Tag Archives: transformation

Microcredit in the late 1990s

One project Martha and I are currently working on is creating a booklet highlighting World Concern’s work in Haiti over the past 30 plus years.  This means doing some serious digging through old reports and files looking for important dates, photos and milestones in our organizations history in Haiti.  It is tedious work but definitely has its benefits.  One such benefit is finding fascinating details about projects we implemented 5, 10 and 20 years ago.  While looking through a report today from December 1998 through May 1999, I found the story of a woman named Mrs. Joseph Duclehomme.  This woman was part of World Concern’s microcredit program and shared about her experience.   

Her story read like this:

“My name is Mrs. Joseph Duclehomme.  I have three children and I am a member of the village bank ‘Bank Tet Ansanm’ (Head Together).  This is my first loan in the association.  I borrowed 1,500 gourdes ($100) from World Concern Haiti for six months.  My principal activities are buying basic food from a market and selling it to another local market.  After each market trip, I make a little profit and save some money to pay my loan.  I have already reimbursed five months capital and interest.  Next month I will pay my last installment.  Thanks to this loan, I can now pay for tuition for my children.  Before the loan, I paid about 50 – 100 gourdes a month for a tithe for my church.  Since I got the loan, I now pay around 100 – 150 gourdes a month.  I love my church because this is the place where I meet God every week.  I hope to see World Concern supporting more women in this locality because there are so many needs.”

And this is just one of many stories I have stumbled upon so far while doing research.

Women_Credit Training_WC Project Report Dec 1998 - May 1999

So this picture looks super old thanks to the poor resolution and lack of color (since it was scanned with a black & white scanner) but it is actually from the same report as the story above in 1999. Here, women are being trained in business management before receiving their first loan with World Concern.

 Beginning in 1989, World Concern Haiti began offering small loans to low income small business owners.  This program continues to this day and currently provides services to over 5,000 clients across the country.  Many merchants in Haiti are women.  In Haiti women are the backbone of the economy.  Therefore supporting them in their income generating activities is very important to ensuring that families in Haiti are able to meet their basic needs.

It is encouraging to see how World Concern has been impacting people in Haiti for quite some time, and especially women through microcredit.

Day of the Girl – education & empowerment

October 11 2012 is an important day. It marks the first annual International Day of the Girl. Martha and I want to use this day as an opportunity to advocate for girls in Haiti and celebrate the successes that we are seeing in Haiti with our organization, World Concern.

It is becoming clear globally as well as in Haiti, that empowering girls and providing them with resources to succeed is vital in the long term development of communities and the country as a whole.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen recently said, “Countries that have expanded opportunities for women and girls in education and work in recent decades have largely achieved greater prosperity and moderated population growth while limiting child mortality and achieving social progress for all…There is an overwhelming need to pay attention to the needs of girls and women.”

As Mr. Sen indicates, increasing opportunities to education for girls is an important way we can work to improve the rights of women and girls. In Haiti specifically, this is a big need. According to the United Nations Human Development Report for 2011, only 22.5% of women in Haiti have at least a secondary education.

This is exactly why World Concern is working towards educating girls in Haiti and providing them with opportunities to succeed. World Concern is an organization that believes children are the hope for the future. As with other program areas, our work in education is focused on meeting the needs of the most vulnerable. This makes me excited and is one reason (of many) that I am pleased to be a part of this organization!

Kethia showing off her big smile

In June I had the opportunity to meet Kethia.  This young girl had a calm demeanor but her smile radiated a lot of energy and joy.  She is a sixth grader and a part of World Concern’s Hope to Kids program in southern Haiti.  This program provides students in rural Haiti with a goat, which they take home and help raise.  For Kethia, the goat is much more than a pet; it is her future!

“When my goat had kids, I was able to sell the kids to pay for school,” Kethia explained.

Education is empowering Kethia and providing her with the knowledge she needs to have a bright future.

The Hope to Kids program is helping to educate many students like Kethia

If poverty is to be overcome, if communities are to be renewed, and if transformation is to occur, girls must be protected, equipped, and engaged. There is certainly no silver bullet in doing such things. However education is one area that can make a difference in the lives of girls.

