Trip to Haiti offers opportunity to partner with locals

Abbie Stuart

Many people remember Haiti as the nation that was struck by a devastating earthquake in 2010.  In the five years since then, Haiti has regained some of its footing, but the struggle of daily life is still there.  And they’ve invited us to help them continue to grow.

In response to an invitation from Haiti Lifeline, students from Washburn have the opportunity to go to Croix des Bouquet, a suburb of Port au Prince from June 18-26.  The team will be providing vocational training, but should also be ready to do some basic labor tasks such as painting the orphanage where the team will be staying while in Haiti.  The vocational training will include basics in computer software, machine sewing, car repair, construction, first aid, and health and child care.

“We don’t want to go there and just provide a bunch of aid,” said Steve Greene, part-time director of Washburn YoungLife and part-time director of college fellowship at Lion and the Lamb church.  “What we want to do is help in any way that we can with Haiti Lifeline developing members of the community that will have a trade or skill that will help build their own communities.”  

Greene went on to add that there are two options when giving aid to other nations when disaster strikes them.

“We can go down there and fix their cars, but it costs a lot of money…and it’s a lot of money being used by someone from America that could go into their economy.  Or we can teach them how to work on their cars and through that, sustain their own economy and they have a basic skill,” said Greene.

Greene also pointed out that there is a certain dignity to work, which helps boost the morale of struggling nations.  

“Intrinsically, I think there’s dignity to work,” Greene said.  “That’s what we’re called to as human being.  In the creational mandate…there’s this idea of work, and work was before the fall, so work is a good thing…we don’t want to be taking dignity away from them…we want to be affirming the dignity God has given them.”

The trip is in association with Haiti Lifeline, an organization that is dedicated to helping the citizens of Haiti.  Haiti Lifeline was begun in 1999 by Nicole Dieudonne.  After returning to her native Haiti when she finished college in the United States, Dieudonne began ministering to the local children and their mothers under a large mango tree by her house.  Since then, Diuedonne’s ministry has developed into the Centre for Children International Life Line d’Haiti Orphanage, which provides care for up to a hundred orphans.  Diuedonne manages the orphanage and the care of the orphans that members of the team can expect to interact with.  Greene explained how the American idea of an orphan is not necessarily the same as the type of orphan that lives at the orphanage.

“Don’t assume that what we think of an orphan is what they are.  We often think of orphans as their mom and dad has died or they’ve been abandoned, but…in Haiti especially, these children have parents that are alive.  They’re just unable to financially take care of them and they’re invited to…bring them into the orphanage where they’re going to get a meal a day as opposed to a meal a week.”

Greene says that students who go to Haiti can also expect it to be a sweet time of learning as well as serving.

“If you’re going to Haiti because you want to feel good about yourself, you want to have your moment with an orphan, then this isn’t the trip you want to go to.  If you want to go with the idea that you want to serve a people and learn from a people who are in some ways different, but in a lot of ways similar to us, then that’s the goal of the trip.  It’s to serve and learn in a culture that is unlike ours,” said Greene.  “I just want to emphasize that you’re not going there because they need you.  We’re going there in a partnership with them.  They’ve invited us to come, and it’s a privilege to serve at Haiti Lifeline…They’ve invited us to participate in what God is doing in their community by serving and learning from them in their community in Croix de Bouquet.”

The trip is estimated to cost $1300.  There are only a limited number of spots available.  Students who are interested in going on the trip or would like more information should contact Steve Greene at [email protected].