Members of the Christian Church chat with locals while on a past mission trip to Haiti. Courtesy photo
Scene from a past mission trip to Haiti. Courtesy photo
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
More than 40 years ago the Christian Church in Los Alamos connected with the Etienne and Betty Prophete, the founders of the Haitian Christian Mission (HCM). This connection ignited a decades-long relationship between the two organizations that yielded friendships, humanitarian work and life-long impacts.
HCM does more than just spread ministry. Christian Church Pastor Doug Partin said HCM has traveled to more than 25 communities in Haiti to construct churches. These churches are places of worship as well as community centers and schools. Plus, HCM, in conjunction with the Higgins Brothers Surgicenter for Hope, founded the Christ for All Hospital on the HCM campus in Fonds Parisien.
In 2020, the Higgins Brothers Surgicenter foundation has managed the hospital. Additionally, it established a peanut butter factory in Fonds Parisien. Malnutrition is a huge issue in the country and the peanut butter factory provides students with cups of fortified nutritional peanut butter while also offering jobs. HCM has also funded a woodworking shop in Fonds Parisien to teach job trades.
Partin said HCM strives to provide all the basic needs: food, clothing, education and healthcare.
“They’re really trying to change people’s lives,” he said.
And the Christian Church wanted to help. It started out with the church donating money to HCM but in 2015 Partin and Church Elder Steve Hanson traveled to Haiti to see what else they could do.
Partin explained it was an exploratory trip to determine how the church congregation’s skills and expertise could align with HCM’s needs. The Christian Church has traveled to Haiti every year through 2019. They have not been able to go recently due to COVID and the political unrest in the country.
The work; members of the Christian Church do in Haiti has ranged from installing a water system to provide a community with drinking water to helping train new pastors.
Hanson pointed out that they have also helped with infrastructure projects, educated people about sustainable farming’ as well as planted crops. He added that they are brainstorming ways to get students to the U.S. to continue their studies, so they can teach and train their fellow citizens in Haiti.
Christian Church Mission Coordinator Kathy Anderson said when members of the Christian Church travel to Haiti, they do whatever is needed.
She emphasized that HCM is not a foreign-run operation.
“It was founded by Haitian-born citizens, employing Haitians to meet the needs of the people in Haiti,” Anderson said.
It’s an uphill battle to do this. Haiti is an extremely poor country; what roads do exist are in poor condition, which makes transportation to and from the HCM communities difficult. Plus, the gang activity in the country is dangerous and can prevent relief work from occurring. Add to the mix the recent earthquake and the assassination of Haiti’s president and the obstacles seem daunting.
No matter what gets thrown at it, Anderson said Haitian Christian Mission persists.
“The mission still instills joy even after facing crisis after crisis after crisis,” she said.
Haitians are not the only ones benefiting. Members of the Christian Church who traveled to the country have been taught a few life lessons.
Going to Haiti is an eye-opening experience, Partin said. It reveals how unnecessary America’s excess can be.
Haitians have very little but “it’s encouraging because one of things you see when you go is that people still have joy,” he said, adding that it also makes U.S. mission workers aware of how small their problems can be.
“It helps us realize the first world problems we struggle with aren’t so important,” Partin said.
Another benefit for the Christian Church is to see students who graduated from HCM schools return to work for HCM, Anderson said.
“They are working in their country to better it,” she said.
Hanson agreed; saying it is really rewarding to help people improve their communities.
“…while we are on site it is truly encouraging that we can help them take what they have and add other trades that are useful,” he said.
There are numerous ways to help HCM continue its work. Partin said people can make a monthly commitment to sponsor a child. For $35 a month, a child will receive education, food, school supplies, a uniform and transportation to school. Partin pointed out that education is not free in Haiti, but HCM helps students attend school from age 3 through grade 13, which is a college preparatory year.
The Christian Church, as well as individual church members, are sponsors.
Donating is the best way to help, Anderson said, and donations can made directly through HCM by going to its website, www.haitianchristianmission.org or through the Christian Church. For more information, contact Anderson at email@example.com.
Scene from a past mission trip. Courtesy photo