April 4, 2015
Dear <<First Name>>, as I write this newsletter, I am about to leave for a short trip to Leyte Island. Leyte is where Super Typhoon Haiyan of Nov. 2013 hit with a devastating impact to a very large area. As a result of Haiyan, we have been working in Palompon, Leyte, on some rebuilding/restoration projects for the past year. We recently established a ministry center in Palompon. I am going to Palompon to be part of a distribution of 1,000 pairs of shoes with Eddie Vega and Soles4Souls, to check on the Cebuano Bibles that have been recently delivered, to see our simple water project and the Biosand Filters in use and to dedicate and release five more fishing boats to families. A lot to see and do in two days!
One of our unexpected projects in recent months has been building and releasing simple, motorized fishing boats to replace ones lost during Super Typhoon Haiyan. Many fishermen and their families were left without a reliable source of income. When I was in Leyte in May of 2014, I noticed fishermen paddling small kayak-like boats out to the fishing waters. It would take them 3-4 hours to reach the area. As it was so much work to get there, they would stay overnight on the ocean, and paddle back the next day. While this made for strong arms, it is not a practical way of fishing and can also be quite dangerous in times of rough seas. A motorized boat can make the same journey in less than 30 minutes.
In August, we released our first boat, the Katherine Anne, donated by the Morton family and named in honor of their daughter. Subsequently, we were contacted by Global Impact Phils Foundation to partner on several additional boats. First three boats, then two more, and then two more and now five additional boats - twelve all in all from Global Impact in the past six months + the one original boat, bringing the total to 13 boats completed.
In the past month, we have received many donations for even more boats, through a fund set up in the memory of Alex Morton. Nine more boats have been ordered, to arrive in May. When I am in Leyte, we will place an order for five additional boats from funds that recently were deposited. This will bring the total number to 27 boats or stated another way, 27 families will have a means of income. As many of the boats are shared, the number is really higher than 27 families.
Our boats are handled a bit differently than has been done by other organizations, after the Super Typhoon. The boats remain under the ownership and management of SOD Ministries for four years. Every week, 100 pesos, (about 2 USD), is collected from each recipient, except when fishing waters are closed due to storms. The money is placed in a bank account to help with the cost of maintenance and repairs. This is both a means of teaching stewardship and of maintaining regular contact with the boat recipients. It also keeps the boats in good working condition. After four years, if the recipients have been faithful, the boats will be turned over to the fishermen. By that time, they will have learned the value of setting aside funds to keep their boats in good operating condition.
Many of the fishermen and their families live in houses that were reconstructed with funds from SOD and SOD partners, so our on-site network with them is quite strong. This simple but exciting project is managed by Pastor Jonas Lisbe and his wife Disserie, who are full-time workers with SOD Ministries. We appreciate all the donors from Global Impact and for the donations recently given to the memorial fund of Alex Morton. The cost of a boat is between $650 -700 USD, so the project has grown to about $18,000 USD since starting in August.
We also were recently blessed by a grant to purchase and distribute 3,500 additional Bibles on Leyte Island. 1,000 of the Bibles from this grant are for a partnership with Compassion Leyte, for Bibles for parents of children in their program. Our goal in 2015 is to again distribute 6,000 Cebuano Bibles in Leyte, as was done in 2014. We also plan to open several additional libraries on Leyte Island in 2015.
We are very thankful to God for the opportunities he has given to us this year to continue helping the less fortunate people of Leyte.
Seeds of Dignity Ministries, Inc.
"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think" Ephesians 3:20 NLT