Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Father with SIX sons

The team left the Christ Covenant Church in Knoxville, TN Tuesday morning, July 21, at 4:30 am and finally arrived at the dorm, where they will stay for ten days, around 8:15 pm.  Luggage was unloaded off the top of the 2 rented vans and a long awaited supper was ready.  It was lights out by 10:30 pm to try to sleep in the stillness of the HOT Haiti summer night.

Personal devotion time followed by breakfast was the start of the first full day in Haiti.  One of the main features for the day was helping pour a concrete floor in a house chosen by Haitian Pastor Clebert.  MH construction coordinator Burns Cesaire had made arrangements for workers and materials and the team joined in.  After kind of a slow start…the main ‘boss’ that had been hired to lead the workers walked off the job.  He was demanding more pay than what had been agreed upon the day before.  After a short time, God’s provision was evident when we were in full swing with a new ‘boss’.  Great teamwork! 

                          Pictured here...the father, 2 of the 4 big brothers and the twins.  

The home owner is a man who lost his wife due to illness about 1 year ago.  He is left to raise 6 boys which includes twin boys less than 2 years old.   The older brothers show a beautiful commitment to helping love and nurture the baby brothers.  When so many Haitian households are made of mothers and grandmothers raising so many children without a male figure in the house, this is such an uncommon Haitian household…7 males in the house with no female presence. 

                                                      The beautiful art of mixing concrete

                                              The father worked alongside the team

                                          All the big brothers also worked on the project

The father is obviously feeling overwhelmed at his responsibility to love and provide for his family, alone.  The whole family worked hard on the concrete floor right alongside the team and the Haitian ‘boss’ and workers.  The walls of the house are in desperate need of repair.  Burns will figure what budget would be needed to see if there could be funds available to strengthen the structure with Krepi, a smooth cement finish layer, inside and out.

The work was done and everyone gathered for prayer asking God to bless this family!  The boss is pictured on the far left in the pink shirt.  The family is also on the left.  4 big brothers, the father and the twin babies,  Burns is pictured in front in the white and black stripe polo with our translator, Devnel, just to the right.  

After a big Haitian meal of rice, sauce, chicken legs, coleslaw, fried plantains, fresh Passion fruit juice, and a cold Coka Cola, the whole team was off to another project.  Many Hands for Haiti is developing a piece of land in the nearby community of Sylvain.  

A trench had been dug and PVC piping for a water line had been put in place.  The team worked in the HOT summer sun to fill dirt back into the trench.  Shovels, rakes, machetes and lots of neighborhood kids helped get the job done.  

               Look who is working in the background...
                                     The kids joined right in with the hard work.                         
With breaks for water and shade, it was the Sylvain kids that just kept going!

                                              What a satisfying day.  God is good, all the time.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A field trip to the Apparent Project in Port au Prince

A couple weeks ago we were treated to a tour of the 'Apparent Project' in Port au Prince. A group from eastern Iowa that had just spent a week with Many Hands for Haiti at the dorm in Pignon had used the Apparent Project as a source of fundraising at their church.  The team was traveling home by way of Port au Prince so we coordinated a visit.

Please click this link to read more about the organization  

The following is taken from the Apparent Project link shown above.


There is a clear and redundant mandate in the Hebrew Scriptures to care and provide for 'the fatherless, the widow, and the alien.'  God seems to look out for the poor and those enduring loss with special even preferential treatment.  The New Testament book of James says that God's religion of choice is to "look after orphans and widows in their distress."  The majority of Haiti's orphanages are founded with the intent of responding to this mandate.  But what makes a child fatherless or a wife widowed?

In Haiti, poverty and the legacy of slavery have caused a staggering culture of child abandonment and male neglect of family commitments.  70% of labor aged Haitians are unemployed, while those who are employed earn an average annual wage of $400.  Mothers give up their children, and men leave their wives because of the stress of trying to provide from within a devastated economy. There is a strong cycle of fatherlessness and neglect that probably stems from the severance of slaves from their African families and from the commodification of children by slave traders. Whatever the forces are that have made fracture and dislocation the norm for Haitian families, it is poverty that maintains this status quo.

Unfortunately, orphanages have often only enabled this dissolution of Haitian families.  Haiti was said to have as many as 500,000 orphans before the devastating earthquake of 2010.  The vast majority of these "orphans" were actually not true orphans.  They were children given up by living parents because of extreme poverty.  A history of corruption and inefficiencies in the Haitian government's adoption processes has caused orphanages to be overcrowded and short on funding, also creating emotional, physical, and developmental problems for institutionalized children. "

               After feeling like we were on a wild goose chase finding where we were to go.....

