Cross International has sent me to cover several feeding projects around the world, which means I’ve seen a lot of hungry children. But I have never seen so many hungry children in one place at one time as I did in Jubilee, Haiti.
Among the many outreach programs started there by Christian Light Foundation’s Emory and Mary Wilson is a feeding center for young children. You would expect to see malnourished kids at a feeding center. There was a lot of food provided by a lot of Christian volunteers, but there were many, many more visibly malnourished kids who showed up to eat than there was food to feed them.
Emory told me, “I never had to wonder whether my children would have a meal. When I see their desperation…” Emory’s voice trailed off for a moment. “They’ll do whatever it takes to get in the door and get a meal. A lot of times for these kids, that’s the only meals they get.”
Hunger is just one facet of poverty that pervades Jubilee, so the Wilson’s ministry is multifaceted, addressing health, education, and other needs as well. I was specifically assigned to cover the homebuilding project Cross International supports, and was pleased to learn how this project tackles the roots of poverty.
Each recipient of a new home will also get job skills training as well as training in hygiene, sanitation, and home economics—knowledge that will equip them to earn income, prevent diseases, and fix cheap but nutritious meals. Eventually, fewer children will need to show up at the feeding center.
“How do the beneficiaries feel about having to attend classes?” I asked. Emory said, “These people are as hungry to learn as they are for food. 100 showed up for an English class.”
Beneficiaries are also expected to give back to the community. Emory compares the ministry to Nehemiah’s work to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, in which every family built a section of the wall and restored it by working together. In Jubilee, poor families work alongside Christian missionaries, with resources provided by Christians in America—together we’re restoring hope.