Monday, August 31, 2009

The Forgotten City: Cite Soleil, Haiti

We arrived in Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti today!! Read the statistics about Cite Soleil, and imaginations of violence will immediately formulate in your mind. Watch a You Tube video and you will see extreme poverty. However, what greeted us today as we entered Cite Soleil with Tammy Babcock of Help Tammy Help Haiti was wide smiles, warm embraces, and kisses on cheeks.

Today, with the help of several nationals, we completed the priming of the water tower pictured above, where we will be completing a mural in the next couple weeks that will represent the individuals who helped bring the most affordable clean water to Cite Soleil and will also represent hope and life for the people of Cite Soleil. We will have 3 Haitian youth helping us complete the mural project as well. Their hands were such a blessing today!!


Organizations supporting this project:
The Global Awareness Project (
Help Tammy Help Haiti (

Project Mission: To help bring love, beauty, reconciliation, and restoration through art, and to create a bridge for further sustainable projects within Cite Soleil.

Written by my sister (Leah):
"Our prayer for the last year has been that the Lord would expand our borders and carry our ministry into the slum of Cite Soleil, Haiti. Cite Soleil is the largest slum in the Northern Hemisphere with a population of 300,000. It is a city within a city that holds thousands upon thousands of shanties that are surrounded by sewer and garbage. It is a place that has been forgotten because it has been claimed to be one of the poorest, roughest, and most dangerous areas of the Western Hemisphere. Washington Post has stated that over 32 gangs heavily populate the streets with little or no police present. Seven out of ten Haitians in this city strive to live on less than 2 dollars a day. It is a place where children run freely in the sewer and scrounge for days for food. 90% of the children do not attend school.

Caitlin and I first learned of City Soleil when we spent the night in Port-au-Prince, Haiti a year ago, and we met Tammy Babcock, a humanitarian from Canada, at our hotel. Tammy came across this city in the year of 2008 and it left her heart burdened. As she told us about Cite Soleil, our hearts were burdened as well. We knew we had to go. However, the next day we left without Tammy's information, without even her last name. For the past year, we prayed God would somehow reconnect us. As I searched the internet for "Tammy" and "City Soleil" this past April, THERE SHE WAS!!! We immediately contacted her and asked her if we could serve her and the Cite Soleil community in some way.

Tammy Babcock has committed all her efforts to help advocate, fundraise, and support this city and its people. When Tammy travels to this city she brings medical treatments that meet the needs of hundreds of people. Recently the non-profit she started, Help Tammy Help Haiti, broke ground for the first water tower for the city (see above). It was a day of laughter, joy, dancing, and rejoicing as some of these parents and children were seeing there first sight of clean water.

Come November my sister, Caitlin, and I will be traveling to Cite Soleil to walk the streets with Tammy Babcock and serve the people with food, service, medical treatments, and above all else the love of Christ. Caitlin will be painting a mural with a couple of Haitian teenagers on the new water tower, and Leah will be embracing the children.

I challenge you to take a moment and imagine... Imagine waking up in a shanty the size of your bathroom. Now imagine stepping outside and having to cover your nose as the stench of garbage, septic, pigs, and bad hygiene claim the streets. Now imagine that you have not eaten in days and your family has run out of the two dollars you earned on that day, and you take off for the streets in search of food. That food might be in the garbage piles or you might steal for it.

If you have a child I want you to take a moment and imagine him/her at seven years old, starving, no education, no shoes, walking in inches of septic searching for food that might help your family. I challenge you right now to think about how you can pour into the lives of these children and families. Please do not turn your eyes on these people."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mural 4 and Camp Hope in Haiti

This verse has compelled us: "Go and make disciples..." (My sister here reading a Creole bible with one of the kids.)

So, we go...

Wilfet, a young disciple of Christ.

Louvna, another disciple of Christ...

Men who have gotten their first bible.

Teaching the kiddos the Word of God during camp.

Learning about Creation and all that God created.

Teaching them the big picture of the world.

With lots of fun!

And lots of art!
For the mural, I had many helpers...

Who says you can't paint a mural in your underwear?

Or use people as ladders?

Or as stools?

Evens was one of my best helpers. Eager every day.
As was Wilfet.

My Haitian brothers.

I prayed about what to paint this year.

I painted a message about family.

I painted a prayer that families would be restored in Haiti.
The verse written in Creole is from John 13:34: "Love each other.
As I have loved you, so you should love each other." Louvna
suggested it.

To Haiti and Back

So, I just got back from my fourth time in Haiti, and this time, I didn't want to come home. There is something about a third world country that makes life so very, very clear. Distractions turn from busyness, time, and schedules to the starving baby at the hospital, the 27 year-old young man dying of HIV, and the 15 year-old boy who describes his life in Haiti as "misery." Yes, I am quoting him.

I don't write any of that to incite feelings of guilt or whatever. I am just saying that this is the reality of what I am feeling right now. Somehow, I guess I feel like I could be used so much more over there or somewhere like that because there are so many who need love, who need compassion, who need the love of Christ in the midst of their desparity. Yes, there are so many here too who need that. There is just something different here. Go, and you will know.

Where does that leave me right now? It leaves me wrestling in myself. It leaves me asking God: "Where? When? How?" I am not going anywhere. Yet. I just know my heart (and my eyes) are weeping for those children. You can see some of them above.

I have been reading "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier." It is pretty timely. I haven't seen the brutality this book explains, however my heart aches with the imagination of it. I know many in Haiti have experienced similar things in their lifetime. To think there are so many children who live in a such a state: poverty, separation, hunger, violence, abuse.

What am I going to do about it? What is Christ calling me to do about it?

I do know something... I know Christ is calling me to see youth come into the fullness of Christ. And I think of my dear dear friend in Haiti named Wilfet. Wilfet is 19 years old, and very much on his own in life. He came to Christ through Camp Hope, the camp my sister and I started last summer. He worked for us as a camp counselor last summer and this summer. Through this time, he has become like a brother to me and to my sister. Each day this past month, we sat with Wilfet studying English and Creole, and we would talk about Christ and how to grow in Him. Every day!! My favorite time of day was just sitting there with him and discussing life. I really believe Wilfet's life is being transformed through the love of Christ. That he has a hope and future even though he has a hard set of cards.

As I am writing all of this, I think of this verse for those children and youth: "We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God." 2 Corinthians 4:7-9. This verse gives me hope for the Wilfet's of this world, and it motivates me for those like him to know of this light shining in their hearts in the midst of the darkness.