The Ecumenical Foundation for Peace and Justice (FOPJ) is a non-profit, ecumenical, Christian organization that sponsors the House of Hope in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. House of Hope is a program for children laboring as domestic servants (“restaveks”), and also assists young moms, single girls, and elderly women who have been abandoned, by providing them with a safe place where they can learn social skills such as conflict resolution and a professional trade. House of Hope also has a broader program to promote a peaceful resolution to conflict within the community through leadership development for community leaders and former gang members.
In the weeks after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, House of Hope was in emergency mode. The primary focus of their work was to provide meals to area children and families. They used temporary locations, providing food for up to 600 people daily, and also providing some recreation and singing for children. Former street gang members from Cité Soleil who had been part of the conflict transformation program were provided with rice to take home to their families. The buildings that House of Hope had been renting before the quake were very heavily damaged and could no longer be used. House of Hope was able to find a building which met their needs, had minimal damage, and would allow them to continue to serve people in the same area of Port-au-Prince.
House of Hope moved from its emergency mode and back toward its regular programming as quickly as possible. While they wanted to see basic needs provided for, they did not want to foster a sense of dependence by continuing to provide community meals for too long.
Life in Haiti is marked by either opulence or poverty, where those who have the wealthy lifestyle are in the minority and control and utilize the poor. House of Hope endeavors to provide support and a means of escaping the dangers poor children face daily. One House of Hope method is to provide the means for children and adolescents to attend school. Courses also are offered to help them learn peaceful conflict resolution in the hope of giving them some tools for improving their lives.
The program has 22 collaborators. They teach reading, writing, and faith development, as well as life-skills, and children’s rights. In an effort to provide income-generating skills, sewing, meal preparation, craft-making, folk dancing, and embroidery are offered. The program runs for a period of three years for adolescents, at which time it is hoped they have learned enough to continue on their own. The program also assists in the establishment of a sense of personal dignity in the participants, and offers faith and support, believing in the ability of each participant.
Each of the activities is carefully monitored by the Administrative Council and is evaluated by the collaborators for productivity and development. Each collaborator shares the difficulties and challenges faced and reports on the progress of each child. In addition, a coordinator is assigned to each program area and is responsible for monitoring the collaborators, assuring compliance with the directives of the program. All report to FOPJ on a monthly basis.
The program relies on contributions from its partners in mission. Given the target audience, it does not receive any funds from the communities it serves. It is hoped that FOPJ can receive the funds to continue ministries at House of Hope.
Update: March 2013
During 2012, House of Hope was able to accomplish all of their objectives. They have reached approximately 200 children at House of Hope I and 50 at House of Hope II. Approximately 150 teenagers have participated in their vocational school. These children and teenagers have benefited from the education, materials, and spiritual support in their centers. Forty-two children and 71 intermediary/high school students passed the new state examinations, after tutoring/studying at House of Hope.
House of Hope also supports 94 older women who have been abandoned. Twenty-one children who were working in situations of abuse as domestic workers have been reintegrated into their families with support, both socially and economically, from House of Hope.
In the course of their work in 2012, House of Hope has identified the situation of many children between ten and 17 years old who are living in extreme poverty in the urban areas where they work. These children have been entrusted to others by their parents, because there are no means for the parents to support the children, in part because of the degradation of the environment and lack of agricultural production possibilities. Many rural parents are sending their children to live with another person, who may not be even family or a friend, hoping their children with have better lives in the city. Often the situation of these children has gotten worse rather than better, as they become easy victims of different types of injustice and abuse in the homes where they are sent to live. House of Hope attempts to raise awareness and motivate all people who are concerned by this problem, and to help these children recover their rights, but financial challenges are not allowing House of Hope to complete all of the activities that are needed for this population.
Story of Rose
House of Hope shared a story about Rose, a teenager of House of Hope. Rose is the fourth of five children in her family. When she was eight years old she came to Port-au-Prince from the countryside with her father’s cousin. Three years later, her father’s cousin left the area and entrusted Rose to his aunt. This woman, who was living at Carrefour-Feuilles, has four children of her own and, since Rose was not one of her children, Rose was required to do everything for the family. Rose was going to a school beside her house, but at times the aunt stopped her from going, destroyed her books and uniforms, and beat her. Rose was living a life of hell. By the earthquake in January 2010, Rose no longer went to school, living from hand to mouth in extreme poverty. In 2011 an associate of House of Hope met her on the street in poor condition, talked to her, met her aunt, and persuaded her to send Rose to House of Hope. At first it was not easy for Rose to come into the program but eventually she was comforted and helped to be self-confident. Rose now is a girl in full bloom. She is a good student when before she could not pass her classes. Now she gets good grades and participates as a new dancer on the Dance Team.
