Haiti is home to beautiful beaches, rich culture and incomprehensible poverty. Flying in you could see the beautiful beaches surrounding the island, then we landed in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
We were greeted by our transagendars and loaded up in our oversized Tap Tap. Tap Taps are the main mode of transportation, (gaily painted buses or pick-up trucks) filled to maximum capacity. For us, it was fun and fit all of us comfortably. For most, they are packed in extremely tight and may need to take 2 or 3 different ones to reach their destination.
Driving to the hotel, all I could notice was concrete, dirt, and trash scattered everywhere in the streets. After settling in at our hotel, we hit the ground running. First, we visited the children at Chanje Lakey and Chanje Bellanton (The two orphanages supported by the Chanje movement). We were greeted with overwhelming excitement, as we read bible stories, played games, and sang worship songs together. What I loved most was the joy and laughter of the children.
Sunday morning church service at Roc Solide, was an unforgettable experience. Even though the service was in Creole I could feel their passion, energy, and genuine fire for God. That evening we hosted a women’s conference for over 400 women (and men) on conflict resolution. The overwhelming request for individual prayer, revealed what an appropriate topic we’d chosen.
We visited two rural communities, Boukanbou and Meyer, to deliver 150 bags of rice, beans, pasta, and oil we prepared for them. The first community of Meyer was very peaceful and welcomed us and our time together. The second community had an entirely different feel. People immediately lined up pushing and shoving each other – fighting for survival.
Then we had the opportunity to visit three inspiring organizations creating hope. First stop, Vilaj Pou Granmoun was started by the Korean Catholic Church, which is a tranquil place of dignity for the elderly and individuals with special needs who were abandoned in the streets by their families. Next was The Heartline Maternity Center which provides women with lifesaving and compassionate maternal care, education, and support. Our final stop was The Papillon Enterprise, an artisan organization committed to orphan prevention through job creation.
Our last day was spent at the Field of Dreams, a three acre property purchased by the Chanje movement. They recently completed the community center, where we hosted a conference for the women of the community. Over 100 women and their children allowed us to share bible stories, testimonies, and sing worship songs together. The dream center was brought to life, as we came together in fellowship, and none of us wanted to leave.
As a problem solver, I wanted to figure how to fix it but after a few days I realized just how big the problem really is. How can a community change with so much corruption, vulnerability to natural disasters, low literacy rates, and almost 80% of the country’s wealth is owned by five families?
While heartbreaking, I experienced a community full of joy, laughter, and love even with so little. It was an truly an honor to serve God with such an amazing group of women and transagendars we now call friends!
Thank you to the Chanje Movement (www.chanje.org) who are bringing hope and a future to Haiti through community transformation and revival.
I am grateful to all who supported my journey, and gave me the courage to serve in Haiti on their behalf.
– Christina Mangino
Sr. Wealth Advisor