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Do We Need a Reason to Help People?

May 7, 2013

Like many who come to serve the Lord in Haiti, I find my role constantly evolving.  My work at the COPSA-Haiti Nursing School and Laboratory, providing well-trained nurses in the Artibonite at the lowest cost possible, continues to be the primary focus of my ministry.  The English classes I now teach on weekends, my secondary focus of late, are an anomaly here, as I do not charge for participation.  These classes provide an excellent vehicle for me to discuss spiritual matters with people here, and connect with the lives of those in my community.

But I also have a broad and ever-growing unintentional ministry in my community.  The Spirit often speaks from my heart, urging me to be sensitive of the needs of the people with whom I live and respond whenever I can.  As a result I often find myself in the role of ‘first responder’—providing emergency aid until a more comprehensive solution can be developed—helping to pay school fees for those for whom no other option seems available, providing a bit of cash for food or sharing my meals with those who have nothing to eat, replacing footwear that is in tatters, covering hospital fees and medications for those without means, providing help to obtain needed personal documents, lending out my tools, sharing my precious water with my neighbours when they have none, helping people access their Facebook pages or compose emails in English to friends in Canada or the US, or simply allowing others to charge their phones in my home .

I make it very clear to all here that my personal resources are very limited, that I cannot meet every need no matter how legitimate, and that I do not brook freeloaders gracefully.  God has provided me with a few close friends who know the situation of most in our community, and more and more I have come to trust their judgment in assessing level of need.  But sometimes doing things for those whose purpose is to take advantage of me softens their hearts.   I have come to believe more and more that there are no ‘bad’ people in this world (how can anyone of God’s creation be bad?), only people whose souls have been distorted by the darkness of this world.   Through the power of love that God provides me I try to do what I can to restore light to those souls.  Helping the ‘undeserving’ (there are none) often also speaks to others who are aware of what has happened.   I have also learned that whatever I give, God gives back, often in unexpected ways, so that I never go without anything I need.

As some of you know, asking for money is my least favourite part of my ministry.  I am in total agreement with the sentiments of Richard Frechette, a missionary who has worked in the slums of Port-au-Prince for many years, when he wrote in his book Haiti: The God of Tough Places, the Lord of Burnt Men that having to raise money for one’s ministry is “the most sinful waste of time”.  The Bible speaks at length about supporting the work of God.  It should not be necessary to add to that. Indeed the Lord provides, but most often He does that through His people.

That said, as reluctant as I am to do so, I feel I must ask.  The Lord has quietly put on my heart some specific needs and I feel His urging to make others aware of them.

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As I wrote in Something New at Somewhere ‘Old’, (April 30, 2013), Pastor Job and the people of L’Èglise de Dieu Maranatha de Vielle (The Vielle Church of God Maranatha) have outgrown their church building and wish to relocate to a more accessible location.  The church is seeking $1600 to assist them to purchase the land for the new building and to begin construction.  Pastor Job has humbly requested my help, and on Sunday delivered an official document on church letterhead, signed and sealed, authorizing me to act in the capacity of fundraiser.

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Pastor Frito at L’Èglise Corps du Christ (The Church on the Corridor, May 6, 2013) envisions a kitchen building where it would be easier to prepare meals for the children of his orphanage and where they could all sit down to eat together.  He would like to buy a small piece of land adjoining the church to build the kitchen.  He would also like to see their church building completed.  When I questioned him concerning the cost, he told me the land purchase and construction of the kitchen would be about $2000, and completely finishing the church would run about $10,000.  While I believe that completing the church building would certainly be desirable, both the pastor and I consider the kitchen far more important.  I would also consider funds to properly furnish the children’s rooms a priority.

—–o—–

I have in the past mentioned the needs of our nursing school in Saint-Marc.  I would now like to frame my request more concretely.  Some of our students are at risk of being unable to complete their courses for financial reasons.  Some of those involved in the school’s administration, especially Dr. Felix, have reached into their pockets to help a few.  Presently the doctor is working in a hospital in Port-au-Prince to have more money to help more.  I see his efforts as laudable, but his absence from the school is a serious detriment.  But without outside assistance, the choice always comes down to losing some students or losing the school.   Consequently, some of our students will inevitably fall by the wayside, their opportunity to make a better life for themselves, their families, and the people and communities whom they would serve in a nursing career, will be lost.  To me, that would be a crushing tragedy.

The doctor and I agonized over selecting just two students to present to you from among the many in need.  As is so often the case in Haiti, it is heart wrenching to be able to only help a few.

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Schneider Hyacinthe is a 20 year-old second-year nursing student at COPSA-Haiti Nursing School and Laboratory.  He lives with his widowed mother and four younger siblings, two brothers and two sisters, in the community of Pont Tambour on the west side of Saint-Marc.  His mother works a small garden to try to support her family, but her meagre income makes it a huge financial burden to the family to have Schneider attend our school.  With the steadily rising cost of living in Haiti, it is unlikely that he will be able to complete his studies without financial assistance.  Schneider hopes to find employment in a hospital or with a medical organization when he graduates.  He is anxious to be able help his mother support the family.

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Fabienne Charles, 23, is also a second-year nursing student at our school.  She lives with her older sister, both her parents being deceased.  Her uncle has assisted her to pursue her education, but is finding it difficult to continue as he has three growing children of his own to support.  Fabienne is presently leaning toward the social work aspects of nursing as her chosen career.

At today’s exchange rate, the yearly tuition for a nurse at our school is slightly more than $400 Canadian.

—–o—–

I pray that I will find others whom the Lord will lead to join me in these efforts.  If He speaks to your heart, you may contact me by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” that appears at the bottom of this blog post.

All is in His hands.  He is the reason.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Sonya Wiseman permalink
    April 19, 2017 3:12 pm

    Hello. I really enjoy your posts on Haiti. I fell in love with the country and its people immediately following my first visit to the island in December 2016. So much so, I am now in the process of starting a business offering tours with a focus on supporting the local economy and small villages. Is the nursing school still in operation? I will be in the country sometime in June and would love to visit. Hope to hear from you soon. Peace to you and your house. ~Sonya Wiseman

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