Updates from Haiti

June 2024 Update

Dear Supporters of TeamOne27 and Divine Ministries in Hope for Children:
 
Major airlines have resumed service to the major airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I was able to travel back and forth to Haiti last week, though Port-au-Prince itself is still 80% controlled by the gangs. Travel within the country by road is still dangerous, but it is possible to fly direct from Port-au-Prince to our Les Cayes compound via small planes serviced by Sunrise Airways. All this adds to the cost of travel, but does make it possible, even in these tough times.
 
The troops promised by Kenya arrived last month, as stated in our May update, but then left Haiti saying that sufficient preparations had not yet been made for them to stay. After a few weeks’ absence, however, they are returning this week in greater force than last month. The USA has also pledged financial help so that the newly selected Haitian transitional government will have the resources available to deal with the gangs while rebuilding the county’s infrastructure. Some very good news: the new Prime Minister, Garry Conille, chosen to oversee this transition seems to be focused on rooting out government corruption and channeling the resources available into actually helping the poor people. He dismissed six cabinet members as being unnecessary and has been vocal in his determination to keep the needs of the masses as his primary consideration. The rich people (yes, there are many in Haiti) are complaining loudly, but the poor are taking a wait and see attitude to see if Mr. Conille’s actions reflect his talk.
 
The heat that has been put on the gangs in the Port-au-Prince area has resulted in the gangs relocating into the Carrefour District; the area where Divine Ministries has been located since Pastor Daniel started the orphanage in 2001. Fortunately, we moved all of our operations last October out to the western countryside of Les Cayes where gang activity is minimal. Over the past weekend Divine Ministry staff was busy moving all of Daniel Jean’s personal household items out to Les Cayes. The gangs have made it known that they want to take over the house we have rented in Carrefour for the past several years. Churches in the Carrefour District have been suffering under the heightened attentions of the gangs. It is nearly impossible to hold a church service without some gang members arriving and demanding money. Stealing the hard-won tithe money from poor parishioners will certainly not be blessed by our Lord. Our home church location of The Church on Fire has dropped in Sunday attendance from 350 to 70 brave young people who refuse to be cowed by the gangs. We need to hold these souls up in prayer.
 
The water pump we mentioned in our May newsletter, which was purchased for $ 1,000, was stolen by a gang when they stopped the bus carrying the man delivering our pump and stole everything of value from every passenger on that bus. We have located a replacement pump in Les Cayes at a cost of $1,300 and it should be installed this week. Virtually anything purchased in Les Cayes will be more expensive than it would be in Port-au-Prince due to increased delivery (and protection) fees. It is possible to drill a new well and install a manually-operated pump as backup to the electrical system for a cost of $5,000. If you are part of a family, church, or civic group that would like to accept that project, please let us know. It could be a literal lifesaver.
 
A “shout out” to Tower Health Hospital of West Reading, PA for supplying vitamins and basic medical necessities for Divine Ministries. The children have been receiving the vitamins on a daily basis for the past five months and their health has notably improved. Hospital visits are less frequent, and their energy levels are strong.
 
The school year officially ended in Les Cayes the day I arrived (June 19th ) but it is already time to begin preparations for the 2024-2025 school year. School uniforms are only available by hiring a service to physically produce each individual uniform. Seamstresses take on jobs on a first come-first served basis and we have a number of children who will need new uniforms this coming year due to the children growing and normal wear and tear. This need will require approximately $1,500. We have a need for four basic laptops for students whose course of study include training on the maintenance and use of computer and/or the skills to utilize a computer. Approximate cost: $1,200.
 
Priorities:
1. Finish the building in Les Cayes started in 2023. Approximate cost $40,000
2. School uniforms (mentioned above). Approximate cost $1,500
3. Finish paying teachers for the final month of last year schooling. $1,000
4. Tuition for start of Fall 2024 school year. $1,500
 
In other news:
The new Prime Minister of the transitional government has announced that he has approved the project of opening a port on the western tip of the southern peninsula of Haiti; about an hour’s drive from our Les Cayes compound. This will greatly improve access to needed goods while reducing the cost of transportation and the impact the gangs have had on all goods shipped to this region. The two pigs that were provided several years ago by a generous donation of a couple from Pennsylvania are still producing piglets. Recently, three piglets were added to our small farm. The cow that was provided by a donation has been producing milk for the children, but she has now been “dried off” in anticipation of delivering a new calf. We hope this calf will be a heifer
(unlike the first couple of her calves which were bulls) so we can build a herd of milk producers.
 
