For the second year the Royer Family Charitable Foundation of Lancaster, Pa., is providing major support to the Church of the Brethren Haiti Medical Project. The current grant of $126,300 will support an expanded program of mobile clinics, a first Social Ministries Consultation in Haiti, a new thrust into community health and pure water projects, and an endowment fund.
An earlier grant from the foundation is making it possible to double the number of mobile clinics to 48 in 16 Haitian communities in 2014, and increase the number of persons served to about 7,000 this year.
The new grant will continue the expanded effort to provide basic health care in partnership with congregations of l’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti).
“This grant really helps us change the lives of the poorest in the western hemisphere, the remote rural poor of Haiti,” said Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.
The Royer Family Charitable Foundation was founded by Kenneth Royer and his late wife Jean. In its mission statement, the foundation “seeks to improve the quality of people’s lives internationally and domestically through sustainable programs that have a long term impact on individuals and communities. The foundation’s aim is to support basic needs for life and health while encouraging long-term self sufficiency. The foundation prefers to support efforts that have a tangible impact, defined measureable goals and permit a relationship between the grant recipients and the foundation.”
“We’re really impressed by the work being done in Haiti and we feel like our support is making a quantifiable difference,” said Becky Fuchs, a daughter of Kenneth and Jean Royer who is the foundation’s vice-president and treasurer. She is pastor of Mountville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The improvement to people’s health and quality of life resulting from the Haiti Medical Project “is encouraging us to continue to be involved,” she said.
The Haiti Medical Project is one of the largest recipients of grants from the Royer Family Charitable Foundation, Fuchs said. Other s include a clinic project in Liberia that has been working diligently on the Ebola crisis; an agriculture and community development program in Sierra Leone; Found in Translation based in Boston, which trains immigrant women to be medical interpreters; and Horizons National, started in Connecticut to provide summer enrichment programs for average and below-average students from low-income families. The foundation also gave a small grant to Alpha and Omega Community Center–related to a Church of the Brethren fellowship of the same name in Lancaster, Pa.–to switch from oil to gas heat in order to free up money for program.
As is the case with all aspects of the Haiti Medical Project supported by the foundation grants, the clinics also receive generous support from Brethren individuals and congregations. Paul Ullom-Minnich, a Kansas physician who convenes the clinics’ Coordinating Committee noted that “these clinics have really empowered the local churches to serve their neighbors. As the ministry grows, feedback from the local communities has been amazing.”
According to Dale Minnich, a project volunteer, “Perhaps the most significant impact of these grants will be to help the Brethren launch a second major arm of the Haiti Medical Project–the new work in community health and pure drinking water projects.” This work on community health and drinking water will be led by a three-person Community Development Team consisting of its director, Jean Bily Telfort, along with Adias Docteur, and Vildor Archange.
Telfort and Docteur are agronomists who continue to work with agricultural and nutrition projects funded by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund. Archange will give direction to the new work in community health, assisted by the other two members of the team. The new work will include beginning community health committees in a number of villages, an effort to provide basic midwifery skills to untrained persons attending the majority of births in Haitian communities, and an educational pre- and post-natal program for pregnant mothers and mothers of children less than two years old.
The new Community Development Team will be fully functioning by Jan. 1, 2015.
The Haiti Medical Project is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service. It was begun in late 2011 as a grassroots initiative without specific budget support and depending almost completely on support by committed Brethren. For more information go to www.brethren.org/haiti-medical-project
— Dale Minnich contributed to this report.