HOPE Blog

Building Relationships One Saturday at a Time

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This past Saturday we ran our first Community Kids Program, focused on outreach into the community surrounding our home. This program was organized by Volcy to provide a good meal, some fun and games, as well as, an opportunity to share the gospel. We thought we were being optimistic in preparing for 100 kids on our opening day, but by the time the food was served we had signed up 134 area children. 

The goal of this program is to supplement the Education Sponsorship Program we began this year with 20 community children. We know the community has deep need, we know that there are many children going without everyday and we know that in order to have an impact within this community we need to get to know people better, as Volcy says, “the children are the best place to start.” Any of you who knows Volcy or have watched him with the children at the orphanages we visit, knows he has a magical way with children. We are excited to get behind him as he reaches out to this neighborhood, with his fun-filled personality, love of children and his story of God’s grace and hope to one who was himself poor and orphaned.

Please pray for our team and for Volcy as we build deeper relationships with this community. Our prayer is that God would use it to lead us to other families we can help with our Education Sponsorship Program.

To sponsor a child for school or to give to the Community Kid’s Program please DONATE HERE.

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The Same. Or Not.

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The Haiti Orphan Project trips to Haiti bring together such a diverse group of people with unique gifts. Doctors with obvious skills to college students with sport gifts. Business owners with financial knowledge to teens who can perform fascinating science experiments.

Our recent July 29-August 3 trip was as diverse as any in the giftedness of our 26 people. We conducted three medical clinics and saw over 150 Haitians who otherwise have no access to basic medical care. Our American doctor and nurse partnered with a Haitian doctor and nurse and would you believe an assortment of people ranging from two high school students to some retired folks to a pastor’s wife to…you get the picture.

Meanwhile a science teacher and her junior high age son brought science to life as they fired some rockets and flew some airplanes and propelled water balloons, all to demonstrate the awesome creativity and power of our great God. The kids were involved and enthralled.

And art. An art teacher brought supplies, her gifts and most of all her passion to pass on to the kids we encountered. God created beauty and loves beautiful things. The kids loved painting and drawing and hearing about God’s love for them.

The beautiful people of Haiti love when we come to visit and serve them. And one thing is certain–our people come back changed people. Trip after trip we see a common theme. We go to give. But we find that we receive so much more than we can ever give. We think that’s a good thing.

Our last trip for 2015 is October 21-26. We will again be doing mobile medical clinics and spending time with Haitian children in a variety of ways. Click here to read more and sign up. But be warned. if you want to stay the same, don’t do it!

Medical Students Learning Early to Give

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The Haiti Orphan Project latest update from Haiti. Luke Brouwer, our Field Director in Haiti, shares the following:

Last Sunday we said goodbye to our largest and longest medical trip to date. Medical Campus Outreach, a ministry of First Presbyterian Church in Augusta Georgia, joined us bringing 40 people for two weeks of mobile clinics and medical education. MCO makes short term medical mission trips all over the world and we were excited to help them facilitate bringing their first team to Haiti.

MCO’s trips have a dual purpose in that each medical professional working the clinic is accompanied by two first and second year medical or nursing students. MCO provides this opportunity to develop in students a heart for sharing their gifts and knowledge with the poor early in their education. It was wonderful for us to see this team mentoring students and displaying the love of Christ as they sat with literally hundreds of impoverished Haitians over the past two weeks.

For us it was an opportunity to continue to connect medical resources with Pastors and communities we have gotten to know; communities with little access to medical care. It was also an opportunity to learn. Julie got to spend time with a team who has done mobile clinics all over the world! As you can also see in the pictures she was also able to get some training in the use of an ultra sound machine, which we hope to have down here soon, as we get closer to opening a permanent clinic.

Thank you to the MCO team and everyone who put so much effort into making this trip a success!

 

Heartbreaking Number!

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The Haiti Orphan Project is heart broken over this number. 80%! Well even if the number is off a little, it’s pretty well established that more than half of the children living in orphanages in Haiti have at least one living parent. So why are they in an institutional setting and not at home?

Lumos, J.K. Rowling’s children’s charity, says that “At least 80 per cent of these children have one or two living parents who want them, but have no access to health, education or social services in the community.” In essence, economics (poverty) is the main reason a parent would willingly give their child over to an orphanage.

