Viva Haiti Update

Viva Haiti Partner Letter – February 2014

 

Thanks for the opportunity to give this update of our work in Haiti!

 

My last trip to Haiti was both fruitful and challenging. It was wonderful to return to Haiti for six months, starting in May last year. During this time I was able to continue discipling a group of former ‘restaveks’ (slaves) and street kids, who are going on to disciple others in their own communities. It was great to work with our team of Haitian leaders and establish collaborative groups of Haitian and international ministries.

 

I was privileged to visit one of the remaining so-called ‘tent cities’ in Port au Prince for internally displaced people from the 2010 earthquake. One of Viva Haiti’s leaders, Dovic, worked with colleagues to start and run a school there; I was delighted to see the progress they’ve made on an impossibly low budget. The teachers are Christian volunteers who know how to read and write themselves, so they teach the kids about Jesus, the basic ‘Three R’s’, and make fabulous music on improvised instruments….

 

In Gonaives I continued with business training and development for the youth to facilitate their future financial independence. We made ‘mamba’ (peanut butter) for their business, and explored new opportunities for their own businesses.

 

We had fun developing a drama for the Kiko literacy project. Enthusiasm and natural talent combined for great results – here are photos of some of the kids creating two of the four masks for the drama during our ‘big day out’ at artist Jean-Denis’ studio.

 

Several years ago Viva Haiti facilitated a new school and agri-businesses in remote Danty, four hours’ donkey-ride from the nearest town. Our awesome leaders from Danty visited me often in Gonaives. We’re planning to increase capacity for the goat project, and have plans to collaborate with at least two other rural communities to duplicate what we’ve developed in Danty. So proud of those guys!

 

It was exciting to have Kiko’s Coconuts finally published! We’re planning to sell copies in Australia, New Zealand and North America to generate funds for projects in Haiti: the literacy project and distribution of copies of Kiko’s Coconuts; business training and development; and agribusinesses in our rural centres. Here are some of the little guys enjoying the Kiko’s Coconuts story and illustrations by Haitian artist, and Viva Haiti collaborator, Jean-Denis Ganthier.

 

Early in my 2013 visit unexpected circumstances meant that some of my original plans had to be postponed; I needed to relocate the youth, and take over responsibility for their care. This has been an enormous challenge – I and the youth are grateful for the support and encouragement we’ve received during this time.

 

Here’s one story:

Noe

This relatively shy young man has a dream to become an electrician. He’s also a gifted musician. Noe has struggled at school, but in the business development classes he’s an enthusiastic participant, and often the first one with the correct answer to a question – no lack of brains there….

 

Noe’s early years were spent in his family’s incredibly over-crowded one-room home, in one of the worst slums in Haiti – Trous Sable. His Mum is mentally ill, and no Dad, so at around 12 years of age Noe was sent to an orphanage, where I first met him several years ago. During my 2013 visit Noe couldn’t endure the abuse at the orphanage any longer. After prayer and wise counsel he decided to leave. The best available option for Noe at that time was to return to live with more than a dozen relatives in his family home at Trous Sable.

 

Noe turned 20 during my visit, and is still in primary school. During his summer vacation (July through September) Noe was particularly anxious to know whether he’d passed his school exams, which would allow him to advance to secondary school. After some investigation we found out that no, he hadn’t passed. On top of everything else this was enormously disappointing on many levels. Melt-down time.

 

With encouragement and a plan in place, Noe agreed to persevere; we found a new school for him, hoping a fresh start would boost his confidence. We all prayed for good teachers, great friends and academic success.

 

I used remaining funds plus some donations to pay for Noe’s and the other kids’ return-to-school expenses – first month’s fees, uniforms, shoes, bags, books, pens, calculators – usual stuff.

 

Each day when he called in to see me after school Noe’s grin was bigger. He loved school! His new teacher, Mr Felix, didn’t treat him like the class dumbie, but offered extra one-on-one classes on Saturdays. Somehow we found the extra funds to cover the cost and Noe willingly gave up his Saturdays to meet with Mr Felix.

 

In mid-November I felt sad to leave the kids in Haiti to return to Australia. I’ve been able to call the kids regularly, and hear their news – and practice my Creole! This was made possible by a generous, regular donation for this purpose – thanks Rachel and Chris, we thank God for you!

