How would you describe the mission of our partner in Haiti?
The Seminary program consists of 4 years of study and has enabled Protestant pastors to achieve a level of credibility in a predominantly non-Protestant nation. Some pastors travel literally for hours on local “tap taps” (community taxis) and on foot each month to take part in theological courses that CONASPEH has designed specifically for their needs.
The School of Nursing is training staff to a higher standard of health care. Part of this training is supported by Global Ministries’ medical teams from Canada, the U.S. and Puerto Rico that visit the school frequently and work with students to make them aware of current medical practices.
In a country where the average low-income family spends 80% of their income on schooling for their children, CONASPEH and its partners are able to provide scholarships to the children of those families and thus help to ease some of the burden on family budgets. CONASPEH was one of the first schools to rebuild in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.
How do you fit into their mission?
My work involves teaching micro-savings and micro-enterprise to seminarians, young adults ages 19-26, and the Philo level class (similar to 12th grade in the U.S.). My wife, Diane, and I are also working with a few established pastors to help them to set-up small micro-savings groups in their churches.
CONASPEH’s broader goals are to expand their vision of educating the people of Haiti and to create opportunities for individuals to realize their hopes and dreams for higher education and a better quality of life. By developing a strategy of [thinking out of the box] the micro-savings courses will encourage individuals to begin saving and investing in micro-enterprise ventures and hence their futures. Those who are involved in these courses are being pro-active and not re-active to Haiti’s struggling economy and rampant unemployment.
What led you to engage in this calling?
Diane and I worked in Asia for 8 years through the support of Global Ministries and were partnered with Habitat for Humanity International. While most of our work focused on construction, development and church relations, we were well aware of the many micro-saving organizations throughout many countries in Asia that had great success in working with low-income people. After returning to the United States, we worked for nearly 5 years with the Katrina Recovery efforts in New Orleans through the Week of Compassion and the UCC’s South Central Conference Disaster Recovery ministry. As the recovery work in New Orleans was coming to a close we began conversations with Global Ministries about the need in Haiti and after a time of prayer we agreed to serve with CONASPEH in Haiti.
Is there a passage of scripture that carries special meaning in your daily work?
Philippians 4: 13 – “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”
What are some of the challenges facing the people of Haiti, CONASPEH, and your family?
Learning the language is a challenge since we are so busy with teaching classes and working with mission teams.
There are constant daily shortages of electricity making it a challenge for CONASPEH’s school to use the internet and computers.
What lesson have you learned working alongside the staff and students of CONASPEH that you would like to share with churches in the U.S.?
Developing relationships with churches locally and internationally can be a real source of empowerment and growth for all involved.
What is a common phrase used in the local churches?
During the passing of the peace we say, “Lape ave ou” (la-pay ah-vay oo) which means “Peace be with you.”
Are there books that have shaped your understanding of your work in Haiti?
- The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster, by Jonathan Katz
- Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins
- Haiti After the Earthquake, by Paul Farmer
- Travesty in Haiti: A true account of Christian missions, orphanages, fraud, food aid and drug trafficking, by Timothy T. Schwartz, Ph.D
- Haiti: The Tumultuous History - From Pearl of the Caribbean to Broken Nation, by Philippe Girard
Which movies have shaped your understanding of your work in Haiti?
- "The Other Side Of Immigration"
- "Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country"
Tim has also shared a wonderful recipe for Du Riz au Lait, a Haitian rice pudding.