Our mission statement says,

We exist to facilitate the development of healthy communities through partnerships with Haitian churches and organizations to encourage sustainable physical, spiritual and economic health; we desire to communicate Christ-centered compassion as well as respect for the dignity and resources of the Haitian people.

HOPE’s overarching goal is orphan prevention. We seek to help vulnerable families stay together, as well as to encourage extended families and communities to care for the orphans among them. We desire to walk alongside them helping through school sponsorships, medical care, and economic development. We are committed to providing at-risk families and children in our target area a viable alternative to traditional orphan care in Haiti.

Our Field Director with one of the families we are assisting

Our Field Director with one of the families we are assisting

What we believe God has called us to do is to come along side significantly vulnerable families and help them be able to stay together. In a Christ centered context, our goals include helping with education, medical services, and economic empowerment.

Keeping children with their families in Haiti is challenging to say the least. Haiti is a difficult place. We agree with Lumos when they say they are “challenging an ingrained belief that orphanages are both good and necessary places for vulnerable children to be.” This ingrained belief and the extreme and pervasive poverty are huge obstacles in Haiti. But, if God has called us to this ministry, He will provide the resources and partners. Of that we are confident.

Are you sensing a need to get involved? You can surely pray for us to stay the course and to have the wisdom to know where best to use the resources we have.

You can also help us financially. It is not cheap to have staff on the ground grinding each day out in tough conditions and often with disappointments to go along with some small victories. We need partners like you. Help us help families stay together!

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Experience Trips?

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The Haiti Orphan Project leads groups to Haiti 6-9 times each year. People call these kinds of trips “Short Term Mission Trips.” Sometimes Vision Trips. Whatever we call them, short visits to developing countries like Haiti have been getting some bad press lately. To be fair, there are some legitimate criticisms on how these kinds of trips are sometimes done. Are we simply doing “poverty tourism” trips? Are we making up things for youth groups to do so they can have this incredible experience? Surely some of this happens.

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We at the Haiti Orphan Project strive to “do” our trips in a God honoring way and in a way that respects the value and dignity of the Haitian people we serve. We’re not perfect at it. But we’re constantly thinking about what and how we do when we take a group of 20 or so people to Haiti to experience our mission there.

Dan O’Deens recently wrote about short term trips (he calls them “experience” trips). Here is an excerpt from that article:

You’re Not a Hero.

Before you go and when you get there, commit to getting rid of the hero complex. Developing countries do not need short-term heroes. They need long-term partners and Kingdom investors. If your group just wants to be a hero for a week, then you may be doing more harm than good.

Poverty Can Look Different Than You Expect.

If at the end of your trip you say, “I am so thankful for what I have, because they have so little.” You have missed the whole point. You are poor too. Maybe you are hiding behind all your stuff. There is material poverty, relational poverty and spiritual poverty. We all have to acknowledge our own brokenness and deep need for God before we can expect to serve others.

Understanding their SOIL is paramount to your Success.

Have you studied the history of the country or neighborhoods where you’re going? Do you understand the role that the U.S. has played there? Do you know what the role of the Church and missions has been? Do you know the current needs and issues of the people? Have you asked these important questions to the leaders of the communities where you are going to serve?   Did you listen? Are you imposing your agenda rather than coming along side of theirs?

Don’t Do For People What They Can Do for Themselves.

Last time I checked, people in developing countries can paint a wall, so why are you doing it for them? If painting a wall or school is really a need in the place where you’re working then invite students from that school or people from the village to do it with you. Use some of the money you raise to hire national workers who desperately need jobs.

Learning Takes Place in the Context of Reciprocal Relationships.

Be willing to share about your family, your pain and your needs. You are not their ‘savior.’   You need a savior too.   Be real. Sometimes people in developing countries think everyone in the U.S. is rich, white and happy. We know this is not true. Take the chance to share honestly and vulnerably. Prioritize building relationships over completing projects.

You are an ambassador from your country commissioned by Almighty God. Thanks to globalization, YouTube and Facebook, most developing countries will have certain ideas about the U.S. before you arrive. Be willing to ask questions and share about yourself and American culture, as well. Along the same lines, before you take a picture, ask yourself, “Would I mind if a foreigner took a picture of my daughter/son/sister/brother in this situation?” If the answer is yes, then don’t take it. Come back with stories and name of people, not just an entire album of “cute” nameless kids.

