There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the horrific events of January 12, 2010 have brought about substantial changes in the physical, spiritual, political, and economic landscape of Haiti. Those changes will affect the conditions in Haiti for the foreseeable future.
While we have continued our support and relief efforts, the board members of Servants for Haiti have also been busily thinking and praying about whether and how our activities should be affected by the new context there. Is what we have been doing for the past five years the best way we can address the long term after-effects of the earthquake? Are the assumptions under which SFH was founded in 2005 still valid in a post-earthquake Haiti?
In our discussions and deliberations, we have become convinced that we need to alter our current methods. We are very pleased with the effectiveness of those methods in the past. Supporting the Kingdom Kids Orphanage and CJRA school has given us – and you, our supporters – a chance to improve the conditions and lives of many children. In some cases, lives have been literally saved. We are gratified to know that we have fully lived up to our slogan, “Serving Haiti, one child at a time”.
Today, SFH is making plans for a new direction for the future, involving dramatic changes that can be best characterized as proactive. Our desire is to move from a support model to one of economic empowerment. Until there is a healthy economic base, Haiti will remain reliant on foreign support funds. Our long range desire is to make the need for organizations like ours obsolete.
As part of this change of focus, we are in the beginning stages of moving away from our work at the CJRA school and Kingdom Kids Orphanage. We are no longer accepting new sponsorships for children in either KKO or CJRA. Pastor Rigaud Antoine, the founder and director of those institutions, is establishing his own non-profit organization to continue the work SFH began at its inception in 2005. The children of Haiti remain dear to our hearts and key to the future of the country. Over the next several months we will be shifting responsibility for all sponsorship programs to the new organization, working closely with them to ensure that the transition is smooth and has absolutely no negative impact on any of the children or employees involved.
Even as we have considered this change of direction, such opportunities have already begun presenting themselves. At least three proposals for new businesses in Haiti have been brought to us in recent weeks. We find this an exciting development, in keeping with our belief that God is directing the steps of SFH.
As an example of the kind of work we plan to do, we are currently assisting Haitian nationals in the creation of a class to teach people how to operate their own businesses. On successful completion of the class, its participants will be eligible for micro-loans to get them started. With follow-up and support, we expect these people will not only be able to provide for themselves and their families, they may also offer employment to many others so they can do the same.
As needed, SFH will still perform short term relief, especially in the form of providing housing for the homeless. Such needs will exist for some time yet and cannot be ignored, but our primary focus will be on creating economic opportunities anywhere we see potential. Our many years of working in Haiti have given us contacts that make this vision viable. The plan is to use Haitian nationals whenever possible, acting as advisers and suppliers of seed money.
The board of SFH believes that these changes will move us in a direction in keeping with God’s vision for our organization. No doubt, however, they will raise questions and concerns from our support base. Please watch our web site for further information and developments or feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President, Servants for Haiti