Revelife editor-in-chief Rebecca just returned from a week-long mission trip to Haiti. This week, she will share with you a taste of what she experienced and learned.
"Ayiti, mon pays. Wounded mother I've never seen."
-- The Arcade Fire, "Haiti"
The people of Haiti know that the odds are against them. Many families give everything to help their children get a better life through education. These children get sent away from their small rural villages to the cities where formal education is more readily available. When that education is finished, few if any return home for lack of employment opportunities there.
But when the earth was torn apart on January 12, 2010, a lot of things changed.
Parts of Port-au-Prince were flattened, literally annihilated, and many lives were lost. It would be nearly impossible to find one Haitian whose life was not affected by this natural disaster.
For the residents of Port-au-Prince who survived, a very difficult choice had to be made. Do I stay here and pick up the pieces, or do I leave and go home, where options are limited and poverty is an epidemic?
Many chose to go home. Jean-Claude was one such person. He returned to his village of Bohoc, some four hours north of Port-au-Prince on a road that is only partially paved.
Bohoc isn't isolated, but it's worlds apart from Port-au-Prince. A largely agricultural community, the people of Bohoc are in extreme poverty due to a lack of resources and difficult growing conditions. There are no paved roads, and only parts of the town have electricity as the wires are currently being installed. Running water is a luxury few people can afford.
Despite these seemingly insurmountable difficulties, the people of Bohoc are compassionate and care deeply for the community. They live life outside with other people, and when they make decisions for the village, they try to choose what is best for everyone. Sometimes that requires sacrifice -- even a few feet of land to widen a road is extremely precious. There isn't an inch of land that isn't in some way owned by someone.
There are many schools in Bohoc, and children are being taught English to give them a better chance at making it. Knowing English is an extreme advantage; it provides opportunities to work in higher-paying jobs and even to travel to the United States, where many educated Haitians have fled to over the decades.
Jean-Claude cares deeply for this little community. He leads a counsel of local leaders who, with an organization called The 410 Bridge, help to connect churches with service opportunities in Bohoc. Rather than allowing missionaries to come into the community and build something they think Bohoc needs, The 410 Bridge and the leadership counsel bring teams together with the local people to help them build the things that the community needs -- like roads, pit latrines, and churches.
So that's the story so far. We have a community in severe poverty full of people who care deeply for one another and an organization trying to help work with the people rather than for the people. In the next several days, I'll tell you what we did in the community, how these experiences changed the lives of the people on my team and what the future of Bohoc could look like.Have you ever been on a mission trip? Where did you go? What sort of things did you do in the community? Did you get the chance to work with the local people?