The children of Haiti continue to face many challenges due to the extreme poverty in their country. House of Hope continues to assist these children to live a full and productive life. As the needs continue, Global Ministries welcomes gifts to assist the ministries of House of Hope.
Examples of how gifts to the House of Hope may be used:
- $10 can help provide needed school supplies
- $50 can provide approximately 120 meals – one day’s worth
- $500 can provide clothes, sandals, and other needed items
- $1,100 can provide medical support for a year
- Gifts of any amount can assist with the purchase of land and/or the building of new facilities
To read how congregations and groups have raised money for House of Hope, click here: House of Hope Donor Story
Update May 2015
The devastating effects of the 2010 earthquake on the physical structures of Haitian educational establishments and professional centers in Port-au-Prince continue to have a large impact. The House of Hope continues working with vulnerable community sectors such as children laboring as domestic servants (“restaveks”), young mothers, single girls, and elderly women who have been abandoned. They work with these groups through the key areas of education and professional training. To do this, one of their main objectives is to build a new structure, because the one they have currently is now at maximum capacity.
The new building will have two floors with four classrooms on the ground floor and three on the second floor. The usable classroom space will average 269 square feet.
In order to make this new learning center a reality, House of Hope professional staff will be training students and volunteers in the trades related to building construction techniques. Young people will be fully participating in the project, and anyone of working age will be encouraged to participate as volunteers. Once this project is done, those students and volunteers will be able to take their new skills and knowledge into the community to seek employment and/or to make other buildings more safe and secure.
The House of Hope new building project also includes the strengthening of the current auditorium with reinforced concrete. This will enable the building to better resist the effects of weather in the future, including earthquakes. A 1,023 square foot second floor also will be built to accommodate students in cosmetology training.
Global Ministries welcomes gifts to assist in the new building projects of House of Hope.
Update May 2016
House of Hope is growing in its work with vulnerable peoples in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Currently, House of Hope works daily with 200 children laboring as domestic servants (“restaveks”), 100 young adults, and over 60 elderly individuals. House of Hope is seeing an increase in participation in the programs they provide to the community for connecting and empowering participants to become self-sustainable – programs such as the Education and Peace program for children and young adults, the Vocational Training programs for young adults, and the Sharing and Solidarity program for the elderly. House of Hope also offers vocational training in electricity, plumbing, culinary arts, sewing, and cosmetology.
In 2015 House of Hope decided it was time to build a larger building to meet the interests and growing participation of the community. In Spring 2016, House of Hope in Haiti completed the construction and officially opened their new center, which was built with the assistance of many young adults in the community, some of whom were involved in several of the vocational training programs.
The new Center has two floors and seven classrooms – four on the first floor and three on the second floor. The second floor also holds the training and practice area for the popular cosmetology vocational program. In addition to the new building, House of Hope also renovated and corrected structural problems of their existing building so they can work with as many individuals as possible through education, classes, and programs. The children and teachers at House of Hope are already using the new facility and enjoying the new space!
Update October 2016
Polycarpe Joseph, Executive Director of House of Hope reports:
In the southwest region of the country, the post-hurricane situations are catastrophic. After Hurricane Matthew hit these areas of Haiti, individuals are living in terrible conditions.
House of Hope has been developing methods to encourage community development for the last five years with families in the southwest region. House of Hope provides a reintegration program for children who left domestic work and reunites with their biological families. Through the reintegration program, House of Hope facilitated the return of 42 children to 30 families in the southwest region, and coordinated the rehabilitation of homes for these families.
Hurricane Matthew has damaged or destroyed each of the repaired houses that the reunited families called home. Now, these families (about 200 people) have lost not only their homes, but also many of the components of their community and daily life. Family gardens, livestock, commercial activities, and many of the long term projects families were beginning have been destroyed. Water from the nearby river is contaminated and causing a cholera epidemic in the area, and the books, notebooks, shoes, and uniforms of these children are lost. Currently the humanitarian aid in Haiti is available in major cities, and the families in the reintegration program of House of Hope live in rural areas with limited or no access to major cities and humanitarian relief.
With the support of special gifts received for Hurricane Matthew relief, House of Hope has purchased and distributed food and materials for these families and in the community. House of Hope has provide rice, corn, noodles, cooking oil, sugar, flour, salt, water purification materials, blankets, flashlights, candles, and matches to families in the southwest region damaged by Hurricane Matthew.
