LiveBeyond In the News

2 Months After Harvey, Houston Has Millions in Donations - But Surprisingly Few Volunteers
Faithwire, November 2, 2017
The media and news cycle is pretty much done with Hurricane Harvey by now. Two other hurricanes have hit, there’s the Syrian food crisis, and another Harvey (the Weinstein kind) is making news for victimizing dozens of individuals.

Besides, it’s been two months. Houston is “fixed” by now, isn’t it?

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Kerrville Taught Me How to LiveBeyond

By: Devin Vanderpool, Director of Communications

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I knew, even at a young age, that I was blessed to be growing up in Kerrville. There is just nowhere else in Texas (or the world, for that matter) in which one could find such a spectacular combination of country living, sports fanatics, healthy church life, and some of the best barbeque and Mexican food around. I had the privilege of being cast in plays at the Callioux Theater and the Point Theater. I danced in ballet and tap recitals; I participated in church outreach activities. I even got to go to state in Mock Trial and girls’ basketball.

But the best thing about living in Kerrville was seeing how much folks cared about each other. I can’t tell you how many times my parents dragged me to some hospital room to visit one of their sick friends. Or how often I helped people with lawn maintenance through youth group outreach. Or how amazing my teachers and coaches were at encouraging me to do the right thing.

And all of this taught me that I wanted to take my little piece of Kerrville and share it with the world. I couldn’t take the bluebonnets with me, but I could take the hospitality. And that’s one of the many reasons I ended up in Haiti.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. I have had the privilege of traveling to India and Ukraine and Ghana, and the poverty just doesn’t compare. I have seen people starve to death, moms and babies die in childbirth, special needs children mistreated. And after knowing what the world should be like from my life in Kerrville, I just couldn’t stand by. So, I moved to Haiti for two years to teach Creole Literacy classes for adults and English as a Second Language classes for adults and children. And now I work from Fort Worth for  LiveBeyond as their Communications Director. I am honored to get to share the kindness that I grew up knowing in Kerrville with the world. My Haitian friends Sophie and Badi and Mackendy may never know where Kerrville, Texas is, but they have experienced it in some small way through big Texas hugs and friendship.

LiveBeyond In the News

Zombies Are Not Just Horror Fiction: I Know One
Charisma News, October 31, 2017
Zombies are a pop-culture phenomenon right now. Pretty much every popular television show out there has an episode about zombies. Millions of Americans are obsessed with Walking Dead. Zombies are a popular Halloween costume. But I just can't quite bring myself to share in the zombie fascination trend. Why?
Because I know one.

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How Can We Prevent 19% of Child Deaths?

By: Tayler Johnston, LiveBeyond's Director of Maternal Health

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Education. The answer is education!

“Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to FREEDOM.”                          – Oprah Winfrey

At LiveBeyond, one of our primary missions is to relieve oppression [Isaiah 1:17; Luke 4:18].  In Haiti, education is one of the simplest and most needed tools to fight oppression.

In July, I started working on my DNP (Doctorate of Nursing Practice).  Since July, I have been obtaining a lot of data on the women in our program and doing a lot of research on what we can do to help fix the problems and barriers that they’re facing.

I want to share some numbers with y’all that may blow your mind.

  • The median gestational age of first prenatal visit is 16.5 weeks.
  • 22.4% of women have had at least one child that has died after birth.
  • 8.2% have had more than one child die after birth.
  • Only 55.5% of women believe that breastmilk alone can sustain a child for the first six months of life.
  • 45.5% of post-partum women have given their babies food before they were 3 months old (and I’m not talking baby food!)
  • 81.1% of women believe that move san (bad blood, a psychological condition caused by stress), weakness, sickness, or not eating the right foods cause let gate (spoiled breastmilk, making the milk toxic to the baby).
  • 34% of post-partum women admit to giving their newborn lok, an herbal tea laxative to “cleanse” the baby’s GI tract within the first 72 hours of life.
  • 67.5% cannot read.

These are not national stats. These are the numbers on our women, on my women. 

I have chosen to focus my doctorate project on increasing optimal breastfeeding practices among the women in our program. Changing their feeding practices could solve a lot of problems. Optimal breastfeeding practices (as defined by WHO and UNICEF) include:

  • Exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months
  • Introducing complementary foods starting at 6 months
  • Continuing breastfeeding for at least 2 years

It is estimated that 19% of deaths among children less than 5 could be prevented with optimal feeding practices.

