Shining under pressure: A Haiti update from Joe Knittig, GO Project CEO
Bonjou, zanmi mwen! (Hello, my friend!)
If you’re reading this, there’s a high likelihood the people of Haiti have impacted your life. Perhaps you visited, expecting to get wrecked by pain and instead got surprised by joy. The creativity, strength and outbound love of the children and families and communities you encountered jolted you. Changed something in you. Helped you see the world – and the people in your everyday lives – differently than before. A piece of your heart beats in Haiti.
It’s been six months since my last substantive update to you. Here’s that: L’operation Pays Lock: A global call for Haitian localism.
I recently returned from Haiti. I want to bring you up to speed.
Let’s get the top-down gunk out of the way… Though things have significantly calmed down, the government remains dysfunctional. (There have been three prime ministers over the past six months.) Food prices remain high. The local currency remains devalued. Tourism has hit rock bottom. (The national hotel occupancy rate is at 3-4%.) Local businesses have been devastated. We’re in the midst of a fuel crisis. The pressure on Haitian children and families remains bone crushing.
Now the bottom-up great stuff… That we have experienced first-hand…
Our local church partners are like shining stars in this pressure. They haven’t missed a beat caring for children and families. I got to visit some of our partners and the children and families they serve. They are healthy. Strong. Thriving. Learning. Moving. Dreaming. If you’ve been worried about the children and families we get to serve, be encouraged. They are doing very well.
This speaks to the power of Localism. Our ministry does not exist to play the hero from the United States. Forcing dependency. We invest in local churches who make local leaders, families and children the heroes of their own local stories, in their own local ways, through their own local resources. We get to be angel investors. Our in-country Haitian team and the local partners they serve are fearless and courageous. They are not on defense. They have remained on offense. I left this last trip more blown away by them than ever.
Our apparel team members have also shined like stars in this pressure. They have advanced and grown the business over the last six months. Our business leaders do whatever it takes to get to work on time every day. One leader spends 4-6 hours (depending on traffic) in his car per day to get to and from work. Our team members find ways to get to work on time every day. On tap-taps. On foot. Whatever it takes. They get there. And they produce together in a symphony of excellence. Thankful for steady work at a time when it’s nearly impossible to get a job.
Our trip planning is looking up. The U.S. State Department reduced the travel alert level from a 4 (do not travel) to a 3, the level where it has been for many years. For us that means preparing to resume trips, which we’re excited to do. You’ll hear more on this in the coming couple of weeks as we continue to monitor the situation on the ground.
Finally, here’s a personal story for the ages…
So many of you who’ve gone on trips with us know and love Dexter. With Dexter’s permission, I want to share some encouraging news.
Rogelin Dexter Ferjuste lost his parents in the 2010 earthquake. To even the most cynical skeptic, Dexter’s faith in Jesus Christ is as inspiring as it is practical, even salty, and has carried him through so much. Along with his local friends. And us. And so many of you. Together. Dexter is now 25 and a wonderful member of our GO Haiti team. He has one surviving sister. She lives in Florida. While they have been able to talk by phone over the years, they haven’t seen each other since Dexter was 7 years old.
Well check this out… Dexter’s sister recently found some old family photos, including this one of Dex and his beautiful mother.
And as you’re reading this, God is delivering a miracle: Dexter and his sister are on a vacation together in the Dominican Republic, reuniting for the first time in 18 years.
Feast your eyes on these pics:
As I share this update, a scripture comes to mind. Please reflect on this as you continue to pray for our friends in Haiti and push through your own pressures at home and work.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4.
We hope 2020 will be the year you return to Haiti to greet your friends there.
I appreciate you.