HOPE FOR TODAY
Committed to provide the most critical personal daily needs such as:
Only available to 47.6% of rural population
Food & Clothing
59% of population lives on $2.00 (US) per day
1.3 hospital beds per 1,000 people
Churches are staffed with trained, compassionate Pastors
One of the biggest needs in the NW region of the country is clean, fresh water. The landscape is one of the harshest in the world. The ground is solid rock and coral stone making digging almost impossible, even with proper equipment. The vegetation consists of cactus and mesquite trees with huge thorns. There are almost no shade trees, very few fruit trees, and virtually no grass. The fact is that fresh water is readily available to about half of the rural population. People travel by foot for miles, many are without shoes on their feet in this thorn ridden world, to come and draw water at a well or maybe even a little spring if they can find it, or scoop up water with their hands from a puddle on the ground if there is rain. Many times the children are sent to fill the family’s assortment of water containers. Women carry the five gallon water buckets on their head. Conditions around the area where the water is located can be contaminated due to animal waste which is exactly where the water containers will be placed on the ground prior to being filled. LWM has been able to uncover water sources for a couple of our villages. The water is then made accessible by a system of cisterns through the use of gravity. This has been a huge step forward for the people that live in these areas, but there are so many more places that we could help if we had the resources such as drilling equipment, pipe, and block that is needed to install the wells and cisterns.
Another major immediate need in the Northwest is food and clothing. Studies show that about 2/3 of the population lives on $2.00 (US) per day. Due to the terrible soil conditions and low access to water, farming is pretty much out of grasp for most of the people. Some along the coast catch a few small fish to eat, others raise a few goats or make charcoal to sell, so they can buy a little rice for their family. LWM has partnered with Feed My Starving Children, that helps us supply the food we distribute to the students in our schools. For many of these children, this is the only meal they eat for the day. We are providing a hot, cooked meal each day at school to 4,500 students in 30 different schools. A mother recently shared that she is so very thankful for the food her children receive at school because she has no food to give them before they leave the house each morning. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to go to school and there are many more children, as well as adults, that go hungry. Poor diet is one of the major issues in health problems in the region. During mission trips we hand out whatever food, clothing and treats we have to give to the children. Their reactions to these few things are absolute excitement and gratitude, but unfortunately we never have enough to go around. The kids come running up to the truck we use for transportation as fast as possible with hopes of receiving something, but we have to turn them away once we run out of things.
We distribute rice and beans and oil and some cash to many of the families. This at least gives them a few days of food. It really grips your heart to watch as the people stand in line with their pillow cases waiting for their turn to receive some rice or beans. What if that were me? Almost all of us have experienced a tornado, or hurricane, or fire or something that has created a desperate situation. There is usually emergency help that brings some relief for that period of time. These people in Northwest Haiti live in that desperation every day of their lives.
Some of the people, especially the children, have very little to wear and what they do have is in poor condition. A mother will take great care of the school uniform (made by them from the material LWM donated) her child wears to make sure it will last the entire school year and still be wearable for the next sibling who is ready to go to school. Play clothes are one step up from rags according to our standards. We have found that most people do have shoes that are kept for school or church. The rest of the time they are barefoot or wear any kind of foot covering, including the sole of a pair of “crocks” that is tied onto their foot with a piece of string. This creates a huge health issue because of the dirt and contaminates that are everywhere on the ground.
LW wants to be able to establish and maintain a place in each of the villages that keeps clothes on hand to give to those who need them. Providing clothes not only helps build up a sense of dignity and comfort, but also helps with health and hygiene issues.
Medical Assistance is a huge issue in the everyday life of the northwest villagers. Medical issues that only require a trip to a walk-in clinic or a visit to the doctor’s office here at home, go without any treatment and people die from simple things like appendicitis or infections. The nearest hospital facilities are located about four hours away by car, but who has a car?
There are many things we can do to help with this need. Living Water has been able to set up a small medical clinic with a Nurse and very basic medical supplies. Our Nurse makes house calls to stay in touch with the people who need medical attention. She will invite people to the clinic where she cooks food for them and serves them a meal that sometimes is the very best medicine she could give. However, this is one clinic in one village. The need is so much larger. Our Mission Teams bring medical people who set up mobile clinics in several villages a couple times a year. A faithful couple, both doctors, devote their time and resources as much as possible. We need to bring in more resources, as well as, people who are trained to provide medical care.
