A Vision for Marre Blanche, Haiti: Hope for Caribbean Kids, Inc.
“And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:2-3
Since 2009 when the founders of Hope for Caribbean Kids, Inc. learned of the fate of the people in the southern mountains of Haiti, the desire has been to provide a response of substance that would be sustaining—not a temporary fix. The relationship with the people was not expected to be long-term. However, the provisions were expected to make a lasting impact.
On January 11, 2010, a plan was devised to invest $5,000.00 into the purchase of farm animals, fruit-bearing trees, gardening projects and food. Bill and Dorothy Smith, Assembly of God missionaries and Coordinators of Latin American Child Care in Haiti agreed to arrange a trip to the area to implement the plan. On January 12, 2010 the catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake happened that changed everything.
Summer 2011 was the first trip up the mountain. However, 2012 was the first trip to the community of Marre Blanche. What is more, this was the first revelation of God’s plan for a longer and stronger commitment in this area.
Goal of the Vision:
To reverse the trend of extreme poverty within the community would be a great accomplishment. To have the remedy to the crises come from within the community would be ideal. Conditions that challenge the achievement of the goals and vision include the following:
As a norm, living conditions include inadequate food, storm damage, failed crops (due to erosion), droughts, poor soil and a lack of knowledge of better methods of growing food. There are insufficient water sources, as well as, non-existent medical care, economic opportunities, secondary and vocational educational opportunities and facilities to house incoming help. Dangerous, horrific, and non-existent roads hinder relief efforts.
Volunteer prayer partners provide a source of power and comfort. To know there are prayer partners who can be called upon to pray for the needs of the organization and Haitian people is invaluable.
The Child Sponsorship Program provides sustaining help and hope. Each time a child in the Marre Blanche is sponsored, their chances for a successful life are greatly enhanced. Each child will receive a free Christian-based education, food, a uniform, books, annual school physical and an open door that could lead to a high school education or beyond. This, of course, will improve their lives and likelihood of becoming successful, self-sustaining, and independent adults.
Adequate School Food:
A hungry child cannot learn effectively. In June of 2019 a daily feeding program was launched, providing a hot meal each day. A kitchen and dining room are needed. Initially, a daily nutrition supplement program was implemented in partnership with Meds and Food for Kids. Each child received a Vita Mamba nutritional supplement packet which is designed to aid in the prevention of malnutrition. The peanut butter based product was developed at Washington University’s School of Medicine. Learn more about Meds and Food for Kids at: https://mfkhaiti.org/about-mfk/
Christian Based Education:
Children need to know that God is the center of all they need to have a successful life. Currently the children are receiving a Christian based education which include a Christian assembly each week. The goals are to support their program.
Christian School Facility:
A new building, Hope for Caribbean Kids Christian School, opened for classes in the fall of 2018. The enrollment of pre-school through sixth grade averages 300 students annually. Prior to this construction, classes were held in a poorly constructed storage building, inside the church, and outside. A multi-purpose building completed in 2014 helped provide classroom.
School Water Source and Filtration Program:
A problem that drew the founders to the area was the 2009 report that a drought had led to failed crops, starvation, and the death of more than forty people, including. There were no natural sources of water. Water was needed—not only for the wellbeing of the people and crops, but also to mix concrete for building projects.
Within the first year two 500-gallon water tanks were purchased. Rainwater from the roof filled the tanks. When the multi-purpose building was constructed in 2014, a cistern with a capacity to hold several thousand gallons of water was installed under a floor. Water is now available for drinking and construction projects.
In 2018 a water bucket filtration program was started. A select number of individuals were trained to filter their drinking water with buckets and filters. Water bucket filtration is used in the classrooms. The plan is to train families each year until the practice is widespread and the importance of filtered water is understood.
