Plainfield nonprofit raises money to rebuild kitchen, feed 174 students at Haiti school

‘Hungry Hearts’ campaign runs through April 30

A Plainfield-based nonprofit is hosting a campaign to bring nutritious food to 174 students at the School of Hope in Rivye Mawo, Haiti.

New Life for Haiti, a 501(c)(3) charity, is hosting a “Hungry Hearts” campaign through April 30. The nonprofit has set a goal of $4,640 to build a safe and sturdy kitchen at the school. A storm had destroyed its lean-to kitchen in December, according to a news release form New Life for Haiti.

The money also will provide a peanut butter and soy-based protein-rich snack in the interim. Before the storm, two volunteers prepared a weekly meal of rice, beans and fish. In many cases, this meal was the only consistent meal the students received all week, according to the release.

Amanda Stone, missions and development assistant, explained how this program benefited Robertina Poliscar, one of the first students at the School of Hope.

“When she started attending our school, her hair had an orange-red tint, indicating protein malnourishment,” Stone said in the release. “After just a year, she was in good health, happy and thriving. This kitchen saved her life, and it will save countless others.”

Since its inception in 2006, New Life for Haiti has built seven schools and trained teachers and pastors, according to the nonprofit’s website. A model school in Grande Anse River Valley “uses alternative, interactive teaching techniques,” according to the website.

Children in Haiti can receive books, clothing, an education, food, school supplies and vitamins through New Life for Haiti’s sponsorship program, according to the website.

New Life for Haiti rebuilt homes after the 2010 earthquake and the 2016 hurricane and “helped farmers learn sustainable techniques for goat breeding and planting,” according to the website.

Fran Leeman, pastor and founder of LifeSpring Community Church in Plainfield and founder of New Life for Haiti, recalled his first experience in a 2008 Herald-News story. Leeman said he saw “children living in the streets, children with distended abdomens because of malnourishment.” He saw teens and adults who’d lost hope.

“I was so disoriented when I came home that I was a mess for six months.” Leeman said in the 2008 Herald-News story. “Now that the blinders had been ripped off from my eyes, I knew I couldn’t go back to what we call ‘living normally’ and pretend that what I saw for a week wasn’t there.”

So Leeman started New Life for Haiti. In a 2018 Herald-News story, Leeman said New Life for Haiti operates only by the grace of God.

“We did not know anything when we went to Haiti,” Leeman said. “We did not have any money to go and do things when we started. It’s been a privilege. We hope and pray more people will catch the vision of being a part of what we do.”

All donations to the Hungry Hearts Campaign will go directly to the kitchen construction and the Vita Mamba snacks that will be distributed to the students, according to the release.

For information or to donate online, visit For information on New Life for Haiti, visit

Denise  Unland

Denise M. Baran-Unland

Denise M. Baran-Unland is the features editor for The Herald-News in Joliet. She covers a variety of human interest stories. She also writes the long-time weekly tribute feature “An Extraordinary Life about local people who have died. She studied journalism at the College of St. Francis in Joliet, now the University of St. Francis.