When we first moved to Haiti more than 12 years ago, we were totally naive and unaware, like most folks are when they change cultures and countries.
We were not special and it seems we are all equally dopey and in a position to learn a whole crap-ton.
It is never that people plan (well, I hope not) to do unkind or ignorant things, it is simply that good intentions often fall short.
Intending good does not necessarily equal doing good.
In our time here we have watched and been a part of many cringy situations, you know the ones I mean.
I speak of the things we observed and/or participated in that made us have shame, grief, and perhaps a very large tummy ache. I will spare you (read: ME) the painful examples today and try to get to the punchline.
Our philosophy about serving/working cross-culturally and missions has changed a ton due to what we have experienced in the Haiti School of Hard Knocks.
When it has been within our control, Troy and I do not choose to have local workers replaced by short term missions groups. A group from North America can come tour and say hi, we love that, but we really don't want you to take a job from anyone. If the job you are offering to do can be done by a Haitian, we want to give them that opportunity.
As Directors of Heartline, we commit to attempting to use a local crew to do any work that needs doing. On occasion, we run into situations where the local laborer won't be able to do exactly what we hope to do.
This is usually due to construction practices or materials and skill-set available. However, for the vast majority of projects, we desire and prefer to provide jobs to laborers in the local economy.
In our minds Heartline Ministries does not only offer maternal health care etc. etc., we also offer jobs to talented and hard working Haitians that want to work.
The Maternity Center currently employs 12 beautiful souls full-time.
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Recently long-time donors and friends of Heartline Ministries wrote to say that many years back they had come to Haiti and done some projects.
They wondered about coming again in 2018.
We took a risk and told them the truth of what was needed. We shared that the outside of the Maternity Center was in rough shape and was painted two or three different colors. We went on to tell this couple that the project was a big one but more importantly it was one that could provide jobs.
Samuel has a crew of 6 that work with him.
Because we need donations to do this work, it is a fine line to walk to take a risk and tell donors "No thank you, please don't come but would you consider spending your airfare another way?"
Sometimes (out of fear I suppose) the truth has never been shared with the donor. We decided maybe they did not know we had the option of hiring a crew that would be thrilled to work on the Maternity Center for a week.
Long story shorter, they sent their airfare dollars and Samuel the Painter and his crew worked for six days and transformed our peeling and unmatched building into something quite snazzy.
See our teal blue with white trim and red accent. Might not work in Minnesota, but it looks pretty great in the Caribbean.
Below are all the photos. More than simply showing you their excellent work, and the beautiful repainted MC, I would like to encourage you to ask and consider how we can all do better when considering a short term mission trip. Can the work you might be doing while you visit provide a job for someone? Wouldn't giving a materially poor mom or dad a job and some much needed cash that they themselves earned feel great?
(Yes. It feels great. Ask Samuel.)
I especially want to thank our friends that gave for this project. Thank you for trusting what we shared and hiring local labor.
This was a huge encouragement and gift to us all.
Front Gate is bright red now ... LOVE
The before situation -