A Vision for Their Future:
Many years into the future [unless something wonderfully miraculous causes it to happen sooner] the school could also be used to provide secondary and adult education classes. It could also be used to house a Bible college. Currently, students go to the capital city, Port-au-Prince, to attend high school which is nine hours away by motor vehicle. In Haiti all students must pay to go to school, even at the elementary level unless they are supported by a Christian or private organization or individual(s). This a part of why so few are educated beyond 7th grade. Students must complete 13 grades and pass a government exam at each level, in order to receive a high school diploma.
More Effective Farming and Gardening:
The people of Marre Blanche live off the land. There are no markets in their area. Terrace farming could help prevent the washing away of their seed and topsoil. Mission groups and university agriculture programs could train them to implement this method.
Income Generating Initiatives in Mare Blanche:
The community needs a way to generate income. If they could raise more food than they need the rest could be sold to neighbors and at markets. In most societies, income is generated by meeting unmet needs. Some needs and possible income sources for the community include but are not limited to:
- Growing and selling trees. Most Haitians cook outside. The trees of Haiti have been overharvested to make charcoal for cooking and firewood. In 2016 one slab of plywood costs $47 and one 2”x4” piece of lumber costs $27.
- Raising fruit trees
for foreign markets. They can become involved with organizations set up to
help small farmers. Possible sources:
- The Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Environment. Learn more at their web site http://www.oreworld.org/ and directly at ORE, P.O. Box 326, Boca Raton, Fl 33429-0326, USA | ORE, B.P. 2314, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
- Techno Serve, a Haiti Hope Project is in a public-private partnership with The Coca-Cola Company, the Multilateral Investment Fund, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Project is also supported by the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, the Soros Economic Development Fund, and other international and local organizations.
- Walmart is also involved with their sustainable agriculture initiatives. See: http://www.walmartstores.com/sites/responsibility-report/2012/sustainableAgriculture.aspx
- Providing transportation for mountain dwellers once they acquire vehicles of their own.
More Educational and Vocational Opportunities:
In any culture an important key to breaking the cycle of poverty is education, training, and employment. At Marre Blanche the average teacher has a 7th grade education. None of the teachers hold a high school diploma. American teachers may be able to come to help teach and train teachers and students.
Efforts should be made to get Marre Blanche’s teachers and students into Haiti’s president’s program to train and provide free education to schools that qualify. What do they need to qualify? Learn more at: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2012/11/21/haiti-education-strategy
Vocational and Technical Skills should be explored and implemented. Some students have expressed interest in learning sewing.
Some people in Marre Blanche need to learn English in order to communicate and serve English speaking guests better. They could then train children in English, as well.
Computer knowledge is the way of the world. Computer training needs to be a part of their education. They will need generators or some source of electrical power for internet connection.
A Guest House:
The guest house is key to opening the way for churches and groups across America and other countries to travel to Marre Blanche to continue this vision. It is near impossible for the people to receive the help they need until there is a place where visiting missionaries, relief workers, and trainers can stay for short periods of time. The community is three to four hours away from major cities and the roads are difficult and dangerous.
A Medical Clinic:
It is a three-hour walk to the nearest medical clinic. If they had a medical clinic, trained health providers could come to serve. In a long-term plan, one or more individuals could be educated and trained as nurses or other health professionals.
Children are sometimes abandoned while parents go into the city to look for work. They are left to care for themselves for indefinite periods of time. An orphanage is needed.
Currently there are no motorized vehicles in Marre Blanche, except for one motorcycle that is often in need of repair due to the rugged terrain. They need a sturdy truck and a way to maintain it.
Hurricanes have damaged the roads so badly that delivery trucks will not travel on them. The people meet the truck and walk an hour or more with supplies on their heads and animals.
Strong Commitment from the Ministry Board, Volunteers, and Donors:
Hope for Caribbean kids, Inc. must continue to attract and maintain Board members, volunteers, and donors who love God and people and who have compassion for the poor. More supporters are needed who will buy into the vision and help see it through. May the work move forward in the name of Jesus the Christ.