Empower

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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We Are Property Owners

By Guesly Dessieux

In the last four months, I have travelled to Haiti three times.  Even for me, that’s a lot of trips in a short amount of a time.  Each of those trips was necessary, productive and exciting.  During the first trip, we viewed several pieces of property, decided on one to purchase for Project Living Hope, and acquired all the pieces of Haitian identification to purchase land.  On the second trip, Jerry King and and I went to oversee the surveying of the property and determine the actual boundaries of what we wanted to purchase.  Then during my third trip in December, my cousin Pierre Jr. and I signed papers to buy the property.

We go into all of our trips with many hopes of what we will be able to accomplish but thanks to our experience in that country, we know actually getting things done can be complicated and a lot more time-consuming than even we expect.  Yet during these three trips, we were actually amazed by all that we were able to accomplish.  We believe God is really behind what we are doing and He hears our prayers for direction and help.

Pierre flew in on Wednesday and I joined him on Thursday.  On Friday we went to the notary’s offices in St. Marc.  We were joined there by 22 out of the 24 owners of the property.  That’s right, 24 people shared claim to that piece of land.  For that reason, the signing process took several hours as each person proved their identification and land ownership and each item had to be recorded by hand.  The people in the room were excited both to be closing the deal and to see that this project they had heard about was actually moving forward.  Through the whole process, Pierre and I stood in awe at the way God was opening doors for PLH.

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Later that day I spent a couple hours meeting the manager of a nearby hotel that my wife, Sara, and Sarah Comstock, vice president of PLH, had connected with a couple months before.  We discussed how we could create a partnership between PLH and his struggling hotel.  We are both excited at the prospects.  

Saturday I headed back to Oregon feeling like much had been accomplished and God had truly paved the way.  I fly back to Haiti again in January and this time I will be joined by my wife and kids and seven other team members preparing for a week of soccer training and English teaching.  Please pray for God’s continued guidance.

A Big Change of Plans

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By Sara Dessieux

A couple months ago we learned that our plans of establishing Project Living Hope in Fonds Parisien, Haiti had completely disintegrated.  I personally had been building relationships with people in that community for sixteen years.  Part of my heart has long resided in Haiti, especially in that specific part of the country.  To say I was devastated would be an understatement.  

Ever since then I have been grieving that loss and I’ve been scared.  All our plans for Project Living Hope were suddenly up in the air and we didn’t know where they would land.  We still had faithful donors, passionate partners and upcoming events, but now what were we even doing in Haiti?  Trip plans I had been making also fell through.  When would I ever make it back to Haiti?  What would I even do there if I was to go now that I had to abandon all my former connections?  How long would it be before we could take our kids back now that we had nowhere familiar to stay?  I didn’t know and that was hard.  

We often have people asking us when we’re going back to Haiti next and how our project is going, and over and over we had to tell them our sad news.  They knew we were crushed and so they said they would pray.  We all prayed.  And we waited.  Guesly, never slow to take action kept pressing forward with the project and began to get excited all over again about the prospects.  I, on the other hand, still felt unsure and sad.  Then two weeks ago at my daughter’s soccer practice it dawned on me that an opportunity to go to Haiti was right in front of me and I should take it.  I jumped on it and we booked a ticket for me to fly to Haiti in six days.  I would be accompanying Sarah Comstock as she sought out a new partner organization for the medical team she leads with Corban University.  Even though some very unfortunate events led to my needing to go, I instantly knew that God was orchestrating all of this.  

While in Haiti, Sarah and I got to visit the land Project Living Hope is purchasing and we were escorted by the family members who are selling it to us.  I have been quite a few places in Haiti but I was totally in awe as we made our way across banana fields, huge trees scattered throughout.  I stopped to take a picture of a huge avocado tree next to a huge mango tree and spotted a bird I have never seen before. In the areas of Haiti I lived, there really aren’t any birds.  But after spotting that one, I realized I could hear birds all around us and in that moment I had a sense that God is truly in all of this.  And I was grateful.  

Under the shade of a tree, we talked more about the project with the people who are selling us the land.  They say the people in the area are thirsty for this project.  I am excited for them and what the future may hold for them.  And I am grateful we are getting to play a part in God’s story in that region. 

