Monday, April 26, 2010

Building desks and so much more . . .

     Despite the relative silence on our behalf, the work is going strong to help those in Haiti. Caleb returned to Haiti after a week of rest with a clean bill of health earlier this month. He’s been busy ever since overseeing various aspects of the outreaches.
     Help arrived in the form of a team from Brentwood Church from Lynchburg, VA who helped us build a second story to our couple’s dorm. It is now almost completed and this will add 3600 sq. feet of building space for meeting needs. Following this, Pastor Todd Van Zee led some carpenters from the Evangelical Covenant Church of Moose Lake, MN to assist with building school desks. This key project will meet several needs: 1) providing sturdy desks for schools destroyed in the earthquake, and 2) provide training/employment to several refugee men currently staying at the camp. The men from Moose Lake trained 20 men in residence at the camp in the use of power tools and how to prepare the donated lumber to build these desks. We know firsthand that the design is good because we’ve been using Pastor Todd’s work for several years at our own school.

The team and trainees completed 100 desks for distribution at schools in and around Port au Prince; we’ve received lumber to build 1,000 more so it is going to be a busy few months as the work continues. Hosean has hired the 20 trainees to complete the 1,000 desks. It has been really neat to see the pictures of the men at the camp being able to work in re-building the country and give to those students in need. There is a lot of healing in this work!
Another outreach going on the past few weeks is an English as a Second Language Class being offered to camp residents who want to learn to speak English well. Taught by former missionary to Haiti, Betty Tiede, the class has been a practical help to the attendees. Along with the rest of her Canadian team, they have been working to encourage all with whom they come in contact.

As our family reunites in Miami this week to prepare to return to Haiti with Caleb, I’ll share with you here a message sent out by Caleb today concerning what his future priorities will be:

     We continue to be amazed each and every day at God's provision as we continue to face daily
challenges. I know that you have continued to receive our updates but I want as requested to send some of the goals that we have:
     First, we want to continue to take care of the 350 people we have at our campus. Most of them are school age students with very little parental supervision. We are looking at keeping them there until the end of the school year which will be the middle of July. This has been extremely busy and challenging. It was costing us $450.00/day to care for them right after the quake but now it is costing us $750.00/day to do so. The reason for the increase is because at the beginning we were receiving food and other supplies but now we have to buy everything. In addition, we have accepted 500 additional students in our school and had provided these students with books, shoes, uniforms, one hot meal a day and free tuition. This has cost our ministry about $225,000.00.
      Secondly, we need to focus on long term housing. Hosean International Ministries has received a land donation of 25 acres near the city of Leogane, the earthquake epicenter and 2nd most affected city nation-wide. We are partnering with Habitat for Humanity to develop a village with homes for 300 families. Habitat will take charge of the construction for homes. Our (HIM’s) role is to raise funds to build 2 churches, and 1 elementary school and a Mission House along with setting up electricity in the village. This will cost about $850,000.00. We are also in the process of purchasing a piece of property for $150,000.00 that will allow us to build a second village outside of Port au Prince.
     Thirdly, we will focus on orphan care. This has been part of our outreach since 1989. We have about 45 unaccompanied children under the age of 12 years old. We are working with our lawyer to see how to keep those kids permanently. Four of them are legally already under our care and we need to renovate our children's home to be able to accommodate them. The renovation and purchase of furniture will cost about $75,000.00.
     Fourthly we are going to expand our Micro credit programs to more refugees in our areas to empower them to take care of their families. Loans ranging from $250.00-400.00 are given to them interest free and they are to make payments monthly.
     Finally, we are looking for churches to send groups to help rebuild schools and churches in and around Port au Prince or just find some institutions to finance a school rebuilding. It costs $20,000.00 to build 8 classrooms and 1 office space.
     One of my College professors has told me that it does not cost anything to dream so if you are dreaming, dream big. We are trusting a Big God and I know He will get our beloved country out of the situation we are in.
In reality, we are still in the earliest stages of rebuilding, but we are excited to see so many willing to work together here in Haiti and also by many who tell us they want to help. Please do be praying for all of us here at Hosean International Ministries (HIM), especially for wisdom and faith as we seek to help over the long term. Also pray for helpers, any teams who would like to come in the coming year and help build up the villages mentioned above! Thank you for reading this long update and staying in touch!

Can you see the excitement as the first desk built totally by the workers was finished? We pray we see this excitement begin all over the country as restoration begins.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A break in the states

Our family traveled to the U.S. just over a week ago. It was a hard trip in some ways and it was harder to leave Haiti for me personally than it ever has been in the past 17 years. We left our community of Pignon by Missionary Aviation Fellowship which was a blessing. Caleb has made over 70 trips back and forth to Port au Prince since the January 12th earthquake. He had just returned the day before from a road trip so we were glad to spare him the rough roads again.

