1 Pitman Church of Christ Christmas Tea THEA Presentation 12/10/11Thank you! It’s so great to be with you all today! We want to say thank you to: The Pitman Road Church ofChrist for your amazing support of The Haiti Education Alliance’s work in Haiti- from sharing the funds youraised through your community yard sale to your enabling the Hutchinsons, Diana, Sarah, Lucas, and Claire,Lynne Sbaraglia, and Kristy to go to Haiti with us! They were instrumental in beginning our communityeducation programs in Haiti. And now thank you, Katherine Cooper and all the ladies for inviting THEA and fororganizing this beautiful event. Most of all I Thank God for His grace, power, and the bond of His Spiritbetween us. He’s the reason for the season and the reason our hearts and work are also in Haiti.To give you a bit of the history of THEA…Kristy and I were part of a medical mission team to Haiti two weeks after the earthquake in January 2010.Kristy was working as a nurse and I as an occupational therapist in a hospital where patients from PAP werebeing transported by helicopter for further medical care. I helped people to do things like walk again withcrutches after an amputation or taught them strategies to do normal every day things with only one hand or 2broken legs. Being in the medical field, I am around mourning and grieving quite often, but not like this. Withover 300,000 souls who perished, hundreds of thousands more who were left disabled, and over 1 millionpeople left homeless, the entire country was and is still deeply grieving. I think of the people in those armycots or on mats on the floor who I worked with. There was a little girl who lost her siblings and father in theearthquake. Her mother was going in to surgery. There was a teacher who lost the use of his right hand.“How am I going to teach with only one hand?” He said with tears in his eyes? His wife was therecommunicating her anger towards her husband for demonstrating such “weakness” threatening to leave himif he would not be able to support her and their family- a tough reality in a survivalist culture. Most of thewomen who were there for medical care were alone. Many lost their children; and many of the children therelost their parents. Among the many questions that lingered in my head were “Where will these people go?”‘Who will be caring for all of these people with disabilities and orphans once the influx of relief workersleave?’ Rehabilitation and case management are not part of Haitian culture; There are so few doctors, nursesand other medical professionals in Haiti. “Who could provide the long-term support these people need”.Orphanages were already over-crowded with the 430,000 orphans even before the earthquake. Here are
2some more statistics to further paint a quick picture of the medical and education situation in Haiti: (I’m goingto go through a bunch of numbers here- hang in there with me…)40% of Haitians do not have access to medical personnel40% of children under 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition.60% of income is spent on food; with the poorest group spending more than 70% on food.90% of all schools in Haiti are private. So families have to pay for their children to attend school.An estimated 300,000 children live as slaves. Their parents hope these families with greater means will feedand educate their children. The children are so often mistreated.65% of all children in Haiti go to primary school. However 60% of them drop out before 6th grade.Only 10% of children who complete primary school go on to secondary school; 6% graduate from secondaryschool; andOnly 1% attends a university.53% of Haitians in Haiti can read and write.70% do not have regular jobs.When we returned from the trip just after the earthquake, with the encouragement of the Manhattan churchof Christ, a group of diverse people began meeting together to discuss what we can do to help facilitate long-term sustainable solutions to these overwhelming, systemic needs one community at a time. This groupbecame The Haiti Education Alliance which now includes members from this congregation, as well as othersfrom MD and GA. I want to quickly tell you a bit about what we do.Before I jump in here, I want to say that one of the reasons we are here today is to raise money for beds forthe some of the children without parents who became refugees from PAP after the earthquake in Haiti. Theyare living in such cramped quarters. For example, 4 or 5 of the smaller children sleep crossways on a twinmattress- a nightmare especially when scabies become a problem. On our next project trip in March we willbe taking someone with us to teach how to make bunk beds to the group of young men who have so far beenlearning simple carpentry things from us like making planter boxes and garden row markers, etc. So some ofthe proceeds of this evening will go towards the wood and hardware needed to make the beds- and thebedding needed to make it comfortable for the children. We’d like to send some of the bedding ahead oftime, though, since they could certainly use it now. Thank you!!
