I recently returned from a mission trip with Pinon Hills Community Church to a very isolated village called Marchasse in Haiti. How isolated do you ask? It took 6 hours to go 80 miles on the bumpiest road I have ever experienced. Our project was to help start building the foundation of a larger school building at the church / school complex. Literally, for 4 days we worked side by side with our new Haitian friends passing five gallon buckets of cement and rocks to make the foundation. We worked in conjunction with a group called Experience Mission. This village is off the grid and has no electricity, no plumbing and their source of water is a spring via a 1 inch pcv pipe.
Most of the day for the villagers is spent hauling water to their houses via 5 gallon buckets balanced on their heads. In addition to the hard labor we had afternoon “kids club.” Two hundred children would be packed into the small school house for singing, devotion and games. This was a highlight for all involved! If this school / church complex did not exist these village folks would have nothing. The school currently has around 250 kids whom attend (and our fed lunch) in a one room building and they could have 250 more with a larger building.
Haiti is still arguably the poorest nation on the planet and little has changed from my previous visits in 2011 and 2014 to Port-Au-Prince. A city of over 2.5 million, again, a city with very few amenities we take for granted such as electricity and plumbing and grocery stores. The villagers on the other hand, like most mountain people, were more engaging and friendly, yet in many ways still had even less opportunity than the city folks. Even though this country has an oppressive and corrupt government and literally they live not day to day but meal to meal, they are a people with great resilience and spirit. The children are the happiest and most engaging but that changes when they are too old to go to school and the realization they have no opportunity sinks in.
Our goal for the mission work is to not just “give stuff,” but to give opportunity, new skills and teach the principles of entrepreneurship. When these folks can realize they were made to create, own and grow then the accompanying dignity will follow. I had the opportunity to teach the pastor of the church / school how to give ivermectin worming injections to the local livestock ( mostly goats, which we ate daily). Pastor Jack learned quickly and the hope is that by worming the livestock every 3 months the animals will produce more milk, meat and offspring. In return it is hoped the villagers will give back to the church / school in some way such as money or livestock or other barter which in turn can grow the school and feed the children and perhaps give a few of them an opportunity to further themselves.