumou, was once a delicacy reserved for white enslavers but forbidden to the enslaved people who cooked it. After Haiti won its independence from France on January 1, 1804, Haitians made a tradition of eating the soup each Independence Day (which also happens to be New Year’s Day) to celebrate their freedom.
This tradition truly hits the core of Haitian pride and we love being able to connect with our families in this way.
Our hampers include a minimum of 10 hearty meals for a family of 5 and all of the special ingredients needed to make a delicious pot of Soup Joumou on January 1st.
While it's important for us to help our families celebrate this key cultural holiday we also want to acknowledge that this year is different. There is an extreme hunger that is affecting most of the country and now that transportation has resumed and markets are better stocked we can do more to help those in need.
The UN recently published an article titled 'Catastrophic' hunger recorded in Haiti for the first time, UN warns' that states, "a record 4.7 million people are currently facing acute hunger (IPC 3 and above), including 1.8 million people in Emergency phase (IPC 4) and,for the first time ever in Haiti, 19,000 people are in Catastrophe phase, phase 5.'
The food insecurity is worse in remote areas and some of our Alongside families live in such communities, and their food shortage is dire.
Our goal this year is to provide Soup Joumou Hampers for all 57 of our students as well as 200 smaller hampers (which will include food & hygiene items) for community members in the small communities of Tetebef and Mount Blan (near Bouva). All hamper items will be purchased locally and the ripple effect will be felt in the communities.
If you would like to partner with us you can use the links below - Together We Can Make a Difference!
There has been a lot going on lately - here are some updates!
All of our students' schools are now open and we are just as excited as Jessica! If you are sponsoring a student you will receive an updated picture soon.
Lauren, Judy, & team, made over 60 wreaths this year! If you purchased a wreath we hope that you enjoy it and know that it was made with love. Thank you for supporting this annual fundraiser - it raised over $2500 for Alongside this year!
We still have some of these unique star ornaments available. They are made in Haiti from palm leaves & twine. We will deliver them or send them to you in the mail. We love this star design as it reminds us that we can make a difference in the lives of others. The ornament will come with a custom card that has this message;
A man walked along a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm.
A young girl was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean.
"Why do you bother?" the man asked. "You're not saving enough to make a difference."
The young girl picked up another starfish, sent it spinning back to the water and said, "It made a difference to that one."
We had 6 students sponsored last month! We are so grateful for the new partnerships and we now have just 5 students needing sponsorship this year. You can view Minouneza's BIO, and the other 4 students, using this link below.
Jean Louis, Minounea
Minouneza lives in Grande Goave with her mom, her sister, and her two brothers. Her mom is employed at a local gas station and works very hard to support their family. Minouneza’s father hadn’t been involved in their family for many years and unfortunately he passed away in 2020 before he was able to make amends.
Their family shares a house with Minouneza’s aunt and grandma. Minouneza enjoys going to school and had trouble picking a favorite subject. She’s worried that she’ll have to stop going to school in order to help support the family at home, like some of her friends are having to do.
We’d like to support Minouneza in her education so that her mom doesn’t need to make the tough decision to keep her at home.
Our Small Business Loan (SBL) program currently has 20 active loans and 14 that have been completely paid back. This is such an exciting program - it is empowering families and building sustainability! Follow us on social media to meet some of our new loan recipients.
Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy email.
We have had some people ask how they can best allocate their anticipated end-of-year giving. The Christmas Soup Joumou Hampers, or any of the other needs mentioned in this email would be great places. You could also become a Sol Supporter (click on link below for more details), support the General Education Fund, or make a donation towards Rebecca's salary - she is employed as our full time Executive Director but is responsible for raising her own support.
From all of us on the Board - Merry Christmas and thank you for partnering with us this year!
Scott, Albert, Teresa, Diane, & Leanne Board of Directors Alongside Families in Haiti Society