To mark 50 years of Tearfund, we’re sharing about 50 countries where we’ve worked, celebrating God’s provision and power to transform, and praying for each of these nations. This week we’re in Haiti.
The Caribbean nation of Haiti is vibrant and resilient, with a rich history of overcoming oppression. However, it has struggled to develop, due to a combination of corruption and vulnerability to natural disasters.
Tearfund has been working in Haiti for many years, and has built strong relationships with local churches and communities. Our local staff team and their partners work with communities so that they are better able to withstand the effects of disaster. Together they’re finding creative solutions to the challenges of poverty.
Agents of change
A recent initiative has an exciting focus on mobilising young people across Haiti to address injustices and bring development to their communities. In July 2017, the Kingdom Come conference saw 120 young Christians learning how the good news of Jesus brings transformation to the whole of our lives; not only spiritually, but also the way we live and how we care for our neighbours.
Melissa (25) grew up in Port au Prince, Haiti, and has been an intern with Tearfund there. She helped organise the conference and brims with enthusiasm for what can be achieved.
‘This has taught me a lot about social justice and what we can do to change the situations in our communities,’ says Melissa. ‘Sometimes this generation is turned in on itself, but we need to look to our neighbours and see how we can be an answer to the world’s problems.’
Melissa is the youngest of three sisters and grew up in a christian family. But she explains that it was only when she learned the truth of God’s love and plan for her life that she wholeheartedly committed herself to him.
As Melissa has been exposed to the ideas of social justice and the call to serve the poor, she has realised that we all have a role to play in bringing hope to our communities.
‘It has shown me that, as a young person, my voice counts. And there are things, maybe small things, but things I can do to make a change in my community and my country,’ she says.
She worked as a Sunday school teacher for four years, and realised that the children attending were coming from very different situations. ‘You could have a child who could not eat on Sunday morning, who would come and sit next to a child who ate last night and again ate breakfast,’ she explained. ‘You have them in the same room, but they’re not living the same realities.’
Showing God’s love
Almost a quarter of Haitians live in extreme poverty, with half of all households lacking consistent access to nutritious food.
As Melissa raised this situation with others, a woman in her church was moved to begin providing breakfast for the children. ‘She prepares everything – buys it all – and I take it from her and serve it to the children every Sunday,’ says Melissa. ‘We’ve been doing it since February and it’s changed a lot, not only for the children but also for me in seeing that we can make a difference.’
Melissa is also something of a star baker. She bakes fabulous cookies and is exploring how she could start a business that would enable her to do more. ‘I don’t want to start a business to make money, but I really want God to show me how to use it for the community – maybe I could sell the cookies and send more children to school.