Much More Than Basketball

Every week on the Haitian Christian Mission campus, youth are connecting with each other and with Christian mentors around the games of soccer and basketball through the Play It Forward sports program.  Earlier this month, four guys from Oregon had the opportunity to take part in that program, both teaching and learning as they went along.  Levi Wilson and Ben Comstock along with Levi's son Cameron and Ben's son Droiy traveled down to Haiti with the intention of helping train basketball coaches and lead basketball camp.  While there, they learned that the week was about much more than basketball.

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Each day they met with about 30 coaches on the porch of the Haitian Christian Mission guesthouse.  Thonny Fabien, director of Play It Forward, started off each session with 1-2 hours of leadership training, a key element of his program.

After that, Ben and Levi had the opportunity to train the coaches for a few hours both at their desks and on the court.  One day they spent several hours teaching about calls and refereeing.  

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Then each afternoon they had around 20 Play It Forward players come for basketball camp.  During the camp, many of the coaches jumped in and helped with the kids.  Ben and Levi took down 100 reversible blue and white jerseys for the coaches to use in their programs.  They make it easy to form two teams and start a game.  

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They were also able to take down 60 pairs of donated basketball shoes, including 30 brand new pairs donated by Nike.  These shoes will belong to Play It Forward and the staff will distribute them to all players before games.  That way, students eager to improve as players will always have shoes to wear on the court.  The team also brought down 50 basketballs that were distributed to the coaches.

"Coaching and playing basketball was a lot of fun for the kids, for the coaches, and for us," Ben explains, "but this week was about much more than basketball. It was about creating relationships and equipping the Haitian coaches with the leadership skills needed to make an impact with kids back in their own communities."  Ben and Levi got to see firsthand just what the purpose of Play It Forward is.

"Thonny is doing amazing work with the kids and coaches. It is evident that he is loved and respected by everyone that he is in contact with," Ben shares.  Levi adds, "He commands respect from every Haitian I saw him interact with. He is extremely genuine, intelligent, and focused without having any air of self-absorption. This is one of the highest caliber men I've met in my life."

The Play It Forward program has already had a positive impact in Haiti and that will continue behind leaders like Thonny.  You are helping make this possible through partnering with Project Living Hope.

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Highlights from Our Haiti Trip

By Sara Dessieux

Life is such a whirlwind sometimes!  It's already been two weeks since my family and I returned from a two-week trip to Haiti.  It was a marvelous trip and we'd love to tell you all about it, but let me share a couple of the highlights:

SOCCER

We were able to attend two soccer games put on by Play It Forward.  Since we don’t have a soccer field at Haitian Christian Mission, all the games are held at Love a Child, a Christian organization down the road from the mission.  Calling it a field is quite a stretch.  With only a few patches of grass and a mix of dirt, sand and gravel, the ball bounces unpredictably when it lands. Unlike the grass fields we enjoy, the hard surface does not slow the ball.  The young players skid around on the rocks while we spectators cringe knowing injury or at least a torn up leg is a real possibility.  And yet, the athletes give it all they've got simply for the love of the game.  All ages come out to watch, standing all around the field.

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I know that Sarah Comstock, Guesly and I were all envisioning how awesome it will be when they play on a turf field.  A safer environment will not only improve players’ skills and increase participation, but also express how much Play It Forward values each life.  With your help, we will provide a soccer field for these hard-working athletes, and for the little children who were playing thumb wars and London Bridge with my kids on the sidelines.  

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JOB SKILL TRAINING

Sarah Comstock and I spent a couple hours talking with students in the Project Living Hope trade school.  The students are being trained in auto mechanics, culinary arts and artisanry.  We were touched by how serious some of the students are about their programs, and by how grateful they are to all of us (you!), who are making this training possible for them.    

For example, Roudine was in Philo (Haiti's 13th and final grade) last year but she didn't pass the national exam.  Her family cannot afford for her to repeat the year of school so she is studying on her own and hopes to pass next time.  The culinary class is giving her something else to work toward during this time.  If she can get a job as a cook, she wants to go to college to be a nurse or a teacher.   

In addition, Danul has long wanted to become an auto mechanic, but he never imagined he would learn the trade at the same time as he was completing his last two years of high school.  He appreciates his knowledgeable trade school teacher.  Sarah and I left our conversation with him determined to supply his class with more tools and more engines to work on.

Roudine and Danul represent a small sampling of the numerous inspiring stories being written through the trade school.  With your help, we will keep this education opportunity available, improve it every year, and secure additional classroom space.