Haiti made the news frequently in February, bringing attention to the growing unrest and political clashes. Protests are increasing in both frequency and intensity, reflecting the rising tensions. On February 10th, a large group of protestors took to the streets in Port-au-Prince and faced tear gas from the police. The road for Haiti to get here began five years ago, in February 2016.
According to Haiti's constitution, presidential elections are held in February and a president's term is five years. In February 2016, current president Jovenel Moise narrowly won a run-off but was unable to take office when the election was contested. It took a year for the election to be resolved, and Moise was not sworn in until February 2017.
Today, that gap year is making a big difference. Moise and his supporters claim that his term will end in February 2022 because it didn't begin until 2017. His opponents argue that Moise should step down now because he won the election originally in 2016. Calls for Moise to end his term began in early February and quickly turned violent in an assassination attempt on February 7.
All of the uncertainty, division, and unrest has brought tensions to a breaking point. There are gangs moving throughout Haiti robbing anyone they can, especially those carrying cash, but they face no consequences. It is not safe to travel, restricting food trucks from making deliveries and sending food prices skyrocketing. Schools were closed for over a week in February out of concern for the safety of children amidst kidnappings.
Branch Schools also closed temporarily to protect the students. The three schools in the Port-au-Prince area, where much of the protesting is occurring, remained closed longer than expected--a little over a week. The Pilate middle school was able to reopen sooner due to being in a safer area. The increasing difficulty of buying and receiving food deliveries has also affected Branch Schools, which provides nutritious snacks to students at Carrefour and Smyrne and a full meal to every orphan.
We thank God for His protecting hand on Branch Schools and pray that the tensions and danger in all of Haiti will cease soon, and ask for your continued prayers as well. We know that God is watching over Haiti and He has a plan. These difficult times are also an opportunity for us to share the comfort and healing found in God's Word, and we are happy that school has resumed so that the children at Branch Schools continue to receive this spiritual nourishment. Please don't hesitate to contact Branch Schools with any questions!
Emily Helmen, Development Coordinator
Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti, Inc.
The water cistern at our orphanage school in Smyrne is running dry - and we’re joyful, excited, and grateful!
“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:3
No, we’re not happy about the water problem (more on that in a minute). We’re overjoyed because of the incredible reason behind this emergency: The school that meets at the Smyrne orphanage has grown from 35 students in 2015 to 489 today, greatly increasing the demand on its resources!
Just think. By the small cistern pictured above, hundreds of children are flocking to Jesus where their lives are changed. They are receiving living water and literacy, the Bible and the ability to read it for themselves.
To meet the growing demand, Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti added classrooms and increased the campus sanitation facilities. We’re now building more cisterns to triple the water capacity. A truck arrives monthly to fill the cisterns with drinking water. The Branch Schools in Carrefour, Leogane, and Pilate are also rapidly growing. We anticipate a total of more than 1,000 students for the 2020-2021 school year!
God has entrusted us with an awesome opportunity in Haiti. He is the one filling the classrooms. He is the one filling the hearts of children with the hope of salvation. We can share the work by filling the cisterns with drinking water.
Please support Branch Schools. We ask for your prayers for the students. Please pray that God will continue to bless the ministry and strengthen the hands of all who support it. Then, please give the best financial gift you can. Your gift will be carefully put to use to provide water, teachers, classroom supplies, nutrition, basic healthcare, and, above all, the living water that Jesus promised long ago at another well:
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13,14
Thank you, friends, for your ongoing love, prayers, and support for the children of Haiti!
Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti, Inc., a non-profit that funds elementary and middle school education and nutrition for more than 900 students in Haiti, is pleased to announce the addition of its new Development Coordinator, Emily Kjeer. She will assist with marketing, media outreach, coordinating volunteer activities, and donor relations. The addition of a Development Coordinator was made possible by a grant from the Antioch Foundation.
“Hard pressed on every side, but not crushed.” These words instantly spring to mind when you read the uplifting news from the four Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti where students are safely gaining an education during the Covid-19 crisis. God continues to pour his blessings on these precious students!
Even before the pandemic reached Haiti, there were difficulties. National Pastor Rona Abraham writes, “The educational need in Haiti has been one of the most urgent needs in the country. Forty percent of the children in the population do not have access to education. Private schools are very expensive and public schools are not enough. It is possible to have 100 students in a primary school classroom, in high school, 200 students. In this way (only) the most active is educated.”
“Thursday, March 19, 2020 they have found the first case of Covid-19,” Pastor Rona says. “The president made the decision to close all public and private activities. For my part, I spoke with the Academic Director and the principals to continue with the program at home with the tasks of the students.”
School and Orphanage Director Luxon Boursiquot writes from Carrefour, “Many schools cannot maintain and risk losing the year because the students cannot pay their tuition so that the school can meet its commitments financial to the teachers. We say thank you to God because, thanks to Branch Schools sponsors, we are sure we can pay our teachers and, in fact, they are still there to help our children, thank you to each donor.”
