World Relief Haiti (WRH) first opened in the South Department of Haiti in 1988 with a large community-health program to promote the survival of women and children. This program operated in partnership with Lumière Hospital, made possible due to a USAID grant. WRH opened its office in Port-au-Prince in 1993 to work in some of the most vulnerable areas of the capital, and has since expanded into other areas in the West, Southeast, Artibonite, and Central Departments. WRH has served the most vulnerable people of Haiti in mother and child health interventions as well as in education for the prevention of HIV/AIDS, in partnership with local churches and organizations. Building on over 20 years of impact in Haiti, after the tragic earthquake of January 2010, WRH set up a recovery, rehabilitation and development strategy that leverages its relationship with local churches to empower vulnerable Haitian families towards a better life. Under the leadership of Country Director Joseph Bataille, in 2014, WRH began to transition to an integral mission and development strategy continuing to focus on empowering the local church, communities and partnerships, and building on its core competencies. In 2015, WRH will run its first pilot of the Church Empowerment Zone in Pichon, a remote communal section in the Southeast Department.
Challenges and Opportunities
Two of the greatest challenges facing WRH’s programming include a widespread dependency mindset and strong pre-existing ideologies. Firstly, especially since the earthquake relief programs, many Haitians have developed the perception that NGOs in the community should play the role of the giver of resources, while the communities are the receivers. Unfortunately, many NGO and mission actors in Haiti have furthered these expectations with programs based on the practices of giving and receiving. Secondly, many pre-existing ideologies counter positive development in communities. In the family institution, paternalistic beliefs too often result in cohabitation, gender inequality in marriage, low levels of education for girls, and lack of communication between parents and among parents and their children. In the agricultural sector, less effective farming methods embedded in practice causes farmers to fear or resist new more productive methods.
Despite these challenges, WRH views all individuals as assets in their own development and through the programming described below strives to capitalize on human assets to build stronger people, families and communities with Christ at the center.
Church Empowerment Zone
In 2015 WRH plans to pilot a Church Empowerment Zone (CEZ) in Pichon, in Haiti’s Southeast Department. An assessment of needs in Pichon conducted by WRH revealed that lack of education and economic opportunities, dwindling agriculture, environmental degradation, broken families and single parenthood, gender inequalities, inadequate infrastructure, hurricane and flooding vulnerability, and a general spirit of dependency and fatalism are among the challenges the community faces. WRH will respond by uniting churches in the Pichon region and organizing a Church Empowerment Zone. Using the Transformation Tree curriculum, WRH will help these churches to begin to identify the roots of the problems that they face and realize that Christ has not only given the church the solutions, but he has also given them a mandate to act on His behalf. This year, WRH hopes to help the churches in the region to establish programs of their own design that respond to the issues that they deem to be priorities for their communities.
Families for Life
The ultimate goal of the Families for Life Program is to strengthen Haitian families. Through this program, WRH will specifically aim to reinforce the concepts of Covenant Marriage, mutual submission, and servant leadership. WRH also aims to increase family dialog, encourage positive speech, and reduce gender-based and generational conflicts. In addition, WRH desires to make an appeal to men, calling them together to sharpen and challenge each other to be better husbands and fathers.
Topics are introduced through the story of a typical local but fictional family. With a Haiti-specific curriculum, WRH will equip church leaders and model couples in their churches with the biblical knowledge and the tools that they need to strengthen their own marriages and to equip them to minister to other couples in their church and community. With the support and collaboration of strategic partners, WRH believes that it would be possible to gather enough momentum to cause certain shifts in thinking and behavior and build a strong foundation on which other development programming can find success.
WRH is currently in process of developing and testing the curriculum. If the curriculum and the program design are effective, they will result in:
- Stronger marital bonds, evidenced by:
- Strong and positive family communication, evidenced by:
- A strong bridge to close gender and generational gaps. Success in this objective will be evidenced by:
- Finally, as a result of our of our direct appeal to men, WR hopes to succeed in:
WRH’s main agricultural intervention is in coffee production in a southeastern town known as Thiotte. The main goal of the agriculture coffee program is to increase coffee productivity by educating farmers on enhanced farming and pruning techniques, introducing pest management techniques, providing environmental education, and strengthening local farmers’ associations.
Current interventions help farmers work with what they already have, and what is readily available in their environments. Therefore, these skills are easy to adopt and easily transferable from farmer to farmer, and, hopefully, from generation to generation. WRH is able to achieve maximum impact in the entire region with minimal input. Finally, this intervention is one that is easily built upon, with a natural progression from increased productivity, to better harvesting and processing, and finally sales and resource management.