LW has also focused on the spiritual condition of the people which we believe this to be a critical need. This country is heavily saturated with Voodoo; few people are taught about the one true God. We are committed to changing that. Through the last 30 years we have established many churches where we have planted Pastors to shepherd these groups of people. The churches serve as a beacon of light in the community. This is a very literal statement in that our churches may be the only place in the community where there is electricity. Our Pastors ask for generators and solar panels so they can hold church and bible study in the evening which has become a unique characteristic for our churches because it cannot be found anywhere else in the village. The church is a place where people hear about God, they find hope, they receive support and community from each other. The Pastors provide support and demonstrate the love of Jesus on a daily basis.
We want to continue to support these Pastors and develop their congregations into healthy, functioning churches. Through this effort we can make a difference in the heart and soul of a human being and change their “Today”.
HOPE FOR TOMORROW
Equip the people to meet their own needs to avoid an entitlement type society.
50% of children do not attend school
Trade School & Vocational Training
2/3 of working force do not have formal jobs
Guidance to achieve Personal Accountability & Responsibility
One of the most effective ways to change the way people think is to start with the next generation. Education is so important and yet many of the children in Haiti do not get to attend school. Even though it only costs a few dollars a month for them to attend, it is still an impossible expense for many families. As we look at the villages in our area of service in the Northwest, we are pleased to see that most of the children attend school. The teachers endeavor to give the children the best possible education. One of the deterrents is the fact that these schools only include the first six grades. What are the options for a young person who is ready to start the 7th grade? There are none in his local community. What is the probability of this young person going to another village to continue his education? Right now from a school of 70 students, four students had sufficient resources to continue their education through high school in another village that is about 10 miles away. Keep in mind that there are no school buses.
TRADE SCHOOL & VOCATIONAL TRAINING
We are also focusing on trade and vocational schools as a means of teaching and improving the skills of students and adults. With so few resources available to them, they need access to proper training to obtain and keep a steady job. We need tools, curriculum and teachers! The plan is to duplicate the work-study programs that we have available in the U.S. They will receive training through hands-on work that also generates an income. For years Living Water has helped in so many ways to give support to countless numbers of villages and people to improve their way of life. It is becoming clear that a transformation is taking place. The next vital step is to logically continue this process that translates into resources that can generate jobs.
ECONOMIC RESOURCE PROJECTS
There are a few economic plans that have worked in this part of the world which is why we want to capitalize on what we know already works. Raising goats and chickens has been successful in some areas. This is a good example of how proper training can mean the difference between a good idea that soon dies and one that transitions into a self-sustaining industry. Having a herd of goats and a hen house full of chickens is an easy concept, unless there is no guidance to prevent the premature consumption of those food sources during a time of need. This is where the on-site education at the LW Campus can help teach the value of protecting the investment for future gain. It is a difficult lesson to learn when there is not enough food to feed your family. However, there is no better way to teach the value of successful management than to be able to experience it in an environment that is created for success. The development of these facilities is taking place. More resources and manpower are needed.
GUIDANCE TO ACHIEVE PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY & RESPONSIBILTY
We are focused on building a better community that can sustain itself. The current day-to-day life is all about making it through this one day. We want to show by example that it is possible to meet today’s needs while still making provisions for the tomorrows that lie ahead. We do not want to coddle a trend that allows people to continue to be dependent on others and dependent on handouts. Our role is to be there among the people to teach, encourage, and establish new habits. We want to equip them to take care of themselves, and then empower them to teach others what they have learned. We are seeing the beginnings of this transformation taking place. We recognize that our presence on a long term basis will add to the success of this process. One of the most important resources is the availability of qualified, dedicated people who are willing to invest their time and expertise into the development of this kind of community life. Our goal is to guide families and villages in a way that brings a sense of accountability and responsibility for the wellbeing of the people in Northwest Haiti and the society as a whole.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
Create a higher standard of living through the expansion of the local infrastructure in the following areas:
Medical & Surgical Facilities
Economy & Commerce
Airport & Harbor
It is important that we do not overlook the living conditions of the people in this region of the country. Most families, which also include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts and uncles, are living in a 10’ x 20’ mud hut with a dirt floor and a thatched roof. It is very difficult to stay clean and maintain proper hygiene to avoid the many health problems that are lurking everywhere. There is no running water and no electricity. There are no facilities to handle human waste. We build cement block homes with a solid roof and a concrete floor. Some villages are on the coast and subject to tropical storms and hurricanes. Mud huts do not have a hope of surviving under those conditions. We can also include running water and indoor plumbing. These changes improve the quality of living immensely.