 

During December, as all the students prepared for their first term exams, Noe returned home one day to find that his sister-in-law had died. She, her husband (Noe’s brother) and their two little girls also shared Noe’s family home in Trous Sable. The family are devastated by their loss.

 

A few days after his sister-in-law’s funeral, Noe and the other kids sat their exams; we all waited and prayed for good results.

 

When results were out I called the kids, hoping to hear good news. And good news it was! Noe had come top of his class in French (previously his worst subject), and second or third in all his other subjects!!!

 

While I’m excited about Noe’s improvement in his studies, I’m even more excited about his character which is being formed and proven during this process. Noe has suffered trauma from early family experiences; the effects were compounded by the abuse he endured at the orphanage where he lived for all his teenage years. During my visit he was one of the first to leave the orphanage; a short time later Noe and I experienced an incident one afternoon which highlighted to me how seriously affected he was by one of several abusive leaders from the orphanage. A few days after this incident, Noe confided that he planned to visit his buddies who were still stuck in the orphanage. My stomach churned at the thought of him returning there even for a visit, knowing he’d cop more abuse. Noe was adamant. He wanted to let his buddies know he’s hanging in there for them. He also wanted to signal to his former abusers that he was no longer afraid of them.

 

The results of his visit were powerful. Noe carried Truth and Peace into that tough place. His buddies saw previously out-of-character courage and conviction in this young man – the leaders’ abuse just bounced right off all of them; we continued to pray for and bless them. Noe sent a silent signal to all that he now has options, and copping abuse isn’t one he chooses. ‘He whom the Son sets free is free indeed’ Noe is free….. Soon after that visit several more kids had the courage to leave the orphanage. Their circumstances are tough. But they do know they have faithful friends who understand what they’ve been through, and who will stand by them no matter what.

 

With a little encouragement and support we’ve been able to assist Noe through this difficult transition; our partners’ prayers, encouragement and financial support made it possible. We believe ‘the best is yet to come’!

 

Summary

Viva Haiti is now responsible for ongoing education, medical and living expenses for eight youth. We continue to implement our projects: business training and development, literacy project and agri-businesses. Here in Australia we continue to build our team as well as pursue opportunities to generate sustainable income for Viva Haiti so that we can continue to play our part in fulfilling God’s purposes in Haiti.

 

We look forward to sharing more stories of courage and overcoming in future updates….

 

How You Can Help

 

To our faithful supporters in prayer, encouragement and finances – thank you from me and the kids in Haiti. You’re making a difference to ‘the least’ of ‘the least’ and facilitating lasting, measurable change.

 

If you’re not already doing so, we invite you to prayerfully consider partnering with us in serving in Haiti with prayer and giving.

  • Your prayers are appreciated, and we know that the favour God has shown us is a direct answer to prayers. This month our prayer focus includes:
    • Grace to fulfill Isaiah 58:6,7: ‘to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, to break every [enslaving] yoke… to divide our bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into our homes…. when we see the naked, to cover them, and hide not ourselves from [the needs of] our own flesh and blood…’
    • God’s wisdom for every leader, participant and aspect of Viva Haiti’s work in Haiti and beyond (we’re believing and declaring James 1:5; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 2:16b.)
    • Every aspect of slavery to be broken from the lives of those we serve in Haiti (we’re believing and declaring John 8:36)
  • Make a financial gift. Every dollar counts and makes a difference in Haiti.
  • Make a regular donation – even small amounts, given regularly, help us plan our budget.
  • Purchase copies of Kiko’s Coconuts – this children’s story-book written in English and Creole, and brimming with colourful Haitian illustrations, is a great gift for the littlies in your life, your local school library, or to keep. Profits go towards projects in Haiti.
  • Contribute time and skills – if you have time and skills that you’d like to contribute, we’d love to hear from you!

 

If you’d like to find out more about our work in Haiti, place an order for your copies of Kiko’s Coconuts, or would like to make a donation, we’d love to hear from you!

 

Please contact Robyn by email robyn.corbett@gmail.com or

Mobile: 0434818008

iPhone: +61 2 61761261

 

Blessings and joy

 

Robyn

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