Tag Archives: World Concern

Haiti Day 1 – A Place to Call Home

Today we arrived in Haiti.  According to our pilot, visibility was eight miles and I believed him.  As the plane fell closer and closer to earth you could see the sprawling city of Port-au-Prince, beginning near the sea and extending all the way up the mountains which surround it.  The first thing you notice upon stepping out of the airport is the heat.  Not simply the temperature, but how the warmth surrounds you and falls upon your skin. 

Our group is seven in total, including Martha and I.  We immediately went to the World Concern office here in Port-Au-Prince and said hello to our colleagues and friends.  Since beginning this journey with World Concern, Martha and I have felt as though we are part of a family.  This feeling was affirmed as our Haitian brothers and sisters warmly welcomed us today.  After greetings and a tour of the formidable three story office building, we headed out to meet some families in the city who have had houses rebuilt with the help of World Concern.

This was a truly humbling afternoon.

We met Elias & Louis whose house was completely destroyed by the earthquake in January 2010.  They, along with their seven children, were suddenly homeless.  This family, which numbers twelve in all, found themselves hopping around from one temporary living situation to the other.  After nearly a year and a half of being on the move, World Concern helped Elias & Louis rebuild their home on the small piece of land where their former home was.  They and their family could finally return home.  Elias explained that since receiving their new home, his family’s situation has greatly improved compared to what it was like shortly after the earthquake.

Wow.  Life is not perfect for Elias and his family but he is the first to acknowledge that God has protected his family. 

We enjoyed the few moments we had with Elias & Louis so much.  This couple, along with the World Concern Haiti staff, has already showed us the beauty and resilience of the Haitian people we have read so much about.   At the end of our first day in Haiti we are exhausted but so thankful to be here.

The Role of Women in Haiti

Martha and I have been privileged to meet several people in the Seattle area that have direct experience working in Haiti.  These new found friends have been a source of encouragement and have taught us much about what we can expect in Haiti.  One such friend invited us to join her this past week for a talk given by Anne-Christine d’Adesky, hosted by the World Affairs Council.  The talk was titled “What About the Women?  The role of women in post-quake Haiti” and focused on the difficulties facing women following the 2010 quake and highlighted some triumphs.  D’Adesky is a journalist, author, filmmaker, and gender rights advocate with extensive experience in Haiti so the stories and information she shared regarding women in Haiti was raw and telling.  Gender specific programs (both from aid groups and the public sector) in Haiti receive little funding in comparison to other sectors such as agriculture and health.  Additionally, women in Haiti are particularly vulnerable to domestic assault and sexual violence.  The fact that the country is still recovering from the massive earthquake over two years ago just exacerbates their plight.

Our experience and future work is within the context of community development and the non-government organization (NGO).  Therefore, I found myself asking the question “What does this information mean for NGOs, specifically for Martha and I in our future work, and how can we come alongside women in Haiti?”  D’Adesky provided some sound recommendations for what can be improved and two particularly stuck out to me:

1.  Bring women in Haiti to the table.  Include women in the decisions being made that effect their lives and families.  Allow them to participate not only in the rebuilding of their own lives and strengthening of their rights, but also in the rebuilding of their community and country.

2.  Give women’s programs and services the attention and financial support they deserve.

This talk gave us a deeper understanding of the situation for many women in Haiti today.  We hope to take this knowledge and turn it into action.  Martha and I don’t have a ton of influence or power, but the energy and skills we do have will certainly be used to empower and strengthen women in our sphere.  We are looking forward to sharing with you first hand about how World Concern is using its’ resources and leverage to support women in Haiti.  To see what World Concern is up to in Haiti please follow this link and then click on “Haiti” on the right hand side of the page.

Philippines & future ministry

Martha and I recently returned from the Philippines and wanted to share with you about our trip.  As many of you know, Martha’s parents serve as faculty members at Baptist Theological College (BTC) in Cebu City.  We had the opportunity to help lead a group of 16 Americans who came to work with and encourage students at BTC.  We spent the week painting on campus, practicing English with the students, serving in local ministries, and worshiping together.  This was a very rewarding experience for the team of Americans, the students, and us.  Another big reason for the trip to the Philippines was to simply spend time with Martha’s folks!  It was great to have some good family time in their home.  We got to spend a few days together on beautiful Bantayan Island enjoying creation, playing games, and resting.  We are thankful for old relationships rekindled and new friendships made during our three weeks in the Philippines.  It was refreshing for Martha to be ‘home’ and for me to see for the first time where she grew up.  We couldn’t help but wonder what similarities, if any, exist between the Philippines and our future home of Haiti.  The tropical weather perhaps?  We are eager to find out.

We came back to Seattle excited about what lies ahead for us with World Concern!  Thank you for your notes and emails following our first prayer letter in January.

The past couple weeks, the Country Directors and other personnel from World Concern’s international offices have been here in Seattle.  It was a great time of fellowship and collaboration for the organization’s leadership.  We had the opportunity to meet with Christon Domond the Haiti Country Director and Pierre Uwimana the Deputy Country Director.  It was a privilege to hear directly from them about the work going on in Haiti.   We were also encouraged to hear from Christon and Pierre about how our roles will help the Haiti team impact more lives in the years ahead.

In our roles, we will have the opportunity to work closely with the local staff and beneficiaries.  Specifically, I (Austin) will be assisting local staff in preparing project reports and grants.  Additionally, I will help collect and write stories from the field.  Martha naturally has a creative eye and will be using that to capture World Concern’s work in Haiti using photography and video.  We all recognize the power of a story.  Our work will produce powerful stories that will hopefully inspire people to act on behalf of the Haitian people.

