Sep 29, 2017

A Chaplain, Land, and an Expanding Egg Co-Op

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[From Luke Brouwer in Haiti] The other night we were having our usual Wednesday night prayer meeting as a team, and I was struck by the fact that several of the big things we have been praying about as a team are literally all coming together at once. It’s amazing how easy it is to get caught up in the day-to-day of life and work and to forget that big prayers have been answered. I guess it’s human to look down the road and start worrying about the next thing, but I think we all realized that we have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to be excited about. We want to share with you the three big things happening here at Hope this fall, and invite you to be thankful and excited with us. After all, without all of you back home, none of this would be possible.

First, we hired Mickenson Gilbrun as a the newest member of our Haitian leadership team. Mickenson is husband to Jasmine and father of two little boys with a variety of work and leadership experience that makes him vital to our team.  Mickenson’s official title with Hope is Chaplain to our programs. His background as a seminary graduate and experience pastoring a church of people displaced after the earthquake have contributed to his compassionate and relational ministry style. Mickenson also has past experience as a teacher and as an administrator for a large org here in Haiti, which has provided him with a wide variety of leadership and administrative abilities.

We, Luke and Julie, have known Mickenson and his wife for almost three years and are excited to finally have them on board. His interests in pastoring and counseling one on one and his heart for community and economic development make him an ideal fit for our projects. We look forward to seeing how the Lord will use him here at HOPE, but also ask for your prayers as he and his family transition to Gonaives and as he begins to build an on the ground network of relationships here, which is the foundation of any successful leader and project. Mickenson’s first big responsibility, aside from spiritual development, is to be our primary Haitian staff member involved in the cooperative development process you will read about below. This facilitates both his interest in economic development as well as providing him extensive access to building relationships in our community.

Second, two weeks ago we put a down-payment on land! Thanks to you who have contributed for the down payment. We are so excited. This has been a year long process of trying to find land relatively close to our community that has the proper papers so that we can purchase it without the prospect of title problems down the road. Like so many things in Haiti, this process is far from clear. As of right now we are quickly overgrowing our current rental situation and we look forward to being able to host our projects and teams in one location.  Furthermore, we will be happy to have the office out of the living room. Incubating and raising chicks in his bedroom hasn’t been that fun for Holden either. The current plan is to take possession of the property in January after we have finished paying for half of the land. This means we have only a couple months to get the funds together so that we can get the paperwork put in our name and a survey completed. You can help us with this by clicking HERE.

Finally, we are ready to explode our little egg project. Over the past couple of years Holden and our three farmers have learned a lot about laying hens and there have been ups and downs throughout the learning process. However, we have also seen that this is a viable small business capable of standing on its own—there is definitely a market for the eggs here. For example, this fall we have a big grocery store coming to Gonaives and a contact within the store is interested and buying eggs from us. The next step in the long term sustainability of the project is to create a business that is owner managed and has significantly more farmers so that we can begin to create a bigger market for our eggs. Thankfully we will not be on our own in this. In October we begin a project with FIDA/pCH, a Canadian organization, which for over 30 years has specialized in the development of Haitian agricultural cooperatives. They have seen incredible success over the years and have seen cooperatives that have grown to over 1000 members and have filled contracts to sell food with USAID.  FIDA/pCH will not only be here to create an internationally papered and recognized cooperative, but they will also be training our team in Gonaives to replicate the process.

Cooperatives have proved to be an excellent way of providing education, business skills, and access to credit to this country’s many small time farmers. HOPE is excited not only about what this means for the future of our egg project, but also for our ongoing commitment to promote economic independence for the families we work with. As we think about orphan prevention, protecting children and preserving families we continually see that systemic poverty is the largest single contributor to Haiti’s orphanage crisis—where orphanages continue to be filled with children who have families that can’t afford to both feed and provide them an education. Surely providing school and medical care is important, but our chicken cooperative project seeks a future where we are equipping families with the skills and resources to provide this for themselves.

Thank you for your prayers and past support. Will you help us get across the year end finish line–the land payment? We need to raise $43,250 by December 31 so we can take possession of the land and begin the building process. Click HERE to make a contribution and help us reach the goal.