FMSC on Flickr
I just returned from a trip to Haiti with Feed My Starving Children where our team of marketing staff and donors met our in-country food distribution partners.
We helped distribute FMSC meals packed by volunteers in the United States to kids in desperate need, saw the impact of how that food has created jobs and sustainable communities and loved on kiddos who just desperately needed affection.
Below are my observations and reflections from this precious time in Haiti:
There is trash everywhere – Haiti doesn’t have a sanitation system in place. But, there was an overwhelming smell of the beautiful flowers from the tropical trees in bloom.
Vendors line every inch of the street selling personal care items, clothing, shoes or produce out of tin shacks, or on scraps of cloth on the ground – yet each item is so carefully and meticulously placed to make a beautiful arrangement of goods.
There are chickens and goats with babies scurrying all over – new life.
There are views of the turquoise ocean water and lush mountain-sides. Children in tattered clothing know we’re foreign, but flash beautiful smiles and wave with excitement as we pass by.
Bible verses and passages are painted on abandoned buildings. Half-built homes made with beautiful masonry and stonework are abandoned after the money-supply ran out.
Tap Taps with ornate, brightly painted designs and metal details buzzed up and down the streets jam-packed with locals. Every advertisement and logo is perfectly hand-painted on cinder block walls that create enclosed compounds hiding beautiful places inside.
Every night it stormed fiercely (which is a blessing with the drought they’ve been facing there) and in the morning it was sunny and beautiful.
Haiti is beautiful mess.
I can’t help but see a lot of similarities in myself. The truth is, I am a beautiful mess. I am beautifully and wonderfully made in God’s own image and likeness. Yet, on the inside, I’m a jumble of faults, shortcomings and chaos. But, recognizing my shortcomings magnifies the abundant grace that God provides – and it gives me hope.
On the surface of Haiti, you see a vicious cycle of poverty and economic helplessness. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Close to 12 percent of children under 5 years old are underweight. Haiti has made progress since the earthquake of 2010, but struggles remain.
Haitians are a creative and entrepreneurial people. There is so much potential. They just need hope and a little help.
Just as God provides what I so desperately need – His grace, He provides what His children in Haiti so desperately need – hope.
Hope starts with food. That’s where FMSC comes in.
We visited Feed My Starving Children partners who are doing the most amazing things to help. They’re providing hope that starts with getting food into the hands of the thousands who are hungry.
FMSC meals are the foundation of starting the cycle of sustainability and break the cycle of poverty, all while feeding kids starving in body and spirit. Our partners are making a real difference.
It is so evident that God is at work in Haiti.
This song by Gungor is a perfect picture of God’s work in and through us:
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You
Kristen Tersteeg is a graphic designer at Feed My Starving Children. Follow her on Instagram @kristentersteeg.
Did you know that Feed My Starving Children has more than one formula? In 2009, we developed MannaPack™ Potato-D to assist health care workers in managing diarrhea.
Potato-D is the first and only relief food to combat diarrhea, a leading killer in areas with poor sanitation. It’s not a medicine, but it slows fluid loss so the child can survive while medical treatment is delivered.
This very special formula can be given to children of all ages and complements oral rehydration therapy.
From Children’s Cup, one of Feed My Starving Children’s partners in Swaziland:
Each year in Swaziland we see thousands of children with our mobile medical clinic. Out of those thousands of children, we see hundreds of cases of diarrhea.
At the beginning of this year we introduced Potato-D as an alternative treatment for our children with diarrhea. It has been a huge success.
Diarrhea resolved within two days with every child we have given the Potato-D to. Their families have visited the CarePoints to express their gratitude and comment on the simplicity of preparing it and how much the children enjoyed it.
Huge blessings come in small packages!
More Stories About Children’s Cup
Four-year-old Mpile (im-PEE-lay) stared at his bare feet as he stood under a tree. Tears ran down his face. His parents had abandoned him. Mpile was alone.
Little Mpile didn’t know why his parents had left him. Or why they didn’t come back. He felt like no one loved him. Mpile was struggling to survive.
His grandmother tried to care for him, but she simply couldn’t find the resources to provide for Mpile’s most basic needs.
His tummy felt unbearably empty all the time. He was so malnourished his hair was falling out.
When FMSC partner Children’s Cup found him in Swaziland, his cheeks were caked with dust. He had no shirt to wear. Mpile’s belly was alarmingly bloated and painful from intestinal worms. His body was covered in an infection caused by ringworm.
Children’s Cup began to slowly nurture him back to health. They brought him to a nearby CarePoint, where Mpile was fed nutritious MannaPack™ meals that YOU provided. Medical staff treated his intestinal worms and infections.
His body began to heal, and through the tender care he received, Mpile’s little heart began to feel joy again. This happened because YOU gave.
“I remember seeing Mpile for the first time and weeping because of his appearance and how sad he looked. Now when you see him he is smiling and full of so much joy.” – Children’s Cup missionary
Mpile turned 10 in 2015! He is kind, playful and has a sweet personality. He wants to be a police officer when he grows up.
YOU make this happen every day. Because of you, kids like Mpile can be fed nutritious food and know the deep love of Jesus. It all starts with food.
Above: File photo of FMSC meals being distributed along Thai-Burma border
A woman walked through the jungles of Burma with her baby to get to the community center where Feed My Starving Children meals were being distributed. Her husband had died, a victim of the 60-year conflict in Burma that has displaced more than 2 million people.
Rebekah Jacobson, the community engagement specialist at the Karen Organization of Minnesota, met this woman while distributing FMSC meals at the center near the Thai-Burma border.
The Karen have suffered horrific human rights abuses through the ethnic cleansing operations of the ruling Burmese military. The conflict in Burma has been called the world’s longest-running civil war.
It was there that Jacobson distributed MannaPack Rice™ during an internship with one of FMSC’s partners in Thailand.
Her group drove four hours through winding, mountain roads to get to the center where Karen refugees gathered after walking hours through the jungle.
Jacobson thought of the woman who’d journeyed to safety after losing her husband in the conflict.
“I knew that they all had similar experiences with the army in Burma,” Jacobson said. “I saw the trauma, and it became much more real.”
Jacobson’s role with the Karen Organization of Minnesota (KOM) includes helping the youth coordinators as needed. The youth program partners with Saint Paul Public Schools and Roseville Area Schools to provide services for students from Burma in grades K-12. KOM works with Karen students at three public schools, where they facilitate volunteer opportunities across the Twin Cities.
FMSC is a great option because the students don’t speak much English, Jacobson said. “It’s a great opportunity to give back to where they came from.”
FMSC shipped more than 4 million meals to Burma and Thailand in 2015.
KOM In the Packing Room
Hta Thi Yu Moo was 14 years old when she came to the United States from a refugee camp in Thailand. She remembers lining up every month to receive a bag of rice and beans—the ration for each family. She’s lived in the Twin Cities for close to 10 years.
She works as a youth coordinator for KOM, where she organizes and chaperons volunteer events for Karen youth that have lived in the U.S. for less than three years. Many of the students she works with have lived in the U.S. for six months to a year.
The Karen are the fastest growing refugee group in the Twin Cities, where FMSC is headquartered. Close to 10,000 Karen refugees call Minnesota home.
She brought a group of 12 students to a recent packing session in Eagan. The session packed more than 11,000 meals.
The conflict in Burma is ongoing. FMSC has partners on the ground, distributing food to these refugees who have suffered much.
Please pray for those involved in the conflict and the refugees who have endured trauma.
You can continue to provide HOPE to the Karen still living in Burma and Thailand HERE.