Canadians need help to get food to Haiti
Truck needed to take formula to Miami
July 23, 2007
When a baby dies in your arms, it changes you for the rest of your life.
Rev. Tina Leslie knows this from experience. "And for something as foolish as a bottle of milk," she says. "You never forget something like that."
It's a tragedy that has played out more than once for Leslie, a Dunnville resident who, along with her husband Rev. Bev Leslie and another Dunnville couple, John and Marilyn Mills, runs Northwest Haiti Christian Mission Canada.
They operate two orphanages in Haiti's remote mountainous northwest, as well as occasional clinics and surgeries plus feeding programs for children and adults who are literally dying of malnutrition.
"We're taking medical care into areas that have never had it before," says Leslie, co-pastor of the Church of Christ in Mississauga along with her husband. "In some cases, they're cutting roads with machetes for us."
The Leslies have recently cleared a major hurdle. They've organized monthly donations of baby formula and meal replacement beverages. They've even worked through the mountain of paperwork involved in shipping it to Haiti from the U.S.
The problem is getting it from a donated warehouse in Port Maitland to the port of Miami. So they're looking for cash donations or, even better, an offer to truck the stuff once a month.
"It's really expensive," says Leslie. "Last month alone, it cost $3,650. We're still depending on Sunday school donations of pennies and quarters."
The Leslies began a Canadian chapter of Northwest Haiti Mission a dozen years ago after hearing about it at a prayer meeting in Dunnville. Today, small teams of short-term volunteers help out at the orphanages, feeding programs and eight Sunday schools they've built throughout the northwest.
During their first trip there, the Leslies heard a call to minister to the country's poverty-stricken people. Rocked by natural disasters and political unrest, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
With their home base in Saint-Louis du Nord on Haiti's north coast, they're too far west to work closely with Hamilton-based Joy and Hope of Haiti. "They're doing wonderful work in a very remote area of Haiti that's very difficult to get to," says Cathy Zavitz, a volunteer with Joy and Hope of Haiti. "Baby formula is like gold in Haiti."
Malnutrition is the major reason 12 of every 100 babies born in Haiti die before their first birthday. Malnourished mothers often lose their breast milk too soon and can't afford to buy formula. Meanwhile, elderly Haitians will often stop eating in order to help keep youngsters alive.
The Leslies also run a feeding program for the elderly.
"If we fight to save somebody's life and we lose them, if they know Jesus is their saviour, we know that they're safe," said Leslie. For more information or to make a donation, call 905-774-7021 or e-mail email@example.com.