Frequently Asked Questions -
Q. When does the school year start and when does it end in Haiti?
A. The school year in Haiti starts in early October and ends in June. There are also vacations for Christmas (December), Mardi Gras (usually in February), Easter (March or April) as well as several other holidays throughout the year.
Q. If I decide to sponsor a child, when are the sponsorship fees due and will I receive a notice telling me when they are due?
A. The sponsorship fees are due in January and in July. If a sponsor starts their sponsorship in February - April, then their sponsorship will be counted as starting in January and their next sponsorship donation will be due in July. If their sponsorship is started in May - Thanksgiving (late November), then their sponsorship will be counted as starting in July and their next sponsorship donation will be due in January. Annual sponsorship pledge notifications are sent out in January but no other statements are sent out during the course of the year.
Q. I sponsored a child recently and their photo has disappeared from the website. Does this mean my sponsored child has left the program?
A. No. Once a child has been sponsored, we will mark the child as "sponsored" on the website and leave their photo on the site for a few more weeks. After that, their photo is removed to make it easier for the remaining children on the website to be seen and, hopefully, chosen for sponsorship.
Q. I'm not sure I understand the different levels in the secondary schools in Haiti. Can you please list them in order?
A. Secondary school starts in the 7th grade. After 7th grade the levels are (in ascending order) 8th grade, 9th grade, secondary 3rd, secondary 2nd, secondary 1st (also called rheto) and philo.
Q. My sponsored child's information does not include a date of birth - only their current age. Is it possible to find out my sponsored child's date of birth?
A. Many of the children in our sponsorship program do not know their date of birth. This is very common in Haiti as most families do not celebrate birthdays. Many parents do not remember their children's dates of birth and if the births were not recorded, there is no way to be sure of their exact date. We make every effort to obtain this information when a child is put into the program but in many cases it is just not possible.
Q. My sponsored child has been in the same grade for more than one year. Why is this?
A. It is very common for a child to take more than one year to complete a grade. There are many reasons for this including - missed school days due to illness or the family needing the child's help at home. The child must also pass a standardized government test before they can pass to the next grade level. If they do not pass, they must repeat the grade.
Q. The numbers of siblings on my sponsored child's information sheet keeps changing a lot from year to year. Why is this?
A. Combined households are very common in Haiti - aunts and uncles and lots of cousins or perhaps unrelated families all sharing a common dwelling. Many of the children do not know which children in the home are their biological siblings and which children might be cousins or unrelated children. If there is no adult present at the time of the child's interview who can confirm or correct the child's response, the numbers we get may be skewed.
Q. Can I donate to the Kid for a Kid program and have the goat be given to my sponsored child?
A. Possibly. If your sponsored child lives in the community of Danda, then the answer is yes. If your sponsored child lives in one of the other communities, then the answer is no. The Kid for a Kid program is only operating in Danda and is only available to children in that community. At the present time, none of the other communities have a similar program.
Q. At what age would a student be considered "too old" to participate in the sponsorship program?
A. As long as a student remains in school, they may still participate in the sponsorship program. Many of these students have been working hard to complete their schooling but have experienced gaps in their education due to various reasons - illness, the need to work to help the family, etc. But at no age would we deem them to be too old to keep them in the program.
Q. Why are so many of the children not smiling in their sponsorship photos? Many of them look unhappy or angry - are they?
A. While it's possible for a child to be unhappy or angry at the time their photo is taken, more likely the reason for their serious expression is a cultural one. In Haiti, the common way for people to pose for a photo is with a serious expression, not a smile. For the younger children, many of them are afraid of us or they often think they will end up receiving an immunization when we've finished processing them. As a result, a serious expression or tears are not uncommon. We make every effort to get the children to smile for their photo but there are times when it is just not possible.
Q. How often does the team from His Hands for Haiti visit Haiti to update the children in the program?
A. His Hands for Haiti sends a team to Northeast Haiti twice each year. A team is sent in October, not long after the start of the new school year, and again in the spring. The timing of the spring trip fluctuates due to the Mardi Gras and Easter school holidays but is normally in February, March or April. His Hands for Haiti sends teams only when school is in session so the children will be available to be processed for the program.
