By: Jerry and Claire King
Haiti has been at the heart of Project Living Hope for over four years, but in the hearts of its individual members for many, many more. Now, Camp Marie, specifically, is in our hearts.
Since our land purchase for the King Center in Camp Marie last Fall, we have sought to truly comprehend the heart of the local people and to embrace their community as our own. We have done this by getting out into the town itself and interacting with its people out on the streets, in the farm fields, and along the soccer pitch sidelines. We have had conversations with the mayor, council members, local pastor, community members in a town hall forum, and families in their homes.
Unsurprisingly, we find that the people of Camp Marie are not too unlike ourselves! They want not just to survive, but to thrive. They want a better life for their families and their children. They want to build a stronger Haiti - the land of their passion. And they want not just to be in the ranks; they want to be at the helm of all that it takes to achieve their dreams. They do not want a handout; they want a hand up. They know that the road is long and that it involves much: education and training, hard work and personal sacrifice, strong leadership, and a wholehearted trust and reliance on God. In as much as we show a desire to work alongside them towards a mutual goal, they are eager to welcome us into their midst.
In our conversations with the Camp Marie community, we have, together, identified some key needs that emanate beyond the town to include the entire region and country:
Teamwork and leadership skills
A place for community activities
Disaster preparedness and shelter during times of disaster
Already, we have launched a youth sports program at Camp Marie to tackle the need for teamwork and leadership skills as well as Christlike mentors. We have also begun an English language training program, as English is a valuable skill for securing employment in Haiti. These two programs already have grown widely popular, causing a demand for more coaches, adequate soccer fields, English teachers, and classrooms.
Project Living Hope has a vision to begin various vocational training programs in the coming years. There is a clearly defined need in the region for skills in culinary, masonry, welding, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and agriculture. Successful training in these skills will require both classrooms for the academic portion and also a kitchen and shop for hands-on practical application.
Project Living Hope focuses not just on the individual’s success, but ultimately on the success of the community as a whole. We dream of a place where people can come together and share ideas and common experiences. This can happen along a soccer field, cheering on kids and neighbors; and under a roof, where seniors can visit and play cards, friends and families can gather for celebrations, and all generations can learn and share their knowledge. Finally, in times of disaster, what better place to seek refuge than a structure specifically designed to serve the community?
After spending much time getting to know the community of Camp Marie and listening to their ideas and sharing our own, we are confident in the direction that God is leading us. Having identified the existing needs, we have conceptualized and in some cases launched programs that we can develop to satisfy these. Now, we have drafted a building complex specifically designed to facilitate these programs and serve the community of Camp Marie.
The King Center Phase One will be an enclave of buildings including:
A COMMUNITY HALL to host meetings/events and bring people together.
An EDUCATIONAL CENTER full of classrooms and including a large kitchen for culinary training.
A SHOP for hands-on vocational trade skills training.
A GUEST HOUSE to house mission teams, coaches, educators, trainers from outside the area, and our champions.
An outdoor SOCCER FIELD and BASKETBALL COURT, where teamwork building can occur.
Surrounding LAND, where agricultural skills can be honed.
Such a campus will permit our vision to materialize quickly as we gain momentum towards ultimately building The King Center Phase Two: a sports complex that will house so much more than sports.
We are excited to have the participation of the local Haitian community. Already, they are partnering in the excavating of an access road to our property. Our desire is to keep the Haitians involved throughout the process by providing employment and training while our buildings take shape. At the same time, we strive to construct top-quality buildings that will withstand all the forces of nature. In order to achieve these two goals, we are partnering with MSAADA Architects and other local organizations that share our vision of empowering Haitians and can partner with us in the training and planning processes.
We believe God has a heart for the people of Haiti and a plan to give them a hope and a future. We at Project Living Hope share His passion and want simply to be used by Him. We are humbled that He would elect to use us and permit us to grow in relationship with the people of Camp Marie as we work to empower Haitians to build a stronger Haiti. By His Spirit, Haiti can once again be transformed back into “La Perle des Antilles”, The Pearl of the Antilles.