3The Haiti Education Alliance’s mission statement is: to provide education opportunities to impoverishedindividuals and communities in Haiti empowering them to emerge to lives of healing and hope. We want toempower people to care for their families and communities for generations. We advocate for and teach theadvocacy of vulnerable populations in Haiti including children, women, the family unit, the elderly, and thedisabled.Currently, we have 4 education programs in Haiti:- Community sewing training program which Lynne started- Backyard gardening training- A Medical Education Program, and- A Primary and Secondary School Program which has 41 children who are now able to go to school and havethe opportunity to complete secondary school.I think most of you know about THEA’s programs, and there are brochures in the back which outlines themconcisely. So I don’t want to take up our time describing the programs per se. Just want to give you anupdate and sneak peek into the forseeable future- as God wills- with our work there.First of all THEA’s Sewing Training Program is approaching the graduation of our 1st class of students in 6months! They have learned to make and repair clothes for men, women, and children; and will now befocusing on gaining skills for marketing their products. Since beginning the sewing training program, we’velearned that sewing everyday clothes is a very important life-skill. However, used clothes are pretty easy tocome by and are fairly inexpensive. So there’s really not enough of a market for the new clothes they makefor them to earn enough money for food for their entire family, education for their children or themselves,and other needs. So, they needed something more marketable to make and sell. One of the things theHaitians work with indicated as a need in Haiti is choir and baptistery robes. (need to make a little caveathere… This may be one of those cultural things that can be a disconnect for our American church culture. Wemay think “they don’t have much to clothe themselves with, why would they need choir robes? In theirculture, it’s important to them. And what about “They don’t need choir robes. Martin Luther fought foreveryone in the churches to be able to participate in worship. We don’t want to encourage them to beseparated from everyone else at church! If you’ve ever seen a Haitian worship service, you know that they allget into it.) It may be a cultural difference for us… but we’re learning. In order for them to take ownership ofthe program, for it to be sustainable, it needs to be marketable for their culture. We are excited to bepartnering with another Christian organization out of Little Rock who has been providing business training in
4Haiti for many years. Please pray for our students as they embark on this new, exciting chapter in their livessoon.In a similar, yet reversed cultural vein, in July we took down some drip irrigation kits and someone to teachhow to use them for THEA’s Gardening Training Program. However, using drip irrigation was not part of theirculture and was not initially received well. Then after further teaching of the benefits of using the dripirrigation system, they were able to grasp and embrace the concept- realizing they could then producevegetables and fruits year-round even through the dry months. So there are times when we need to gooutside of their culture, yet could fit with their culture to introduce ideas that would improve their situation.So far the class with 12 students has been successful in growing their 1st crop of vegetables which were givento THEA’s field director’s, Diony’s family who are caring for 22 orphans. They need more protein in their diets,so one of the next steps for the gardening training program is to begin the process of building a chickenprogram. I look forward to telling you more about that as plans unfold. Angelot, THEA’s agriculture programcoordinator in Haiti is asking for agriculture books so the students could balance their time in the field withbookwork. Part of the proceeds from today will also go toward books on gardening and nutrition for our 12students in this program. They also need more tools and quality seeds for the next planting season inFeb/March. Then within the next 6 months the students will graduate from the training garden and will beexpected to begin their own gardens and teach their families and friends to also plant gardens for theirfamilies. Then once the nutritional needs are met within the community, the graduates will also be eligible totake the business classes for the purpose of marketing their surplus fruits and vegetables.Also, the young women and men in the community interested in pursuing careers in medical professions havebeen receiving hands-on training in community health and rehabilitation with the doctors, nurses, therapists,and social workers that go on the trips with us. They have learning materials and medical books in Creole tostudy while we are not there. THEA is also hoping to implement this year a volunteer program which wedeveloped in partnership with the local hospital. Through this program the 8 students who have been part ofour Medical Education Program and have graduated from Secondary School will have the opportunity toreceive further hands-on-training in 5 different departments within the hospital- nursing, radiology, dentistry,laboratory, and within their rehabilitation department which they are about to open. We are currentlylooking for someone who can work with us in THEA states-side to coordinate our medical education programhere and in Haiti. So let me know if you or someone you know feels called in this area of leadership andservice to Haiti.
