Hearts United with Haiti
In keeping with our ministry philosophy, we always hire locals to join
us - whether it be at a medical clinic (above left) by using local doctors
and medical professionals or when building (above right) by using local craftsmen and laborers. This way we can build relationship, offer jobs, and demonstrate that they (the Haitian people) can do it!
(it's not a matter of us coming to do things FOR people but rather WITH people!)
What REALLY Helps?
(information for teams, but also for others wanting to know our philosophy on ministry)
Before coming to Haiti we ask our teams to take a moment and ask themselves WHY they are coming on this trip. We pray it is because God has called them. If participants come thinking they are going to bring God to the people of Haiti we want them to know that He is already here! He is already at work and (sorry if this offends), He doesn’t NEED anyone's help. Yes, He desires to use people for His purposes and for His plans, but even if you (or any of us) would not come, His Will is going to be done. So, why should teams and/or individuals come? Our prayer is that they come to be His servant and to be used by Him to show His love to the Haitians, to encourage and disciple believers, to reach out to those searching and share Him with them, and to model the ministry of Jesus while He was on earth. That is our first and foremost goal of Hearts United with Haiti.
One of the first questions we often get asked by people who desire to join us in Haiti is, “What can we bring to give out to the Haitians?” While there are legitimate needs and items we can hand out (and appropriate times to do so), we want you to think about the lasting impact of handouts as you prepare for your trip to Haiti or anywhere else that God calls you. There are many good books written on this subject that can express these ideas much more clearly than this small page, but bottom line is that handouts (especially financial in nature) often serve to perpetuate a cycle of dependency upon those giving them rather than foster independence. Giving handouts can hurt the local businessmen who are trying to sell the very items being distributed, thus giving the locals no reason to frequent their shops. Giving handouts can encourage children to miss school so they can sit outside the distribution point and wait for items (let’s be honest- children are much more difficult to resist than an adult or teen) to bring home, thus not gaining the education needed for their future. Giving handouts can hurt the self esteem of the father or mother who is working hard to instill a work ethic in their children and/or imply to their family that the father/mother is not able to support them. Giving handouts can set someone (the recipient of the handout) up for abuse, ridicule, or even put them in danger within their community once you have left them behind.
While giving handouts seems like a way for those of us who have such an abundance to bless those who have less (in our opinion), there are many lasting consequences from our actions that we need to consider if we are to be responsible stewards. We at Hearts United with Haiti encourage our teams and individuals to invest in PEOPLE- in their spiritual and emotional needs as well as their physical needs. Jesus himself met physical needs so we are not saying this is a bad thing, but more importantly He met their spiritual needs- always directing them to His Father. This is often a different way to think and requires a little more from you, the participant, however we really feel this is what we have been called to. This is why a lot of our ministries are focused on sustainable projects- building chicken houses and teaching how to raise chickens to feed an orphanage, installing container gardens to feed a family, teaching skills at the training and discipleship center so people can form small businesses or sustain themselves and then working with them toward setting and achieving long-term goals, etc…
Do we ever give handouts? Of course we do, but we attempt to do so in a responsible manner and usually try to partner immediate relief with some sort of long-term program- working with the locals so they are actively involved in the solution and no longer require assistance in the future. These programs are some of what you as a participant will be involved in if you join us in Haiti. They are ongoing and many will take years to realize independence. We will also ask you as a participant to pray with our ministry partners and locals, to spend time with them, to invest in PEOPLE –not things! This is not going to change Haiti overnight and may not change Haiti at all, but for the people we are blessed to minister and work with, it is making a difference. We are already seeing that feeling of pride and that confidence as they realize they are providing for their families and as they build relationships with our participants and ultimately strengthen their relationship with their Heavenly Father- knowing He loves them individually and has not forgotten them.
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