                      ....We finally arrived.  Many Hands for Haiti purchases goods to sell at 
                           Many Hands Market in Spencer, IA and The Mango Tree in Pella, IA

                            Hand made metal art is displayed for sale in their retail sales space.  
            Some of these same pieces can be purchased at Many Hands Market and The Mango Tree.

                                               Metal art Christmas ornaments for sale

During a tour of the production area we were shown how the paper beads are made 
that are used in Jewelry making.  After being rolled, the beads are glued while on a stick.

After the glue is dry the beads are removed from the sticks

Next the beads are sorted by color to be packaged to fulfill orders for customers
that will create the jewelry designs

These ladies were making the 'micro bead' version of the paper bead, the smallest size bead made here

Micro bead drying process

A wonderful outdoor workspace

                                        Here we could see clay and clay beads curing in the sun

These workers are cleaning out the hole in the center each clay bead

                                           The clay beads can be painted many colors

                  The Apparent Project also employs artisans that make various pottery pieces

Finishing touches before glazing

The head of the fabric creations shared a lot of information about her department.  We were telling her that we were from Iowa.  She said, "Oh, we have a huge order we are fulfilling for someone in Iowa.  I think it is for the Iowa State Fair."  We knew from our inside connections that it is an order for Many Hands Market that will be merchandise available for sale in September at the Clay County Fair in Spencer!! 

....More from the Apparent Project link....

"Most orphanages are focused primarily on childcare, without addressing the roots of child abandonment.  Unfortunately, many, many orphanages also take in way too many kids way too easily. While the Apparent Project advocates passionately for the adoption of true orphans we also believe that preventing child abandonment by economically empowering Haitian families is the best way to rescue children.  This is why we have created opportunities for empoverished parents to earn an income through our artisan program.  We train each parent in a specialized skill, such as jewelry making, bookbinding, sewing, or another craft, building relationships along the way.  Through addressing educational needs, homelessness, joblessness, nutritional problems, medical needs, and building emotionally and spiritually enriching relationships, we are trying to bring the dignity and wholeness to the whole person, strengthening each to be a support and encouragement to others.

This is why we are called the "Apparent Project".  We are trying to help mothers and fathers in poverty be A PARENT to their children.  We are education and taking care of street kids who don't have A PARENT.  We are using media and the arts to make the needs of Haiti APPARENT to those who can help, and we are doing this all with the hope that the love of God will be made more APPARENT to those we humbly serve and that He will be known as A PARENT to the parentless."

Many Hands for Haiti is also focused on the prevention of children being separated from families for the reasons listed from the link as seen above.  The Thrive for Five program that is gearing up to reconvene the first part of September offers Spiritual education, nutritional help, and basic medical care.  By helping meet these needs, we feel some 'would-be orphans' destined to be separated from their family are more likely to be adequately cared for right in their own household. 

Recently, the MH Haitian staff studied Psalm 142 in our morning staff devotion time at the MH office in Pignon.  We have been using the exercise of reading the scripture and then writing the passage in our own words.  My own words...."I can call on the Lord in my difficult days.  I can tell God everything and He will lift me up.  Even when no one seems to care.  I can cry out and know the Lord will be by my side.  God will rescue me from my struggles.  As a result, I will praise and thank Him and God shine on me."

MH4H desire is that those we minister to will have the confidence to use Psalm 142 as their prayer for Deliverance from their Persecutors.  God is already moving and showing himself to the Sylvain community, just outside of Pignon, through Many Hands for Haiti.  Please continue to pray for the work God is doing.  During that morning devotion on Psalm 142, the discussion between Appolon, Claudin, Burns, Woody, Ebens, Craig and Christi brought out these remarks, "Prayer gives victory over trouble.  Stay strong, complain only to God.  Prayer is our weapon.  In our spiritual fight, prayer is our 'Christian gun'.  Pray harder when you feel you are NOT in trouble!  Make prayer the ministry of your life."

We ask you to use prayer as a weapon to fight on behalf of the impoverished orphans and widows and to lift up the work being done in Haiti.  Read Psalm 142 and put it in YOUR own words. ...With your voice cry out to the Lord; with your voice make supplication to the LORD.