Q. I happened to find my sponsored child on a social media site. How can my sponsored child afford to access the internet?
A. Cyber cafes exist in the cities and the cost to use a computer is minimal. Cell phones are also prevalent and very inexpensive both to purchase and to use. All phones are prepaid phones. Minutes are added by purchasing a phone card but can also be added simply by accepting calls from friends and family in Haiti and overseas which can often add minutes to the user's phone. But please bear in mind - for security reasons, it is against our policy for sponsors to have contact with their sponsored child (or any child in the sponsorship program) on social media.
Q. Is it possible for me to join one of the His Hands for Haiti teams so I can visit my sponsored child?
A. Yes. There is an application process for those who are interested in joining one of our work teams. Every effort will be made for sponsors on our teams to meet their sponsored child but please be aware that we cannot promise this. (Children are sometimes absent when we visit their school or sometimes we discover that they have left the program.) If you are interested in applying for one of our teams, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. I sent an e-mail to the info@ address (or used the Contact Us form) a little while ago but I haven't received a response yet. Why not?
A. Please bear in mind that all our program coordinators are volunteers - donating their time and energy in order to help the children. Many of them have full-time jobs and families to care for so they may not be able to respond to messages immediately. Because of the willingness of these wonderful, caring individuals who are serving in this capacity in our ministry without being financially compensated, we are able to send 100% of your sponsorship donations directly to the program in Haiti. So we ask for your patience while waiting for a response to your messages.
Q. I found [the program coordinator or a board member] on Facebook and sent them a friend request but it wasn't accepted. Why not?
A. The decision to either accept, ignore or deny friend requests on Facebook is left to the discretion of each of the program coordinators or board members. Some of them prefer to maintain their Facebook account for only family and friends they know well and we respect this decision on their part. Each of the program coordinators are members of the group page for sponsors of the program for which they are responsible and they can be contacted with messages there or through e-mail.
Q. I have written to my sponsored child many times but I have never received a letter from them in return. Why not?
A. One way that His Hands differs from some of the big-name sponsorship organizations is the fact that we do not have any personnel from the ministry on the ground in Haiti to help facilitate things like letter writing. Many of the parents of the children are illiterate and would be unable to write on behalf of their children or help their children to write a letter themselves. And day-to-day life for many of the families of children in our program is a fight for survival. Many don't know where their next meal is coming from or how they will pay for medicines for their children. In the face of these difficult circumstances, we have chosen not to add to their burden (or to add to the burden of the pastors) by making it mandatory for the children to write back. We STRONGLY encourage them to do so, but we have not made it mandatory.
Q. I have an attic full of good used clothing. Can the ministry send those items down to Haiti or take them with them on their next mission trip?
A. For the answer to this question, please click here to read our policy concerning donations in kind.
Q. Currently I am not in a position to be able to sponsor a child. But are there other ways I can help the children in the Haiti program?
A. First, if you would really like to sponsor but just don't know how you could afford to do so, consider whether some small changes might help make it possible for you to sponsor. Most of us could make some very small changes in our spending habits and "find" $100 each year we could use to help support a child. You can also make one-time donations instead of the regular monthly support necessary to sponsor a child. If you would like to do this, please visit our Donate page. Also, if you shop on Amazon, you can go to smile.amazon.com, designate His Hands Support Ministries as your charity of choice, and a small portion of your purchase will go to us. But if it is really not possible for you to do any of this, then we do have some alternate suggestions. Most importantly, please pray for the children, the teachers and school administrators, the pastors, and the program administrators of His Hands. Pray that God will continue to meet all their needs and provide a way for more support to come in. Second, please consider sharing this need with your friends and family. In our experience, word of mouth is the best way for new sponsors to be found. Please consider sharing our website on your social media pages or even while waiting in the checkout line at the store. We appreciate any help you can give!