We had the opportunity recently to talk to Rafael about his work with Barco’s Nightingales Foundation in Haiti. It was such an enjoyable conversation that we wanted to share it in the form of a Q&A. You’ll love getting to know Rafael.
~Michael and Frida Donner
BNF: When did you start working for Barco’s Nightingales Foundation?
Rafael: I started working for Barco’s Nightingales in 2012.
BNF: What do you do on behalf of the Foundation?
Rafael: I oversea the entire project in Haiti from building new water wells (in all aspects of the project) to maintaining current water wells and now purchasing food and distributing it to all the schools where we feed kids hot lunches during school hours.
BNF: Please share your thoughts about the solar water wells and the need for clean water in Haiti.
Rafael: Before Barco’s Nightingales Foundation came to Haiti we all used water that came from the mountains after it rained to feed animals, bathe, wash clothes, cook, and drink. Because the water was used for multiple purposes, it had high levels of bacteria. As a result, the people and children from thee villages were getting sick and dying.
BNF: Describe the impact the clean water has had on the communities where we’ve built wells.
Rafael: Having solar water wells with clean water has been a blessing from God. It has completely changed communities for the better. People and children are healthier. They look healthy, they are able to cook food with clean water, and parents feel safer. They worry less about whether or not their children will die in the future.
BNF: Are there one or two specific stories you can share?
Rafael: Before we had water wells a lot of young women and children had to cross the border illegally to get clean water. Consequently, they were in grave danger. Some were raped, others had to sleep near the border and cross the next day early in the morning. Now, thanks to God and Barco’s Nightingales Foundation, these women and children are safe. Their lives are not in danger, and so our communities are healthier, happier, full of joy, and hope. Since the Foundation started working here I’ve seen children, who often never ate during the day receive at least one hot meal. The work being done here is helping Haiti change for the good from within.
Rafael’s Work With The Hot Lunch Program
BNF: How involved are you in the hot lunch program?
Rafael: I’m 100% involved. I purchase food once a month in the city and distribute it to 16 schools. I keep track of how many kids and teachers we feed in each school and communicate to my direct contact at the Foundation.
BNF: How do you determine which school needs the lunches the most?
Rafael: This was a hard decision, but it was decided that we should start with schools in the areas where the water wells were built. So far this has been a huge success. If you saw pictures of the kids before the water wells and school lunches you will see it’s like night and day. Kids are happy. They look healthy and their families aren’t concerned about whether or not their children are going to be able to eat for the day. Unfortunately, there are still children that are not part of the hot lunch program who are not able to eat because their families don’t have the means to buy food.
BNF: Describe the program’s impact.
Rafael: The students are healthier, happier, and therefore, anxious to go to school and learn. The teachers are healthier and happier, even thou they don’t get paid to teach. They are appreciative that they will have a hot meal during school hours. The families are appreciative, humble, and most important they have hope, something they had lost. The communities have hope that their country can change. They don’t feel abandoned like they have for so many years. Barco’s Nightingales Foundation, Mr. Donner, and Phil Little have brought hope to these communities. To us they are like presidents!
Rafael’s Life In Haiti
BNF: Tell me a little about your life in Haiti.
Rafael: I was born in Haiti, in a village called Banane to a Dominican man and a Haitian woman. For many years, we were very poor. Because of the trials and tribulations I went through and saw as a child, I was inspired to help my people, and my country! At an early age I developed a gift for languages. Linguistics always called my attention, in fact I speak four languages. My dream is to study law, with an emphasis on civil rights so I can help defend many in need who cannot pay for such services. Somehow I want to be their voice. Already, by the grace of God I do it daily. But I wish I could get college training in order to be more prepared. I was recently married to a woman with the same life path. Together we are a ream and we plan to work hard together to do more for our country.
BNF: What else would you like to share about your work in Haiti and the people of Haiti?
Rafael: God put me on this path to help others; I enjoy it! It brings happiness to my life and to the people around me. I am determined to do much more. The children are our future and I am so excited I have been able to help to invest in that future. I know they will change our country, thanks to the support that Barco’s Nightingales Foundation and Taco Bell provide.