A team of 14 people from Trinity Lutheran Church in Brooks, traveled to Haiti on January 17 to begin what they called a “life changing experience”. They chose Haiti because of its dire need. In Haiti, 25% live in extreme poverty- on less than $1.25 USD/day. Half of all children do not attend school, and of that 2/3 quit before 6th grade, which only leaves a small fraction of kids getting to secondary school. Life expectancy is only 63 years old. 1 in 10 children die before age 5. On the human development index (a statistic of life expectancy, education and income per capita), it is rated very low at 168 out of 187 countries (Canada is currently rated #9). Haiti is the only Western nation rating this poorly, and is tied with Rwanda and Uganda. It is only ahead of struggling countries such as Afghanistan, the Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Niger. The United Nations still is very active in peace keeping in the nation. The team witnessed this devastating poverty first hand that only can be described as utter chaos.
It is believed that today in Haiti there are 300,000 child slaves (Restavec). One of those children was rescued many years ago and sponsored by a Calgary family. He was educated and was sponsored through post secondary school and became a pastor. He married and returned to Haiti to begin Haiti Arise. Haiti Arise has been in existence for over 13 years and is an oasis in a desert. They host a number of projects such as a technical school, elementary school, children’s village for rescued Restavec’s, medical clinic, goat farm, agricultural program, well drilling, and home building program...just to name a few. They employ over 80 Haitian’s locally, and are the second largest employer in the town of Grand Goave. Weekly they host three church services and have a vibrant way of sharing the message.
Prior to leaving, the team fundraised within their congregation to raise funds for major projects which included a fluoride clinic for 500 children at the elementary school and eight bunk beds were designed, built, assembled and stained for the Children’s Village. The team also spent some time setting up the Carpenter shop at the tech school, built some additional furniture, and completed some outstanding electrical jobs. Included in the adventure were church services, a market tour, community outreach walks, bible distribution, a hospital tour, and a few hours at the beach. Many of the team members also were able to meet with their sponsorship children that attend the elementary school at the mission compound.
Trinity Lutheran Church plans on returning to Haiti next year and continuing their partnership with Haiti Arise. For more information you can go to their website at www.haitiarise.org . For child sponsorship www.haitiarise.org/education-fund/