Empower

Empowering Visionary Thinking in the PLH Community

By Laura Nott

Empowering Haitians to build a stronger Haiti. This is the PLH motto. But this is not just a catchy phrase or an abstract idea. This is the metric by which PLH operates. This month, I was proud to see the leaders of PLH put this into practice yet again by including our Haitian leaders in their strategic planning process. 


PLH is currently in the process of developing a 3-year strategic plan. Guesly Dessieux (CEO) and Sarah Comstock (Board Chair) asked me, as the in-country worker, to arrange a meeting with three of our Haitian staff to complete the first stage of the strategic planning process.


On Aug 17, Thonny Fabien (Haiti Operations Manager), Benedic Maxime (Camp Marie Operations Manager), Gerald Grecilien (English Instructor), and myself joined together to discuss the desired state of PLH — where we want to see the organization in 3 years. As instructed, we asked ourselves, “What is a 10?” In other words, what would it look like if PLH was functioning in a way that warranted a score of 10 out of 10? We considered programs, administration, organizational culture, infrastructure, financial management, etc. 

 
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Throughout the discussion, I continued to marvel at the passion, commitment, and pride of the three men that sat with me. They openly shared their ideas, dreams, and concerns. They listened and fed off each other and myself. They took their task seriously. Much of what they discussed was in regards to the culture of PLH: how we as an organization can blend Haitian culture and American standards and how we can perpetuate a Christ-like attitude within our own team as well as the larger community we are a part of. They discussed the end goals of spreading the gospel and empowering individuals to succeed. I appreciated how they didn’t only list the programs and facilities that they dreamed of having for the community but they also put thought into what a healthy organization looks like and what the true results of the work will be. 


As we reached the end of our 3-hour meeting, Benedic commented, “This is the longest I’ve ever spent speaking English.” I am so proud of this man and the leader and advocate he is for PLH and his community. As the operations manager for Camp Marie, he fields most of the questions and requests from the community, oversees projects and resolves issues, and PLH has high expectations on him, but he stands firm. None of us are perfect, but he is humble, level-headed, and rooted in Christ. 


In a few weeks, the stateside team will conduct their own strategic planning session asking themselves “What is a 10?” But the notes from the Haiti meeting will serve as a valued voice of the Haitian people. In the upcoming months, we plan to continue working through the next three steps of the process with the Haitian and stateside committees. 


This process has reiterated why it is that I believe in PLH and what they are doing. I am proud to work for an organization that values their staff and those they serve enough to give them a platform and truly hear what they have to say. And I am proud to work alongside American and Haitian employees that are passionate and comfortable enough to share their voice and work together to accomplish a shared goal. I am also humbled by the community of people in Oregon, Missouri, Kansas, and so many other places who support this work with their time, money, knowledge and passion. Together, we truly are empowering Haitians to build a stronger Haiti. 


PLH is strong. God has blessed this organization with experienced, humble leaders, with committed workers, and with passionate supporters. These three groups make up the PLH community. I consider myself blessed to be a part of it. I hope you do too.



Medical Mission: PLH and Corban Partner to Serve the Community of Camp Marie

Project Living Hope has a partnership with Corban University. We have taken several students with us on athletic trips, and every year for the past eight years, Guesly Dessieux, our president and Sarah Comstock, our Vice President, have helped lead a medical trip for Corban. This year we decided to bring the team to work with another local partner organization, Project Help Haiti, so that they could run a clinic in the town of Camp Marie, where PLH serves. Below you will find a reflection from Kate Vetter, one of the Corban students who participated on the trip, and the impact she saw that PLH is having in our community.

By Kate Vetter

As I stepped off the airplane hot, sticky air surrounded me, clinging to my skin and filling my lungs. I took off the flannel that had kept me warm on the much cooler plane and turned to a teammate, “It feels like we just walked into a giant sauna!” A broad smile spread across his face, “Kate, do you realize we’re in the airport? It’s air conditioned.”

My eyes grew wide with surprise. Just a bit later I discovered my teammate was right—it was much, much hotter outside! I had expected Haiti to be hot, yes, but having never visited the Caribbean I had no frame of reference for what humid heat would feel like. 

This May I went to Haiti with Corban University’s medical missions trip. Our team was comprised of a dozen students and about the same number of healthcare professionals including Dr. Guesly Dessieux. Our purpose? Running clinics in the communities surrounding Camp Marie, providing healthcare and medication for the people.

We prepared extensively for the trip, learning about healthcare issues in Haiti and approaches for nonprofit work in developing countries. Despite this, I had many interactions resembling the exchange I’d had with my teammate about the heat. Having never been in Haiti before, I had no idea what to expect, and nearly every facet of the country surprised me in some way. 