 

 

This week, to celebrate the first annual International Day of the Girl, I want to ask you to remember in your prayers Kethia and other girls like her in Haiti.  These are precious young women that like young women everywhere, have dreams of a full and abundant life.  There remain many challenges for girls in Haiti, specifically in regards to opportunities for continued education, however I hope you are encouraged by the small successes we are seeing.

Who said learning couldn’t be fun?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martha and I see ourselves as advocates for Haiti.  We care about this place and its’ people deeply.  Our desire is to communicate stories of hope and transformation that give a just and accurate picture of life in Haiti.  There is so much more to this country than what you see on television.  Thank you for your partnership in telling Kethia’s story to people all over the world.  Martha and I are able and willing to serve but we realize nothing could happen without the support of people like you.  If you have not joined our support team and are interested in helping us serve the most vulnerable in Haiti, I would encourage you to consider becoming a monthly partner.  This is an investment that you will not regret!

Jekob – World Concern Video

Musician Jekob recently teamed up with World Concern to put together this new video.  Great to see talented artists like Jekob use their influence and leverage to bring awareness to the issue of global poverty.  There are even a couple shots in the video from World Concern’s work in Haiti.  Can you pick them out?

Martha and I will have the opportunity to document World Concern’s work in Haiti, using words, photos, and video.  The poor in Haiti deserve to be heard.  We hope to provide an avenue for them to share their story.  If you are interested in joining our team and helping us communicate stories of hope and transformation, consider making a gift to our ministry!

For more videos from World Concern check out their YouTube channel.

The power of water

While in rural southern Haiti I had a farmer named Maurice Moises tell me, “If we have water we can do anything.”

For some reason, this matter of fact statement was impactful.  Even more so than all the research and reading and work I had done previously in water and sanitation (from afar).  It was in this moment that I realized how easy it is to understand an issue and know the stats, but not really comprehend what it means for individuals and families in southern Haiti on a daily basis.  Maurice taught me, in a few short words, about the life giving potential of clean water.

Maurice’s comment also highlights the innovative and industrious attitude of Haitians.  Rural Haitians, I am finding, are very capable.  This should come as no surprise.  Farmers I know in the U.S. are handy because they have to be.  The same goes for Haitian farmers.  In order to produce a good crop and provide for their families, they must be adaptable and creative.  I say all of this to simply point out that farmers in rural Haiti have something to bring to the table.  If we are to truly transform lives, Haitians must play an active role and be primary stakeholders.  That is why I am proud to work for World Concern.  We see incredible value and potential in those we serve.  As an organization, we simply want to come alongside communities and provide them with the encouragement and resources they need to succeed.

I hope these pictures will paint a better picture of the life giving potential of clean water than I can ever describe.  Enjoy!

Girls washing their containers before filling them with water

A girl carrying water back to her home

Martha and I want to invite you to join us as we serve communities in rural Haiti.  In providing clean water, we are attempting to alleviate physical suffering.  However in the same breath we also desire to love those we serve and draw them closer to knowing Jesus.  We cannot carry out this vision on our own!  Martha and I need ministry partners.  Maybe you are in a place where you could become a monthly financial partner.  We would like to ask you to consider joining our ministry team and serving the Haitian people in this way.  If you feel so led, you can make an gift on our page on World Concern’s website.

Thank you for your encouragement and support!

Reality and hope

The Brookings Institution has recently put out a fascinating bit of data related to Development and Aid.  According to the Washington D.C. based think-tank, its’ Development, Aid and Governance Indicators (DAGI) will:

facilitate evidence-based policy analysis and foster discussions about trends in foreign assistance, governance and global development by providing a user-friendly and interactive database that features six indicators covering foreign aid, governance, and global poverty and middle class.

Foster discussion, it likely will, but how much it will actually influence policy is yet to be determined.  For more on the possible impact of DAGI, check out Tom Murphy’s recent post on the Humanosphere blog.

Brookings’ DAGI allows for quick and easy searching by region or country and provides a wealth of data about indicators ranging from global poverty to aid quality.  For someone very interested in development trends, this is great stuff.  I focused my searching on Haiti and what I discovered is very telling.

Here is a graph shows the middle class in millions of Haiti and a handful of other countries I chose to compare it against.