This newsletter grew beyond the length I would have preferred, but since I was unable to travel to Haiti for the intervening three months, there was a lot of information to share.
If you want to contribute to meet the needs of the children and staff at Divine Ministries, we have a PayPal link on our website at www.TeamOne27.org, or you can mail a check payable to TeamOne27 to our PO Box 78 in Wernersville, PA 19565. TeamOne27 has no paid employees in the USA, so every penny donated goes directly to Divine Ministries in Haiti.
The children and staff at Divine Ministries in Hope for Children send their deep-felt thanks and appreciation for your continued love and support which makes it possible for them to survive the severe conditions they face every day in Haiti.
 
Sincerely,
Mark Gillette, TeamOne27
610-451-1996 or markgillette1007@gmail.com

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May 2024 Update

Travel to Haiti has been suspended for the past three months due to gang activity. American Airlines cancelled my scheduled flights in March, April and May. The next date they plan to attempt flights into Haiti is June 15, 2024. I have a ticket for the week after that, though with the news we received this week regarding missionaries in Haiti being killed and our government recommending all our citizens leave Haiti, we will reevaluate the situation closer to the travel date.
 

News media has largely ignored Haiti for the past two months as little changed from week to week. There has been some progress as a seven-person interim government was selected and tasked with the challenge of regaining control of the country and conducting a democratic election no later than February 2025. We have been told the long-promised help from Kenya finally started arriving this week in the form of 50 police officers early in the week, to be followed by 150 more before the end of this week. Perhaps as many as 500 Kenyan police will arrive before the country is back under government control.

We were also told that the USA has sent five military aircraft and thirty military ground vehicles to help by equipping the Haitian police with better equipment than the gangs. Reportedly, the local gangs have begun to realize their days are numbered. Many low-level gang members have turned in their guns and prominent gang leaders have tried that approach as well, though the response they received when they asked for forgiveness/amnesty was that they could look forward instead to capture, prosecution, and the eventual elimination of all gangs.

Daniel believes that in two or three more weeks the situation in Haiti should be vastly improved and the airport should be back to full operation and under government control. All glory to God!

Haiti is normally hot, even by Haitian standards, in July, August and September, but Pastor Daniel told me this week that temperatures there are unseasonably hot; so hot the children cannot even sleep inside our building at night. Fever is widespread and several of our children have been hospitalized with severe symptoms. The main well pump for our water supply gave out this week, but we were able to find a better pump and have improved the overall design of the system, which should increase the useful life of the new pump.

In our most recent newsletter, we mentioned the new Bible College we have begun as a special project to help educate local pastors. We named it H.E.L.P. (Haitians Equipping Laymen and Pastors). There are many local pastors eager to begin official training, and we have four qualified teachers and an administrator in place waiting for the arrival of training materials. Shipping training materials into Haiti has been delayed due the unrest and temporary elimination of trusted forms of shipping. Even DHL has refused to deliver packages to Haiti since March 15th.  If no other shipping option becomes available, I will put the course material in my luggage to carry there on my next trip.

The Bible College, though urgently needed, is a departure from our main mission to the orphans, and we are trusting for God to connect us with additional forms of support to make this training possible. Please agree with us in prayer that God will provide for this increased need for funds.

The children and staff at Divine Ministries in Hope For Children send their deep-felt thanks and appreciation for your continued love and support which makes it possible for them to survive the severe conditions they face every day in Haiti.

Sincerely,

Mark Gillette, TeamOne27


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February 2024 Update

After three months of continued rescheduling, I was finally able to travel to Haiti this week. Gang activity has not lessened and Prime Minister Ariel has not yet left the country, but police have been able to keep protests from erupting into all-out war. One week ago there were 5,000 protesters outside Ariel’s home demanding he leave Haiti immediately. Actually, it appears they wanted to drag him outside and kill him, but police held them off.
It was necessary for me to fly from Port-au-Prince to Les Cayes rather than drive across the country, as protests and gang activity make that option impossible. I will reverse that process on the day I return to the USA for the same reasons.
 