On one of our first days we went on a hike up a mountain. An avid hiker from Oregon, I was anticipating beautiful trees, and hoping for a good view. Both my expectations and hopes were far exceeded by our journey which snaked up the mountainside. 

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Sections of plantain trees, and looming breadfruit trees provided areas of shade from the hot sun, but when the trees were sparse, the views were stunning which more than made up for the heat. What surprised me about this hike was the consistent spread of homes which continued with our upward climb. We did not leave the villages behind at the foot of the mountain, rather, our so-called hike was really a walk on the roads many use for a regular commute.

Clinic days, similarly, brought many surprises. My heart was warmed by the multi-generational families who came in together, clearly invested in caring for one another. My favorite part of clinic, however, and one of the most pleasant surprises of the trip were the many employees from Project Living Hope who accompanied us. They did not come because they had been asked to accompany us, rather, they chose to. Their presence was an enormous help practically as they monitored the flow of patients, but also spoke volumes about their dedication to embodying servant leadership as a means of improving their own community and Haiti. 

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What surprised me most though, more than the heat, mountainside villages, and clinic days, was how obvious the relative magnitude of my opportunities, wealth, and privilege became. Because I was born in a country with public education through high school, generally plentiful jobs, and allowance of international travel, I have had opportunities galore.

Grappling with my circumstances given this trip to Haiti has transformed my view of the world in many ways. While dwelling on the magnitude of my own privilege, feeling guilty for my plenty or overwhelmed by how small I am is an easy trap to fall into, I have instead chosen to focus on what can be done. 

How will I use all that I have? My gifts and my talents, my money and my privilege—how will I use these things in a way that is honoring to the Lord, and communicates the love of God to those I meet?

While it is a small step, I am choosing to support Project Living Hope as a part of this newfound effort to use what I have. I consider myself lucky to have seen the firsthand impact they are having in a Haitian community, and I am thrilled to help support their efforts in any way I can.

PLH Staff Party: Pierre Payen, Haiti

By Anita Nott

Earlier this month, my husband, Nick, and I went to visit our kids in Haiti. It was hard to believe that we were actually eating together, playing games, swimming in the pool, picking mangoes, and watching soccer practice in Haiti – with my grandkids! It really was a vacation and gave us a little idea of what life is like for them when they are living in Haiti.

Our oldest daughter is Sara Dessieux who, together with her husband, Guesly, founded Project Living Hope. On this trip, we got to see the dramatic change from last summer when the property was all just farmland. If you have been following the updates, excavation of the property has taken place so it was a huge contrast from my last visit.

Laura, the Administrative Assistant for PLH, is our youngest daughter, and we spent our evenings at the guesthouse where she lives. Just imagine – no AC, ceiling fans only if there is power, cold showers, mosquitos, and 24-hour road noise. But combine that with lively English classes, trips to the open-air markets, strolls along the beach, and meeting amazing people who are committed to helping PLH reach their dream, and the result was an amazing experience.

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To top it all off, we were blessed to join the Project Living Hope staff party. Friday afternoon, we were dropped off at a beach property in Pierre Payen and helped get it all set up. Soon, Laura and Guesly arrived with the guests – eight of the PLH staff members, their families, and a few men who have been volunteering with projects on the land and as soccer referees. Of course, there was soccer! However, seeing adults and children participate in gunny sack races, three-legged races, a water balloon toss, and playing with the parachute brought out the laughter and a bit of friendly competition. The cooks had prepared an ample amount of food with plenty of leftovers to take home. Guesly spoke to the staff, and since I don’t speak Creole, I assume it was a time for him to express his appreciation for all the work they had done these past few months. Leon, the property manager for PLH, closed the evening in prayer.

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April Mission Team Reflections

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Our team traveled to Haiti in early April 2019. It was amazing to watch the Holy Spirit powerfully orchestrate our time in Camp Marie, Haiti and with the Haitian people. Below are a few testimonies from our trip.

Haiti Unexpected Beauty

By Janci Burns

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If asked to sum up my trip to Haiti in one word, that word would be BEAUTY.  

The landscape was beautifully vibrant with vegetation, blooming flowers, banana trees, hills, beaches and oceans.  In the simple life lived in Haiti, there is beauty. The homes and businesses are full of brightly painted walls, carefully crafted pillars, and beautiful metal work.  Although there is much debris strewn around, even in that there was beauty by bits of color popping up here and there. Where it was least expected, their ingenuity in using what is available to them showed their creativity which added to the beauty.

