Faith Today - Archival Site

September/October 2009 Issue

HAITI REBUILDING! Scroll down for a list of Canadian groups working in Haiti, expanded beyond the one originally published with this article. Most are accepting donations for relief work following the January 2010 earthquake. You can find out more about an organization by visiting its website, emailing its office or phoning.

See also the EFC's disaster response guidelines.

(Includes extra "Canadian Connections" and hyperlinks not available in the magazine)

Haiti: Among the Poorest
By Karen Stiller

For many Canadians, Haiti is the poor country next door to favourite winter holiday destinations such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Haiti and the Dominican actually share the island of Hispaniola, named by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Hispaniola means Little Spain, and that is what Haiti quickly became as the era of colonialism kicked off in the Western Hemisphere.

Haiti switched hands from Spain to France and then to an independence that was anything but free for most of Haiti’s people – the majority of whom are descendants of Africans brought to the country as slaves by France.

Today, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, ranking 146th out of 177 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. This index ranks countries by measuring and comparing three dimensions of human development: life expectancy, education and standard of living.

Haiti’s problems and international reputation were made worse by the dictatorship of Francois (Papa Doc) Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude, better known as Baby Doc. They ruled Haiti for 29 years beginning in 1956, and their brutal governments were responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands Haitians.

Papa Doc was known as a voodoo doctor, and voodoo is still (and has always been) a huge part of the spiritual climate of Haiti.

As of 2003, voodoo actually became an officially recognized religion with its own temples, ancient rituals and beliefs, including the worship of ancestral spirits that followers say enter the bodies of believers during voodoo ceremonies. John Hoet, a Belgian missionary who lived in Haiti, is widely quoted as saying “Haitians may be 95 per cent Catholic but they are 100 per cent voodoo.” Observers say voodoo provides a sense of empowerment and community that has deep roots in the lives of people who are among the poorest and most disenfranchised in the world.

Haiti has the lowest per capita income of any country in this part of the world. Eighty per cent of the population lives under the poverty line. More than half the country depends on agriculture to survive in a hand-to-mouth existence made even more difficult by the frequency of natural disasters like hurricanes and severe tropical storms.

Like all developing countries, Haiti has been hit hard by the recent global economic crisis. Haiti depends heavily on imported goods, and rising prices for things like food and fuel almost always hit the hardest those who are poor. With all its struggles, Haiti is still a country that finds time for joy. Its vibrant, rich art is known around the world. Carnivals fill the streets with music that combines African, American jazz and Caribbean beats, and more adventurous tourists still vacation there.

    Haiti at a Glance

  • Full name: Republic of Haiti 
  • Population: 9.8 million (UN, 2008)
  • Religion: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16% (mostly Baptist)
  • Capital: Port-au-Prince
  • Area: 27,750 sq km (10,714 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Creole, French  
  • Life expectancy: 59 years (men), 63 years (women) (UN)  
  • Monetary Unit: 1 gourde = 100 centimes
  • Main Exports: Light manufactures, coffee, oils, mangoes
  • GNI per capita: US$560 (World Bank, 2007)
    (source: www.news.bbc.co.uk)

    On Our Knees

  • Pray for political stability in Haiti.
  • Pray for a lessening of long-standing ethnic tensions between different groups in this country.
  • Pray for a strengthening of infrastructure so Haiti can better withstand natural disasters and severe weather.
  • Pray for the Christian agencies working in Haiti, that their work would be strong and effective.
  • Pray for a strengthening of the Church’s witness in Haiti, that it would provide the empowering that is so desperately needed by those who are poor.

Canadian Connections:
Canadian Christian Groups at Work in Haiti
Expanded Web-only version. If you would like to donate to support relief efforts following the January 2010 earthquake, consider visiting one of the websites below to make a donation. This list is an incomplete work-in-progress and we welcome corrections and additions.