Life at our compound in Les Cayes, however, remains largely unchanged, though schools and government offices were closed for a few weeks in anticipation of PM Ariel stepping down. I have not heard of any concrete plans for what type of government will replace him. Haiti has a long history of corrupt leadership that fail to put the needs of the people first. Our continuing prayer is for the Lord to intervene and put godly people in charge.
We now have 75 children living at our compound and attending school, either at our K – 5
on-site facilities, or at nearby locations. We had intended to take only five children from a
friend’s orphanage that was closing in P-au-P, but ultimately accepted 15 of the 32 children that would otherwise have been returned to the streets. Some of the older ones have yet to be enrolled in school as we wait on God to supply the funds needed for tuition, uniforms, shoes, books and supplies; things every student in Haiti must provide for themselves. Additionally, we now have 15 older boys living in P-au-P in rooms we provide, along with food while they work in their chosen profession and learn to live on a budget, something many people never learn.
Our building project at our Les Cayes compound continues as funds are available. Last weekend concrete steps were poured to provide access to the planned second floor. Church is now being held in the large room that will eventually be the dining hall. Metal frames for the windows have been ordered and glass will be added later. The current projection from our project engineer to finish the building, including plumbing and electricity, will require an additional $50,000 USD. God may choose to provide that amount all at once or in smaller amounts; either way, we believe He will make it possible to complete this project for His glory.
The container of food and supplies we shipped to Haiti last September still sits in storage, but we believe the demurrage charges have been removed and the paperwork corrected so it can finally be released to us. Nothing is being released currently due to the protests and government shutdown. When things reopen, we plan to move the contents of the container onto two trucks and send them by ship to Mariani, a port halfway to Les Cayes, where it will then be safe to drive the trucks the rest of the way to our compound.
 
In our most recent newsletter we mentioned a special project we are planning to provide a
certified Bible College for pastors and laymen in Haiti. H.E.L.P. Haitian Equipping of Laymen and Pastors. When we announced the project in church last Sunday at a pastors’ installation service, there was an immediate response by several pastors present that they want to attend. There is a real need for qualified training, and we believe God is arranging for it to be supplied. Pastor Daniel is currently working with potential Bible teachers to develop a budget. The classes will be held in the buildings we already have available.
I would like to share a testimony of God’s provision to a small congregation located far from any population center. We visited a small church of metal, framed with tree limbs, pastored by a woman with a healing gift. She put herself through seminary and now leads this ministry to people that live off the land. The congregation has rapidly grown to over a hundred as people have arrived in wheelchairs but leave walking on their own two feet! Jesus paid for our healing and would no more want us to live in sickness than He would have us live in sin. We were delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son. Colossians 1:13
Tax records for the fiscal year 2023 show that it was our biggest year by far to date! Thanks for your continued support in the many forms that takes.
Sincerely,
Mark Gillette, TeamOne27

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Jan 2024 update

Happy New Year to all of you who pray for and support Divine Ministries in Hope for Children in Haiti! May you be richly blessed!
 
Progress:
Much has happened in Haiti since our last update! The roof for the new building in Les Cayes has been completed and windows are now being installed. Most projects in Haiti are completed in stages; we started building by faith with roughly half of the projected funds needed and are trusting God for the remainder. Meanwhile, due to the urgent need and action to move from Port au Prince to avoid gang activity, we have children and staff living in unfinished rooms; there is much yet to be done!
Also, an additional water tank was added…and a new generator with increased capacity was also added – thanks to a generous donation from a church in Reading, PA.
Note: the solar-powered system in place was not capable of producing all the needed electricity. Eventually more solar power equipment will be installed, but a generator backup system is a prudent investment.
 
All our children are doing well and love being out in the country with room to play, clean air, and the ability to attend school right on our property. Church is held on the outdoor porch each Sunday. The congregation is growing in numbers and knowledge of our Lord.
 
