Springdale’s Karen Huxter sends out SOS via Internet
Karen Huxter has faced a few struggles in the 19 years she’s been running the Hands Across the Sea — Haiti (HATS-Haiti) mission in Deschappelles, Haiti.
Karen Huxter (seated centre) with some of the children she cares for at the Hands Across the Sea orphange in Haiti. — Submitted photo
“There’s always something on the go,” she said by phone from Haiti Thursday afternoon.
“But this is the first time I’ve put out an SOS,” she said before the phone connection was lost.
Earlier this week the Springdale native used her blog to put out a call for help for the mission which includes an orphanage and school.
In it she wrote: “Our donations are down quite a bit compared to the past three years and we are quickly running out of funds to keep the mission running as is. Financial help is needed.”
There are 16 children between the ages of two and 18 at the orphanage and the school has 286 students.
Because of the difficulties connecting by phone Huxter replied to questions from The Western Star via email.
She said the mission is an interdenominational Christian one and has help coming from some churches and individuals, including family and friends.
“We do not have one ‘big’ church or one ‘big’ organization that funds us,” she said.
For years, Huxter said the mission has been making ends meet and staying on budget with no wasted funds.
“For the first three months of this year, however, donations have dropped a lot compared to the previous three years,” she said.
What that means, Huxter said is she will have to run the mission — orphanage and school — with less money.
“And that is not easy,” she said.
“I have already cut every corner possible.”
Asked if the mission was in danger of closing, Huxter said “I don’t believe that will happen.”
She said the operation can manage for a couple of more months and believes things will improve during that time.
“I believe in God and I believe in people.”
This is not the first time the mission has experienced financial trouble. About eight or nine years ago Huxter used her personal money and credit cards to feed the children and pay the salaries. Things changed for the better and she said they have been able to manage on donations until now.
As hard as it was for her, blaming it on pride, Huxter decided she had to share the troubles through her blog.
“Asking for help for the children in the orphanage and the school is not asking for anything personal and I needed to realize that. I am here for the children. It truly is all about the children and so for them I reached out,” she said.
Huxter didn’t have a set amount for what is needed to turn things around, but noted to keep running the mission as it has been requires $15,000 a month.
As for what happens if the mission can’t raise enough money, Huxter said “I can’t even think about that. I believe we will.”
Huxter will get some help from Corner Brook in the next few days when a group from the Corner Brook Baptist Church arrives.
Fourteen members of the church are leaving today for a 10-day mission to Haiti. Four of them will spend their time at Huxter’s orphanage and the rest will help on a rubble house project.
Pastor Greg Pike said he’s aware of Huxter’s plight.
“So we’ll be looking into that and finding out what’s needed,” he said on Wednesday. “If there is a financial need we’ll try and get some money down there.”
Pike said a larger donation from the church would require a church meeting, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some immediate help.
“My guess is we will probably bring as much money as we probably can, people individually might want to bring a bit extra.”
Pike said the group plans to leave from the church at around 11 a.m.
“If people want to give donations, if we can’t take them with us we can definitely channel them through her organization and get that money to her as soon as possible.”
The group will bring some medical supplies and clothing and toys to the orphanage.
Pike won’t get to the orphanage because he is part of the rubble build.
“These are extremely important,” he said of the mission trips. “It really changes your understanding of what it means to be on this planet.”
Donations can be mailed to: Hands Across The Sea-Haiti, P.O. Box 101, Yarmouth, N.S., B5A 4B1.