Hand in Hand with Haiti
Haiti has been called a republic of NGO’s. An NGO is a Non-Governmental Organization, such as Servants for Haiti. There are more than 10,000 such organizations dedicated to helping Haiti pull itself out of the mess it has been in for as long as anyone can remember. How is it that 10,000 groups, some very well-funded, have not made a significant dent in Haiti’s problems in all these years? There are a variety of reasons.
First, many are just bailing water from the ship, simply trying to keep Haiti afloat. Those are relief organizations, feeding and educating children, sending short term medical teams, and running other reactive programs. That was SFH until recently. All our efforts were essentially life-support.
Let’s be clear. There is nothing wrong with that approach, as far as it goes. Many people who might have otherwise lost their lives or families that could have been destroyed were saved because of the efforts of such groups. SFH continues to do relief work by building homes for people living without any shelter.
The problem is that this approach treats symptoms, not the disease. And as long as we only treat symptoms and never go for a cure, we will always be busy doing so, bailing a sinking ship. That is the rationale for our change of direction toward creating more economic opportunities for Haitians to help themselves and each other.
A second problem: Sadly, there are some very questionable groups out there. Well-meaning donors must be on their guards when they support any group working in Haiti. Do you have personal knowledge of the organization? Are they forthcoming about their work? Do they keep overhead costs low? (SFH spends no more than 10% of our income on administrative costs.) Checking out a group is good stewardship of your money and serves Haiti better. Whether the cause is inefficiency, incompetency, or immorality, if a group is ineffective, it does not deserve our support.
Another reason that the republic of NGO’s has been largely ineffective in bringing about change – and the reason for this article – is that they tend to work in isolation from one another and from local people. That is definitely not the way of Servants for Haiti. We have been establishing partnerships with other non-profits with philosophies and goals in alignment with ours.
One such alliance is with ASAM Ministries, led by Andre and Sylvie Drisdelle. Rather than try to learn the ins and outs of supplying housing for the people of Haiti, we have come alongside this group that is already providing housing. Keep coming back to our site to learn more about ASAM and other groups we will be working with. (You can visit ASAM’s blog here. Note that most of it is in French, however.) If you travel with us on one of our work teams, you can see and participate in this partnership first hand.
Finally, some organizations try to do things “the American way”. In other words, they feel they know how to help Haiti better than Haitians do. That has never been the way SFH has operated and it never will. In our previous work, we partnered with Haitian pastor Rigaud Antoine, who runs the school and orphanage we supported. Looking ahead, our micro-loan program is being managed by a Haitian businesswoman. We will be featuring a profile of her in a future post.
With your support, the blessing of God, and continued partnerships, this man will have that much more to be proud of.