This baby has nothing to do with this blog, but isn't he cute?!

This baby has nothing to do with this blog, but isn't he cute?!

The biggest thing I have learned so far since working with these women is that some of my assumptions were wrong.  They truly want to do what is best for their baby, no matter what it takes.  They aren’t lazy.  They don’t want to take the easy way out.  They just don’t know.  They don’t know the risks of giving a newborn water and juice.  They don’t know that baby’s bellies aren’t developed enough to process rice and beans at 2 months old.  They don’t know that their newborn doesn’t need a laxative!  They stop breastfeeding if they think they have let gate to protect the baby.  They wean before 18 months because they don’t want their babies to get parasites from the milk getting too sweet. It’s not their fault that they just don’t know.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”      – Nelson Mandela

Since initiating a new education program in August, we have already seen some significant improvement in optimal feeding and we are making progress in correcting these misbeliefs, while maintaining their cultural traditions. I will Post more about our progress later.

Our nurses are getting additional training as well.

Our nurses are getting additional training as well.

 

“The Lord gives wisdom. From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”    -Proverbs 2:6

If you want to get involved, please pray for us, for the program, for wisdom, for progress, and sustainability. We have hired two new nurses recently, so we now have Gertrude, Michele, Angella, and Marie Andrise. You can pray for them by name if you want.  You can also donate by clicking here to keep Maternal Health running and help us grow.

Thank you for all of your support!

LiveBeyond In the News

Christians, Let's Step It Up
Crosswalk, October 18, 2017
No one would disagree that the United States has faced its share of difficulty this year in the face of natural disaster. Hurricane Harvey brought devastation to the Texas coast; Hurricane Irma destroyed parts of Florida; Puerto Rico is reeling after Hurricane Maria.
Estimated costs of hurricane damage have reached into the trillions. So how are programs like FEMA supposed to cover these costs? The short answer: they can’t. I work with a non-profit called LiveBeyond, part of our mission is to provide aid to those suffering from natural disasters. During our recent relief work in the Houston area, we have already encountered families rejected by FEMA. Apparently, the feet of water in their houses did not merit any financial aid.
And what about undocumented immigrants? What kind of assistance could they ever hope to see? Less than 20% of those affected by Hurricane Harvey had flood insurance. How will Texas, Florida or Puerto Rico recover from such terrible odds?

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This article is also featured on a Philidelphia Christian radio station, WFIL AM560's website here and a Pittsburg Christian radio station, WPIT 96.5FM/730AM's website here.

My Haitian Journey

By: Taylor Westbrook

Hello everyone, I can’t believe how fast this summer has flown by! In just a few short weeks, I will be heading back to the states for a month.  I am already anxious at the thought of leaving.  I have grown very accustomed to being here and have loved being a part of the work God is doing in Haiti.   

First, thanks to everyone who prayed for Haiti during these recent hurricanes.  We planned for the worst and received the best!  Here in Thomazeau, we only experienced some moderate rain that was very welcomed.  Again, the Haitians showed me true heart for God and man.   When presented with the flooding in Houston after Hurricane Harvey, many stepped us to donate money to LiveBeyond’s disaster relief work there.  Their efforts remind me of my experience watching the members of the Kay Soda church tithe.  So often we give out of our riches, but I saw them giving, once again, out of their poverty.   

The most rewarding part of this past month has been getting Chenielo enrolled in school.   He was so excited when I told him he was going to go to school for the first time. On the day we gave backpacks filled with school supplies and personal grooming items, he looked up at me and said, “Taylor, mwen kontan anpil,” Taylor, I am very happy!   

Chinielo and his backpack!

Chinielo and his backpack!

Last month I talked about watching the pain of Haiti intimately close.  The experience continues.  I led daily trips to the homes of Johnny’s Kids with the last team.  I wasn’t ready for Daphne’s mother.  She clearly loves Daphne and gushed over her, but that is only part of her reality.  After telling me Daphne was a good child who rarely caused her any problems, she asked me to take her.  Having to tell her no was hard.  You see, she really doesn’t want to give her daughter away, but LiveBeyond is one of the few resources she has.  Raising a child with special needs is no easy feat, especially in Haiti.  The following day her dad, whom I had never met, was there and had a few questions for me.  I was already preparing for the worst.  He then went on to tell me how grateful he was for LiveBeyond and all we provided for Daphne.  He smiled at me and told me I was a good friend to his daughter!  

