To say that I am proud of my husband Ryan is a huge understatement. He has been volunteering his free time to the Haitian grassroots organization SOPUDEP for the past five years. When he first came across the SOPUDEP school they were on the verge of closing their doors because the teachers had not been paid in months. A month after discovering this Haitian organization from a photojournalist named Darren Ell, Ryan and his father Garry were on a plane to Haiti. On that trip they made a promise to not only find a way to pay the teachers, but also resurrect the hot lunch program. For many children this is their only meal of the day. Five years later, the teachers are being paid, the hot lunch program is running, sponsers are helping send students to university, an exciting woman's Micro-Credit program has been started and they are also supporting another grassroots school called Little Friends of SOPUDEP. Ryan also started the Sawatzky Family Foundation as a way of ensuring that 100% of the donations get to this organization. My mother-in-law, Edie, is a bookkepper who also donates her time to ensure that 100% donations will be received by the SOPUDEP organization. Any additional costs that come with running a foundation are covered personally. Unfortunately with many charities, a very small percentage will actually make it to the cause.
The co-founder of the SOPUDEP organization, Rea Dol is a true inspiration. After the devastating earthquake in 2010, Rea participated in a women's march on International Women's Day. During this event the Haiti Emergecy Relief Fund donated $1500.00 to Rea and her group of women.She asked the women, "Do you want food, which will be gone in a couple of weeks, or do you want me to start a program so you can work?". The group of women unanimously decided that they would stay hungry in order to have the opportunity to work and provide for their families.There are now 150 proud business women thanks to the micro-credit program.
Below is a video that Ryan made with footage from his recent trip to Haiti. Please take a few minutes to watch this powerful video and pass it along to your friends and family.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.