 Pictured here are my daughters and my foster son, Joe, who is currently doing an internship with MAF at the airport there in Port au Prince. It was good to check in with him as we left and to know he was doing well. Since we didn’t have a vehicle with us, Caleb had a driver from a transport service we usually use for teams meet us and drive us to the hotel we were staying in. We had hoped to have more time to explore Port au Prince for the kids and I as this was our first entrance there since the earthquake. However, since it was approaching evening we just had about thirty minutes.
Since I’ve been following all the imagery on the media as well, I didn’t expect to be too surprised. In many ways I wasn’t. I was encouraged to see signs of people going on just through small businesses and markets that had sprung up even in front of the destroyed buildings. People have begun to try to eke out a living again as they can. The next big step will be to get schools reopened. That will be an enormous boost to the mindset of families and students—they will feel like they are moving forward. Sadly, while 80% of the schools in Port au Prince were destroyed, I’m told barely 10% are now ready to re-open. Even as we traveled, we brought along a very large tarp to serve as a covering for classrooms as requested by one contact who desperately needed one.
As we drove through the city streets headed toward the downtown area where there is a secure hotel, I saw lots of signs of life, people sitting outside of their homes or taking evening walks. One thing that struck me was even the buildings which were standing, had tents and tarps on the streets in front of them. Residents throughout the city are still too afraid to sleep within their homes and choose the tents in front for a peaceful rest.

See the blue tarps creating sleeping quarters for families whose homes are still standing. It reminded me of how long term the emotional damage is. We see it every day at HIM’s school. Anytime the students hear loud noises, they will run out of the classrooms in a visceral reaction of fear that the walls are collapsing. It is that kind of tension that remains palpable throughout Haiti.
We proceeded on our drive downtown and passed by the destroyed National Palace (Haiti’s White House) and saw all the government buildings demolished. On the equivalent to the national mall (park ground before the palace), there is a tent city where several thousand currently live.

 Some organizations have set up some port-a-potties . There remains no running water but organizations like Wyclef’s Yele Haiti is providing drinking water throughout the city. Most of the other major organizations are still in planning meetings. I was saddened to hear that since the earthquake, many Haitian leaders working for major NGO’s (you would recognize the names if I listed them) have been pushed aside from supervisory roles. It seems that since some have received $100’s of millions for Haiti, the foreign leaders need to manage it. What is sad about that is that since they are removing the leaders that speak the real language and networking of Haiti, the relief efforts in those situations will be stymied and slowed. It’s about what I expected though in the business of development work. We hand delivered a shipment of tents that had just arrived from Trinity Presbyterian in Columbia, MO to a pastor whose church was destroyed. He was so excited to be able to get them to his congregants that evening. This photo is of the tent city in front of the palace. Our hotel was right across the street. I am used to the intense poverty that exists in Haiti, but the widespread disaster was still hard for me to take. As we spent the night in a hotel full of relief workers, it was hard to enjoy the air conditioning and Wi-Fi and hot showers-even though I hadn’t had a hot shower in months. My heart just ached for those across the street with no solid plans for the future. Still, we had to leave to be able to come back.
We spent the week as a family in Little Rock, Arkansas in a condo graciously provided by Fellowship Bible Church for visiting missionaries. We’ve seen doctors and dentists thus far and shared with those who have asked to hear what conditions are like. Caleb got a clean bill of health and has already returned to Haiti. He met a team today which arrived from Indiana to come and help us build a second level for housing at the camp. They will get the roof up this week and then work on whatever other work Caleb designates. One project he’s undertaken is to build school desks for the destroyed schools throughout the country. Different teams coming in the next month will be working alongside our camp residents who want a job to build these and then we’ll ship them throughout the earthquake affected areas.
     Plans are also proceeding to build a village of homes near Leogane (the epicenter) from donated property there. It is going to be an exciting few months as we see that come together. This past week a semi-trailer truck was donated and is currently being loaded with supplies in Florida and will be on a boat this week for Haiti. Finally, we have received a donation to build a rehab clinic in Pignon for all the amputees and injured. Caleb believes it will be operational by June 2010 and plans to put it at the camp facility so the injured can come and stay at the camp while being assisted. It looks like an exciting summer is in store for us.
     The girls and I are still stateside until May 2nd, after which we’ll re-join Caleb. We had the opportunity to share an update with the Lonoke Presbyterian Church here in Arkansas and I captured the talk and have posted it on YouTube. For those who are interested in this 30 minute presentation in 3 parts, you can check out the following link:

Or check out our channel on YouTube:

Sorry this has been a longer update than normal. I also hope I haven’t offended anyone by my mention of the posturing going on in so much of the relief work in Haiti. Please do not be discouraged to help and give. I’m just encouraging everyone to really get to know those to whom you are donating and make sure they is working alongside leaders there in Haiti. We deeply appreciate your interest and desire to help. The needs remain intense and will be there for several years to come. However, we are committed to doing everything in our power to help all we can with what we can.