Good Plan: Last Fall the gangs announced they would release their stranglehold on the country, allowing businesses to return, travel to go uninterrupted, and goods to flow unhindered.
Bad Result: Unfortunately, gang activity has become increasingly worse. Goods and services are both scarce and extremely expensive.
 
Logistical Struggles:
My “November trip” to Haiti was rescheduled three times due to the difficulties in getting airplane tickets inside Haiti. Because gangs harass anyone who appears to have money, people fly from PAP to Les Cayes rather than drive; the small airline has been stretched beyond their capacity. Pastor Daniel needed over two weeks lead time to secure in-country flights for me, and even then had difficulty. I finally have the necessary tickets for my trip to Haiti at the end of this month.
 
The container of food we shipped to Haiti last September arrived in Port-au-Prince on October 4, 2023, but has yet to be released to us due to a paperwork error by the shipper. We resisted paying demurrage charges caused by the shipper’s mistake, but ultimately decided to pay the money to get the container released. We have been assured that we will be fully reimbursed. Please pray toward that end!
The next step will be to pay for government employees to go through every item, checking code dates and confirming that there is no contraband. After that, everything must be transferred into two large trucks for shipment across the southern coast of Haiti to Les Cayes. Please agree with us in prayer that God will protect the drivers, trucks and goods so they can arrive safely at their destination.
 
National Struggles:
Unfortunately, Haiti doesn’t appear any closer to holding their long overdue national election because the gangs don’t want it to happen. Please pray that the election will occur and Godly individuals will be elected that will care for the people rather than lining their own pockets. Power, prestige, and pocketbooks seem to guide the current decisions.
Also, cholera raised its ugly head again at the end of 2023 due to heavy rains and rising water tables.
 
Our Hope for the future:
Please join with us in prayer that God will supply:
– the funds for the current construction project,
– patience for all who are now living in temporary living quarters,
– the re-emergence of sanity and safety in the streets, and
– the establishment of a working government that actually works for the good of the people who elected them rather than their self-interests.
Thank you for your continued support in the many forms that it takes.
Sincerely,
Mark Gillette, TeamOne27
610-451-1996 or
markgillette1007@gmail.com
 
Special Project!
We are taking the first steps of a new ministry to train pastors in Haiti. Many men are serving with little training and little opportunity for it. In fact, last year a special gift was received that allowed us to provide Bibles to 75 PASTORS who did not have their own copy of God’s Word!
Note: This effort will not use any funds that have been given to care for the children, as that is our primary objective – however, we see a significant opportunity to impact the Kingdom and the nation through this initiative. We would be pleased to have partners in this endeavor; if you are interested, please designate related donations for “Pastor Training”.
 

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September 2023 Update

Much has happened in Haiti since our last update: We have continued building our new orphanage on the compound in Les Cayes, we have moved all the children and staff from Port-au-Prince to the new building location (though it is still under construction) into temporary quarters, and we have shipped a 40-foot container filled with food and equipment to Haiti which has successfully arrived in P-au-P.

But the biggest development is the situation with the gangs, known by Haitians as “the gun people.” The gangs recently announced to the country that they were sorry for the way they have treated the country and that they were relinquishing control of the roads and methods of transporting goods. There was rejoicing over that announcement, but the populace is naturally skeptical of this change and is cautiously testing the veracity of the gangs’ intentions regarding travel and other activities that would have been normal prior to the rise of the gangs.

If true, it would mean that the long overdue national election could be held. President Jovenel was killed in July of 2021 and since no election was held in the eighteen months that followed, all government offices were officially vacated, by constitution in January this year. That did not actually result in government posts being abandoned, but it did create a slowdown and backlog in government services. Perhaps better days lie just ahead.

I am in Haiti this week and witnessing the last of the necessary transfer of equipment and personnel to the countryside of Les Cayes. Perhaps we will even see the container delivered to our compound in Les Cayes. There is a very involved legal process to be endured in the processing of the paperwork for releasing the container from Customs.