  • The Arms of Jesus Children's Mission in Haiti has a monthly sponsorship program and operates three small schools in a remote mountainous area to the southwest of the capital Port-au-Prince, called Cap Rouge: www.armsofjesus.org
  • Back to God Ministries International partners with Christian Reformed World Missions and Christian Reformed World Relief Committee to disciple Haitian listeners who respond to their French-language gospel broadcasts. www.backtogod.net
  • A Brethren in Christ group of workers has travelled to serve at Mission of Hope in Haiti for a number of years running, organized by Pastor John Fraser. www.canadianbic.ca
  • The Canadian Bible Society is partnering with the Haitian Bible Society and the American Bible Society to bring hope to Haiti. The Hope for Haiti project will provide 200,000 copies of the “God is my Shelter” Scripture Portion, 50,000 Bibles, and safe drinking water systems. www.biblesociety.ca/node/1245
  • CBM Canada (formerly Christian Blind Mission) has sponsored the Haiti University Hospital (Hopital Universite d'Etat d'Haiti, or HUEH) in Port au Prince since 1998. It offers vital eye care services 24 hours per day five days per week and hosts over 600 cataract surgeries each year. The unit also serves as a training centre for ophthalmologists. CBM extends its outreach programs in various parts of the country. www.cbmcanada.org
  • CH Global operates a child sponsorship program as well as educational and specialized programs for Haitian children with exceptional needs. We are working with the United Brethren in Christ and local churches in Port-au-Prince to reach those who are suffering. www.chglobal.org
  • Christian Reformed World Relief Committee has been working in Haiti for more than 30 years, partnering with local churches and community organizations. Following the January 12, 2010 earthquake, CRWRC has been distributing food, water, shelter and medical aid to those most in need. www.crwrc.org
  • The Church of God in Eastern Canada has worked in Haiti with missionaries for several years and also has various projects to assist in education and the medical fields. Since 2002, we started a child sponsorship program in Haiti called the Children of Hope. Many short-term mission teams have worked on site with missionary Phyllis Newby, the national leader of the Haitian Church of God and with other pastors and workers. www.chogec.ca
  • Compassion helps 4,113 Canadians sponsor 4,605 children in Haiti. Compassion, in Haiti since 1968, partners exclusively with Haitian churches. Currently, more than 62,900 children participate in more than 225 child development centres. www.compassion.ca
  • EMAS Canada organizes short-term trips for Christian doctors and medical professionals. www.emascanada.org/haitireport.htm
  • Emmanuel International Canada has worked in Haiti since 1978 in partnership with local churches to eliminate the root causes of poverty, hunger and disease. Through practical solutions to these issues, EICanada seeks to show God’s love so that lives might be transformed. The generosity of many Canadians has given EICanada the ability to build 15 homes in Haitian communities devastated by the recent hurricane season. www.eicanada.org
  • ERDO, the humanitarian agency of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, works in Haiti through ChildCARE Plus, its child sponsorship program, as well as a feeding program that provides on-site feeding twice weekly and the construction of a ministry centre. www.erdo.ca
  • The Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada supports the Eben-ezer Clinics growing medical facility, mobile clinic, and community initiatives in Haut-Limbé, Haiti. Treatment is administered with dignity and respect to all in need, regardless of ability to pay. canadacovenantchurch.org/missions.php
  • The Evangelical Missionary Church in Canada helps with a Bible and leadership training program in partnership with our sister denomination AEM. EMCC World Partners site: www.emcc.ca/default.asp?id=28
  • God's Littlest Angels is an agency that has helped many Canadians adopt children from Haiti. www.glacanada.ca
  • International Child Care (Canada) has 175 clinics, which provide primary health care to rural populations, and a 60-bed children’s hospital in Port-au-Prince specializing in the treatment of tuberculosis. ca.internationalchildcare.org
  • Intercede International is partnered with Living Word Ministries, an indigenous mission based in Haiti that plants churches, trains Bible school students, and helps out desperately poor Haitians. www.intercedenow.ca
  • Mennonite Central Committee, as part of its ongoing reforestation initiative, worked with 22 community tree nurseries, helped people plant small forests and supported environmental education programs in Haiti this past year. www.mcc.org
  • Mission Aviation Fellowship has served the missionary community and the people of Haiti since 1986. It operates four aircraft from our base of operations in Port-au-Prince. www.mafc.org
  • The Church of the Nazarene has 11 districts and about 110,000 members in Haiti. It reaches out through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada (www.ncmc.ca). www.nazarene.ca
  • Operation Mobilization's relief ship the Logos Hope operates in the region. [Jan. 15, 2010: "If ports open up, we will try to use it to bring some relief."] www.omcanada.org
  • Partners International works with Haitian Calvary International Ministries to help plant churches and provide access to education for children in Haiti. www.partnersinternational.ca
  • reSource Leadership International, the Canadian branch of the Overseas Council network, has provided funding and other resources for Seminaire de Theologie Evangelique de Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Particular investments have been made into the school library and student scholarships. College alumni have played a major role in developing ministries throughout Haiti. www.resourceleadership.com
  • The Salvation Army began its work in Haiti in 1950. Currently, services offered include three medical facilities, social service institutions and dozens of schools serving more than 10,000 children. www.salvationarmy.ca
  • Samaritan's Purse has been partnering with Christian organizations in Haiti for 15 years, including responding after four devastating hurricanes struck the nation in September 2008. Operation Christmas Child has distributed over 200,000 shoe boxes in Haiti since 1999. www.samaritanspurse.ca
  • World Relief Canada is a member of the Integral Alliance which has several of its members on the ground in Haiti with a variety of programs such as microfinance and AIDS and other health programs. www.wrcanada.org
  • World Vision Canada has been working in Haiti for over 30 years, helping an estimate 300,000 Haitians each year to overcome poverty through providing access to education, improved access to food and clean water and improved nutrition as well as helping families with improved medical care. www.worldvision.ca

Karen Stiller is the associate editor of Faith Today. See more in this series at www.evangelicalfellowship.ca/globalvillage. Corrections and additions to this list are welcome at editor@faithtoday.ca.

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Samples from Sep/Oct 2009
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From the Editor
Life is Precious

The Gathering Place

Presence, Perseverance and Persuasion

Haiti: Among the Poorest

God at Work in Denominations
An Inviting Blend

A Church You Should Know
New Life Church, Duncan, B.C.

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