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People that show their creativity in not just the art they make, but in the way they live. The way that they get their jobs done. Or even how bright they paint their houses. And the people. The people are so welcoming.
— Grant Burns Age 17
 
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To say that the people of Haiti are beautiful is an understatement!  One afternoon I asked a little guy if I could take a picture of him, his friends, and my son as they were making bracelets together.  Through a translator, he told me no because his clothes were dirty. I instantly tried to explain to him that the clothes didn’t matter one bit.  My clothes didn’t matter one bit. “Ou beau”, I said. “You handsome”. It was so important to me that he know that he was handsome regardless of what he was wearing.  “Ou beau” and “ou bele” became phrases that I repeated over and over to each person I met. One little boy was so serious in talking with him until I told him he was handsome and then the sweetest smile spread across his face.  (And oh, the smiles are beyond beautiful!) It brought my heart such joy to see him accept and relish the truth of who he was. They are created in God’s image and that makes them beautiful.

What a blessing to see the beauty of God’s creation in Haiti!


Relationships the Building Blocks of Community

By Bonnie Taylor

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We took part in a cooking class from Madam Leon in Camp Marie. We made fried plantains, fried breadfruit, pikliz and rice and beans. This was such a fun experience to learn how to cook some of the yummy Haitian dishes that we all love. The best part of the experience though was just building relationships with our team members and Madam Leon's family. The children were playing hand games, tag and making friendship bracelets together while the adults worked on the food. Later we got to enjoy the meal together. I am grateful for the friendships that were formed and look forward to making them stronger in the future.

After the class we set up and hosted Project Living Hopes first color run! We had 85 participants that ran down the PLH road and onto the newly excavated property. Grant Burns and Guesly Dessieux were brave enough to run the race, while the rest of the team split up and helped at all the color stations and the finish line. It was a great experience to watch the community come together for such a fun time. Before the day was over, the community was asking about if we plan to return to do another fun run. As a team we are already brainstorming on how to set up the next one so it can be bigger and even more successful.

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The color run was my favorite memory. We set up a color station and while we were waiting for the race to start, we showed some kids what to do with the color. They seemed unsure at first, but as soon as the runners were on their way all the kids were enjoying themselves throwing color and making a mess. I loved seeing and just being a part of the Haitian community. I felt instantly accepted into their culture and felt so connected the moment I got there. I already miss the country and can’t wait for my next trip back.
— Annabelle Age 15
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Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon Judy, Tammy and Katie led a parenting seminar. They were very prayerful about the planning of the seminar. We wanted to create an atmosphere that stimulated conversations within a community. We wanted to empower parents to build stronger families.The team was met with such grace, an abundance of joy, and a welcoming into this new community of parents. Conversations were started. Some of their ideas were met with, “how would that look here?” rather than a “that will never work here.” As a group this community began to build stronger families. They encouraged each other, and you could see the ideas taking root in their lives. At the end of the 3 days we were able to give out the Creole storybook bibles that you all donated. It was great to watch them gently turning the pages of this children’s bible. Their faces full of joy.

The Haitians never fail to amaze me with their happiness and close community. They are so willing to let us into their lives. Their excitement for PLH to be a part of the community is very encouraging, they really are taking ownership in building each other up.
— Shawn Taylor

During the parenting seminar, while the rest of the team put on a kids camp nearby for the local children. We went down equipped for lots of fun. We had parachutes, gunny sacks, playground balls, chalk, crayons and friendship bracelet making supplies. Leading kids can be difficult at time and is even more so when you have a language barrier. Sara Dessieux was a vital component here. She was able to communicate so well and switch up the games at just the right time to keep everyone involved. My favorite memory from the kids’ camp was after a bible story was read and we handed out crayons and coloring sheets. Haiti is such a poor country that even having a selection of crayons to color with is a rarity. Even the older boys in attendance poured their heart and soul into their masterpieces.

My favorite memory about Haiti was when we held the kids camp. We got to hang out and play with kids from Camp Marie and build friendships. We played with parachutes, 4-square, 3-legged races, hand games, colored and made friendship bracelets. I look forward to returning someday to see my friends again!
— Samantha Age 10
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One morning the team was invited by Wilson, one of the PLH employees to attend a PE class. Wilson is a teacher at a local high school and was giving exams on a dance section. After the exams, we were taught some Haitian dance moves and some of us even got a chance to lead the class. The rest of the time in Haiti was spent getting to know the country and local communities, helping to prep for the Project Living Hope youth soccer league that started shortly after we left and touring some local attractions.