ECONOMY & COMMERCE
Another project we see on the horizon is the development of stores and businesses. Women walk, or ride a donkey if they have one, to Market each week. For many this is a ten mile trip. The Market place is mostly home grown goods along with other goods and commodities that have been brought in by people from the larger cities. Sometimes you can find what you need and sometimes you need to wait until the next Market day to find what you would like to have. There is no convenience in the shopping experience. Most goods must be brought in by truck over miles of poor roads which greatly increases the cost to the buyer. We want to build stores on our campus where people can come to purchase the essentials along with other things that can make life a little more comfortable.
The LW campus is located on the coast as are some of our villages. This is the perfect location for salt mines. Salt is being harvested in large quantities. The problem is in delivering the salt to the buyer. There are trucks traveling though these villages that are willing to take the salt to the larger markets, but the money from the sale of the salt does not always come back to the owner. More reliable transportation is needed to take their salt and other goods to the larger markets where they have a chance to receive the best price for their goods. This is the beginning phase of bringing increased trade and commerce to this region of the country.
MEDICAL & SURGICAL FACILITIES
On-going medical help is desperately needed. Our Mission Teams are doing a great job of bringing medical professionals and medicine in the form of mobile clinics to the communities. We are seeing significant improvements in the health of the people because of this. However, this only reaches a small portion of the heathcare needs that exist. Many of the conditions the people encounter, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritic pain, require long term remedies with renewable prescriptions and trained personnel to monitor these cases. The LW campus is a prime location for a clinic and a teaching hospital. The basic infrastructure is capable of expansion to accommodate each of these facilities. The location of the campus even gives us the ability to transport emergency patients by boat across the bay to a medical facility in a village where it would take hours to reach by truck. We all recognize the value of having ready access to doctors and nurses and facilities that can address our individual circumstances.
AIRPORT & HARBOR
Another very unique characteristic of our campus is that it has a private water inlet. There are no other places in the Northwest where the land is accessible by sea for the development of a harbor. The contour of this waterway is perfect for the passage of various sizes of boats. Its location makes loading and unloading easily accessible. There are steep hills on both sides that can provide shelter during the tropical storm season. This harbor adds another dimension of transportation to support the expansion of commerce to this area.
A portion of the Campus has been sighted and plotted for a full runway and airport for in-country air travel. This will make travel to the Northwest much easier. We have found that many of the people living in other areas of the country have not been to the Northwest. Possibly the biggest reason for this is due to the travel required over rough roads. Because of this, this area is almost a lost and undiscovered jewel just waiting to be developed. One resident from Port-au-Prince sadly explained that he had no knowledge of the conditions of life in this part of his country.
Just imagine how different this “barren wasteland” could be with these two major arteries pumping life into the economy of the region.
Hope is no longer knocking at the door, but has become a resident. Living Water has been serving and working and planning for many years in this part of the world. Back in the late 90’s a vision was shared that included the development of a complex among the people that would give them reason to take pride in their current estate rather than running from it. Solutions have been developed to bring the dream to where they live. Life is making great strides forward; lives are being changed; dreams are becoming reality. Changes are sometimes hard to see at close range, but they become clearer with time and hard work.
It is the goal of Living Water Ministries to maintain the momentum for even more change. Churches have been planted, schools have been started, thousands of children have food to eat each day, and a sense of trust and respect has been developed among the people. Development of natural resources will continue, expansion of education is marching forward, and people will grow in their knowledge and love of God, our Father, who has made all this possible.