With billions of dollars in damage, what can a group actually do to help in Port au Prince, Haiti? It is a question I asked myself before I departed for Haiti two weeks after the earthquake that occured on January 12, 2010.
Though we are a "mission trip" agency, our primary work has been in the field of sponsored school programs in Port de Paix, Haiti located on the norther coast. We have over 350 children sponsored in our schools there and it was the start of a ministry we call HOLD the Children. HOLD stands for His Outreach for Learning and Development.
But a few years ago, Don Schreier invisioned a place to help shelter homeless children who were left by the wayside after having been "slave children" or Restavecs as they are know in Haiti. There are over 250,000 restavecs in Haiti. Often these children are sold by their parents to others and become house servants doing hard chores, not attending school and often sexually abused. This year that shelter was completed in the form of a 65 bed orphanage in a beautiful community next to one of our sponsor schools.
Following the earthquake that killed an estimated 250,000 people many children were left without any living relative. Through our relationship with the 45 member association of the New Haitian Mission Baptist Association we learned about some of these children who needed a home. With only 11 children in our home we had the space so pastors from the Association began researching, and gather paperwork on children referred to them. Just last week 15 new children arrived at our home in Port au Paix, all lost mom and dad in the earthquake.
So back to the question, "what can a group actually do to help in Port au Prince, Haiti?"
While in Port au Prince we received request to do many things. Medical clinics first, a micro-finance website to ensure that Haitians with good small business ideas could get a no-interest loan to begin earning an income once again. And teams were request to come to Haiti to help remove rubble, rebuild homes and lead children's events.
More than one Haitian said to me, "Please don't forget me." The church of the United States and the world has been asked to REMEMBER. This Spring and Summer teams of adults and college age students are needed for these simple things. Life is difficult in Haiti and you can expect that your experience will be difficult as well. This is not a site seeing journey, but a real, hands on, life changing experience for those you will serve and just possibly for you too.
Trip dates are being added weekly as conditions change there in Haiti.
In His Service,