Sandy Huth visited us recently and gave a Temple Talk about how Saint Peter came to invest in two small children from Haiti, Ketsia and Kervin (pronounced “Kevin”). You may have noticed their photos in the fellowship hall; one from when they were in kindergarten, and more recently when they graduated from fifth and sixth grades. Now in the fall of 2023, they are beginning their sixth and seventh grade years.
In her talk, Sandy recalled how in 2014, a friend named Mary who lived in Washington state posted on Facebook about a special need in Haiti. She’d learned that children were being barred from school if they did not own shoes with laces. In other words, barefoot children or those who only had flip-flops could not go to school. Mary and a friend in Washington were inspired to create a ministry which they called Sole2Soul. Their plan was to bring shoes to the children of Haiti and minister to them by this means.
Inspired and ready to join the cause, Sandy — who was Council Secretary at the time — spoke up at the next council meeting and requested support for the effort. Naturally, the council agreed and it was time to raise awareness. They decided to enter a float in the upcoming Southport July Fourth parade. Rik Zawadzki and Sandy designed and built the float.
On parade day, members from the church walked with the float, holding signs advertising all of the ministries at Saint Peter.
In May 2015, Dave Goudy joined Sandy and Randy Huth as they travelled to Miami, then onward to Port au Prince, Haiti. There, they met up with ten others who travelled from the West Coast. Between them, they carried 1,000 pairs of new sneakers in military duffle bags, travelling in groups to look like families. Each carried $50 in case the security guards demanded a “tax” for the sneakers, but nobody did and they were able to use the money to buy beans and rice which they distributed throughout the community.
The team visited all of the schools, about a dozen or so, and gave every child a pair of sneakers. At the El Shaddai Learning Center in Saint Marc, they met the principal. She was a 21 year old mid-westerner from the United States, and other than having a degree, she had no background in children’s education, just a heart for the children of Haiti.
The representatives from Saint Peter were pleased to hear that the school taught Christian values as well as English. Then they met Ketsia and Kervin in the Kindergarten class, two children who lived with their grandmother. And those children captured their hearts. After the Huths and Dave returned home and shared their stories, Saint Peter decided as a church to adopt Ketsia and Kervin in 2015, pledging to pay their tuition at El Shaddai Learning Center.
Beginning in 2016, we began sending $140 per month to Touch Ministries, which founded and supports El Shaddai. Even as storms and fighting has torn Haiti apart, El Shaddai has remained open — at times the only school open for children to attend.
As an update to this story, times have changed in Haiti. Only children with a pair of black formal shoes can attend school. The costs have also gone up, after staying the same for so long. Tuition went from $75 to $100 per month for each child. Government-required uniforms are $85 and books are $75. So we need to keep standing behind this commitment to Ketsia and Kervin. We need generous donors to provide funding for them, to see it through no matter how many roadblocks, how many new rules are devised to keep poorer children out of school.
If you have a heart for these kids, please write “Haiti” on one of your special giving envelopes, and write “Haiti” in the memo field on your check.