This is little Islande. She is eight years old. We work quite a bit in Peyi Pouri which is two hours from our base by four-wheel-drive. Islande lives an additional two hours north from there—very, very high in the mountains. Her mother died a short time ago, and her father was left with eight children to feed …
He had no money for food for his children. In fact, things had gotten so bad, he had no choice but to send four of his children to live with relatives as restavek slaves. Unfortunately this is common in Haiti for parents who simply do not have the resources to care for their own children. Like Mr. Oske, many parents see it as the only chance their children have for survival because at least they will be fed. He kept the other four children at home in his mud hut … but things went from bad to worse.
He heard that we were giving out food, so he traveled to where our food was being distributed. We had just given out the last box of food, which happened to go to a Pastor, when Islande’s father arrived. When he realized there was no food, he fell to the ground and grabbed his face, crying. He cried so hard that it caught our attention. There he was, sitting on a large rock, dressed in rags, with tears running down his face. He cried and cried. Then, the Haitian Pastor gave him that last box of food. He was so happy. He went right home to his children and cooked the food.
Islande had a hot bowl of food that day! For many days before she had only eaten a few pieces of dried corn from her father’s garden. Many times, she and her siblings had to drink salt water, because there was no food. And many nights, her father told her, “sleep on your stomach, and maybe you will not feel the pain of hunger.” She did, but the hunger never went away. It was like a giant vulture, always circling her and her siblings.
The good news is that someone heard about this father, his daughter Islande, and the plight of the siblings who were sent to be restavek slaves. They sent funds to build the family a house in Peyi Pouri. Someone else sponsored a job for Mr. Oske in Peyi Pouri. Now, Mr. Oske can bring his children home! They can go to Church in Peyi Pouri, the children can go to school, AND they will receive food each month from our distribution there!
When everyone gives what they can, God multiplies it!
Islande has a happy ending to her story, but there are so many children, who pray for food each day. We deeply appreciate the container of food, 272,000 meals, sent each month by Pastor Jentezen and his Kingdom Connection Partners. Each meal reaches so much farther than you can imagine. If we weren’t in Peyi Pouri giving out food, little Islande would have likely been the next restavek slave. But WORD travels far of God’s goodness, and the miracle of a warm meal brought yet another family to safety and gave these children the hope of a future!
Haiti is in a great food crisis right now. There are political problems and unofficial officials who have brought in guns and weapons. There are riots on the streets every day; people are killed, there are constant shootings, and unauthorized roadblocks. We always have to inspect an area before we do food distributions to ensure everyone’s safety … But, God has always taken care of us and He will protect us.
Thank you, Pastor Jentezen, on behalf of the children in Haiti!
Missionaries Bobby and Sherry Burnette