Very little had changed since the earthquake in 2010. The streets were still lined with tent cities, collapsed buildings, and faces searching for hope. I spent my time with Joseph and Samuel Metelus, senior pastors of our partner church, Church of God By Faith, with its network of 24 smaller churches planted throughout the country where 8000 people come to worship each week. The more I spoke with the father and son team, I was convinced that I was not only standing in front of two compelling people, but two disciples willing to sacrifice everything for their people. They have a dream to raise up the next generation of Haitians to be educated Jesus followers, who know they can make a difference in their country. And this dream begins with 52 orphans.
In January 2010 a magnitude 7 earthquake struck the capital of Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. Over 220,000 were killed, 300,000 injured, and over 1.5 million were left homeless. Many of those killed were the parents of the now 750,000+ orphans left to fend for themselves. Among these orphans were 52 children who attended Church of God by Faith. Joseph and Samuel temporarily placed them in homes of other church members, but two years later, a better solution had still not been found. Half of the children were returned to the church because the households themselves were starving and the burden of additional mouths to feed became too much. Now 26 children (average age being eight years old) share a two-room concrete shed behind a church further down south in Port Salut. About three to six kids sleep in each set of bunk beds, where roof leaks often force them to sleep inside the church on the pews, and the elevated water table causes the outhouse to overflow creating a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes and an overall very toxic situation. Five of the children have already contracted malaria.
We decided to partner with Pastors Joseph and Samuel to build a self-sustainable orphanage and school on the southern peninsula in Port Salut, close to the 26 orphans and away from the capital. Over the past year we researched every possible option, and the initial cost estimate of $100,000 was far too low. Import taxes, scarcity of resources, the addition of the land we purchased, and deciding to build the structures with the highest quality, to ensure they will not collapse should there be another earthquake, have dramatically caused the prices to escalate.
In February of 2013 I led a medical expedition to Port Salut in the southern region. I was able to spend time on the land we purchased and envision the layout of the orphanage. We have decided to build a school and six homes which will hold 9+ orphans of various ages and a house parent. These homes will provide them with the family atmosphere the children have been longing for within the community. Our brothers and sisters in Haiti have appropriately named the future orphanage GLORY GLORY.
We have recently been blessed by an anonymous donation to fund the construction of a medical clinic, and the Stanford School of Medicine has committed to sending medical professionals down to train several native Haitians to be community health workers. Funds generated by the clinic, the school enrollment fees, and the launch of the child sponsorship program will aid in financially sustaining the entire complex.
In May 2013, we broke ground and built a 9’ concrete wall around the 3-acre perimeter, and as of August, two homes have been completed. The 26 orphans living in the concrete shack have been moved to their new home even as we are still working toward the construction of the final homes.
In October we launched a child sponsorship program that is not just limited to healthcare, education and sustenance. The program focuses on giving the child an identity and purpose so that they are no longer just an orphan. They have a name, a plan for their life and people who love them. Thus, through God’s direction we can finally aid these 52 children in their hope for the future and bring about innovation and change in Haiti.