A Look Back

by Rhonda Bever

Ken & I spent our 10th anniversary at an orphanage in Northern Haiti and were able to travel out into the countryside and see the immense needs of the people. We came back and asked our congregation to help support a school and that is what we did. But in 1995, as God would have it, we met Jeantyrard Elmera at my home congregation in Wilmington, Delaware.

We invited him to come to our home in Connecticut and it was about six months later he extended the invitation to Come and See….come and see what God was doing through his people in Port-au-Prince.

We were admonshed by many ( even missionaries in the north) Don’t go to Port-au-Prince. It’s too volatile…they’re crazy down there…and certainly don’t both of you go. You have three small children…that would be stupid. After prayful consideration, we decided to go. And so in May of 1995, Ken & I , Julie Georges, one of our board members and Cari Merrick, a nurse, left for Port-au-Prince. And Jeantyrard, a former government health official turned full-time evangelist was with us every step of the way.

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During our visit we met an incredible group of Christians at the Delmas 28 Church of Christ (Eglise du Christ),who despite 70% unemployment and a weekly budget of $200, were reaching out to dozens of congregations in need. How could we not come along to help?

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This is the Cite Soleil School in 1995 with 11 of the 13 children we first sponsored through Hope for Haiti’s Children.

image342And this is... The Cite Soleil school today with 294 students and a 97% 6th grade national exam rate.

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We’ve come along way since that first year. Ten schools, 1347 sponsored kids currently enrolled, 84 orphans in two orphanages, and a team center which houses 6 -7 teams of 12- 20 persons throughout the year.

We also have a mission cross relocation community and a bakery for its residents to help make a living.

Know that engagement in ministry takes hard work and heart work. You see Nothing in Haiti is easy!

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So what about a quick trip to the hardware store….. Think again…..

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Although we didn’t take this actual picture, we have been in traffic just like this.

I remember one time being on a two lane road, where 4 lanes of traffic were going one direction and it you dared go the opposite way, you would have had to be on a motorcycle weaving between vendors and pedestrians on the sidewalk. Our Haiti team is unfazed by this. They deal with this on a daily basis.

In the early years of this ministry, there were no cell phones in Haiti and the only way of communicating to our schools in the villages (short of going there) was the Sunday afternoon evangelistic radio program that Jeantyrard conducted with the financial help from World Radio. Both our Haiti & U.S. Staff and so many of our volunteers put so much of themselves into this ministry.

If WE’VE BEEN privileged to have you on our January medical trip or our Summer Christian Leadership Camp or our Joy box trip in December and you think it ran pretty smoothly…just know it is due to our incredible staff and volunteers putting in hours of planning & preparation. When a mission team is in Haiti, our Haiti staff often works over time, being away from their family for several days just so they can take us around to the village schools. And of course, even with the best laid plans, being flexible is the key.

In addition to the physical and mental energy that goes into running Hope for Haiti’s Children…I know Kenny’s mind never stops turning….There is an incredible amount of emotional energy that goes into this ministry.

The Christians we work with and the children we touch become our extended family. This is Julie Georges who has been a key part of this ministry since day #1.

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We hurt when they hurt and we rejoice when they rejoice. Many of our supporters have seen their sponsored kids though loss of a parents, abuse, an unplanned pregnancy, underperformance in school or devestation of their home. They have wept over these kids. They have prayed with them and for them. And those children pray for their Parenn as well.

Be ready for Obstacles and Roadblocks Obstacles & Roadblocks may come in the aftermath of Natural Disasters.. Like the flooding in 2008 after Haiti was hit with 4 Hurricanes.

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Here we are in the interior the country about 6 weeks after the last hurricane of the season. Needlesss to say we did not make it to our destination that night.

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Or it might take the form …of the 2010 earthquake: The Presidential Palace, & The Catholic Cathedralimage351

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And another building (below) not so stately as the previous two, but very important to us.

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This was the Delmas 28 church building, home of our Delmas primary and secondary school and the office of Hope for Haiti’s Children. There was also a nursing school in session at the time of the Earthquake. 36 nursing students and one doctor perished in the disaster.

We were kept from entering our Cazeau orphanage for a period of about 3 months. Previous owners threatened our Haiti staff and scared our children, placing armed guards to keep us out, claiming they owned the property and the kids. Important cargo we were trying to get into the country was held “hostage” in custom’s storage areas…held hostage till the government felt they were satisfied with the amount of money we would have to pay them to retrieve our items. Two Illegitimate, time-consuming and resource-draining lawsuits were brought against Hope for Haiti’s Children. One concerning ownership of our property at the Cazeau orphanage, and the other…concerning our property at Thomazeau. We were met with foes from without & within.

But you know, when anything good & right is happening, especially if it forwards the cause of Christ, it will be met with opposition. Satan will try to divide and destroy. God unites & strengthens — here is the Delmas 28 church from rubble to today—rebuilt.

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That brings me to my next thought…. Look for God’s Provisions along the way.

God’s enabled us to acquire 22 acres of land… just two years before the earthquake …in Thomazeau, an area in northeast of Port-au-Prince near the Dominican border. This land became home to our Hope Center which provided a “hotel” of sorts for medical folks and others who would be coming to Haiti to help in the aftermath of the earthquake. We were also able to put an orphanage on that land, as well as a church & school.

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Another awesome provision, an incredible blessing was our NGO STATUS received in 2008—which means that the Haiti Government recognizes HOPE FOR HAITI’S CHILDREN as a NON GOVERNAMENTAL ORGANIZATION. There are between 10-20,000 organizations operating in Haiti….. But only 351 are recognized as NGOs. This took lots of leg work and paper work on the part of our Haiti staff. And it took more than six years to acquire.

Our NGO status enables us to bring valuable resources into the country with minimal interference from the Haitian Government. And in addition, the United States government is willing to work directly with organizations that hold this status. The DENTON PROGRAM is a space-available humanitarian aid initiative run in conjunction with the US AIR FORCE. It allows Non-profits like Hope for Hait’s Children to send approved humanitian aid to NGOs in other countries usually free of transportation costs and by-passing customs. THAT IS MASSIVE BLESSING!

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Through the Denton Program, we have received many, many pounds of rice and beans and other necessities…

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as well as two buses that serve to take our kids to school in Port-au-Prince and provide transportation for our visiting mission teams.

Lastly, Expect to find joy where ever you go , even in the most unlikely of places. Nothing thrills my heart more than to see a trip participant meet their sponsored child for the first time. Or the orphans singing together at an evening devotional before bed.

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- Rhonda Bever, March 2015

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