My favorite experience of the week was when Willson, one of our PLH employees, invited us to PE class. Willson is a high school PE teacher and when we were down at his class, he was doing exams on a dancing section. I loved it because it has such a different culture of dancing and I love trying something new like that.
— Courtney Age 12

So many people don’t understand the importance of when we take the time to work alongside others around us. I love that we are given the opportunity to build and foster relationships with our brothers and sisters in Haiti.  It was such a joy to be able to watch God working in our team and in Haiti……we are so glad we get to join Him in this work. I loved watching everyone fall in love with Haiti.

Encouraging and Strengthening Families

By Judy Buss

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Before leaving for Haiti, I started to have some strong doubts about my going.  Did I really have anything to offer?  I’m just a white, American with BIG ideas. Will they just see me as that only?  Or someone who truly does love God and wants to put into practice loving others?  People (and the voices in my head) kept telling me “what you are sharing is so counter cultural…they won’t get that concept…..are you sure you should be going?”  But I kept my head down, my heart open and my ear turned toward God.  I got an overwhelming sense I was doing EXACTLY what God wanted me to do.  I started to doubt again when we started with only 3 parents in attendance……but that quickly grew to 29!  People nodding as we spoke, feverishly writing notes, sticking around afterwards to introduce their families, .ask more questions and be together.  I had a huge ah-ha moment was when I shared the difference between punishment and discipline as “punishment is external, and discipline is internal.  We want to help our children make that internal “heart” change…”  Our translator turned to me with eyes and mouth wide open ”oh that is good!  I understand now!”  And as he translated, I saw the “light bulb” go on in all the eyes turned towards us in that room.  Yes, parents all over the world want to raise up good children.  Children that will grow up in to be productive, loving, hardworking individuals.  Parenting is hard.  No matter where you live.  The concepts and strategies we shared translated to yet another group of parents needing hope, encouragement and affirmation.  Being a part of that is something that has forever changed me.  Children and their parents have always been near and dear to my heart, but I now know that God has equipped me to take that love and knowledge to families near and far.  My heart was reminded that God will grant me the strength and words needed to do what He has called me to.  

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I was also so inspired by the work of PLH in the community of Camp Marie.  The clear vision and practical effort to empower Haitians there were both so evident.  So compelling.  I am so thankful to have played a small part in that vision.  I have been asked if I would go back to Haiti and my answer is a very LOUD and enthusiastic YES!  God is working……so glad we get to join Him in this work.

By Katie Walters

We live in an age where race, color, and culture are all very sensitive topics, and navigating them can be hard. Instead of embracing the difficulties in discussing the differences, we can easily just stay in our comfortable bubbles and let life roll on. I couldn’t do that in this moment. I couldn’t stay put. God called me to be a part of this team heading over to Haiti. And although it meant comfortability would be worn like a favorite jacket for a while, I wasn’t going to tell God no. Not this time. 

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We came together in prayer and honest conversations. What would this look like? What is God leading us to teach? Even though our skin and our culture may be different, we all want the best for the children in our lives. That fact doesn’t change across the miles. Instead of a parenting “conference,” we wanted to create an atmosphere that stimulated conversations within a community. We boiled down our thoughts into one driving force: we want to empower parents to build stronger families. And the work began… 

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At the end of our time together on the last day, a deacon of the church we were using spoke up. He said he wished everyone could hear what God had brought us here to teach. He said there were so many good things, and thanked us for coming. He brought a tear to my eye as he confirmed God brought us here. God opened the doors, and we are now all part of this community in Camp Marie, Haiti. 

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We handed out Jesus Storybook Bibles, in Creole, to every family who attended the conference. Everyone was leaving and saying goodbyes. I was holding onto a baby placed in my arms and loving every moment of it! I looked over and saw that same gentleman, the deacon, gently turning the pages of this children’s bible. His face said it all – joy. That moment, that face, and that feeling, is one I won’t forget. 


Project Living Hope’s Vision at Work

By Tammy Henderson

What a great trip to Haiti. I have been supporting and following Project Living Hope for the last 3 ½ years or so. Their vision for the Haitian people is amazing. They come alongside and encourage the Haitian people. Not to just do the work and provide them stuff, but to work alongside and to help them see a better future.

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What a great experience to be there and to see the property now that it has finally been acquired and excavated. Just standing on the property was a humbling experience. God has worked miraculously this last year through PLH in Haiti. 

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It was a wonderful to watch people enjoying the PLH property. Guesly and the other PLH staff are working alongside and encouraging the Haitian people to take pride in what they are doing. How humbling it is to watch and appreciate these families. I am feeling very blessed to have been apart of this trip.

