I remember my first trip to Haiti. Too many people had warned me about the harsh reality of Haiti’s leadership landscape. We were warned not to trust anyone. We were told that Haiti can’t be saved — that God has cursed those people and that land. Sometimes I wonder if these critics and I serve the same God. What I do know is this: God is for Haiti and God is raising up Haitian leaders to lead a new, better future.
In May, 2010, Scott Wade, Jacob VanHorn and myself (Chris Marlow) landed in Port Au Prince and begin our search to find at least one key Haitian leader. We knew finding a local leader with whom we could work was vital. We needed this leader to be trustworthy and competent. We also needed to do this quickly. We did not have “months” or “years” to build a relationship, like we did for our leaders in Africa. Haiti was suffering deeply, and we wanted to partner and help strengthen the local churches.
Our protocol was simple. We were (and are always) looking for leaders who are already doing the work. They are already caring for orphans and vulnerable kids, raising up new leaders, and seeing their communities transformed. When the Help One Now tribe partners with these leaders, we help move the vision forward as we rally around the leader to help accomplish much needed work. Once we find these leaders, we want to do two things:
1) Resource them: Money moves the mission forward. If these leaders have a holistic plan of action, we want to help support it through our fundraising initiatives and child sponsorship program. These resources help expedite the local leaders vision, and these resources are connected to community transformation.
2) Empower them: Leadership training, relationship building, collaborative partnerships, global knowledge and key resources are all things that our leaders on the ground typically lack. Our network can help them succeed in ways that they could not even dare to dream. For example, one of our leaders lacked clean water in his community, so we connected that leader to one of the largest clean-water organizations in the world. We met with this organization, collected data, created a plan and moved the vision forward to help transform the community by providing clean water.
I remember the first time we started to discuss the issue of human trafficking with our local leaders. They really had no idea how massive trafficking was in Haiti. I could sense how angry they were when they heard the true stories of abuse. One of our leaders eyes welled up and tears rolled down his cheeks. He was mad, angry and hurt. After six months of sending various articles, showing the data and praying together, finally this Haitian leader said he could not take it anymore. He donated much of his land on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and personally committed to fighting the human trafficking in Haiti. It is now his vision and passion; we just empowered him through story, data, and reality. Because of this, the Ferrier Village Project was launched. We help fund this project through our Garage Sale for Orphans initiatives,church partnership, and strategic partnership such as Jen Hatmaker’s “7” tribe.
Can you see how partnership can work? It’s truly beautiful; we all play various roles in serving one another and advancing God’s kingdom and caring for people.
Can Haiti Be Saved? Can Haiti be transformed? Or better yet, can we see steady improvement in Haiti, year after year? I think so, I believe so, I have confidence that God will do it, but, it will only happen if Haitians are leading the charge and if the rest of the world will humbly serve our Haitians friends.
On our first trip, we met Pastor Gaetan and Pastor Jean Alix. These men are now friends and co-partners. On our second trip, we met with Pastor St Cyr. We learn from each other, pray for each other and together we help advance the mission of caring for vulnerable children, orphans and slaves and seeing their communities transformed.
Haiti cannot afford to solely depend on missionaries and NGO’s. We can partner together, serve one another, and improve Haiti, but if any change is going to last through the generations to come – Haiti will need to be led by Haitians.
This philosophy will make it harder in the near future. We must build a deep leadership pool of Haitians, and we must be patient. The road to transformation will be long, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope shines brightly even though evil rages and darkness suffocates.
Our hope is to see the leadership culture of Haiti advance, to have each Haitian leader partner with key churches and organizations around the world to serve Haiti and see the changes we all so desperately desire.
Haiti can be saved, and I know many Haitian leaders who are making that happen today. They’re working towards a better more hopeful future. It’s these women and men, that bring excitement to my soul and hope to my Spirit. Each day, I want these leaders to know that they’re not alone. They have friends and partners helping them serve Haiti. Haitians will lead, the rest of us will serve and together we will ask God to move deeply, seek justice daily and wait patiently for Haiti to be saved.