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Breaking News: Road Construction is Underway

By Sarah Comstock

The King Center property that Project Living Hope purchased last Fall is located just a half-mile from Route 1. For all intents and purposes, this is the only passable road between the Northern city of Cap-Haitian and the capital, Port-au-prince.  This makes the location ideally situated. The ease of access it has to many major cities will, in the unfortunate event of a disaster, mean we are in the best place to make the greatest difference.

When we bought the land, we made an agreement with the farmers and the City that they would carve out a wider, more drivable road between Route 1 and our property.

Until this week, there was a just a small footpath leading off the dirt road through the town of Camp Marie to our property. But this week, they started road construction!

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Through her government connections, the mayor of Camp Marie, Marie Lourdes, made arrangements to get the necessary equipment, and the community members worked together to make this possible. We are excited for this new development because we have a construction team heading down in August.  We will now be able to get vehicles, large equipment and constructions supplies to our property more efficiently.

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If you’ve been with us to Haiti, talked to a PLH board or staff member, read previous blog posts, or been to a fundraising event, we hope you see we are taking a different approach to the ministry of poverty alleviation.  Where many, well-intentioned organizations fail is that their donations and assistance create a cycle of dependency that keeps the people they are serving coming back for more. There is a time and place for relief aid that provides for the immediate needs of the people we are working with.  In the case of a natural disaster or a similar crisis, relief is the right help. To really be successful, however, we must move into a partnership role with the people we are serving.

We must focus our efforts on long-term development, rather than immediate relief. Which is why we are partnering with the community members to work together on this project.

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They are starting excavation on the road, then we hope to bring in professionals that can train them to build drainage and pave the road. Without their involvement, the King Center will only ever be Project Living Hope’s project.  But with their efforts, this will be Camp Marie’s project. We are taking the time to build relationships, get to know the strengths and weaknesses of the community members, and work with them to accomplish the goals that are best for them.  We are joining their community!

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As progress continues to move forward, we have new needs and prayer request that we are hoping you, our Champions, can help us with:

  • We have a construction team going down in August but are still looking for a few more team members.  Do you have experience or know of someone who has experience in construction, operating heavy equipment or training others to do so? Our plan for August is to clear a portion of the land that we plan to build on and to start putting up fencing on our property. We would love your help with this.  We have a second construction trip scheduled for the first week in December. If August is too soon for you but you would still like to help, consider signing up to go in December. Learn more here.

  • Although the road is starting to take shape, we will need some help making it better. We need to set up a drainage system to make sure that the road stays as dry as possible during the rainy season and we are also considering paving it or adding gravel.  Your prayers and support in this regard would be helpful. Do you have skills in this area or do you know of an individual or a company who might be interested in helping us with the road? Email us.

  • Finally, please pray for the community leaders, including the mayor Marie Lourdes. Pierre Descieux, our Director of Operations in Haiti, has been in regular communication with Mrs. Lourdes and other community members.  Pray that these relationships will continue to flourish as we work together.

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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