Where We Work: Haiti
Even before the devastating earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, an event that killed 220,000 people and left more than two million people homeless, the living conditions in Haiti were the worst in the Western Hemisphere. When describing the impact, one medical professional referred to the earthquake as an "acute-on-chronic" event and we can think of no better description. Add to this a number of aftershocks, outbreaks of cholera and lack of recovery infrastructure, and Haiti remains in a state of emergency.
As a result of this poverty, the risk of exploitation and the acceptance of it is high. Perhaps the most traditionally accepted practice is one where children, often from poor rural areas, are sent to “work” for families in larger cities. Rather than fulfilling promises of fair work and education, these children, locally known as “restaveks,” are worked for 12+ hours per day and are physically, emotionally and sexually abused. Traffickers also exploit children for commercial sexual exploitation, sex tourism and field labor.
Children’s Hope is an orphan ministry of First Baptist Church (Montgomery, Alabama) working in Jacmel to provide an alternative and safe haven from such exploitation. Based on James 1:27, the mission of Children's Hope is to engage the church in carrying out God's command to care for orphans.
Following the earthquake in January 2010, Samuel Lafalaise, then just 22 years old, became the sole provider for 16 orphans. His home destroyed in the earthquake, Samuel secured a tent where he and the children lived until Children’s Hope intervened.
Children’s Hope, in partnership with the Alabama State Board of Missions, came alongside Samuel to provide housing and resources to help care for the children he rescued. A temporary home was established in August 2010, and construction for a permanent home is currently underway.
Through the dedication of CH team members, Tommy and Joy Schwindling and Charley and Martie Elgin, Children’s Hope has been able to extend their reach to build relationships with Haitian pastors, other mission organizations, and members of mission teams. Through these partnerships, Children’s Hope now directs a medical clinic, sewing center and five church schools that reach more than 500 children.
In 2012, 100X established a new partnership with Children’s Hope to provide care for orphans living in Jacmel, and funding has been allocated to build two new children’s homes. Today, Children’s Hope is caring for 23 orphaned children in Jacmel, and with the planned expansion, they will have the capacity to reach 60.