When we think about the essential needs of a group of people, we generally think about providing them with food and clean water. Sometimes we consider the fact that they need a roof over their heads or clothing on their backs. Solving problems such as poverty and hunger by throwing money or spare food at them is like assuming that pain killers will heal a broken arm. Although the pain killers may do a lot to help alleviate the pain associated with the broken arm, they are only treating a symptom rather than fixing the problem. Without a clear plan of action and solid execution, helping those in need quickly becomes a matter of easing the pain for a very short time. Although these short term solutions are imperative to begin the healing process, there's much more work to be done.
Sadly, we have seen this principal illustrated time and again in Haiti and throughout the world. What will happen once all of the aid trucks have stopped running and the missionaries have all gone home? Will the people of Haiti really be in a better position than they were before we arrived or will they end up bitter at the fact that we left them to fall back into the poverty from which we supposedly rescued them? These are questions that must be asked and seriously considered before beginning missions work in a foreign country. These are questions that mean the difference between providing real help and postponing the inevitable. These are questions that led Operation HOPE and New Vision Ministries to find ways to teach the people of Haiti how to provide for themselves and develop as a people.
So far, we have two primary programs in place to do just that - help the Haitian people develop as a community and gain the knowledge and skills to continue on without us. We've already talked about the fishing ministry that we've invested $11,000 into. The other business is quite a bit different, but provides a service every bit as valuable as the fishing ministry.
After the earthquake in January 2010, thousands were left homeless and many women and children were left widowed and fatherless. Although many stayed in the area around Port Au Prince to rebuild their lives and pick up the pieces, some decided to move on to different places. One of those places was the area surrounding Montrouis where New Vision Ministries is located. Although we were more than happy to provide these women with food and shelter, we decided to take it one step further and find a way to help fix the problems rather than simply easing the pain. There is a lot of pressure on Haitian women to find a husband and rely on him solely for support, but we were eager to help provide them with more than that. Considering the results of of the earthquake, these women needed more than another person to rely on, they needed to be empowered. They needed to realize that, with God's help, they could provide for themselves and their children while being a strong asset to their community.
The folks at New Vision discovered that weddings were a very big deal in Haiti, and yet women would often end up traveling to Port Au Prince, Saint Marc, or sometimes even all the way to the Dominican Republic just to spend a couple of dollars on a dress and a tiny bit of makeup for the wedding. Not only would they have to pay for transportation and meals, but their money wasn't even strengthening their own local economies. Thanks to some wonderful people including the Bouma family in Plainview, TX, we provided a number of beautiful dresses and makeup supplies to the widows in the Montrouis area. Just like the men involved in the fishing ministry, these women receive real-world training on a regular basis. They are not only being taught how to run their own dress-rental and makeup businesses, but they're learning how to rely on God and take care of themselves and their children. By teaching these principles, we are providing something much more than a quick meal or a cup of water - we are empowering, enhancing, and enabling these women to be successful for years to come.
If you or someone you know has an old wedding dress or formal that you would be willing to invest into the lives of these ladies, please don't hesitate to let us know. You can call us at (806) 793-HOPE or click on Contact up above to schedule a time to drop off the dress.