Job Skills Training

2019 English Boot Camp

By Laura Nott

This summer, we held our second annual English boot camp, a free opportunity for adults of all levels to come learn conversational English, practice with old and new friends, and get a taste of the PLH English classes. Over 150 students attended during the two weeks including current students and newcomers. Each day, the students learned a new English song to help them remember the material we studied that day. The second to last day, we challenged them with "Green Grass Grows All Around". Do you remember that song? "There's a bird in the nest on the branch on the tree from the seed in the hole in the middle of the ground!" They did great! Gerald and I had so much fun with the students. We loved watching the true beginners begin to speak in English and the more advanced learners help those around them learn.

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We dream of the day when PLH has our own education building with fully outfitted classrooms. For now, we are very grateful to local schools who offer use of their spaces and students who bring their portable speakers so we all can learn English songs together. Pictured: Designated DJ Jephte.

 
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Learning English is always more fun with good friends! Pictured: Guy, Sob, Dieunelson, Jephte, Valdens, Mendy, and Bowens.

English is a valuable job skill in Hait for nearly every field of work: hospitality, education, business, medicine, administration, translation, non-profit work, etc. So many are eager to learn, and we are excited to be able to offer six classes this year. We closed out the boot camp by reading the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, a new story to all of them. They loved the steady little tortoise and the over-confident hare. We encouraged them that like the tortoise, they can reach their goal by staying focused and taking it one step at a time. If you visit PLH, be sure to stop by the English classes to encourage the students and make them practice what they know!

On the Horizon: The King Center Phase One

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.

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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:

  • Vocational training

  • Teamwork and leadership skills

  • A place for community activities

  • Disaster preparedness and shelter during times of disaster

Project Living Hope’s four key areas of job skills training, community development, athletics, and disaster preparedness will directly address the community's self-assessed, current needs.

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.

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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.  

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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.

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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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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.