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Ayiti Cheri. An Update from Haiti

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As you may already know, Haiti has been experiencing some really tough days since July 6. In fact, due to the social unrest there, which resulted in a State Department travel warning of “No Travel,” we have postponed our group trip scheduled for July 25-30.

But read on please. Caitlin Campbell has been serving with us in Haiti for two years now. Caitlin provides some needed perspective in a post on her blog. We commend it to you.

Ayiti Cheri

By now I’m sure that many of you have heard…things in Haiti got a little bit tense last week and especially over the weekend. I thought that I would give you an “official” update of how things are and also a little perspective. The last thing in the world that I want is for anyone to think that this place is dangerous or a “lost cause.” One thing I know to be true, is that social media and other news outlets do not always portray the full story, or for that matter, the full truth.

So, let me give you a little bit of background…
Last week, the government made an announcement that they would be increasing fuel prices on gasoline, diesel, and kerosene. These fuel increases varied anywhere from 36-49%. That’s a huge increase, right? It would be a large increase in America too. Just as any American would be enraged by an increase that steep, so were the people of Haiti. Fuel is a huge part of life here — transportation, generators, many forms of work, and so much more. So, you raise the cost of fuel, and that nearly guarantees the price of many other things (food, public transportation, various goods, etc.) also will rise.

So, why is the government doing this? For many years, the government has be subsidizing the cost of fuel. They are ending the subsidies (this actually means long-term benefit) so now residents would be paying the “real” cost of fuel. This is a complex idea for someone who’s working daily to put food on the table for their family. Honestly, I don’t totally understand how subsidies work!

The people of Haiti were justified in being upset about such a large increase. (I’m not politician, but I’m sure there would have been a less dramatic way to stop the subsidies.) Were the people of Haiti justified in their response to the increase? Not really.

But here’s what I don’t want you to miss.

Those that retaliated with roadblocks, bullets, and fire aren’t the whole of Haiti. They are a portion. I understand why some reacted the way they did. This does not mean I agree with their reaction. This is a group of people desperate for their voice to be heard. The way they see to make that happen is violence. They did what they thought they had to.

But this doesn’t mean this is how ALL of Haiti responded. There are an equal and probably greater number of people who were taking shelter and staying off the road just like many of the foreign residents that live in Haiti. Were they as equally upset about the increase? Yes!

I’ve lived in Haiti nearly two years and never once have I ever felt unsafe. Does that mean there’s no danger? Not necessarily. But there’s danger in any city. Including American cities. Are there certain places I don’t go after a certain time? Yes. Are there places I never go alone? Yes. But that was true of my life in Kansas City and I’m sure that’s true of your life as well.

Just because a group of people decided to get a little fired up (pun intended), doesn’t mean that should reflect the whole of Haiti. There have been so many posts online from people who live here sharing about the beauty and generosity of most Haitians. The Haitians that I know are no different.

The family that I work with is currently out of the country and I’m caring for Moses. Did I have a little bit of extra weight on my shoulders knowing that I was caring for someone else’s child while political unrest was starting? Absolutely. Did I ever worry for our safety or what would happen if it got really bad? Not really. Why? Because I’m surrounded by a network of Haitians that look out for us. I had numerous people filling me in on what was happening on the streets of our town (minimal activity, thank you Jesus!) and were willing to go out and get supplies for me to make sure we were prepared in case it did get a little more dicey in our town. Even if things had gotten a little more intense, I have no doubt I would have been surrounded by our staff and friends to walk that road.

That’s my Haiti. 

And that’s many other people’s Haiti as well.

In the end, the fuel increase was suspended. But it goes beyond that. That was a door into a bigger issue that the people of Haiti have to figure out — that’s a whole different story. Things have been relatively calm today. Roadblocks have been removed, stores are open, traffic is flowing. I am still safe. Things are looking forward.

So….

Did scary things happen in my country? Yes.
Will the actions taken by a portion of people have a large effect on all of Haiti? Yes.
Does that mean their actions should influence your opinion of Haiti as a whole? I sure hope not.

Pray for my country.
These actions will set many businesses, merchants, and families back.
These actions will unfortunately affect how the world looks at Haiti.
The country needs healing and unity. There are still discussions of what some of the population would like to see happen with the government.
Pray for peace.

Ayiti Cheri
*This is a term we often use to refer to Haiti that simply means something the effect of “Darling Haiti,” “Beautiful Haiti,” “Dear Haiti.” Basically, there’s a lot of good here in and amongst the “bad.”

Hopefully this has given you a little bit more perspective and understanding into recent events. Feel free to contact me if you have further questions about Haiti. [NOTE: Caitlin blogs at Cati Goes to Haiti.]

Love,
Caitlin

HOPE Cooperative Project Update

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… work is an act of worship. When people seek to fulfill their callings by glorifying God in their work, praising Him for their gifts and abilities, and seeing both their efforts and its products as an offering to Him, then work is an act of worship to God… (Fikkert and Corbett, When Helping Hurts

We have exciting news for our supporters–the egg production cooperative in Asifa has officially begun and literacy training is underway in Jolimet (Asifa & Jolimet are two communities where we work and minister). We sincerely thank you for your investment in these projects and hope that you will enjoy this update on what your support is doing in our community here in Gonaives. Please feel free to share this update with others. As the project continues to develop successfully we have many new and continued financial needs–Luke Brouwer, Field Director
www.donateforhope.org

Asifa

The progress in the egg cooperative has been rapid. This is a really motivated group of people and it shows! We are all the way through the cooperative development process and the group has chosen a name and held its first annual general assembly. KOPEDAG ( translates to “Production Cooperative Hope for Tomorrow of Asifa Gonaives) is now waiting for FIDA/pCH and HOPE to finish preparations with the budget and business plan in order to go back to them for discussion–so that as they put it, “they can get to work!”

