Letter From Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Rick Barger
February 2, 2012
Dear Friends of HTF,
Bonswa tout moun!
I just returned from a week in Haiti with a 16 member team traveling from Georgia and connecting with a 15 member team traveling there from Colorado.
I must say that I hold the most hope for Haiti in the 15 years that I have been involved with the country. There is a new vibrancy and the emergence of a new spirit. There seems to be appreciation for the leadership of President Martelly, especially with his efforts for providing free education for the children and his pushing of economic engines to provide jobs. Folks who have been traveling to Haiti post-earthquake will be pleasantly surprised that almost all of the rubble seems to be removed. The population of the heartbreaking tent cities/refugee camps is waning. Word is out that more foreign investment might be on the cusp, and hotels are expanding. Marriott is purported to be putting a hotel there.
The work of our partners is breathtaking. The CLM project – Chemen Lavì Miyò – has over 2,000 families on the path to a better life meaning that we are on target for 7000 families on such a path in the Central Plateau by 2016. The leadership, managers, and case workers are simply amazing, and the graduation rate of all clients selected into the program is still holding at 96%.
The Haitian Education and Leadership Program (H.E.L.P.) has clearly managed to create a very promising new normal after the earthquake. With 130 students in the program and still maintaining a 100% employment rate for its graduates, there is a new hope for Haiti being created in their tenacity to use their education to foster a new Haiti. 84% of all Haitians holding a college degree live outside of Haiti, which is a colossal brain drain in a country where only 1 out of 118 even go to college, much less graduate. With HTF’s support, HELP is changing that. 84% of all HELP graduates are staying in the country, and all new HELP students have a shared pact to give back to HELP when they graduate and get a job. From March 2nd through March 18th, HTF will have two of HELP’s finest, Dahpnee Charles and Theodule Jean-Baptiste, on an HTF US tour. Both are on track to graduate this year. Stops include the Atlanta, Georgia area, Columbus, Ohio, Omaha-Lincoln, Nebraska, Denver, Colorado, San Francisco, California, and Orlando, Florida. Look for detailed information on the HTF sites about how you might hear these two fine ambassadors in an area near you.
Our TETKOLE mission that encompasses 118 children who are in extremely difficult situation in the Jacmel area is thriving. Every child gets healthy nutrition, is enrolled in school, is reconnected with their family or a foster family, gets to develop their musical, mechanical, or other trade gifts, and most of all, they all have some of Jacmel’s strongest advocates standing with them and for them. In partnership with TETKOLE and through a grant from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center, we now have a clean water project that can service much of Jacmel. We also have worked to impede the spread of cholera through contaminated water in the Jeremie area by sending and installing 100 simple water filters. Thank you Sam Carpenter!
One of the most rewarding and spine-tingling experiences of the past week in Haiti was the dedication of the new St. Joseph’s Home for Boys’ dormitory, made possible through the generosity of HTF-sponsored Resurrection from the Rubble tours, as well as other benefactors. Considering the destruction of the previous facility, this six-story facility is a testimony to the truth that with God all things are possible.
The spirit of St. Joseph’s is certainly alive at Wings of Hope in Fermathe in their temporary facility. The children may have cramped and inadequate space but their energy and joy defy their disabled conditions.
The Trinity House complex in Jacmel, the third St. Joseph’s facility, is quickly becoming a generator of economic opportunity with their bakery and coffee project soon to be coming on line. It will not be long until congregations in North America will be able to serve the very best coffee in the world and, by doing so, create economic engines in places like Kap Wouj where coffee is grown and a profit center at Trinity House. As HTF seeks to create sustainability among our partners, the coffee project is a great win-win opportunity for many.
Lekol sen Trinitè, an HTF-built school operated at Trinity House, has 130 students from among the very poorest of the poor in Jacmel, and they are receiving a fabulous education. Their energy and spirit of hopefulness is contagious! The spirit and energy at PAZAPA, Jacmel’s center for children with disabilities, is strong amidst a very challenging post-earthquake situation. Broken promises leave them with needed facilities still not funded.
Yes, there is justification for much hope in Haiti these days, but there is much, much more critical work and development that needs to be done. We are just taking baby steps in a thousand mile walk. As I wrote this report, 30% of all children never get to go to school, and only 8% will ever graduate from high school. Clean water is not available to most. The Central Plateau is still home to our planet’s most desperately poor. Orphans created by preventable disease and AIDs, as well as those trafficked by parents who cannot afford to raise them, exist at a level that should shame the developed world.
Yes, there is hope in Haiti. The factors of the past that more often than not create excuse for persons to not invest in or contribute to a new Haiti are being overcome. The government seems to be stable and popular. An infrastructure is being created, albeit slowly, but as Haitians say, “Little by little the bird builds the nest.”
Now is a great time to invest in Haiti. Now is the best of times to make a profound difference in a child’s life, to bring hope, sustainability, and dignity to Haiti’s young. We welcome your gifts. We pledge to always use them wisely and strategically – that all may have life!
Bondye beni nou!
Dr. Rick Barger