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Working at Teaching Hope

The Milk Bag Project

An exciting new project started this fall in our WATCH group, a project that has direct ties to an upcoming March Break mission trip to Haiti. WATCH is an active extra-curricular group that stands for Working at Teaching Children Hope. WATCH stemmed from a student-driven response following the All School Afghanistan Awareness Day organized by Mr. Doug Schulz and me eight years ago.

Building looms
In September, Melissa Bezemer—a Grade 9 student—shared the concept of making milk mats with WATCH. She shared how her small Grade school completed one milk mat in a year and hoped that together we could do more. Kathryn VanWyngaarden, one of our senior WATCH members, expanded on this idea with the loom approach that she had learned from the Ontario Christian Gleaners. She utilized the Gleaners website to get the dimensions needed to build looms versus crocheting them because this approach is easier to learn

Before we started the process, Teagan van der Mark, another senior WATCH member and experienced missionary to Haiti, inspired our entire group by sharing how valuable these mats are there.

“I have seen these mats used in every orphanage that I’ve been to in Haiti,” said Teagan. “They are used as mattresses versus sleeping on a concrete floor, or as blankets, carpets, and door mats.”

Delivering the mats 
With Teagan presently coordinating a third mission trip to Haiti this year, she is excited to be able to bring all the finished mats directly to the orphanage. Our team effort has involved Kathryn working with Mr. Vanderhoek’s Grade 10 Bible class to make two looms and start the process, while I have been working with both WATCH and my Ancient History class to fill the looms. Our WATCH group continues to meet regularly so we can organize, cut and weave the milk bags during our lunch break. As Kathryn expressed, “It is both inspiring and fun to spend time with friends while making valuable use of our time.”

So many milk bags
Each mat that we make takes 500 to 700 milk bags, and we’re already working towards our third mat. I’m thankful for the dedication of our students to this cause and I’m inspired by their willingness to give of their time and energy to work together on this project. It has been positive to learn the process as we continue to work to make life a little better for young orphans in Haiti. I’m also very thankful for the commitment from our community.

Every day when I enter the front doors of HDCH I’m amazed by the new milk bags that have arrived. I’m constantly emptying the wooden chest at the front doors so we can continue to organize, cut and weave these milk bags into the next mat! This is an ongoing project in which we welcome support from our community at large as we continue to work together.

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