By Sara Dessieux
While in Haiti in May, Sarah Comstock, Thonny Fabien, and I had the opportunity to attend an exciting and informative one-day conference in Port-au-Prince. It was put on by HaitiOne, an organization “birthed from a vision of God’s people wanting to work together to see Haiti transformed for Christ.” We really did not know what to expect but we’d gotten on HaitiOne’s mailing list and were excited to see that their annual conference was taking place while we were already scheduled to be in Haiti. We were in no way disappointed by how the day went.
We started off sitting a round tables and getting to chat with those around us. We met missionaries working to opposite corner of Haiti than us as well as others who work just down the road from us in Fonds-Parisien. It was encouraging to see so many Christian organizations represented and dialoguing in one room.
In addition to getting to connect, we heard from a number of different presenters. We listened to a representative from Feed My Starving Children who shared their inspirational testimony of how their organization exploded in size after they rededicated it to Christ in 2003. Then a gal from Lumos spoke on orphan reunification and deinstitutionalization in orphan care. More than 32,000 children live in Haiti’s 760+ orphan institutions and get this, at least 80% of them have at least one living parent. Haiti does not need more orphanages. It needs its families to be strengthened and financially able to provide.
We heard talks about artisan jewelry best practices, about an alternative elementary school curriculum that’s been developed for schools in Haiti, and about the restavek situation in Haiti. A restavek is basically a child slave, a norm in Haitian society, and for at least 450,000 kids in Haiti, that is their reality. Another talk on women’s empowerment through business training was particularly relevant to what we are working on in Haiti and we plan to connect with that organization which has developed a small business curriculum. A final presentation about people with special needs was inspiring as well.
God has called a number of different people to different ministries in Haiti and we all need to work together for the good of all. HaitiOne says “We seek to be more effective in bringing positive change to Haiti, as we resource each other’s strengths and expand our impact together.”
The ambition of Project Living Hope is huge so we know we need to network with other organizations working in Haiti both for our good and theirs. HaitiOne is there to help us do this.