Below Erin Murphy shares about her family’s support of CLM and the opportunity to meet CLM families in the Central Plateau during her January visit to Haiti with HTF.
Koulye a se twa bagay sa yo ki toujou la: se konfyans, se espwa, se renmen. Men, nan twa bagay sa yo, se renmen ki pi gran. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
For those whose only window into Haiti is the evening news or pictures they have seen on CNN.com, they only are aware of devastation, corruption, extreme poverty and the absence of all faith, hope and love. Over the course of our week in Haiti we had a chance to meet with each of the Haitian partner organizations that receive support from Epiphany through HTF, and we experienced situations and met with individuals who provide an alternate ending to those news stories.
In December 2008, Tim and I made our first financial investment in Haiti, by sponsoring a family through the Chemen Lavi Miyò project or CLM. For that Christmas and every Christmas since, we, along with our parents and Tim’s sister, have replaced our gift giving to each other with gifts to invest in families through CLM. Through this program, whose name translates into English as “Path to a Better Life,” some of the poorest families in rural Haiti participate in an 18-month proven program that enables them to build a stable home with a sanitary latrine and a water filter, pursue two different business opportunities and enroll all of their children in school as they progress into self-sufficiency. These families, primarily women as head of the household and their children, are living in such abject poverty that other Haitians, also living in extreme poverty, consider them too poor to count in a census. In some ways, my trip to Haiti two weeks ago was four years in the making, as I knew that I would be able to meet some of the CLM clients and see firsthand how God is working through them.
Above: Example of a CLM family’s house before and after beginning the path to a better life.
On Friday, we took a bus to Mirebalais, which is in the Centre Department of Haiti, about 60 km north of Port-au-Prince, where we met up with some of our new heroes, CLM caseworkers, each of whom visits their 40-50 client families weekly. Our team was split into two groups and we set off to visit families who have been in the program for 3-6 months. Even though we were not able to visit the most rurally located clients in Boukan Kare (driving directions to which were “go to the end of the world and turn left”) because of a citizen protest/road blockage, we still felt as if we had walked back in time instead of just half a mile off the main road. There are two women who stand out in my mind a week later. The first was a woman who my group visited. Her name is Belinda, she is 22 and she has two children. With Verbo as our interpreter we learned her story. She lives in a one room wood and mud home, which floods every time it rains, with her youngest daughter, Lovemika, age 18 months, and her husband (who referred to CLM as a visit from God). Their goat, which was purchased with the help of CLM, just had twins. (We’ll talk later about the conflict we felt all week…admiring the goats we saw frolicking everywhere and then having them appear on our dinner plates. As Roger commented, they are cute AND delicious.) They had built their latrine across the river, on land gifted by his father, land where they are going to build their new, weather-proof home. At one point, Laurie and I asked her what her dreams are for the future. Verbo translated our question, she answered, he asked her another question, she responded…and this went on for at least three minutes. He finally turned to us and said: “She wants a house with a roof that doesn’t leak every time it rains. She wants her children to have a better life than hers, and she hopes that they can use their education to move out of the extreme poverty in which they currently live. Sorry it took me a while to get her to answer your question. No one has ever asked her about her dreams.”
Belinda and her daughter.
Goats–valuable assets for CLM families.
Each CLM family is provided with a water filter. Water is the foundation for a better life in Haiti, where there is almost no potable water.
The second woman who stole my heart last week was someone I didn’t personally meet as she was visited by the other half of our team. When they arrived at her house, she was not there and the caseworkers asked another villager where she was. Minutes later the woman came running through the woods, full speed, toward our group and her home. She slipped inside the house and returned with a special lace curtain, which she hung over the door for her honored guests. You see, before she entered the CLM program the only people who came around were those who wanted to take something from her or abuse her in some way. Before CLM she never had visitors who wanted to meet her and learn about her life. The pride and dignity in the faces and posture of all of the women we met that day forever will be seared in my memory. When it was time to go, our team said goodbye and began walking back to the road where the tap tap was parked. As they neared the road, this same woman came running again, and tugged on the sleeve of Nasim, one of our team members, pointing down to her shoe, which was untied. Before Nasim had a chance to bend down, this woman fell to her knees and began to tie her shoe. This woman, who did not have shoes of her own, tied Nasim’s shoe. There are hundreds more stories like these, and those that Roger and Don shared, from our time in Haiti. I hope you will allow us to continue telling these stories and I hope you will consider visiting Haiti yourself to experience this abundance of God’s grace firsthand. You too will ask the question that we asked over and over last week: “Who’s serving who?”
Sisters: Erin Murphy with a CLM client.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these – the one that always wins and can change the world – is love. Mèsi anpil. Bondye beni ou.