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This month I have been working with a young boy, Matino.  Matino has an infection that has kept him from walking.  From sitting for so long, his body has tightened and contorted in such a way that he cannot stand straight or lie down with his back flat.  The infection started presenting just above his right knee, and his knee has lost much of its ability to bend.  Our doctor prescribed antibiotics for him, and I have been working with him several times a week doing physical therapy.  Matino has progressed leaps and bounds since the first day I started working with him.  He can stand unassisted and take a few labored steps, he can lie on his back without wincing, he can apply pressure all the way through his right leg, and he has grown exponentially in his trust of me.  As good as all this is, he still has so far to go. We have been trying to get him in for an x-ray but he has been turned away by two hospitals in Port Au Prince.  The original hospital he went to months ago took as much money as they could and finally sent his mother home and saying there was nothing wrong with him to be causing his condition.  This past Wednesday was particularly heart-wrenching.  Matino was not having a good day in therapy; he was being very uncooperative, and after a little rebuking from his mother, she began to cry.  She was crying because she wanted him to walk again, she was crying because hospitals refused to even look at him, she was crying because she has very little money and spends 150 Gourdes per week to bring him by motorcycle, she was crying because she then walks hours back to their home because she must save money for the motorcycle to the base, she was crying because she is tired.  Yet, she keeps coming because LiveBeyond is all she has.  She has loved seeing his progression but desires so much more for him as do I!

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Here are a few things I would ask you all to pray about:

  • Continue to pray as I navigate the language.  It has been wonderful being able to have real conversations.
  • For meetings - I am arranging with other NGO’s to visit their bases and learn what has helped to make their special needs programs successful.
  • For the upcoming construction of Johnny’s House and the completion of the school.  The school is moving along very well.
  • For Akanj, a new believer who came to us because Jesus told him in a dream to visit our pastor.  He was a slave of the head Voodoo priest that died suddenly last year.  He has not missed a Sunday or a daily bible study since he was baptized a few weeks ago and most days is at our morning church service for the staff.
  • For my attentiveness in sharing the gospel with the men I have formed some great friendships with.

Random Pics for Your Viewing Enjoyment!

I gave myself a haircut! Pretty good, if I do say so myself.

I gave myself a haircut! Pretty good, if I do say so myself.

The cactus tree!

The cactus tree!

Are you my daddy? He's so pale!

Are you my daddy? He's so pale!

Love my confused look during a Creole lesson.

Love my confused look during a Creole lesson.

Quick trip to the market.

Quick trip to the market.

Hiking up to the prayer house.

Hiking up to the prayer house.

None are worthless,

Taylor Westbrook

Birmingham Event - October 12, 2017

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Coach Gene Stallings, Pat Dye Team Up for Johnny's House
Alabama Living, October 12, 2017
Former Alabama football coach Gene Stallings teamed up with former Auburn football coach Pat Dye today to raise money for LiveBeyond, a ministry that focuses on assistance to Haiti.
"You can't imagine how poor people are in Haiti," said Stallings, who has been to Haiti twice.
Despite two recent strokes followed by a heart attack, Stallings insisted on speaking at the fundraising luncheon today at The Bright Star in Bessemer. Dye insisted on being there with him.

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LiveBeyond In the News

LiveBeyond continues to make news for disaster relief efforts:

Yes, There's Still Something You Can Do For Hurricane Victims
Faithwire, October 7, 2017
All across the Southern United States and in Puerto Rico, communities are dealing with the devastating loss caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Since Hurricane Harvey hit, my team and I at LiveBeyond have been traveling to the Houston area delivering food, supplies and helping with construction. Every time I come back home, I get the same question from others who also want to help: what can do when I am so far away?  
Here are three ways you can help hurricane victims, from someone who has seen the need firsthand.

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Have You Turned A Blind Eye One Year After This Storm Made Headlines?
Charisma News, October 4, 2017
One year ago today, on Oct. 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, resulting in almost $2 billion U.S. worth of damage and the deaths of an estimated 546 people. This year, America has seen the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma along our coast. Then, Hurricane Maria devastated multiple Caribbean Island nations, including Puerto Rico. Lives have been lost, homes destroyed, plans ruined. But how much harder is it for people just an hour and a half flight off of our border to prepare for a hurricane like Matthew? Here's a look at how a Haitian family might prepare for a hurricane or a similar natural disaster and what the effects of that storm might be in the short and long term.

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TV Interview with Dr. David Vanderpool
KTAB/KRBC, September 27, 2017

Watch the Interview Here or Here