FROM THE TRAVEL JOURNAL OF MARK JANZEN
There was hope in the smiling faces of the children. There was hope in the leaders of the community. There was hope in the flourishing gardens. Despite the thirsty soil, relentless heat, and obvious material poverty, there was a palpable hope for a bright future.
I spent a week in Cachiman on an FH vision trip. A group of my friends – known as Westcoast Friends – have supported this community for more than a year now and it was an opportunity to see what is happening in Haiti and learn about the plans for its future.
Travelling with my wife, Lisa, and sister, Jill, as well as a group of three others from Edmonton’s St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, we got a firsthand look at what FH is doing on the ground while hearing firsthand from people in the community.
In a nutshell, FH is doing exactly what FH says it is doing.
It’s about building relationships and walking alongside the leaders of the community to help it forge towards a sustainable future. This is most certainly happening in Cachiman.
First, we met Pastor Louis. This man is not only an influential pastor, but he is also one of Cachiman’s lead farmers – helping teach other people valuable farming techniques – and is a key member of one of the community’s Savings and Loans Groups.
His faith in God and belief that God will provide was truly inspirational. One morning, we found him tilling a dry dirt patch near his church. Under the blazing Haitian sun, Pastor Louis boldly believed that God would one day provide a water source which would allow this plot of land to flourish as a garden. Between a few weeds, a small pipe poked out of the ground a couple of hundred metres away. Pastor Louis didn’t know how he was going to turn that into a viable water source, but he was going to pray, knowing that God would provide. In Canada, we might fix this problem with a quick trip to Canadian Tire. In Cachiman, Pastor Louis prayed.
On one particular afternoon in Cachiman, we got the chance to visit the children who were sponsored by members of our group. It was an unforgettable experience and it was a chance to foster what we anticipate will be long-lasting relationships.
However, perhaps what I was most impressed with was the work of Alfredo. As the point person for the sponsored children in Cachiman, Alfredo has embraced the idea of relationship.
He seemed to know every child in the community and every child definitely knew him. The children loved when he was around and he was a person they could trust. He was a man truly following Jesus’ example of loving the children and there’s no doubt that he was making a special impact in so many lives.
Later in the trip, we also got the chance to meet both the Community Development Committee (CDC) and one of the savings groups. Neither were sitting by watching FH work, but rather taking ownership of Cachiman’s betterment.
The CDC was leading initiatives and sparking plans in which to further improve the community. The savings group was developing a loan system that would allow members to take out loans for business ventures or special projects.
But while the goals of both of these groups were practical in nature, the coming together of members was yet another opportunity for them to build relationships and a chance to further get to know their neighbours.
It was abundantly clear that building relationships is at the very centre of FH’s ethos. After just a week in Cachiman, it was difficult to say goodbye. Instead, we said, see you later. Indeed, we will be back.