There is Something Special About Going.

Jesus left His home. You like a lot like Jesus when you GO and when you are present among His people. So go, be among the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Eat what they eat. Observe what they do. Don’t spend your time at the Mission Compound on the internet or International Café’s that offer you air conditioning and the comforts of home.   Let those who are there long term find their rest in these necessary Oasis’ of replenishment.

Don’t Raise $1,000 for a Week, and Then Give Nothing Else the whole Year.

You probably wrote letters and had fund raisers to go, right? What keeps you from still doing that? We work hard for a one-week trip, but then what? What if your experience group worked on matching every dollar you spent on your one-week trip to send down to the place you served over the course of the year? Think differently.

You Don’t Have to Fly in an Airplane to Serve the Poor.

Why not focus on seeking justice in your neighborhood? Ask yourself, “If Jesus was here where I live, who would He be talking to?” The kid with disabilities who sits in the back at youth group? The Spanish-speaking man who cleans your office? The woman who collects cans in the local park? The local city mission? Ask God to give you eyes to see what He does. It might change your life.

Check out the rest of Dan’s article here (link seems to be broken). If you are interested in one of our trips, start with our Why Visit page. We can pretty well guarantee if you go, you’ll never be the same.

Trip Dates for 2016 Are Up!

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The Haiti Orphan Project trip dates for 2016 are now up. Click here to see the dates and request a spot on one of the trips. This could be you!

Our New Partnership With Smile Squared

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Smile SquaredSmile Squared partners with The Haiti Orphan Project

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 20, 2015 — It’s been five years since the Haiti earthquake devastated the impoverished country, leaving thousands of children in the care of orphanages.

Some estimates put the number of orphaned or abandoned children in Haiti at 750,000 – double the number before the January 2010 earthquake. Some of the children lost one or both parents in the earthquake, while others have been placed in orphanages because their parents cannot afford to care for them. Helping these children is The Haiti Orphan Project, a Missouri-based nonprofit.

Smile Squared is honored to add The Haiti Orphan Project as its newest partner organization.

“Dental care is a significant problem in Haiti,” said Les Prouty, executive director of The Haiti Orphan Project. “Many children have cavities and other dental issues which can be significantly reduced with proper oral hygiene. Smile Squared will help us make great strides toward improving the oral health of the children we serve. We are excited to be partnering with Smile Squared!”

Smile Squared is a buy-one, give-one brand that seeks to donate 1 million toothbrushes to children in need worldwide. For every Smile Squared toothbrush sold online or through select retailers throughout the United States, the company donates a toothbrush to a child in need. Since its founding in 2011, Smile Squared has donated more than 100,000 toothbrushes through partner organizations like The Haiti Orphan Project.

“The Haiti Orphan Project is changing the lives of children for the better, from their housing to their health,” said Eric Cope, president and founder of Smile Squared. “We are delighted our toothbrushes are going to be used to help the children in Haiti improve their oral health.”

About Smile Squared
Smile Squared is a St. Louis-based buy-one, give-one brand. For every toothbrush purchased, Smile Squared donates one to a child in need through its many partner organizations. Founded in 2011, the company has donated more than 100,000 toothbrushes in all 50 states and in 24 countries. Toothbrushes are sold online and at select retailers nationwide. Smile Squared: You buy one. We give one. The world smiles. Learn more at smilesquared.com.

Original here.

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Haiti: Five Years Out

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It has been five years today since an earthquake struck the tiny Caribbean nation of Haiti. Incredible death, injury and destruction was the immediate result. But the earthquake also brought Haiti back into international light with all the struggles which had plagued the nation for many years before the quake.

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Long considered the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, by some measures Haiti is now considered the poorest nation in the world. Sky high unemployment, high infant mortality and short life spans are just a few measures by which Haiti is considered poor.

But the high number of children who have no care giver is the measure which continues to be most on our hearts at the Haiti Orphan Project. Whether by death of one or both parents or out of economic necessity, children struggle to survive and at best end up in a group home (orphanage). Living in a group home is better than living on the streets to be sure. The children will at least get a few hot meals each day, go to school, get some health care and be cared for by “house mamas” who are dedicated to their well being.