The roof for the new building in Les Cayes is currently only partially completed. The metal rebar is in place and the forms have been built in preparation for the pouring of the cement, but we lack the resources to buy the materials and pay for the labor to complete the roof. Our original cost estimate for this part of the project appears to be accurate, but due to the urgency for moving the children to the countryside prior to the start of the school year, coupled with the very real threat of gang activity, we started building by faith when we had received roughly half of the projected funds needed.

There will of course be other costs of finishing the building once the roof is finished, but completing this part of the project will allow us to house children in the building, even before we install ceramic flooring, plumbing, electricity, and paint the building, inside and out. The balance needed to complete the roof is $10,000; one third of the original cost estimate. The children are really happy and excited about living out in the countryside with cleaner air and vastly more room to exercise and play.

Please join with us in prayer that God will supply the funds for the current construction project, patience for all who are now living in temporary living quarters, the reemergence of sanity and safety in the streets, and the establishment of a working government that actually works for the good of the people who elected them rather that their self-interests.

Thanks for your continued support in the many forms that takes.

Sincerely, 
Mark Gillette, TeamOne27

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Aug 23 Newsletter & Fund Request

Thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement for the children at the Divine Ministries in Hope for Children “Homes of Blessing” in Haiti under the care of Pastor Daniel Jean. The continuing upheaval caused by gangs and a non-operating government leave the children and staff under a constant threat of danger, a lack of food and other supplies, and the uncertainty of what the future may hold.
If you have remained informed of the operations in Haiti, you are aware that Divine Ministries currently maintains a boys home and a girls home in Port au Prince as well as a combined compound in Les Cayes (far from the upheaval of the capital city). As you will see below, Daniel Jean would like to move all of our children to the compound in Les Cayes to avoid the danger and upheaval of the capital as well as helping to reduce the overall expenses of the Ministry (P au P rent, tuition, etc.).
We generally attempt to keep you informed of conditions and opportunities while sharing a few needs for financial resources, however, the current situation has challenged us beyond our “usual” financial support. The TeamOne27 Board believes that it is appropriate to inform everyone of the overall needs of the ministry as well as this urgent and extra expense to move Daniel’s family, staff, and children under his care out of the life-threatening dangers in the capital region. As always, we trust that God will provide for the ministry bringing glory to Himself.
Daniel Jean was in the States just a week or so ago… during this visit he and Mark (president of TeamOne27) developed the list below of urgent projects, monthly and annual budgeted needs, along with a few additional projects that – along with all the others – can only be completed when funds are available.
 
Bottomline: The Board humbly requests that you receive this list as a fundraising effort and allow God to prompt you to respond as He has blessed you.
 