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These are just a few stories of what God did through our team while in Haiti. It was powerful having the privilege to minister to the beautiful people we encountered. If you'd like to hear more, ask any of the PLH team members about their time and they will be sure to share with you even more.

MISSION EXPERIENCE UPDATES: SOCCER AND BASKETBALL TRAINING

In the midst of all the news about construction and the launching of our youth soccer program, we also had two teams visit Camp Marie to train soccer and basketball coaches.  Here is a brief synopsis of each trip.

Soccer

By Collin Box

January 2019

We started with seven of us driving to PDX in the pounding rain with 11 full-sized bags full of soccer equipment, not including our personal items. After nearly 24 hours, picking up other team members from Eugene, Colorado, and Kansas, we made it to our home for the next week just outside Camp Marie. The home was a hostel of sorts with 35 beds, of which our team took up 11, along with our driver, security and 10 Haitian coaches from Port-au-Prince who were there for the coaches training.

After catching up on some rest and settling in, we went to church in Montroius (pronounced Mowi) on Sunday morning. I had been to this church one year before, and as we sat on the hard wooden benches in the back of the concrete church building, Benedic, who I had met last year, opened the service.

After he said something in Kreyol, we began to sing. The highlight was a line from one of the songs - “Li Kapab” - He is able. The phrase stuck with me throughout the week.

After the service, we visited the Project Living Hope Property, had lunch, and then decided to head out to the field in Montrouis for a soccer game against the locals. This was by far the best American team I’ve played with down in Haiti, but the terrain still made it difficult. The game finished 3-0 in our favor.

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Our coaches training began the following morning and would continue through Friday. We had about 35 coaches at the training. In the morning, we met in a small church building right next to the road. Guesly brought a battery powered projector that allowed Aaron Lewis and myself to show some slides and video each day. We also were equipped with two 18”x24” white boards and a bag of mostly dried out markers. We had a classroom session assisted by several translators, and then spent part of our time on the basketball court across the street demonstrating drills. Intermixed with our coach education were some powerful devotionals and trainings on how to be a “coach de vie” - a life coach. The intention of Project Living Hope is to utilize soccer as a means to create community and make disciples. These trainings were provided by both Guesly and Thonny.

After lunch inside the church (which was getting pretty hot by that time), we had the coaches plan their session in small groups before heading over to the soccer field at the Project Living Hope property just down the road. We walked the mile down the newly completed road, side-by-side with the Haitian coaches as they offered us free Kreyol lessons. We also seemed to accumulate kids everywhere we walked. One of the days, I was walking towards a girl who must have been two years old as she announced over and over again, “Blanc! blanc! blanc! blanc!” (White, white, white, white!)

After school got out, the kids began to arrive. We had around 200 kids by the end of the week, who were divided into smaller group. The Haitian coaches took the lead as we gave a little advice and simply participated alongside. It is amazing how quickly relationships can happen with a ball at your feet.

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My biggest takeaways from the week:

  1. After coming for the first time to this community last year, it was incredible to see the amount of progress that has been made. One year ago we did our first coaches training in the area, had our first English classes, didn’t have a field to play on, and PLH did not have any staff living in the area. One year later, they have a soccer field, a road, weekly English classes for three different levels, four local staff coaches, two administrators, a land manager, a U23 league, and a youth soccer program. There are some great people on the board at PLH, but it is apparent to me that God is behind this and is very active in the community. The people are excited, and the culture is already changing.

  2. I was really impacted by the relationships we formed with the Haitian coaches and staff that we stayed with. I had met some of them before, but this time I felt like we really got to be with them and understand their way of life more than ever before.

  3. There was one night in particular where we were back at the house after a long day of soccer. After dinner, we had a devotional that Josh Noonkester led. Then one of the Haitian coaches spoke up and called out in front of everyone else, “Two of you are here who are not followers of Jesus. How can you claim to be a ‘life coach’ if you don’t know the One you are leading them to?” These two coaches then proceed to, in front of all 30 of us, tell everyone their reasons for not following Jesus and then both asked us to pray for them because they wanted to do so. It was a special night.

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Thank you to all of you for your prayers and support. It was a blessing to go and play a small part in helping empower Haitians to build a better Haiti.

To read more about the soccer mission experience here is a blog post written by Ryan Botkin who served on the team.

Basketball

By Tyler Butenscheon

March 2019

Empowering Haitians to Build a Stronger Haiti is the heartbeat of PLH. I saw this in right before my eyes on a trip to Camp Marie, Haiti in March. Every morning trained coaches were taught, encouraged and then released to lead their own kids basketball camp in the afternoon. Can empowerment be effective with that short of a turnaround? The answer is a resounding yes. 