House of Hope has identified three aspects of accompanying the 30 families that are involved in the reintegration program and the southwest region that has been affected by Hurricane Matthew. Two collaborators, or House of Hope staff, are present in the southwest region in order to coordinate these plans.
1 – House of Hope plans to continue providing food while food items are not readily available. In addition, House of Hope will help begin cultivating the gardens and farms in the community.
2 – House of Hope also is prepared to promote conditions and provide access for the children in these families to return to school. House of Hope also understands that the children will need new books, uniforms, shoes, and bags in order to replace these items that were lost in the hurricane.
3 – Lastly, House of Hope is to planning to accompany families in rebuilding homes, primarily through assisting in the purchase of construction materials such as sheet metal, cement, and wood.
House of Hope is working to help the families in this region to have hope and to help them to see opportunities in their lives. The rainy season in Haiti will begin in three months, and House of Hope is working to provide conditions for food security and self-sustainability for families in the region prior to the beginning of rainy season.
Update March 2017
Global Ministries is excited to report that House of Hope, with thanks to the generous support they received in the initial response to Hurricane Matthew, completed two of the three activities they identified for accompanying those affected by Hurricane Matthew.
House of Hope provided food and hygiene items to families in the southwest region which was the area with the most damage from Hurricane Matthew. This was the first and most immediate relief provided to families affected by Hurricane Matthew. The food distributed to families in the region included rice, corn, noodles, oil, sugar, flour, and salt. The hygiene kits included chlorine, blankets, candles, matches, soap, toothpaste, and towels.
In addition, House of Hope accompanied the 30 families they began working with many years ago to reestablish their income-generating activities. Together, House of Hope and the families revitalized the gardens of families; purchased pigs, chickens, and goats; and restocked small shops run by the families. One income-generating activity that is still being re-established is the repair and re-installation of two corn mills, which were operated by a several individuals from the 30 families.
The second expression of accompaniment House of Hope identified was to ensure the children of these families return to school. In November 2016, the schools in the region were reopened for students. However, prior to returning to school, the school required students to have school uniforms, books, notebooks, and shoes. House of Hope worked with each family and child individually to ensure whatever materials were lost or ruined by the hurricane were purchased so that their children could begin attending school again. House of Hope was able to provide this assistance, and ensure the 42 children returned to school as soon as the schools reopened, because of the financial support they received in response to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.
House of Hope is focusing on their third identified priority for accompanying families affected by Hurricane Matthew: to assist in the rebuilding of homes of the 30 families. Through discussions with the families and research on the costs of materials, House of Hope is raising funds to purchase the cement, sheet metal, wood, and nails required for the reconstruction of each home. The families will purchase the remaining materials for their homes. The cost of materials necessary to rebuild the homes of the 30 families totals $4,500 per home. House of Hope is raising funds for this effort as they continue accompanying these families.
House of Hope in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, offers a safe space and educational program for at-risk children in the area. In addition to its education programs, House of Hope assists young moms, single girls, and elderly women who have been abandoned and provides them with a place to learn social skills, practice conflict resolution, and work on professional and leadership development. While attending House of Hope, children have access to meals helping in their physical and mental development. Children and women in the Port-au-Prince area face many structural injustices. Many families in the area cannot feed their children and have a hard time finding quality education. Many children grow up hungry, with only one meal a day and often face community threats, such as gang violence, making it hard to learn.
Over the past year and a half, House of Hope has accomplished many of its goals. In 2016 and 2017, close to 200 new children were enrolled in the educational programs, with over 95% finishing the program and passing their state exams. In the vocational schools, close to 95% of the students successfully completed the program. Beyond the school curriculum, students learn skills in cosmetology, sewing, embroidery, cooking, hand crafts, and computer skills—efforts to help them find sustainable work for the duration of their lives. All children that participate in House of Hope programs benefit from educational formation, enriching spiritual life, and professional development. These strengthen the children by building self-confidence, enhancing faith, and expanding hope and resilience.
The successes of House of Hope can be seen in their students. Fanny, 16, was born in Port-au-Prince. Her mother died in 2012 and this sudden tragedy threw the family into an unstable situation. Their father was unemployed, leaving the children unable to attend school due to the fees. In late 2016, a local partner of House of Hope who lived close to Fanny and her family referred the children to the program. Fanny and her younger sister began school, and it was the first time since the death of their mother that they both were able to complete a year of school in its entirety. Fanny achieves good grades in her class and hopes to continue to become a doctor and give back to her community.
In the coming year, House of Hope seeks to build a technology lab with computers and tablets to teach students new skills that they can use throughout their lives. Global Ministries welcomes gifts for the continued work of House of Hope in Haiti.