Missions Trip to Haiti, March 2017

In March 2017, a twelve-person team from Stone Hill Church went on a short-term missions trip to Haiti, as part of our ongoing partnerships with Foundation For Peace (FFP) and the Evangelical Baptist Church of Arcahaie. In previous years, we scheduled our trip during Princeton University’s spring break, but this year we chose to go the week before that, and as a result, several people from the Wilberforce School and The College of New Jersey were able to join us. Our team is pictured below along with some of the FFP staff. Our team T-shirts were designed by the Herald Threads Project.

In past years we began our trips in Arcahaie, but this year, political unrest forced us to change our plans. Instead, on Sunday, we worshiped in the small village of Kwa Kok, at the church of Pastor Valentin, the director of the Haiti branch of FFP.

In the afternoon, we visited the C.A.D. orphanage, and did a “VBS program”; that is, we sang songs, acted out a Bible story (the Good Samaritan), and did a couple of craft projects. One of our craft projects was making a cross out of beads.

Our other craft project was a tetraflexagon. This is an amazing toy whose properties are difficult to describe in words; if you are curious about the details, check out this demo on YouTube.

We also distributed hygiene kits. These were packed in bags that had been decorated by the kids at Stone Hill Church last summer at our own VBS program.

On Monday morning, we visited another Christian NGO in Haiti called Heartline Ministries. Pictured here is the founder and former director, John McHoul, along with another staff member.

Among many other things, Heartline runs a bakery that employs Haitians. The picture below was taken in their kitchen; on the left, you can see some of the delicious bread that they make.

Our first construction project of the week was a latrine in Kwa Kok. Below you can see the state of the latrine when we arrived on site. Our job was to pour the concrete floor of the latrine.

The lack of a cement mixer meant that the concrete had to be mixed by hand. Cement is one of the most expensive parts of the project (labor is comparatively cheap).

A bucket line is a good way to utilize a lot of unskilled labor. Some of the locals, especially the kids, joined in.

Passing heavy buckets was surprisingly hard work for people like us who were not used to it. But we were rewarded at the end of the afternoon by the sight of a job well done.

Our main construction project for the week was to help rebuild a school in a village called Jacquet. Jacquet was devastated by Hurricane Matthew in the fall of 2016. Located on the side of a hill, it was inundated with rushing water that wrought great destruction. Here you can see an overtuned schoolbus that is still lying by the side of the road, as well as a damaged house.

The schoolhouse was a small one, and you can see here that much of it was washed away, leaving the interior totally exposed. The part in the back was still somewhat intact, and classes were continuing to be held there. Our job was to help rebuild the walls and the floor of the part of the school that had been destroyed. As you can see, work on the walls had already begun by the time we arrived.

The construction involved cement mixing and bucket lines again, as well as carrying cinder blocks. The task of actually laying the cinder blocks and smoothing out the floor was carried out by skilled Haitians who had been hired for the job.

The job took several days but once again it was satisfying to be able to see the fruits of our labor at the end of our trip. Other teams, partnering with FFP, would continue the construction after we left.

A special blessing this year was that we had several Haitians on our team, which meant that we were able to interact with the locals more than we usually do. It was a pleasure to play with the kids at Jacquet, but also heart-wrenching to see their material poverty. We were blessed to be able to share a little food and buy a little clothing for some of the poorest children in the community.

One other way that we helped with hurricane relief was that the kids of Stone Hill Church raised $300 to buy school bags for kids who had lost them during the hurricane.

While most of our team worked at Jacquet, a small contingent spent most of the week at the Men Nan Men vocational school in Ganthier. If you have been following the work of Stone Hill Church in Haiti for the past few years, you will know that Men Nan Men has been a major focus of our partnership with FFP. The main building is complete and there are English, Spanish, and computer classes being taught now. We helped with the computer training, including Microsoft Project and web design.

The computer lab is powered by a combination of (unreliable) town power and solar energy. Pictured below are the solar panels on the roof of the Men Nan Men school building.

There is also a water purification facility on site. There is a cistern that collects water, which is then run through the system pictured below, providing a valuable source of water for the local community.

By God’s grace, the political unrest in Arcahaie cleared up enough by Friday that we were able to make a short visit to our partner church. We were surprised and delighted that they welcomed us with a wonderful Haitian feast!

We were glad that we were able to deliver a much-needed laptop to Wilson Desvallons, the director of the school that the church operates.

It was also gratifying to see that several items that the church had needed badly for years were now in place, e.g., the “bloc sanitaire” (bathrooms and showers) and a generator.

On Friday we were also able to visit the earthquake memorial again, which I have shown pictures of in a previous photo essay. Here is one of the poems that I have not shown before. A rough translation of “Titak pa titak, lavi pòtoprens prale” is, “Drip by drip, life in Port-au-Prince goes on.”

Unfortunately, progress on the construction of the memorial has been slow and some parts are falling into disrepair, but there were some items that I think were new since the last time I visited, such as the angel shown below.

Lastly, we were able to spend a few hours on the last day of our trip at the Wahoo Bay Beach Club and Resort. It was a good reminder that Haiti is a beautiful country and that boosting its tourism industry could greatly help its economy.

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