5All of the young men and women in our medical education program have aspirations to go to college one dayto become medical professionals so that they can help with the overwhelming on-going medical needs in theircountry. THEA would love to be able to send all of the students in the medical education program to collegeone day. We’ve set up a college fund; and our 1st student, Alan, started medical school at a university in theDominican Republic May 1st. Alan is an orphan who spent much of his childhood homeless on the streets ofCap Haitien. However, despite all of his hardships, he was able to do well in school, finishing within the top10% of his class and earning high marks on his National Bac 2 exam. Another student, Erlain, who has workedwith me on almost every trip to Haiti over the last few years is excited about the opportunity to receive moreformal training in rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Technician Training Program at the Albert SchweitzerHospital in Haiti after completing one more year of secondary school. Erlain continued to volunteer at thehospital in Milot for months with the patients from PAP after our group left until his mother became sick andhe needed to stay home and help care for her and his family. Last, but certainly not least, I want to tell youabout Wesley who is another remarkable young man (I’m sure you’ve heard about him) who has served as atranslator for us and several doctors, nurses, and therapists during each of our trips the last 2 years. He is inhis last year of secondary school; and because he has been at the top of his class every year, he was awardedwith a trip to the United States. In fact he came here 2 years ago now to this neighborhood and lived withMargaret Willard and her family. Margaret, are you here? Can you stand so we can see you. She and Chris(stand) have been working hard to raise funds to enable Wesley to come to college here this Fall. So this FallWesley will start at Glouster County Community College, then go on to a four- year college with the aimtoward medical school. So you can see these ladies for more information (they’ve set up a great websitefeaturing Wesley) or you can also donate through THEA to designate funds to go toward Wesley’s education orour other college students.In closing, I want to tell you what happened with a remarkable young man named Peter. His story illustratesso poignantly what THEA hopes to accomplish in Haiti- that is, to help equip individuals for caring for andempowering their families and communities, and most importantly to share the light and hope of Christ.Peter at the time was 16 years old. It was absolutely clear that Peter is naturally a strong leader.Peter was sitting on a bench with 4 very young girls during craft time. The children each had a paper platewith a simple line drawing of a sheep on it. They simply had to put glue on the sheep with a glue stick, tear upcotton balls, then put the cotton on the sheep. Peter had all the girls passing down their projects for him todo for them. They each submissively obliged. I sat down next to the girls after observing the scene and
6quietly suggested to Peter that he let them do it themselves. He looked at me in bewilderment and said "Theycannot do it. They are too little." He said it in English! I said, "Peter, you teach them; and they can do it." Heinsisted again that they cannot do it. "You can teach them," I replied. I showed him how to give the little girl(the youngest one- perhaps 2 years old) the glue stick and motioned where she could smear the glue, thenmotioned how to tear the cotton balls, and she did, then put them on. The little girl was so happy and proudof what shed done.I tell you, the light shining from that back bench was extraordinary!!- not only eminating from the girl, but alsofrom Peter who "got it." Well, that light was either from the light bulb that went off so brightly in his head or Iwould propose that it was the Light of Christ who came and made an ordinary scene into somethingextraordinary; perhaps even anointing Peter and the girls to begin great works in them. They could beamazing teachers someday. Lets pray that Peter and all the future and current leaders of Haiti becomeleaders that empower others rather than leaders that maintain the status quo of forced dependency.Also please pray for the men and women’s Bible studies in LaVictoire to continue which were started our lasttrip. Gail from CA, who was on our team this past July brought several Proclaimers which are audio Bibles inCreole that work by solar or crank power. The older widows of the congregation were so eager to lead anongoing women’s Bible study; and the young girls were so excited to learn how to use the Proclaimers. A newconcept in Haiti for the women to get together and study the Bible.Joy to the World- prayer for all of us not only this time of year, but always as we make room for Jesus in ourhearts throughout each moment in our lives- with our families, church families, our neighbors, perfectstrangers, even those we have a hard time getting along with! As we sing this song, let’s also have it be aprayer for our brothers and sisters in Haiti…