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We had dozens and dozens of coaches that came out each day to the community basketball court right in the center of town. At the end of our training we had 35 coaches receive a coaching certificate. These are the coaches that were with us every day. They listened, worked hard and implemented our skills and leadership principles. Beyond that we had dozens of more coaches and community members who came out to watch and learn about basketball and PLH for one or more of our training days.  

Because of the draw of our coaches camp there were a couple of great scrimmage games that we got to be part of. One was the American coaches verses the Haitian coaches. The Haitians loved seeing how they matched up with us. Their skills are still developing but their athleticism and tenacity are phenomenal. The other game was two local adult Haitian teams that squared off against one another. This second match brought people out from everywhere in Camp Marie. The sidelines were filled with people 3 deep trying to get eyes on the game as we simply provided referees and cheered them on. What a beautiful site it was to see how sport can bring a community together and build relationships. 

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Part of our training with the coaches each day was an opportunity to remind them just how important the afternoon would be as they coached and led the kids camp. Sure, we taught them some fundamentals of the game (dribbling, passing, shooting, defense, rebounding, etc). And yes, we coached them in how to run drills to help kids practice and develop those skills in fun ways. But beyond that, and more importantly, we emphasized over and over how these coaches weren’t just coaching kids in a sport but they had opportunities to coach kids in life. They had the opportunity to empower the next generation to be the leaders necessary to change the course of Haiti. They had a platform to show the love of God and share the gospel of Christ. 

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We were amazed each afternoon as the coaches stepped up and led the kids camp. All in all there were 80-100 kids throughout the week who were led by these newly trained coaches. The coaches were passionately engaged in their interactions with kids. They were nurturing in their approach. They were wonderful examples of sportsmanship and hard work. Ultimately, they were great examples of Jesus to their players. The highlight of the kids camp was when the coaches specifically paused to gather the kids and teach them about Jesus. It wasn’t forced or awkward. It was simply coaches who were empowered and passionate about their first love, Jesus, and sharing him unashamedly. It was a beautiful site to see.  

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Athletics is one of 4 main areas we focus our work at PLH. We say, "Lives of young people can be drastically changed for the good when they become involved in an excellent, Christ-centered sports program.” We saw truth that first hand. We witnessed relationships blossom. We saw confidence rise. We experienced the love God among people. Basketball was the bridge we used to aide these endeavors. As one coach put it after receiving his certificate, “Thank you. You changed my life."

To read more about the basketball mission experience here is a blog post written by Jacob Biviano who served on the team.

Construction: Mass Grading

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In the fall of 2017, Project Living Hope purchased 19.5 acres of property for the construction of the King Center. Located just 900 yards from the center of Camp Marie, the King Center will be an extension of the community.

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With the road to our property completed, we moved to the next stage in construction - mass grading of the property. Operators and project managers in Oregon came together and created a 7-week plan based on the civil engineer’s grading map. Four of these men traveled to Haiti in February to carry out the project with the assistance of Haitian drivers and laborers. On February 2, 2019 PLH broke ground on the King Center campus! It was a huge milestone but only just the beginning. We are so thankful for all of your prayers and support that made this day possible.

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Immediately it felt like we were working as a team. We all started from a deep faith in God, and a sense that what we were doing was important. I think that foundation made it easy to respect each other and to truly enjoy the gifts that each person brought to the trip.
— Jay Lyman
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After overcoming challenges with the equipment breaking down and diesel being in short supply, they had a very productive first week. Unfortunately, due to continued national fuel shortages and widespread protests, the work had to be halted.

Three and a half weeks later though we were able to send a team to resume the digging.  The mass grading project spanned five weeks during the months of February and March. Fifteen American and ten Haitian team members worked on the project and an estimated 80,000 yards of dirt was moved by eight machines and seven dump trucks.

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The people of Haiti are just oppressed by where they live, they have plenty of talent, operating equipment, constructing, negotiating, and the individual Haitian’s are smart. I didn’t run into anyone in Haiti who wouldn’t be as successful as myself, given the same opportunities that I have had.
— Jim Swenson

The building pads for the King Center facilities, three soccer fields and the pond and ditch were completed. The board approved $150,000 for this phase of construction.  Because of delays, it looks like we will end up being a little over budget. We are so grateful for all of our excavation volunteers and for how much was accomplished.

