Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Updates on HAPI in Haiti

Mizak, Haiti, is designated by the government as a "communal section" which is further subdivided into 23 localities or "zones" HAPI's geographical scope is the 23 localities.  Our headquarters is based in a subsection also entitled Mizak, which is the center of the communal section. Transportation to and from and around this rocky, mountainous terrain is a challenge. Team housing is provided in Paul Prevost's family home and in a small, adjacent 'HAPI House.'

HAPI had its beginnings in the Grand Rapids District Peace with Justice Community and our Annual Conference has a Covenant relationship to Haiti, and we are also an Advance Special of GBGM.  Our idea is for HAPI to be a 'sister' Shalom Community with the Grand Rapids District three new shalom teams currently in training. 

Shalom: Living in a community of peace is the ultimate vision for Haiti Artists for Peace International.   For them peace means living without daily fear. Their original mission was securing health, education, dignity and hope through economic opportunities... for their purpose of providing for basic needs such as food, healthcare and education...to enhance spiritual and civic growth...and to expand the creative abilities that God has given to all.  HAPI expanded the original mission into holistic community development. Their restated vision is Living out Christ in community for a world of peace with justice....with a mission of...encouraging creativity, promoting gender equality, creating economic opportunity, growing healthy communities.

Relief Efforts:  Some high-visibility areas do report food distribution and one of my former Haitian students is helping on that from Leogane. He said seeing the Haitians living as refugees on their own land is breaking his heart, especially the thought it might still look like this a decade from now. The issues are decentralizing as people pour into the rural communities--whom their jobs used to support--with no money, food or shelter.  

Request for Shalom Intern:   We will complete the application to request a summer shalom intern.  The intern should be able to lead a portion of the training, such as asset mapping, and then field application with local folks. They are always hungry for more theological education, so that will be great.  It would make the most sense to me to request Drew interns to travel with Angelica to Haiti in mid-May (if possible) and they have time to experience the community without the craziness of teams. The interns would be familiarized with the community and could assist in planning the agenda and possibly have some language skills.  It could be like a capstone and they go home with the team in mid-August.

Shalom Training:  I reviewed the Shalom training grid today and it appears to me to be quite applicable to Mizak, with perhaps some fascinating adaptations.   The 'understanding multicultural relationships' could be very very helpful. Those relationships are not necessarily within the community, but across American-Haitian relationships. It is so challenging to be 'partners.' The difference is of a collective culture to individual culture, for example. Americans want programs with measurable results. In example, if an American starts a program to feed children, they want to only include the number of children that they can nutritionally support on the food at hand. They want to record the weight gains. In Haiti, as soon as you have resources for 50 kids...the local partners will probably want to invite 100! Because the idea is to put a little into every hand, but it gets to the point that it makes no 'logical' sense and doesn't produce the results needed to motivate donors.  I also keep hearing people wanting to open orphanages vs focus on keeping kids in Haitian homes. Lots of challenges that usually lead to the organizations in Haiti either being clearly American led with employed Haitians, or totally Haitian led, such as peasant associations. Yet, we all have something to offer to one another.

Mission Teams: We have three spring teams scheduled focusing on medical, construction and trauma counseling for children, and two medical teams, back to back, in July. We also have a couple other individual volunteers who are considering a longer term stay, both women. I plan to travel to Haiti on Feb 20 and again in September for International Day of Peace.The February team is split between construction and medical.  A trama relief training team team is scheduled for March 5-11.  We would welcome a Shalom Team from Drew. The best time would be in August. 
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