Like children in the United States, students at Branch Schools must now learn outside a classroom. Boursiquot explains, “Teachers have all the teaching materials with them - all the activities to be carried out from the first day of class until the closure of all school activities in the country. Thanks to this program, the inspection section of the Ministry of Education, the school administration can monitor in real time the progress or not of a classroom or a teacher or a school compared to another school. In this Covid-19 period, the task becomes more complicated because, during normal times, they prepare the lessons in a notebook predisposed to this but now, after this handwritten preparation (to teach in the classroom), they are obliged to type them so that the children can see the topics treated with all possible ease.”
Children living in the three orphanages receive their schoolwork there. The other students receive and return assignments on Monday mornings. “Each weekend,” explains Boursiquot, “the teachers come to bring a copy of the electronic file or his preparations which are validated by our Inspector, Mr. Jean, and the director of the school. The file is printed and the copies mimeographed. Every Monday, parents happily parade to collect the copies for their respective children. Before receiving the copies, the parent must submit the homework inserted in the copy of the previous week. This copy will be corrected in the next weekend and will find the child on Monday through his parents.” The graded lessons are returned to the children “continually, because we say that good or bad grades will stimulate children and help them make more effort.”
Branch Schools’ students will take final exams in person. “We will arrange to have them come in groups of five if things do not get better in the coming days. All the children have to undergo tests and a final test to be entitled to a higher class because each year, at the end of the school year, we must send a list of children by class with the marks obtained and the final mention of decision. The final exam will be done in the classroom under the indirect control of state officials because they will have to (approve) the children’s pass mark and update their databases.”
In Haiti, the school year typically ends in June but, this year, they will end in late July or early August. “With the new situation,” Boursiquot writes, “there will be several changes. The closing date will be extended, the programming will also decrease. (As of) April 24, the state followed us by setting up a program similar to ours, however, with shortcomings because the country has no electricity.”
“Haiti is a country that lives in turbulence,” Boursiquot explains. “There is inequality, black misery, despair, exploitation, merit is a function of class, of social rank. We have had already a friendship with the general closure of activities! One month after the opening of classes in September 2019, there were violent political demonstrations that led everyone to stay at home. The children were forced not to come to school. The Lutheran directors had a meeting to see the best method not to lose the school year. In three days, we had a meeting with all the teachers to present the plan we had for the operation of our schools.” With an emergency plan and funding in place, more than 950 students at Branch Schools were able to continue learning this year.
“Hard pressed on every side, but not crushed.” During this difficult time, we sincerely thank God for blessing the schools with growth and sustainability, for inspiring the directors and teachers to persevere, and for moving the hearts of friends like you to help raise the gospel torch in Haiti!
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
Around the globe, people are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. For those who have been ordered to shelter in place, there is no gathering for worship. There are shortages of food and basic hygiene products. Children are unable to go to school. Many adults are unable to work and fearful about how they will survive financially. The health care system is strained to its limits. These experiences are new and, until recently, unthinkable for people in developed countries. But, for most of us, the experience is temporary.
In Haiti, the unthinkable is everyday life – food shortages, businesses closed by a crisis, economic turmoil, lack of health care, limited education. As Covid-19 covers the island, the pain will only deepen. Instead of food shortages, the threat of starvation. Instead of limited health care, no access to health care. Instead of offering church online as American pastors can, several Haitian pastors were arrested March 22 for offering church services in person.
“Bad news for us.” The message came from one of our orphanage directors in Haiti. “Corona virus come. School will close tomorrow. Only 50 beds for all the country. No foods no cleaning products. Many problems. God knows.” Yes. God knows - and promises to help.
“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” Isaiah 41:13.
One of the ways God will help in Haiti is through his people - ordinary people like you and me who are blessed to know that Jesus Christ gave his life to redeem us. He will help through those who understand the urgency of sharing this message with as many people as possible. That’s why, even in troubled times, we think of Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti with joy. More than 950 children are learning the gospel, reading it for themselves, and sharing it with others. The schools are growing rapidly and God continues to provide exciting opportunities. With your support, we added a middle school in 2019 and we’re preparing to open four vocational training centers this year so orphans reaching the age of 18 and adults from the community can learn marketable skills and receive spiritual support.
We know God will bring Branch Schools through this current crisis. Because of seeds planted and systems in place, students and teachers are already better equipped to endure. Please continue to support this vital work.
We pray God will keep you safe as you work through the challenge of Covid-19 in your own life. Our friends in Haiti pray for you also. There, even school children understand crisis – they have known little else. Praise God that through your love, prayers, and gifts, they, too, have hope of a better tomorrow on earth and eternity in heaven!
Lee Petersen, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and all your friends at Branch Schools
Mike Nichols is a member at Shepherd of the Hills located in West Bend, WI where he currently serves as worship board coordinator. He is married to Dawn with two grown boys Zach and Noah. Mike has been involved in mission trips both internationally and stateside. Mike and his family are also founding members of Living Word Lutheran church in Waukesha WI. Presently, he serves on the Southeastern Wisconsin district mission board. Mike works for Quad Graphics as a Sr IT Manager and has been at Quad for over 30 years. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf and spending time with his family.
Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti provides elementary and middle school education to more than 900 children in three orphanages and four impoverished neighborhoods in Haiti. These children desperately need God - and they need you. Please give generously on GivingTuesday. Your tax-deductible donation can change a child’s future!
"(Jesus) said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:1
Thank you, dear friend, for providing the gospel and the ability to read it to children in Haiti!
How to help support Branch Schools:
Online: Please visit our website’s “Donate” page to make a one-time or recurring donation via your credit card, bank account, or PayPal. Click the "Donate" button above.
By Check: Please make checks payable to: Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti, Inc., c/o Kathleen Menke, Treasurer, 1627 Dunlap Street N., Saint Paul, MN 55108
Thrivent Choice Dollars®: If you are a Thrivent member, consider directing your Thrivent Choice Dollars® to Branch Schools. <="" span=""> Visit thrivent.com/thriventchoice to get started and select Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti Inc. as the organization.
AmazonSmile: When you make purchases through the AmazonSmile program and designate Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti as your charity, the AmazonSmile Foundation automatically donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Branch Schools at no additional cost to you. Visit smile.amazon.com to set up your account and to track your impact. Remember to use AmazonSmile when shopping this Christmas season to increase the impact of your gift!
Questions: Please contact Kathleen Menke, Treasurer, at email@example.com.
2101 Fairways Lane
Roseville MN 55113
Dear Friends of Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti,
On November 2, 2019, the 3rd Annual Christmas Craft Bazaar and Bake Sale was held at Mount Olive Lutheran in St. Paul, benefiting Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti, Inc. I am very pleased to announce that over $4,500 was raised for “our kids” in Haiti.
I would like to thank the following churches and their craft sale organizers who so graciously donated hundreds of items and bake sale goodies for us to sell.
Thanks to Thrivent Financial for once again granting start-up money for the ingredients for our lunch, bread-making supplies, and last-minute needs.
Another Craft Sale Coming December 7!
Thank you to Trinity Lutheran Church, Osceola, WI, for agreeing to host the 2019 Craft Sale – Part 2. The sale will be held at Trinity, 300 Seminole Avenue, 10:00 – 4:00, December 7. There will be a huge variety of gift items, Christmas decorations, quilts and quilted items, baby and toddler items, unique nativity sets, etc., as well as bake sale goodies. There will also be lunch offered on-site for a free will donation.
Thank you to our dear Lord and Savior for making all of this possible, for supplying crafters, bakers, volunteers, financial donors, and many, many, many shoppers. Thank you to all who prayed for the success of the sale and especially for our over 900 students who attend our schools in Haiti, their teachers, directors and loved ones. Please continue to remember them as they are still struggling with political unrest and demonstrations in Haiti!
May God bless you all!!!!! Linda Petersen, Special Projects Coordinator, Branch Schools
Dear Friends of Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti,
Today the children, teachers, orphanage directors, and national pastor in Haiti desperately need your prayers. Conditions in Haiti, which have always been difficult, are deteriorating. After months of protests intended to unseat the current president of Haiti, violence is intensifying. As a result of the extreme danger and blockades, three of our schools have been unable to operate consistently. The school in Carrefour has been unable to hold classes for three weeks. At least one of the orphanages is suffering food and water scarcity. Another major protest is taking place today, October 11. We’re asking you to join us in prayer for protection of the children and an end to violence.
Maybe you’ve read the news accounts. More likely, you haven’t - world news organizations rarely mention Haiti except on its darkest days. Sadly, today is one of those days. I encourage you to type “Haiti news today” in your search engine for breaking news.
God is richly blessing the Branch Schools ministry and, despite this crisis, we still anticipate another year of tremendous growth. More than 900 children are enrolled, an increase from 650 last year. We also raised funds to open a middle school in Pilate. At school, children are eagerly learning, they are safe, and they receive daily nutrition. Although many aid organizations have fled Haiti due to the violence, God has allowed us to become firmly rooted there with Haitian teachers, directors, administrator, and a Haitian national pastor as well as an excellent reputation for educational standards.
However, Branch Schools are not immune in this current time of suffering. Because banks are affected by the violence, September the funding for salaries, nutrition, and water, set to arrive in Haiti on September 26, has not reached the schools as of October 10. Banks are so far behind with money transfers, Time reports that, "cash transfers to some 37,000 people in need were postponed."
In times like this, it’s easy to feel helpless. Instead, we turn to the words of Isaiah, the same words we are sharing with our Haitian friends in our daily communication via mobile apps: “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”
God is still working in Haiti and so are we with the help of your prayers and gifts. When blockades lift, we are bracing to effectively meet the additional needs created by the crisis. Please remember the Branch Schools ministry in your prayers, including the orphans, orphanage directors, teachers, neighborhood children and their families, and Pastor Rona (the national pastor). We pray that unrest will end, no further violence and bloodshed will occur, that Branch Schools will reopen, food and water will be available, and the banking system will operate again. Above all, we pray the gospel will spread throughout Haiti. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Lee Petersen, Branch Schools Chairman