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We are excited for the next phase of construction! Two shipping containers have been donated and are being delivered to Haiti. They will be used to form the sides of the shop and we plan to start construction of that as soon as they are delivered. We are thankful for the support, the momentum, and the progress. We need your support financially to move to the next phase of construction. Would you like to partner with us on this project?  If so, please donate here.

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Our excavation teams worked hard to get the three soccer fields completed because this month we will be starting our youth soccer league! Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to receive frequent updates.  The kids and coaches are excited!  We wish all the men who worked hard to prepare the land could see the fruit of their labor firsthand.

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PLH Mass Grading Project: Groundbreaking News

GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY

February 2, 2019 was a monumental day, we broke ground on the Project Living Hope property and began the mass grading work that is needed for construction of the King Center! It’s a huge milestone and it’s only just the beginning!

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Project Living Hope Founder and President Guesly Dessieux, the Dessieux Family, Camp Marie Mayor, Mary Lourdes, the construction team, our Haitian Staff, and dozens of community members came out early Saturday morning to mark the occasion. This is an exciting new chapter and we are so thankful for all of your prayers and support that made this monumental day possible!

PLH President and Founder Guesly Dessieux standing on the first location to be at finish grade elevation.

PLH President and Founder Guesly Dessieux standing on the first location to be at finish grade elevation.

TIMELINE

We are tackling this project in phases as it is a large under-taking. Below is a rough idea of the project phases:  

MASS GRADING WORK

We are thankful for the volunteers and champions for giving their time, talent, and treasure. Progress has proceeded well so far. We have a committed and focused team with a great vision, and a welcoming community in Haiti. We have consulted with project managers, engineers and construction professionals. There is approximately 88,000 cubic yards of material that needs to be moved.  It has been estimated that it will take two-months to complete the grading and excavation of the site. We have skilled operators from the US working alongside Haitians to complete this project. We have had more than a dozen volunteers commit to the project and it’s been amazing to see God assemble the teams and work out all the many details. We are still recruiting for teams that will be traveling at the end of February and early March. We are specifically looking for people experienced in operating D7 bulldozer, 336 excavator, 966 front loader, roller, and haul truck.  We will also need the leadership of a project manager / site superintendent to manage the work, and a surveyor or grade checker to help make sure the grading work is completed according to plan. The trip costs approximately $1500 per person, which includes airfare, accommodations, food and transportation. All travel arrangements will be taken care of by Project Living Hope. If you cannot afford the cost, but are willing to donate your time, we have some scholarships available. If you are interested in being on a team or supporting a team member, please contact us.  A ton of planning, preparing, organizing and prayer has gone into this project and we are so thankful for everyone that has helped make this possible!

Would you like to give a one-time or monthly gift designated to the building fund?

2018 PLH National Soccer League Championship Game

By Laura Nott

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Congratulations to our first-ever league champions, Fonds-Parisien! The team pulled out a win against Ti Goave in the championship match of the PLH National Christian Soccer League. After a 1-1 score, the game ended in a penalty shootout. A nice save and a missed shot clinched the win for Fonds-Parisien and the crowd rushed the field.

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Watching the game, I was reminded once again how beloved soccer is in this country and how great an opportunity sports are for reaching youth and training up leaders!

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As I listened to the committee members’ speeches during the award ceremony, they referred multiple times to the "movement". This league is not just about the game of soccer. It is about creating a movement. In this movement, we see communities coming together to support their youth. We see positive environments for play and growth. We see youth being trained up as servant leaders. And we see the gospel being shared.

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Before the event, the league coaches, committee, and PLH staff enjoyed a meal together to celebrate the close of a great season. Pictured above are the head coaches of Fonds-Parisien and Ti Goave.

Next month, we will hold our third annual soccer coaches clinic. This clinic includes training in Coerver coaching techniques and servant leadership. In April, we will launch our youth soccer league. We are so excited to see more and more people come together to join this movement and empower the Haitian youth to bring about a stronger Haiti.

We want to say thank you to Destiny Village and Steve and Lynn Petrosino for providing the league with practice socks for all 608 players! We have recruited coaches and the teams are starting to form. We can’t wait for the first games in April!

Project Living Hope Partners with Corban University to Lead a Medical Team to Haiti

By Sarah Comstock

In 2012, our founder, Guesly Dessieux, started a trip for pre-medical students from Corban University to work with a team of physicians and nurses to provide medical care to underserved people in Haiti.  The following year, I was asked to join the leadership team for the Corban trip. In case you were not aware, Guesly is a physician in Stayton, OR and I am a professor in the Science department at Corban University.  The purpose of this trip is to serve the medical needs of the Haitian people while also providing pre-med students a glimpse of the unique nature of healthcare in the developing world.  This trip makes a significant impact on Corban University students; they come back with a renewed drive to serve others through medicine.  In fact, because of this trip, Corban University now offers a scholarship in Guesly’s name – the Dessieux Scholarship – for students seeking to use a career in healthcare to serve others through missions.

