Archives For Haiti

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by Jess Bauer, California Development Intern

Last summer, I spent three months in Haiti learning about poverty in a hands-on and often heart-wrenching way. I listened to the stories of new friends and experienced the heartbreaking reality of material poverty.

One afternoon, I met an elderly man in Leveque, a village where families resettled after their homes were destroyed by the 2010 earthquake. A relief agency had distributed blue tarps to Leveque after the earthquake to be used as a temporary shelter. The tarps were designed for only a few months of inhabitance—any longer and the extreme heat could cause eye damage. After living in his tarp home for five years, this man was completely blind.

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Danius

Perhaps the Bible speaks so much about money not only because God cares how we spend it but also because of its undeniable effect on relationships. In Ouanaminthe, Haiti, where money is in relatively short supply, Danius Joseph shares how a $200 loan from HOPE’s partner Esperanza International revolutionized his business and gave him “the means to live in a community.”

For years, Danius had to carefully balance the funds to feed his wife and three children, aged 2-5, against the funds he would save to buy produce for resale on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays when a bustling market opened just across the Haitian border in the Dominican Republic. All too often, he found himself with too little to do either. “My children got used to going to bed hungry,” Danius says, and he frequently borrowed from neighbors to finance his small business. His requests for money were met with resentment by those who had little to spare, straining relationships, branding him a beggar, and placing Danius under the stress of having debts to settle at the end of each working day.

Danius wanted to give to his community, not take from it, so when he wasn’t working, he was volunteering. He taught Sunday school, joined the local church choir, and was introduced to Esperanza when he served as an instructor in a community-based literacy program they funded and initiated. Yet within his community, Danius’ pleas for money overshadowed his volunteerism. He wasn’t respected by others, and he says he couldn’t respect himself.

In January 2011, a $200 loan from Esperanza gave Danius a fresh start. He was already resourceful, entrepreneurial, and ambitious, and he knew his business well. With this lump sum, each trip to the border would be increasingly productive. He was accustomed to working with loans of only $25 that had to be repaid after just one day, so with six months and a much larger sum, Danius knew he could turn a profit. He also recognized the cost of idle time and now had the means to address it. With the market open only three days per week, Danius registered as a vendor for pre-paid cell phone credit, a popular product in his community, enabling him to work close to home and generate additional income when the market was closed.

Danius at his phone stand

When his community bank needed to elect a president, again Danius stepped up to serve. As president, he coordinates repayment meetings for his group and helps to teach and lead the meetings alongside his loan officer. Since his first loan, Danius has received additional loans of $250 and $300. Neighbors have noticed his wise money management and the ways in which his life has changed, and though they once looked down on him as a beggar, they now admire him as an insightful advisor.

When others seek advice, Danius is eager to share of Esperanza, where he received not only loans but also dignity and respect as well as biblically based training. He’s inspired others in Ouanaminthe to work hard and persevere in providing for their families. Heeding his counsel, so many community members wanted to join Esperanza that a second community bank was formed. Though Danius is not required to attend the meetings of this second bank, he faithfully takes part so that he can encourage these members as they pursue the path that has brought such transformation to his own life. He smiles confidently as he points to the bicycle he now rides to meetings, which he purchased with his profits.

When people see you riding on a bicycle, they know that you are going somewhere to do work … and that you are able to provide for your family.

HOPE’s initial expansion into Latin America came in 2005 when we entered into partnership with Esperanza International to work in the Dominican Republic. Building on the success of this model, HOPE and Esperanza joined forces to begin work in Haiti in 2006. Our Savings and Credit Associations in Peru are our newest program, bringing our country count to 16. Read on for a quick overview of our work in each Latin American country.

Dominican Republic

Background: According to a recent World Bank assessment, 43 percent of Dominicans live in poverty, despite a booming tourism industry; 16 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty. Employment in the Dominican Republic has been unequally divided by gender in the past 20 years, with approximately 63 percent of men but only 29 percent of women employed. According to 2010 data, one in five employed Dominicans remains poor, and one in 20 lives in extreme poverty. Continue Reading…

HOPE staff member, Katie Straight, reflects on meeting HOPE’s clients in Haiti.

One year ago today, the struggling nation of Haiti was devastated by an earthquake that killed over 200,000 and left 1.5 million homeless. In the aftermath, stories of broken-down ports and backlogged airports began to cast doubt on the effectiveness of relief efforts—and the effectiveness of the billions of dollars in aid that had been poured into Haiti in the previous decades.

Even as some were predicting that Haiti was beyond hope, we* saw persuasive evidence to the contrary. HOPE has always believed that Haiti’s strength lies in its people. Resilient, determined, and hopeful, their spirits were not crushed. Those who had little began sharing with those who had less. Some of HOPE’s clients, who lived in northern Haiti and were not directly impacted by the quake, took others who were forced to flee the devastation of Port-au-Prince into their homes. We saw, and have continued to see, God at work in their generosity. Continue Reading…

Mona Louifils

Mona Louifils currently buys and sells cookies and candies, but she dreams of the day when she can put her training as a seamstress to work. While she does not yet have enough money to pursue her dream, Mona is saving $2.52 a week as a member of a HOPE Haiti savings group, called “Christ is our only hope,” and plans on investing her savings in a sewing machine. “I enjoy this program because it has taught me to save,” says Mona. “I thank God for…introducing me to this program.”

Pierre Bernard Bruno

For over a decade, Pierre Bernard Bruno has been supplying his community of Terrier Rouge, Haiti, with well constructed, hand-made furniture.  As a husband and a father of six children, Pierre says providing for his family has always been difficult.  Without the ability to keep many materials in stock, he has been limited in his furniture construction.  Now repaying his second loan from Esperanza International, HOPE’s partner in Haiti, Pierre has purchased new tools and expanded his supply of wood.  His wife and six children are benefitting, as Pierre’s increased income ensures healthier, more frequent meals and provides his children with the supplies and books they need to attend school.  Though Pierre’s business is now promoted simply by word of mouth, he dreams of having a storefront where he can display his work for the community to see.