At the Haiti Orphan Project we are committed to helping our church partner provide these essentials of life where we must. But we’re also committed to seeing these children back living with family when possible or at least “adopted” into a family setting. These are not easy achievements and will take a long time to happen.

Meanwhile we carry on helping our partner provide the necessities of life, food, shelter and clean drinking water. In addition, we help them get an education and basic medical care. We’re committed for the long haul. So on this five year anniversary, here are at least five reasons we plan to be there for as long as we are needed.

1. The Haitian people. Not just the children, but the Haitian adults are also some of the most beautiful people, inside and out, we have ever met. Their unending joy in the midst of extreme circumstances is simply beautiful.

2. The need. As stated earlier, Haiti is perhaps the poorest country in the world. We here in the US have been blessed beyond calculation. Our brothers and sisters in Haiti are in a place of need and we have the means. Need we say more?

3. The children. There’s a reason that God mentions children so many times in the bible as ones for us to look out for. A 6 year old with no one to care for her and a 26 year old with no one to care for her. You see the difference, right? A child with no caregiver is the most at risk and vulnerable of anyone else in any society.

4. Proximity. It takes a little under two hours to fly from Miami to Port au Prince. That’s it. Haiti is right under our collective noses. Hundreds of thousands of children live two hours away from our shores and literally stagger around with hunger pangs, suffer from treatable and preventable diseases, get zero education and wake up everyday with no hope. Right next door.

5. Last but certainly no least, it’s our God given responsibility. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” God cares about the children who have lost both parents to death. He cares for the single mothers (“widows” of a sort) who face the hard decision to place one or more of her children in a group home out of love so her little one, though separated from her, will at least get food to eat, clean water to drink and an education she hopes will be her child’s ticket to a promising future. God cares. And so should we.

On this fifth anniversary of the destructive earthquake, will you offer a prayer for the Haitian people, the children under care at group homes all over that country, the children living at Village de Vie, our church partner Philadelphia Evangelical Church and the Haiti Orphan Project? And don’t forget to pray for the children who as yet have no one to care for them. Pray that, in the words of one of our children, “God will bring us by their way” to scoop them up and wrap our arms around them and as James 1:29 says, “look after [the] orphans.”

And if you’d like to help financially, you may do so by clicking below.

HOPE Year End Update, 2014

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Doing the long-term development, helping people provide for their own needs, is not a quick fix. The easiest thing to do is to have an abundance of things, and to give it away, and that’s going to make a difference for today. It’s much more difficult to work with that family, help them get on their feet, help them provide for their own needs. That doesn’t happen with a light switch. It doesn’t happen by just giving them something. It happens through relationship, it happens through long-term investment of time and resources to build up individuals, so that they can take care of their own needs and take care of their own families.” Peter Greer, Poverty Cure

2014 is drawing to a close and we at Haiti Orphan and HOPE Medical Project wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the last year. Of course, the biggest thing that has happened for us as an organization is the placement of a team on the ground. Thus, in some ways, it feels like reflecting on the past six months, because the significance of this move has brought great blessings and great challenges. We decided to close the year out by outlining the significance of this move and what we have learned. I began with the above quote because we all believed that what it says so well was true going in to our move to Haiti. We did our best to research and create a plan designed around the idea of Haitian ownership, the importance of relationships and modeled around the primacy of sustainability. It will likely come as no surprise to you that we have learned a lot about the realities and difficulties associated with that as we transitioned from an organization that parachutes in and back out every month or so for five days to one with a team living in Haiti. We’re getting to know people and systems we’ve known only at a distance. We’re getting to know Haiti; a nation which simultaneously warmly welcomes and at the very same time holds at a distance.

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With no further ado let me address some of the blessings that have come out of having a team on the ground:

  • We are making great progress in learning the language. With a growing ability to have conversations, without a translator, our relationships are growing and communication is more authentic.
  • Having been able to spend more time at Village de Vie and at the church, we have a much better sense of its day to day operations—its strengths and its weaknesses. We have had opportunity to assess the facilities and programs we already have in place. We have had many meetings with Pastor Pudens and our administrator Edgard as they have patiently explained their reasoning, frustrations, successes and limitations to us.
  • We have been able to begin the process of looking for more people within the Church of Philadelphia who share Puden’s heart for orphans and for the poor as we seek to determine the strengths and resources of the church body we committed to partnering with several years ago.
  • We have been students of Haiti and have constantly been required to put away our pre-conceived notions, expectations and ideas in order to learn and sometimes in order to retain our sanity. That sounds a little tongue in cheek, but truthfully it’s a blessing; Haiti is a nation of suffering, of inequality, of incredible need, of broken or non-existent infrastructure and of historical and systemic failure. If we do not  learn how to live in and with that we won’t get anywhere. Furthermore, we experience God using these things to strip us of our selfishness and independence and we feel the fruit of that in our work as He uses it to refine our humility and patience.
  • We have had the opportunity to experience some of the beauty of Haiti and its people, their hopes and dreams, their struggle with poverty and the sense of inferiority it breeds. Basically, we have begun to build real relationships, to build trust—we have seen the community we live in begin to protect and value our contributions.
  • Finally, one of God’s greatest gifts to us in Haiti has been Volcy, our translator and advisor on all things Haiti. His knowledge of the way Americans tend to function in Haiti and skill with languages have made him invaluable to us. In a country where getting things done requires connections we joke with him that the list of contacts and friends in his telephone are his most valuable possession. Most of all we enjoy deepening the friendships that began when we were making trips back and forth to Haiti and we continue to appreciate his love for his people and compassion for the orphan and the needy.

Let me turn now to the challenges:

  • Haiti’s lack of infrastructure combined with a society that is deeply communal and lives in the moment means that nothing, literally nothing, happens quickly. There is no such thing as an interruption here, very little sense of personal space or even personal property. I am not suggesting that these things are purely negative. In fact, they can be very corrective and humbling for people who have spent their lives immersed in the product and consumption oriented culture of North America. It does however mean that it is very hard to get anything completed according to something as arbitrary as a plan or schedule
  • I have literally put 15,000 kilometers on our new truck driving the same 160 kilometers back and forth to Port au Prince in the last six months, as it really is the only place in Haiti that works in any way like the world we are used to and has many of the supplies we need to function.
  • Haitians tend be very deferential to Americans and as such it can be very hard to get to the truth of what they really think, desire or wish to see happen.
  • We have learned over our time here that Village de Vie sits on the edge of what is known to be one of Haiti’s poorest slums. We all know Haiti has the reputation of being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere; well we have discovered that we are working with one of the poorest and most broken urban slums in this country, which ranks as one of the worlds poorest.
  • For a whole host of reasons we don’t totally understand, outside of the obvious desperation associated with hopeless poverty and the tendency of the West to solve problems by giving money, most Haitians seem to view us as having an endless supply of funds and generally think the best way for us to help is to give some of it to them to help fix whatever problem they face that day. This means anywhere we go and I mean anywhere—not a day goes by—we are asked for food and money.

So what does all this mean? HOPE’s Executive Director Les Prouty said it this way to me on the phone the other day, quoting a professor of his from years ago, “It means that we will move as fast as God allows and as slow as He requires.” Our organizational goals remain the same: we desire to provide care for God’s orphaned and abandoned children who cannot care for themselves We long to see that care spread to the community and believe that is most effectively done through our partnership with a local pastor and church. Finally we long to see the orphans and surrounding community have their needs for healthcare and education met through the efforts of the school at Village de Vie and the building of a clinic. We desire to break ground on the building of a clinic and want to have our Haitian team onsite. We long to see this happen in 2015 and that remains our goal. But, we have learned a lot and are learning to be patient; to stay focused on the process and on the relationships. We have spent time with other organizations and looked at other models. We have seen some that have worked and we have witnessed and heard tell of many that haven’t.

In light of this we ask for your continued prayers and financial support. Probably the greatest confirmation we have experienced during our time here is the level of need. It is deep and it is oppressive sometimes to the point of suffocating hope, for us and for the Haitian people. We are committed to the application of the quote I started with, because what is true for helping a family is also true for a community and even a nation. Pray for wisdom and grace as we move forward, for the courage to move forward boldly and the humility to wait.

May God richly bless you in the coming year! Luke Brouwer Field Director for Haiti Orphan/HOPE Medical Project

Les Prouty, Executive Director Haiti Orphan Project

If you’d like to make a tax-deductible gift before the end of the year, there’s still time!  A gift of any amount is greatly appreciated and will make a big difference.