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This May, Guesly and I helped lead a team of 15 students and 15 medical professionals to serve on the 7th annual Corban University medical mission trip.  We partnered with a new organization, Nehemiah Vision Ministries, to provide outreach in three villages in rural Haiti as well as with our Oregonian friend Aslan Noakes and her organization, Empower Haiti Together, to help develop a hypertension management program in two other communities. We saw over 400 patients and developed relationships with many other like-minded people working to empower the Haitian people.  While Project Living Hope does not focus on medical ministry, we are committed to using our talents to empower the Haitian people and we seek to partner with other organizations that are working to do the same.  We are excited about the partnerships with these two organizations and look forward to collaborating more with them in the future.

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While we were in country, we also got to work with our Project Living Hope in-country employees and take care of important logistics.  We met with our architect, Andrew Ripp from MSAADA Architects, to sign contracts and to discuss our vision for our project as well as our ministry.  Then, later in the week, Andy came out and toured the property. We are excited to be working with Andy and MSAADA. Their mission is to “provide professional architectural and engineering services in the planning, design and implementation of building projects for organizations dedicated to serving others.” Specifically, they seek to partner with organizations in developing countries who serve the Worldwide Church.  In addition, we met with another nearby organization, Extollo International, that works to educate Haitians in the construction industry, “equipping them to build/rebuild their communities, reduce unemployment, stimulate the local economy and improve their quality of life.” We will be partnering with Extollo to train construction workers from Camp Marie and contracting with them to help begin building on Phase One.  The contracts are signed, so be on the lookout for updates about building in the next few months!

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Another important meeting to note was that we also got to see the mayor, Marie Lourdes.  We are so impressed with the way she is advocating for Project Living Hope and the community of Camp Marie.  As we met, she showed us a letter she had written to the local government officials asking for their support as we develop in this new community.  She wrote about the opportunities that our partnership with Camp Marie will develop and how their support will help further this relationship and create jobs for the community.  We ask you to be in prayer that this letter will be well received and that God will continue to guide us to future partnerships that will help us continue His Kingdom Work.

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January Mission Experience: Empowering Haitians through Education

By Sara Dessieux

Last month, during our trip to Haiti, I found myself once again in front of a group of Haitian students teaching them English. Besides a couple hours last spring, I haven’t done that for more than twelve years but I was thrilled to be back at it.  I know firsthand that when we help Haitians learn English, we are giving them an opportunity to be empowered.

I taught English in Haiti for two years some years back and I was blessed to see so many fruits from our efforts in that school.  Our students went on to get jobs and to help their country. I had one student named Thonny Fabien that we actually just got to spend the week with because he is now Project Living Hope’s Operations Manager!  I get excited to think what may come from teaching English in this new community we’re in.

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PLH’s vice president, Sarah Comstock, recruited her mother, Julie Williams, to join us in teaching English and she was a marvelous addition to the team.  Julie has lots of experience teaching English, including eight years in Portugal. She knew just what to do with the students we had who are at the very beginning of their English language journeys.  Each afternoon we taught students in Camp Marie. We met for class in a school being constructed at the local church. Students found out about it via word-of-mouth from friends and each day we had more students come.  We had invited a third-year interpretation student, Gerald, to join us us for the week. He interpreted for Julie, assisted with her classes and saw how she makes her classes engaging and successful.

On the second day, we split the students into two classes.  I took the more advanced, but still beginning, students while Julie and Gerald stayed with the rest of the students. I enjoyed seeing how much English my students had already acquired and how eager they are to keep learning.  My sister, Laura, who has two years of experience teaching English in South Korea joined me in teaching partway through the week. After four days of class, the students were eager to know what the plan was going forward. I was SO glad we did have a plan.  It would have done little good to teach them for only one week and then tell them, well, someday we’ll come back and do some more. Instead, Guesly paid a visit to our classes and explained to them that Gerald would be returning to teach them after we left! They were so grateful to hear that.

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We have since learned that even more students showed up the following week, willing to pay the small tuition fee we set for a chance to learn English from a qualified instructor.  Before leaving the students, we also told them that more teams would be coming and that we’d arrange for them to visit their classes and practice with them. We are still learning about this community and the possibilities it holds, and considering what kinds of training we may want to offer there, but English will definitely be among them.

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