Haitian Outreach

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I sent a backpack last year, even the year before. Why is it on the list again?
A: Backpacks are used by the children every day. They wear out. They really appreciate a new one every year.

Q: Last year, my child’s information stated she was 9 years old and this year it indicates she is 11. What happened?
A: Many children we deal with have no idea how old they really are. Birthdays are not celebrated in Haiti like they are in this country.

Q: Last application showed that my sponsored child had 3 siblings. This year, it shows she has 7. What happened?
A: Because the average life expectancy of a Haitian is only 49 years, parents die very young and remarriage is very common. In other situations, a child may have had a family of 8 or 9 siblings but now only has one or two. In Haiti, when children are as young as 6 years old, they can become “rest avecs” (“hired out”) as servants to other families. Consequently the child gives the information on the family they are currently with.

Q: The wish list includes clothing. I sent some last year. Why would they need more?
A: Children grow fast and outgrow them quickly. Also with the very few clothes they do have, they wear out very fast. Clothing is washed in the riverbed. Ironing is done with hot pieces of metal. Light weight, easy care fabric is ideal.

Q: How much of the money that I give to Haitian Outreach actually goes to the children?
A: This is an excellent question. Every penny goes directly to meeting the child’s needs. Haitian Outreach operates on a totally volunteer basis—there is no paid staff of any kind. (In reality, there are additional expenses to sponsor your child that are not covered by your donation. For example, it costs Haitian Outreach about $10.00 per backpack ($55 per container) to ship your child’s backpack by boat. In addition, we have to pay trucking costs from Leominster to Boston and to help unload the trucks. Then there are the costs to have these containers delivered once in Haiti, We are a very small organization and every penny is under strict scrutiny. For those who send their sponsored child’s family an entire container, their $55.00 donation to shipping cost is a great relief. FYI guess who pays for mailings? This is why we so welcome financial donations, no matter how small, earmarked “general fund”. This helps us pay those bills.

Q: Does it really matter what type of shoes I send? Aren’t flip flops good enough?
A: This is another excellent and very important question. If you send your backpack with “flip flops” instead of sturdy, black walking shoes that child will not be permitted to attend school. (Additionally, if the shoes are the wrong size and the child can not wear them, again, the child will not be Permitted to enter school.) Because we know this, we make it a point to check each backpack for shoes of the correct size and type. If we find shoes missing or are of the incorrect size, volunteers take their own funds and go buy the correct shoes. Most of these children walk for miles to go to school. Proper shoes are an absolute necessity for a child to go to school. Please make every effort to purchase the correct shoes for your child.

Q: Why I don’t hear from my child more often?
When Haitian Outreach workers visit once per year, they have a great deal of work to do and have very little time. We have not been able to get the cooperation of the teachers due to their work overload with class sizes of 80 to 90 children. Most children learn by verbally repeating information and not by actually practicing due to Lack of pencils and paper. Therefore it is not unusual for a 5th grader to barely compose a sentence, using an awful lot of time. These letters are collected from schools all over the Island. The coordination WAS often overwhelming. But as we mentioned in our letter. We now have a young man, Winddcheley Saturne, who visits each child and helps them to write a letter to their Godmother or Godfather and this is such a great help for us..

Q: Do the items I send my child really make a difference?
A: Many of the sponsorship workers were 4TH or5TH year travelers to Haiti this year. Each made the same comment: The sponsored children looked so much healthier, more confident, and have life in their eyes. They behave as if they have hope. They are so proud and thankful to have an American godparent. Yes, your gifts make a huge difference in these children’s lives and families. A little goes a long way in Haiti.