Be the Hope: More school supplies sought for children of Haiti

Heather Hinze, founder of a non-profit organization, Be The Hope, distributed backpacks filled with school supplies to students in a Haiti school.

Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 12:00 am

Posted on July 17, 2013

Heather Hinze expected to experience poverty and deplorable school conditions during her two-week May visit to post-earthquake Haiti.

But the magnitude of the destitution created by a 7.0 earthquake in 2010 was greater than she imagined. The earthquake killed more than 300,000 people and left more than 1 million people homeless.

“Nothing prepares you for the poverty,” said Hinze, founder of Be The Hope.

“It has taken me a lot of time to process it.

“People have asked me how was Haiti and my reply is, ‘I don’t know. It was so overwhelming.’ ”

Hinze delivered 70 backpacks of school supplies to two orphanages, Mix Emmanuel Primary School and Frem Orphanage. She also brought half of the clothing and shoes she collected as well as bubbles, coloring books, baseball bats and balls.

“My first trip was to get my feet wet and figure out what is going on,” said Hinze.

She learned about a non-profit, Michigan-based organization that ships containers weekly to Haiti. Hinze can purchase space by the square foot to send donated clothing.

By providing children with school supplies, Hinze believes she can alleviate to some extent the financial strain on families to send children to school. Her ultimate goal is education can help break the cycle of poverty existing in Haiti.

She already plans to return in mid-September with 120 backpacks. She is adopting two schools in the mountainous suburb of Fessart, above Port au Prince.

“The area is so poor that the teachers’ main problem is that the children are usually too hungry to concentrate on their learning,” said Hinze.

Many schools provide one meal a day for the students and “it is the only meal for many,” she said.

Hinze returned with handmade jewelry by Haitian women. Hinze is selling the bracelets, earrings and a few metal crosses as a fundraising project. Prices range from $8 to $20. The money goes to the Haitian artisans and her project.

Hinze also is accepting cash donations at her home, 9767 N. Baylor Drive, Fountain Hills. More information also is provided on her website at www.bethehopehaiti.org and Facebook page at bethehopehaiti.

Haiti 3.jpg

Hinze welcomes support from any businesses, churches or organizations willing to have a box for donations in their office or lobbies for school supplies.

“Timing is perfect right now; stores will have displays soon on school supplies,” said Hinze.

Each backpack contains a hand pencil sharpener, a box of 24-count crayons, two 100-page composition notebooks, 12-count No. 2 pencils, a pencil case, eraser, 10-pack ball point pens and a 12-inch ruler.

“I’m having a hard time being here knowing that there is so much to be done there and I feel helpless,” she said.

“But at the same time, as far as orphanages and government go, the government is failing and how do you change a government that has been failing for so many years?”

Hinze said she tries to partner with individuals and organizations that she trusts.

“When you decide to give, you hope and pray it is legitimate.”

“It’s definitely challenging. It was not an easy trip,” said Hinze.

One week into the trip, Hinze said she broke down and cried for the first time: “I’ve never seen that level of poverty before, but you see a glimmer of hope in the job on the faces of the kids.”

 

http://www.fhtimes.com/features/featured_stories/article_fcb09b3a-ee59-11e2-a378-001a4bcf6878.html

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Fountain Hills Times Article

Seek backpacks for Haiti
By: Barbara Charzuk, Times Reporter
March 6, 2013


Before the devastating 2010 earthquake, Haiti ranked the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

If possible, living conditions have worsened. More than half of the population lives below the poverty line of $1.25 per day. An estimated 350,000 displaced persons exist in temporary tent shelters. Nearly 4,000 schools affecting 2.5 million students have been damaged or destroyed.

Educating the children can break the cycle of poverty, believes Heather Hinze, a single mother who has launched a non-profit organization.

“It’s become my passion. A new generation of educated Haitians can help build a country of self-sufficient, positive contributors to society. The future of Haiti depends on the children,” said Hinze.

She has lived in town since 2004.

Her desire to make a difference evolved after reading the book “Start Something That Matters” by Blake Mycoskie.

“It really resonated with me. There are all these great stories about what people are doing and I thought, ‘I’m going to do something.’ ”

When she lost her job of 11 years with a mutual fund company last year, she decided that the perfect opportunity had come to become involved.

She and her 16-year-old daughter Madison brainstormed about what path to take.

“I knew it would surround children,” said Hinze, a licensed foster mother. “I thought what can I tackle? Nobody was really handling education and it fit perfectly with my passion for children.”

Her favorite Mahatma Gandhi quote — “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” — further motivated her.

She learned that many Haitian families can’t afford to send their children to school because of the cost of school fees, school supplies, and uniforms.

She created “Be the Hope,” a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a backpack of school supplies to Haitian youngsters.

“I liked the idea of actually giving a child hope to fulfill their dreams by what you’re providing to them.”

She has partnered with Future for the Kids at Haiti Communitere, a disaster relief organization that assists a number of projects. The compound provides accommodations ranging from tents to rooms in the main building, drinking water and 24-hour security.

For starters, Hinze has “adopted” 60 boys and girls between the ages of one and 14 years old in two orphanages, Agape Orphanage and La Main Tendre Orphanage, in Port-au-Prince.

She plans to take as many backpacks as she can of school supplies, plus new and used clothing and shoes. She is limiting her personal items to one carry-on bag and will pack two large suitcases of the backpacks and clothing up to the 50 pounds allowed by the airlines.

“I don’t want to go empty-handed,” said Hinze, who considers her first trip as a learning and fact-finding experience.

“I want to work with people there and find out what they need and tailor needs around them,” said Hinze.

Buying school supplies may be less costly in Haiti than shipping the products from the United States to Haiti, she said.

She is funding her own trip, estimated to cost about $1,500. Her plan is to stay in a tent without running water to save money. She has been fundraising on the website Indiegogo, Facebook and Twitter to collect money for her charity.

Donations can be mailed to her home address, 9767 N. Baylor Drive, Fountain Hills, 85268. More information also is provided on her website at  http://www.bethehopehaiti.org.

Needed supplies

Each backpack will include a hand pencil sharpener, a box of 24-count crayons, two 100-page composition notebooks; 12-count Number 2 pencils; a pencil case; eraser; 10-pack ball point pens and a 12-inch ruler.

She eventually hopes to collect chalk, chalkboard erasers; soccer balls; art and crafts supplies; scissors; construction paper, glue and colored pencils. Monetary gifts also can go toward buying books in Haitian-Creole, French or English languages in Haiti.

http://www.fhtimes.com/times/2013/030613/backpacks.html