On November 9 at 2:55 PM I landed at the airport in Haiti and officially changed my address from Reed City, Michigan to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for six months. It sure doesn't feel like it! My experiences ranged from good to bad, from exciting to heart-breaking (and that was just in the first week)! :)
It feels like I’ve just scratched the surface of what’s possible with my work in Haiti.
Preparing Me in 2003
I can look back and see many ways God’s been shaping my life in preparation for Haiti. My first trip in 2003 a germ of an idea of full-time missions work took hold. It took a decade for things to gain momentum.
In early 2016, I filed the paperwork for “Kelby’s Kids” to be a 501(c)3, non-profit organization — and things really took off!
As much as I was excited to make this change it was a very big step to walk away from my jobs in EMS and the fire department. It was all I had known for so long. But, on October 31, 2016, I became unemployed. I was officially without a pay check for the first time since I was 14.
I feel that after six months in Haiti — with no intention of turning back — I have proven to myself (and hopefully all of you) that this work and mission is the real deal!
Barb (my secretary/treasurer) has recently given me an update on our finances. She does a great job keeping things running back in the states while I work in Haiti.
So this is a perfect time to give you an update on the financial side of Kelby's Kids. (I’d MUCH rather be sharing stories about babies and kids under my care, but posts like this are critical if I’m going to continue this valuable work.)
As of the end of April we have 20 partners who have said they will partner with us on a recurring basis. (Their monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, or annually giving is averaged across 12 months and it helps us calculate our monthly budget). In addition, we also get occasional one-time donations to help support the ministry’s operation.
We currently have $1,264USD in committed, monthly support through the 20 supporters. That’s an average donation of $63.20.
Unfortunately, we have had people who’ve committed to making monthly donations, but have not fulfilled their commitments. We’ve also seen some attrition. People who were supporting us in 2016 have not continued to do so into 2017.
As I prepared to leave for Haiti, you may remember how I said I’d like to have a goal of raising $5,000USD a month.
The goal is to have $1,500 a month for medical/clinic expenses, $1,500 for ministry/living expenses, $1,500 a month for wages/benefits, and $500 a month for special projects, unexpected expenses, and a rainy-day fund.
That’s a grand total of $60,000USD a year to run a medical program. that helps thousands of people at the cost of an average salary and benefit package for an average middle class skilled job.
I’m currently seeing an average of 100 patients a week.
At this rate I’ll see over 5,200 patients this year. They’ll receive free care and it’ll cost our ministry less than $11USD per patient! But that will only happen if the ministry is fully funded this year. Current giving levels only allow me to budget $2.75USD per patient. It includes all supplies, medications, lab work, ultrasounds, X-rays, and more.
I am sure your doctor’s office or urgent care can't say that!
We also provide all of the medications we prescribe so the patients don't incur any cost after they leave. We provide complete care and treatment for less than the co-pay for one medication for most folks in the U.S.
As word gets out and more patients come for care, it will increase our expenses but it will also decrease the overall cost per patient due to volume.
Let’s Break Down the Costs a Little More
Medical/clinic costs cover things like supplies, medications, equipment, trips to the ER, and medical tests (blood work, X-rays, ultrasounds). We have some wound patients who need their dressings changed three times a week (and some wound care last for months and months). That adds up!
In the last few weeks alone I’ve spent almost 10,000HTG (HTG is the local currency — Haitian Goudes) on eye medications for the pink eye epidemic going around and almost 13,000HTG on a trip to the ER for a 3-month-old with a severe respiratory infection.
With the exchange rate, Kelby’s Kids is able to provide exceptional care in those two instances alone for just $340 in U.S. funds! (I’d like to highlight the fact that I currently only receive $1,264USD in support every month).
It’s a terrible feeling to think of having to ration medications or be worried if I have enough money to take a child to the ER, or if they need extensive testing.
I also don't want to have to tell patients that I can't help them because I don't have the things I need to make them better.
Ministry/living expenses currently covers room and board at the school where I stay. But some day I’ll need to cover rent for an apartment or small house. (I currently live in a 9’ X 15’ house).
Utilities, like water, costs $22.40USD for a 3,000-gallon truck. That’s $7.46 per 1,000 gallons. It’s more expensive to get water this way than it is to get city water in Michigan.
AND, the water I buy from the truck isn't safe to drink! I still have to buy five-gallon jugs of drinking water (or save some money to install a filtration system one day).
As the ministry grows, I will need to purchase a vehicle and pay to maintain it and fill it with gas.
They say that a year in Haiti is like five years in the U.S. So, take your auto repair budget, increase it by 30-50% because it’s all imported and then multiply it by five!
Electricity in Haiti is also expensive.
It’s commonly believed that 68% of the electricity Haiti produces gets stolen.
For those that actually pay for it, the electric bills are based on what the electric company thinks it can gouge you for, instead of what your meter says. And we only have power for 33% of the day (about eight hours a day)!
On top of that, dwellings need to have a battery and inverter system and, possibly, a solar source.
My Wages and Benefits are Currently Set at $0USD
l’ll start taking a salary when the medical and ministry expenses are sufficiently met.
I retired in October with some money in my savings. But I have not made a single dollar since.
As a result, my personal savings is down 16 percent. At this rate, I’ll be broke in 2.5 years. I’ll need to start making a salary in order to keep up with the taxes for my house and vehicle in Michigan.
I’m also currently without medical insurance. (I know, not a good idea). A medical emergency could be devastating to my savings. Foreign missionaries often get “evacuation insurance” to cover the $30,000USD cost of an emergency medical evacuation from Haiti to the United States.
4,382 x $1 = 75%
This post on the Kelby's Kids Facebook page has 4,382 views.
To put numbers and dollars in perspective, if everyone of the people who saw that post donated just $1 a month, it would cover nearly 75% of my entire budget for the year.
If you haven't been keeping up with my blog posts, I encourage you to look back though them and read about the lives being changed and saved. We are making a difference for many here in Haiti!
I only tell you a fraction of the stories of the lives we’re changing together! But I’m eager to share even more (even though some people tell me my blogs are already too long)!
But I can only do it by raising additional funds.
I began working on this letter on May 10. I’ve spent a lot of time on it because it’s important and I didn’t want to mess it up. I wanted it to be inspirational about the work we’re doing in Haiti, yet I also needed it to show a sense of urgency about the state of our finances.
If you are currently a donor, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart — and I pray for God’s blessing on you for your faithful praying, encouragement, and financial support! It’s gotten this ministry up and running. Perhaps you will consider getting creative about increasing your gift.
If you’re doing all you can, perhaps you can consider becoming a cheerleader for me! Share the blogs I write, share the pictures on Instagram, tell your Sunday School class about the good work we’re doing for the poor and powerless in Haiti. Tell somebody who needs to know about Kelby’s Kids.
Raising awareness of Kelby’s Kids can go a long way towards our goal of raising just $5,000USD of sustained support a month. We’re currently only 25% of the way to that goal.
There are Several Ways to Support Kelby’s Kids
You can go to the support page of my web site. It explains several ways to give.
A bill pay option through your financial institution will reduce the administrative costs to Kelby's Kids that are incurred through on-line giving — making your donation stretch further.
(Please email Barb with questions. She will gladly walk you through it.)
I Truly Can't Do This Alone
All of the pages of my blog would be blank if it was not for YOU! TOGETHER WE are changing lives! Saving lives! I already have many stories ready for the next update!