Why are we going?  We are going because we are passionate about the people and we want to contribute to the life changing work already happening in Haiti!  This position fits our skills well and allows us to help the World Concern Haiti team meet their communication needs.  Martha and I have long agreed that serving internationally and within the development field was something that we wanted.  We feel humbled to have the opportunity to work alongside Haitian brothers and sisters and believe that hope and change can continue to be carried out there.

We feel 100% that the Lord has provided this opportunity for us at just the right time.  He has undoubtedly been preparing us for a mission like this and we believe we have been carefully and intentionally led in this direction.  The process with World Concern has been very smooth and affirming which is why we are confident that God is behind it.

Please pray for safety in travel for Christon and Pierre as they return to Haiti.  Following the earthquake in 2010, the World Concern Haiti team grew from around 85 staff to close to 160.  Therefore, the need for prayer is great!  Pray that they will receive all the strength, wisdom, and courage they need to lead the Haiti team well.

Thank you for your prayers and support.  There is no way we can, by ourselves, reach our goal of serving in Haiti for two years.  Please consider how God may be leading you to contribute to our ministry in Haiti.  We are eager to arrive in Haiti and join the team as they continue to transform lives.  We are grateful for your partnership and financial support.

Martha and I are available to talk with you and would truly enjoy it!  Feel free to contact us through email or phone.  We hope to talk to you soon.

Blessings,

Austin and Martha Snowbarger

A copy of World Concern’s disclosure statement is available by clicking here

Austin’s cell – 206.719.7031
austinsnowbarger@gmail.com
Martha’s cell – 206.707.1058
marthasnowbarger@gmail.com

Click here to donate to support Echoes of Hope online, or copy and paste the following url into your web browser:  http://worldconcern.org/fieldworkers/snowbarger/.   The donation on this page goes to support Austin & Martha Snowbarger.

For information on setting up an automatic monthly gift via your bank account, please go to www.worldconcern.org/forms.

Our story, in our words

We wanted to tell you a little more about our story and how we arrived at this point in our journey…

AUSTIN “For me it started in college where, while majoring in Global Studies, I quickly became fascinated with culture and the world we live in.  I also became aware of poverty and its implications on individuals and communities.  That this injustice could exist in our modern world bothered me.  James 1:27 says, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’  My reasoning was simple and my conviction strong; if the God I claim to follow and serve cares about this, then I must obey and ‘look after those in distress.’  I was not sure what God’s plan was for this desire to obey but I was willing.  This willingness took me to Amsterdam, Netherlands following graduation where I volunteered at a Christian youth hostel and ministered to backpackers and the city’s transient population.  It was during this time that I met a beautiful and passionate woman named Martha (yup my wife Martha) who shared my interest in people and poverty.  This opportunity in Amsterdam affirmed in me a desire to work closely with international people, especially those that are experiencing some kind of hardship and difficulty.  Upon returning to the U.S. and moving to Seattle, God provided me the opportunity to intern at a large non-profit organization for six months.  This experience gave me an in depth and ‘behind the scenes’ look at what it takes to run quality programs and partner with others in pursuit of alleviating poverty.  For those of you who know me, you know I am not a ‘cubicle kind of guy.’  But wow, I learned a ton and realized that working with the poor was something I wanted to be involved with long term.”

MARTHA “My journey began growing up in the Philippines.  Being there planted in me an interest in living among different cultures and gave me a heart for the poor.  I also had an interest in art, which brought me back to the US to study graphic design in college.  Upon graduation I had envisioned myself working in a design firm.  Instead, I had the opportunity to take part in an intercultural studies internship traveling through Europe and Africa gaining exposure to different cultures and ministries.  Another formative experience was the time I spent working at a youth hostel in Amsterdam.  Here I built relationships with travelers and used graphic design to assist with marketing.  Through these opportunities, I saw my passions for art, culture, and people come together.  It became clear that I wanted to continue being involved in creative communication, learning from other cultures, and participating in the transformation of people’s lives both physically and spiritually.  I was also sure that I wanted to spend the rest of life’s adventures and challenges alongside Austin (who I had met in Amsterdam).  And just as I believe God led us together, he has led us to this opportunity with World Concern that allows me to use each of these passions.”

Following our wedding, Martha and I began looking for opportunities to serve together abroad.  Some things clearly became closed doors.  However we were patient, knowing that God had placed this desire on our hearts for a specific purpose.  This became clear as soon as we began having conversations with the people at World Concern.  We discovered that they, like us, are truly and passionately committed to serving the poor.  God has been preparing us for this position with World Concern, and we are humbled by the opportunity to walk alongside the Haitian people.

Our vision is that Haitians will experience freedom from oppression and be given the opportunity to live life in all its’ fullness–physically, relationally, and spiritually.  As Christ said himself in the Gospel of John, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  What a beautiful promise.  This is what we desire for the people of Haiti and what we believe is possible.  Help us fulfill this vision.

Video – Mission Connexion Northwest

Martha and I had the opportunity to attend Mission Connexion Northwest in January.  Mission Connexion is a missions conference hosted in Vancouver Washington, that attempts to bring together organizations and people that are passionate about missions and development.  Along with a few colleagues, we got to represent World Concern at the event.  This video is a little tour of our awesome booth!