Dwelling in the House of Hope in Haiti
Marie Carmelle is a 40-year-old single mother of four. After the birth of her last child, the father did not want to take responsibility for the family, and left to enjoy his life. After his departure, things were not going well for her. Difficulties in sending the children to school, providing food, and paying the rent were and are daily struggles for this young woman. Despite this challenging life, Marie Carmelle still cherished her dream of becoming a great cook to support herself and her children.
Last year, Marie Carmelle accepted the invitation to join a parenting program at the Ecumenical Foundation for Peace and Justice (FOPJ, better known as “House of Hope,” its main educational program). FOPJ/House of Hope is one of Global Ministries’ partners in Haiti. The House of Hope program provides a variety of services, including education on children’s rights for parents in the community. During these training sessions, Marie Carmelle received information on the “Oscar Romero Professional Center,” another House of Hope program. This program provides a second chance to single mothers, those who live in violence, and all the marginalized who want to take charge of their lives. Through it, participants learn skills in cosmetology, sewing, embroidery, cooking, handicrafts, or computer skills—efforts to help them find sustainable work for the duration of their lives.
It is not easy to embrace this kind of opportunity in Haiti nowadays. The recent assassination of Jovenel Moïse, President of Haiti, brought to light some of the crises in the country under his rule. During the presidency of Mr. Moïse, social analysts observed the increase in organized violence, resulting in kidnappings, assassinations, and massacres. The armed gangs were gaining ground in Port-au-Prince, with the collaboration of Moïse, which led to the murder of officials, police, teachers, university students, journalists, and activists. According to Lautaro Rivara, a sociologist and popular communicator, more than 500,000 weapons circulate in Haiti, most of them illegal. In the last week of June 2021 alone, a human rights foundation denounced the murder of 60 persons. https://www.nodal.am/2021/07/haiti-las-claves-para-entender-el-asesinato-de-jovenel-moise-por-nicolas-retamar/
Polycarpe Joseph, House of Hope’s Executive Director, shared with us some of the consequences of that spiral of violence through a recent report:
“Year after year, the challenges are more and more numerous and difficult to face. Insecurity and worry of the next day represent significant challenges. There is not a single day that we live without shedding blood. The dominating climate of violence in the country is genuinely challenging. We are prisoners in our houses because the assassins are in all of our streets. That affected our activities and the performance of the children and participants at the House of Hope. Indeed, for more than a year, not a day could pass without an assassination or kidnapping. Fear and worry are hovering over the population like a leaden weight. Our life expectancy continues to be reduced, whether we are in total activity or staying at home. The bandits decide our right to live or die, and we have no recourse. These challenges prevent us from working in peace and represent natural obstacles to the achievement of our objectives.”
Despite the enormous challenges that House of Hope faces every day, its leaders dare to dream, plan, and move forward. Polycarpe shared his vision: “We decided to make a way through the storm because we are not alone in the boat. We cannot give up and put our participants at risk of being recruited by gangs or becoming silent victims of the situation. We must continue to sow the good seed. We intend to strengthen our activities to benefit our children, young people, parents, and abandoned older adults. The next few days and months will be even more difficult, but we have no choice. We must continue to love and serve God through these brothers and sisters whom He has put on our path.”
And I think they are doing it right. As we get back into Marie Carmelle’s story, it is our joy to share this testimony through Polycarpe’s words:
“This wonderful woman joined the (Oscar Romero’s Professional) Center during the 2020-2021 academic year, despite the recurring financial difficulties she faced every day. That did not prevent her from reaching her goal. In the upcoming weeks, she will undergo the official exams to obtain her state diploma. I have to say that she is a wonderful woman, concerned about her learning. She participated so well in group work, and contributed to recruiting more people to the Center. I praise her dedication and responsibility.” Despite circumstances, people are rising out of Haiti’s ashes, thanks to Partners like the Ecumenical Foundation for Peace and Justice. Little by little, people take their destiny and future into their hands with the empowerment and accompaniment from our friends in Haiti. There are reasons to continue dwelling in the House of Hope.
To accompany our partners at House of Hope, you can make a financial contribution to support their ministry of empowerment. Information on sending gifts to Global Ministries online, by check in the mail, or by phone can be found at www.globalministries.org/give.