 

It may be difficult to read, but the disparity is clear.  Haiti has a middle class that numbers less than one million in a country with a population of around 9 million.

 

 

Here is another graph that depicts the “headcount ratio” by country, of those living below a poverty line of $2 a day.  This is the percentage of the population living below that poverty line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This data is tough because it is raw.  It doesn’t come with any background, explanation, or solution.

I want to stop here and share with you why I hesitated even posting this information.  The data DAGI provides us with, in some ways, reinforces certain assumptions we already have of places in the world like Haiti.  I can hear now the “I could have told you that these countries were poor” thought crossing your mind.  We have all seen the pictures on the news and heard the stories.  I don’t want to be another voice simply describing how messed up and hopeless the world is.  In fact, I want you to know that Haiti is a beautiful place.  Haiti still faces a number of challenges as it moves forward, but wow have there been some wonderful successes.  The people of Haiti are innovative, resourceful, and fun loving.  As someone invested in this wonderful country, I want you to know about the beauty and not just the sadness.

There is a fine balance I am attempting to achieve.   I want to share with you stories of hope and show you the transformation that is happening at the community level in Haiti.  However, I also feel the need to help you remember Haiti and to communicate the realities facing our Haitian brothers and sisters on a daily basis because we have a short memory.  Often, before one “humanitarian crisis” is over, our attention is already on the next one.  I am in pursuit of finding this perfect balance and I admit I am still learning.

So why share this data?  Well, I wanted to communicate two points:

  1. Great needs remain in Haiti, as individuals and communities continue to rebuild.
  2. Hope is present and transformation continues.

Development, positive change, transformation, and relationships take time.  Continue to remember Haiti!  Thank you for your prayers, passion, interest, and continued partnership.

Capturing transformation

Check out this new video from World Concern!  Photography and video are wonderful tools to use when telling a story.  Our hope is to use multimedia to better communicate with you about the ongoing and enriching work of World Concern in Haiti.  Martha and I are excited to introduce you to the vibrant and hopeful Haiti we have come to know.  Thank you for your partnership in transforming communities in Haiti.

Note: Props to the great communication team at World Concern for creating this video

Transformation

Martha and I have spent the last week in beautiful Ludington Michigan.  Much of Martha’s family, including her parents, are in Ludington this summer so it was a good time to visit.  We have been talking a lot about Haiti and World Concern as well.  As we share with others about our work, we often talk about transformation.  According to dictionary.com, to transform is to “change in condition, nature, or character.”  By definition, transformation involves a change.  The reason we talk about transformation so much is because we believe in change!  We see opportunities in Haiti for lives to be changed and transformed.  We desire people and communities to move from a place of despair and stagnancy, to a place of hope and abundance.

This theme of transformation continues to follow us.  Martha and I were at Cornerstone Baptist church yesterday, here in Ludington.  We always enjoy coming to Michigan and reconnecting with friends at Cornerstone.  The service begins and we sing some fun songs, which were led by the kids.  Nothing like beginning Sunday morning by waving your arms and jumping around!  Then the Pastor gets on stage and begins talking about transformation, of all things.  He was explaining how God is all about transformation and desires to see us become a new creation.  How awesome!  We were encouraged to see how our friends here in Michigan are also working towards transforming their community.

Definitions are often boring and may use words that you’ve never heard of to define a word you’re trying to understand.  Why do they do that?  Anyway, as I was doing some research on the word transformation, I found a definition that I both understood and really liked.  I learned that transformation has a different definition in the context of theater.

Theater – a seemingly miraculous change in the appearance of scenery or actors in view of the audience.

How beautiful.  Something miraculous is certainly involved in transformation.  We know this in our own lives.  As we grow up and become adults and mature, we change.  With God’s help, we get rid of the things that once hindered us and embrace the person we have become.

This is also true for individuals and communities in Haiti.  A better life is possible.  An improved living situation or successful crop or growing business is a welcomed change and can put people on the path towards complete transformation.   Practically, World Concern is participating in transformation by:

  • Providing education to kids
  • Training and equipping farmers
  • Providing entrepreneurs with small loans to start a business
  • Supporting those with HIV/AIDS
  • Rebuilding communities following natural disasters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for joining us in working towards positive change in Haiti!