Dear Friends Of Worldwide Hunger Relief,
We have now completed all of our spring packs and are looking forward to a quiet summer of fun and relaxation. This year, so far, has been interesting, to say the least. First of all, we conducted more food packs in the first 6 months of 2011 than all of the food packs put together since we started packing food three years ago! We have formed an association with Food for the Poor which is paying the cost of shipping and distributing our food to the neediest in Haiti. They have distributed our food mostly to orphanages and we are delighted with their help and friendship. And finally, we have sent 2 containers overseas, one to Haiti and one to Honduras. We have another container ready to go and are just waiting for FFTP to send it so we can fill it with lifesaving food. This will make a total of 800,000 meals shipped to nourish hungry children.
On the home front, we have been made aware of the plight of the Oglala Lakota nation on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota. It’s hard to find words to describe the conditions that many of these once proud people are forced to live under. Through our association with Feeding America, we have shipped 2 full semi loads of frozen meat products to the reservation and distributed these boxes of assorted meats to the poorest of the Lakota. Both shipments were sent at the end of the month when many have run out of food and starvation is a very real possibility. We have one more semi load of frozen meat products to ship, and because of issues sending Wisconsin slated food out of state, our distribution of food on the reservation will soon end. This is very disappointing to us, but we are already making plans to help insure food security on the reservation.
Following is a list of initiatives and projects that we are planning. At the end of the list is a link where you can sign up to help us in any of the projects that you may be interested in.
Help for Haiti – We will start planning a major fall food pack for Haiti, and combine the pack with a “celebration of Haitian culture.” Our thought is to showcase elements of Haitian culture, dance, music, food, art, etc. in conjunction with the pack. I have had conversations with Food for the Poor as a co-sponsor of the pack and we are starting to search for dance troupes and musicians to invite to the pack. Properly done, this will be an amazing event and we are looking for volunteers to help us plan and run this event.
Pine Ridge Food Security & Gardening Project We are Addressing the hunger situation on the reservation with two programs. The first is the purchase of a 24’ box truck to haul food from Rapid City to the reservation. Worldwide Hunger Relief will open an account with Feeding South Dakota, Inc. to purchase food products at a cost of $0.18 per pound. The truck will go to FSD on a regular basis to purchase and bring back food for the people of the reservation. We have been assured that this low price is within the reach of most, if not all, of the Lakota. There aren’t any food stores on the reservation and what food is available in the few Mini- Marts is of poor quality and sky high prices. The plan is that our reservation staffer will go to Rapid City at least once per week and purchase food products and then set up a “store” in one of the community centers to distribute the products. We plan to distribute both frozen and shelf stable food along with fresh vegetables as we can get them. We will weigh the food and charge $0.20 per pound, using the extra $0.02 to help cover the cost of the fuel for the truck.
We are finalizing plans to start a family garden project in the towns of Wanblee and Kyle on the reservation. Later this summer we will take rototillers and gardening tools, along with fencing and posts, to the Rez. Because the soil is so poor we will be purchasing dump truck loads of manure to spread on the soil and roto-till in. Because we will be doing this yet this summer, we will have an early start on next year’s growing season. We hope to work with Will Allen and his organization, Growing Power, to help us with the gardening project. Our goal is to put in at least 50 gardens and one or two hoop greenhouses to start seedlings for next year’s growing season. We estimate the cost per garden of at least $100.00, so fundraising is an important component to the plan. We will be looking for cash donations, donations of gardening tools, and volunteers to go to Pine Ridge to work alongside the Lakota to put the gardens in.
Thrift Store- We have donated the box truck to our reservation contacts, Jerome and Theresa High Horse, of Wanblee, South Dakota. They have a calling to open a Thrift Store on the reservation, along the lines of a Good Will store. We are in the process of collecting items for them to sell on the reservation. At present we have close to a full truckload of goods, and we are actively looking for church groups and other organizations that want to work with us to collect items to send. A small portion of the money that is raised through the sale of items will be used to cover the expense of the trucking costs and all of the rest of the money will be used for charity to help the Lakota regain a decent life style.
Housing project-There are upwards of 50,000 people on the reservation, and there are approximately 3,000 dwellings there, which means that many of the houses have upwards of 20 people in them. The houses are either small 2 bedroom government built crackerjack homes, or old mobile homes that came to the reservation to die. Very few of the mobile homes are what a reasonable person would consider livable, and most of the government homes have massive black mold problems due to the humid conditions with so many people living together. Things are so bad on the reservation that many of the abandoned cars are used for sleeping quarters in all but the severest weather. We will be undertaking a building project to build homes for 2 brothers, Roland and Donald Morrison, who live in conditions that we find totally unacceptable. We will be using technology that is over 100 years old and is a throwback to the pioneers on the Nebraska prairie. We will be building them homes made of straw bales with a shed roof, and covered in a stucco mixture of clay, sand and Portland cement. We would like to do an “Extreme makeover- Home Edition, Pine Ridge style”, and build both homes in a week. I believe that it can be done and can be done for very little money. Since the brothers live 15 miles from the nearest road and 11 miles from the closest electrical connection, the homes will not have electricity, water or plumbing. We are planning on sending a number of builders to the Rez and getting a large number of Lakota men to help in the construction. This is all unskilled labor and we see this as on-the-job training for the Lakota. Once we have proof of concept and have a good idea of actual costs, we can look for funding to build more homes, using the labor that we have trained so that Lakota people can build homes for their own people.
Peace and blessings,