New Efforts in Haiti
It is with gratitude and joy that I share this update on the recent activities of Outreach for World Hope. Our child sponsorship and agriculture programs in Guatemala are thriving and growing thanks to your support. God has blessed the ministry immeasurably and as hundreds of you join mission teams and many more await the chance to travel, we are recognizing our need and ability to expand our mission field to offer new mission team opportunities and to share the blessing of God’s love with another of the poorest countries in the world. OWH hosted three short term teams in Guatemala during the first half of 2013, each with 20 or more members, while OWH leaders traveled to Haiti to research opportunities to help and serve the gracious and welcoming community of Cap-Haitien.
Our 11 member Haiti group was hosted by two ministries with whom we will be proud and honored to partner in the future. Missionaries of the Poor (MOP) is a ministry run by Catholic brothers to care for discarded members of Haitian society; severely handicapped and abandoned children, homeless elderly citizens, and HIV/AIDS victims. MOP is located in the center of a slum and also does outreach programs to slum inhabitants in terms of food distribution, medical care, housing projects, and evangelism. We walked through the labyrinth of dilapidated slum housing, as rainwater mixed with raw sewage ran through the narrow alleyways. Many of the slum’s inhabitants approached us with the words “J’ai faim” which in French means “I’m hungry.” It was hard to imagine where to begin in such a situation. The slum inhabitants were mostly women with multiple children from different partners. The helpless women had hoped in vain that each in her succession of men would stay and take care of her and her children. We happened upon a 3-year-old girl in a t-shirt that said in English “Just like Mommy.” The irony of that brought tears to my eyes as I thought about how literally that statement would play out in her life given the opportunities available to her.
The OWH leadership believes in caring for the neediest of God’s children but also in providing hope for a brighter tomorrow. We were blessed to have had the opportunity to visit Hands for Haiti (HFH) whose focus is providing education while feeding students through sustainable agriculture projects. They have constructed a beautiful Christian school which is surrounded by plots of land which are being used to grow bananas, beans and corn and also to house egg-laying hens. The ministry hopes to continue to build as the children advance through the grade levels. They also plan to purchase additional land to begin a tilapia farm as funding becomes available. In addition to basic education and computer training, the children are acquiring skills that will lead to sustainable food production.
The activities of Missionaries of the Poor and Hands for Haiti offer many opportunities for team participation and are consistent with our Biblical mandate to care for the orphans and widows and to carry one another’s burdens. Therefore, we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with each of them. We will send simultaneous teams to Haiti and Guatemala in January of 2014 in hopes of getting those on waiting lists for Guatemala into the mission field, while offering repeat travelers the opportunity to serve God in another country.