One of the exciting things about our involvement in this process is getting to be a part of developing something that the people own and are actively involved in the process of decision making. The cooperative model creates a system in which there are checks and balances. If the system is learned and respected then there is tremendous opportunity for people to pool their resources, investing both their time and money to create a business.

The group you see here is part of the unique story that is developing as part of our cooperative project. This group represents the administration of KOPEDAG ,as well as, the surveillance committee, who holds the administration accountable. This group includes 5 pastors from our community including Pastor Charlestin Violent (furthest to the right of the photo) who was voted in as president of KOPEDAG. Through our cooperative project God has seen fit to provide us with an opportunity to partner with Christians in our community and to help pastors develop personal income as most Haitian churches are unable to support their pastors. This also means that the administration of the cooperative are people with some education and experience.  

Please enjoy the following letter written to you from the newly formed administration of KOPEDAG:

Ladies and gentlemen,

The administrative council of the” KOPERATIV PWODIKTÈ ESPWA POU DEME ASIFA GONAYIV(KOPEDAG)” is happy to thank you for the technical and financial support you have made available to us to help us become what we are today.

As you know, the fight against poverty and underdevelopment will be won only by the solidarity and common sharing of values and skills for the creation of wealth.

This is exactly what we are doing here in the community of Asifa. We must thank you for the technical support allowing us to establish our own cooperative to serve as a legal structure for the development of our business.

Continuing to count on your partnership, the administrative council of “KOPEDAG.” 

Ladies and gentlemen please accept our thanks and most respectful greetings.

Jolimet

You may remember that Jolimet is the other community we are working in, which lies directly behind our home. This community is deeply broken by poverty and lacks any real leadership. In many ways it represents one of the saddest situations in Haiti, as many of those who live there have left unsuccessful farms for the city and have essentially become squatters with little hope. One of the first steps to take toward development in a community like this is literacy training. Literacy provides a way to begin to investing in the lives of the people, encouraging them to grow, and to experience their dignity as image-bearers in a new way. It has also proved to be an effective way to develop leaders–people the community can respect and look up too. 

The pictures you see here really say it all. There are three learnings centers with about 20 members in each, with ages ranging from young people in their 20’s to a surprisingly large group of older folks, some well over 70. I have been out to visit the centers multiple times and it is hard to describe what its like to watch elderly Haitians–most of whom have suffered loss in their lives in ways we can only imagine–learning to sound words out and print the letters of their names. Finally, let’s not forget that for many of these folks the first book they will start trying to read is the Creole Bible!

HOPE

We are committed to orphan prevention, or stated positively, family preservation. We are committed to this because of our own experience running an orphanage in Haiti, our belief that God has ordained the family, and finally because there is evidence that both in Haiti and across the world, orphanages and other forms of residential or institutional care are harmful to the healthy development of children and are often an inappropriate solution to an economic problem. We believe that institutional care should be a last resort!

Material poverty, lack of access to services, and a desire to educate their children drive parents to place their children in orphanages in Haiti.

Our approach includes education scholarships, medical care for the families, economic development, and gospel proclamation. Cooperatives (economic development) are a vital part of the solution for families to be able to stay together and be on a path towards self sustainability.

You can help us continue to keep children out of orphanages and with their families by making a tax-deductible gift. Use the red button on this page or visit donateforhope.org.

File Cabinets Filled with Baby Formula

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UPDATE: WE HAVE THE FILE CABINETS BUT STILL NEED BABY FORMULA. IF YOU PREFER TO MAKE A DONATION FOR FORMULA, THE USUAL SIZE CANISTER IS ABOUT $17.00.

For the past 3 1/2 years we have bought, begged, and borrowed most of the supplies we need to run our programs here in Haiti. We think it’s important to support the Haitian economy in this way. We’ve struggled to find some things though and sometimes the cost is just too much.

An organization is sending a container soon and has offered us some space!  WE NEED FILING CABINETS! Yep, those bulky, heavy, outdated things for paper are a huge need for the clinic. We keep a file for every patient we see and are running out of space. We are looking for six 4-drawer cabinets to use in the clinic.

We don’t want to ship the cabinets empty and we also need baby formula. Formula for our Formula Program is a huge expense for the clinic and we’d love to fill up the drawers with a lot of canisters.

We don’t have a lot of time~ less than a month.

If you have a filing cabinet or want to buy one for HOPE Clinic, contact Les HERE ASAP!

Formula donations can be dropped off or shipped to Hope Community Project, 135 W Adams Ave, 62122 during business hours (m-th 8:30-5, fri 8:30-4)

For online donations click HERE and you can designate for these items. An example from Office Depot cost about $160. On Craigslist they are less of course. Baby formula cost about $17 each.

Thank you for your past and continued support.