Hurricane Matthew Creates New Challenges in Mizak

14608095_1794697220812318_1182327947_nNew international attention has been focused on our little land of Haiti again as we work to recover from Hurricane Matthew which bulldozed through the southern part of the country last week leaving a path of destruction behind it. In our community of Mizak, we are looking at the specific challenges that our residents are facing and see how we can adapt our current programming to address the needs that have resulted from the damage of the storm. The residents of Mizak all depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, growing crops such as corn, beans, coffee, and fruit to sell in local markets to provide for their families and send their kids to school. When Matthew swept through last week, heavy rains and high winds leveled the fields, uprooted fruit trees, and took the lives of much of the livestock, leaving families with no resources left to earn money with. Without this agricultural income, the burden of paying for their children’s educations is going to be much heavier this year, even impossible for many. That is why in response to the storm, we at Living Media International have chosen to focus on expanding access to our many educational programs within the community to help ease that burden for families who may not know where to turn after the storm.

14516391_1200144923377986_6943560492924862409_nTo help us continue to make these programs available to more people in our area, there are several ways to lend your support:
Sponsor A Child at New Life School
Sponsor A Classroom at New Life for a Month
Sponsor A New Life Teacher for a Year
Donate to our Dreamer Scholarship Fund

All of our buildings at Living Media made it through the storm without any damage including the New Life classroom buildings, the Learning Institute and Art Gallery, and our Guest House. The only minor damage that we will have to repair was on the bathrooms at our New Life School where the doors and roof were torn apart in the winds. (Photo Left)

Some of the individuals taking shelter in the LaVallee de Demain headquarters

Relief to Farmers and Families
While Living Media is focusing on our education programs, our partner, LaVallee de Demain is working to bring more immediate need to some families in need and to the farmers of our area. During the storm, multiple families actually used the LaVallee de Demain headquarters as an emergency shelter and in the days following there have been four families who have not been able to return to their homes due to the damage that they sustained and they remain living at LaVallee de Demain. The organization is now raising money to be able to help these families repair their houses so that they may return home to live in a safe and dry place. As LaVallee de Demain is an organization that focuses on agricultural and environmental interventions, they will also be providing short term food aid and agricultural help to the farmers in our area that lost their crops and their livestock. To accomplish these projects, they are hoping to raise $4,000. At Living Media, we ask that you would consider making a one time donation to our dedicated partners to help them reach this goal and bring aid to the people that need it most. You can find out more on their website and use the link to donate. Thank you!

Sponsor a Classroom at New Life!

Now that that the children at New Life School have a beautiful building built for them to attend school everyday, we need to make sure that they have all of the support that they need throughout the year to receive the best education possible within that building. So we are looking for groups to partner with us by sponsoring a classroom for just one month anytime during the school year. This could be a classroom of children at an elementary school who collect their spare change for a month and wants to connect with kids their age in Haiti. It could also be a family who decides to pitch in special funds over the holidays to bring special cheer to a group of our students. Or maybe it’s a Bible study group at a church that decides to sponsor a classroom as their special mission project for the year. Whatever the case may be, any group or individual that would like to come alongside our staff in Haiti in providing the support that we need to provide the highest quality education we can to these kids, please know that your partnership would be greatly appreciated! It’s only $185 and during your month you will receive a special thank-you message from the children in the classroom. More details on the flyer below. Please contact us with any questions or more information on how to become a sponsor. Thank you!

Classroom Sponsorship


An Active and Growing Board of Directors

Pastor Terry speaking with a group of LMI volunteers.

At Living Media we are proud of the fact that so much of our work is led by talented, young, local Haitian people that just want to see their community grow in beauty and in possibility. Everything that we do, however would not be possible without the work of a dedicated board of directors in the United States that helps us find the resources and make the connections that we need to accomplish our work. Our board is made up of 8 members who all play a special role in supporting the work of Living Media International. The board, just recently grew to 8 members as we added two new contributors, Elsie Balu, and Matt Morrison. As the work that we do in Haiti grows and reaches new areas of impact, we have also found it necessary to expand our system of support through the board. You can find out more about Elsie and Matt, as well as our other board members by visiting the page in our Who We Are section. We are looking forward to seeing how these two are able to jump in and add their ideas and skills to the ongoing work of Living Media which, like any work of art, is always stronger the more we collaborate across cultures.

One thing that makes our board at Living Media special is that they do much more than just sit in meetings and make decisions. Every single one of the members is actively involved in our work. They believe in the work so much, in fact, that 100% of our board donates to Living Media financially! This is a remarkable sign of support, especially considering that most of our board are professionals in artistic fields, which are not known to make people rich. We have visual artists, designers, writers, and musicians on our board, as well as educators, pastors, and social workers. Although it is an encouraging fact that they all are willing to give out of their own pockets, we choose our board members on many qualities other than the size of their bank account. We have tried to fill the board with individuals who are able to contribute with creative, organizational, social, and moral skills that are all truly priceless.

Not only do they give of their financial gifts and talents, but all of our board members have also made an effort to give of their presence here in Haiti. With the exception of one of our brand new members (who is making plans in the near future to travel), each person on the board has made at least one trip to Mizak in Haiti to witness our programs first hand, work together with our staff, and get a better understanding of the place and culture that we work in. This hands on involvement makes our board much more effective representatives of the work we do while they advocate for us and help us reach our goals.

Just a couple of weeks ago, our treasurer, Ellen, traveled to Mizak from her home in Michigan and spent more than a week painting at New Life School, planning with the school staff for the future, and working with the Living Media staff of directors to implement better accounting and reporting procedures. Because of her work we have a lot to look forward to. The day that the students return to class in the fall to see their finished school all painted and beautiful will be a truly momentous occasion for all! Because of the other work Ellen had done with the staff we can look forward to greater transparency in our finances as better communications among our directors. 11696339_918025628256585_8164960680915428102_oIn addition to Ellen, we have had the pleasure of welcoming Elsie to Mizak recently as well. Although she’s only been on the board for a month she’s already jumping in and helping out with our child sponsorship and dreamer programs to strengthen the operations of both. We are lucky that she lives in Petionville, so the trip to see us in Mizak is not quite as extensive as it is for many of our other board members. Now we are looking forward to seeing Pastor Terry in the next month as well and the staff always looks forward to his encouraging guidance and positive attitude.

While Ellen was in Mizak, she got to paint a special proverb on the walls on one of the classrooms at New Life, “Remember the rain that made your corn grow.” At Living Media we are fortunate to have a skilled group of staff, artists, and volunteers in Haiti, who do the work of preparing and planting the fields that are our community work. On the board of directors we are happy to just water the seeds and watch them grow. Then we can all celebrate together in the harvest of better educated, more creative youth in our communities.