School and Hot Meals

After 15 years serving as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and 18 years owning and operating a McDonald’s franchise with his wife in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Bob Davisson decided it was time to retire and help build a better future for an impoverished country and its children.

In November 2005 Davisson accepted an invitation to visit Haiti from some missionaries who were in the process of building a school, but were struggling to get it up and running. Meeting children of this poverty-stricken country filled Davisson with compassion and he felt called to help. “This is something that had been on my heart for many years,” he says. “The trip to Haiti and the connections made at the time confirmed this was where I was to serve God.” Less than two months later, Davisson and his missionary friends completed their first school in Chabin, a small town in the southern part of Haiti.

The children’s joy in response to the school’s opening provided the inspiration for Lifeline Haiti, the nonprofit organization that Davisson started with his wife, Linda. Since that time, Lifeline Haiti has completed 14 elementary schools, three bible schools and two high schools for 4,300 children. In the areas where they have set up schools, students receive instruction along with clean drinking water, one hot meal a day, and whatever medicine they need.

The statistics paint a grim picture of the obstacles children face growing up in the poorest country in the western hemisphere: 54 percent of the population goes without clean drinking water, 49 percent are malnourished and 45 percent are illiterate. Each day 400 children die from starvation in Haiti, where the median age of the nine million citizens is only 18 years old.

Progress in such an uphill battle is measured incrementally, but Davisson feels that Lifeline Haiti has made significant changes in the areas it has touched. “There have been no deaths due to starvation in any of the areas,” he says. “Along with the microloan businesses we have set up so far, all 63 of them are doing well and helping to stimulate the economy.”

Much of the success thus far can be attributed to the organization’s partnership with Reverend Wilbert Placide, Bishop of the Christian Evangelical Church of Haiti. “When I first met him it was like we had known each other all our lives,” Davisson says of Rev. Placide. “Without someone like this, we would still be at our first school.” As part of their partnership, Lifeline Haiti opens schools at Placide’s churches.

The global financial instability is proving to be a very difficult barrier to overcome. “Just recently our biggest obstacle was the ability to feed all the children, as nearly 70 percent of our budget went to food. With the 4,300 children attending our schools we are looking at just over 1.1 million meals [annually],” says Davisson. This past summer Lifeline Haiti connected with two churches in the Minneapolis area, The Urban Refuge Church and Evergreen Church, both of which are partnered with Kids Against Hunger, to meet part of their goal to feed these young students. Providing meals is a vital element of the program, and without the proper funding Davisson acknowledges, “We would have had to close several of our schools.”

Lifeline Haiti

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