1) Immediate Needs:
a) $30,000 to finish the roof of the building now under construction at our compound in the countryside of Les Cayes. In order to move the children and staff now in Port-au-Prince, where life is increasingly more dangerous due to gang activity, to the much safer environment of Les Cayes, we need to have a roof on the fifteen-room building we
began to build earlier this year. UPDATE: A church in Central Ohio has already
committed $15,000 to this project!
b) $2,500 Balance of staff pay for June. Normally paid on first of the following month, part of pay was given to staff, but they we were not able to pay all staff in full.
c) $4,500 Summer staff pay for the month of July. Due August first.
d) $4,500 is the budgeted pay for all orphanage staff plus our school administrator and his secretary/record keeper. This figure is the monthly amount due on the first of the month year around.
e) $1,200 Each month is the pay for six teachers. Needed each month throughout the school year, September through June.
f) $300 Health and beauty care and laundry.
g) $250 Water bill in Port-au-Prince.
Note: This cost will go away once we move the Port-au-Prince (PAP) operations to Les Cayes.
h) $200 Electricity bill in PAP. The government charges us this amount each month whether or not they actually provide electricity, which can be sporadic at best.
Note: This bill will also end after we move operations to Les Cayes.
i) $3,500 Needed for food each month. This figure has grown due to gang activity and the increasingly expensive food prices that are a result.
j) $300 Basic medical needs for vitamins and a nurse who visits three times each week to keep watch over our children and staff.
Note: Emergency medical needs cannot be predicted, but each month there are incidents that require hospital visits and additional medicines that add to the budgeted figure.
k) $300 We must pay for a government worker who is required for us to operate an orphanage. This person monitors our record keeping and daily care for the children, including education.
l) $500 Transportation of students to outside schools, travel to secure supplies and food and transport same to our locations. This figure includes gas, oil and basic upkeep on our vehicles.
2) Annual Budgeted Needs:
a) $8,000 This is what we have been paying annually for the two orphanage locations in PAP – one house for girls and one for boys.
Note: This cost will be eliminated (praise God!) by moving our operations to the compound on the land we own in Les Cayes. The land was donated to us following the major earthquake of January 2010, and we built the existing facility there debt-free as funds became available over time.
3) Other Needs:
a) $45,000 Once the roof is on the new building in Les Cayes, we will need to finish pouring cement for the floors, install ceramic tile floors, electricity, plumbing, windows, doors and coat the walls inside and out with cement parging and paint.
b) $500 to $850 per month for a lunch program to feed the children who live outside our compound in the surrounding Les Cayes area to whom we provide school at little or no cost. Their families cannot afford to educate their children, so we negotiate a price they can afford and register their child(ren) at our school. Often these children arrive having eaten nothing in the last one or more days. They fall asleep in the classroom due to lack of energy caused by malnutrition. We had hoped to find an NGO (non-government organization) that specializes in such programs to help feed these children, but many NGO’s have fled Haiti due to the current danger and widespread unrest. We estimate we can feed all these children lunch three days per week for $500, or all five days per school week for $850 per month.
As you can see, the needs are significant and many are recurring. Please consider whether you might be able to help with a one-time or recurring gift to address whatever need you are moved by…
Note: If funds are received for a particular need in excess of a designated need, they will be directed to the next priority project/expense as determined by Pastor Daniel Jean.
Thank you for your partnership!
Mark Gillette
TeamOne27 President
 
P.S. For more frequent updates, please provide your email address!

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April 2024 Update

Gang activity is again on the rise in Haiti. Since Canada froze the accounts of wealthy Haitians that were reported to have been financing the Haitian gangs, the gangs decided to fund their activities by setting up a toll system on the frequently traveled streets and roads. Haitians can usually get through by paying the required toll, but anyone from outside the country is in serious danger at these checkpoints. You may remember that an eight-day evangelistic crusade was planned for Easter week right in the street outside our two P-au-P orphanages. Several churches were partnering with us to reach even more people with the Gospel than at our 2022 crusade. Alas, the crusade had to be cancelled due to the increased gang activity. Additionally, the increase in gang shootings and terrorization is now prevalent in what was the mostly peaceful area of Diquini; the site of our headquarters and two Port-au-Prince orphanages. Daniel told me today that he encountered 20 gang members right outside our two orphanage sites. Our children and staff need to move out of the Diquini area ASAP for their continued safety!
 
Thanks to a generous end-of-year donation, we have been building a new orphanage building within the compound we own in Les Cayes; the western countryside area of the southern peninsula, where gang activity is negligible. The foundation and walls of this building are finished up to the level of what will be the second floor, but we desperately need to get a roof over this sixteen-room area in order to move the children out of P-au-P (see attached). The architect’s estimate to finish the roof (which will also be the floor to the second story) is $30,000 USD. That figure will only increase in the future as costs of all goods in Haiti continue to escalate. Please agree with us in prayer that God will make these needed funds available right away so the construction project can continue to provide the needed shelter for all the Divine Ministries staff and children.
 
We are not left without hope or the blessings of God. On Easter Sunday there were over 400 people that attended church at The Church On Fire, where Pastor Daniel is blessed to lead. In fact, every day and evening of Holy week there were worship services going on in spite of the increased gang activity.
 
The appeal that was made in our most recent newsletter for more school benches generated an enthusiastic response, for which we are grateful. The benches are already in use at the Les Cayes school and are also being used on Sundays to hold church in the large roof-sheltered area of our orphanage.
 
God is doing great things in, for, and through this ministry and you have a part in the rewards that will be distributed in heaven for all the lives that are being touched, strengthened, and even saved through Divine Ministries. Thanks for all you do to make this ministry possible.
 
In Christian love and service,
Mark Gillette, TeamOne27

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