Lent Remixed, Week 4: Haiti

March 4, 2013

If you’ve read across the Christian blogosphere, you’ve probably heard others talk about Haiti.

Ann Voskamp (one of our heroes) continues to visit Haiti, partner with Mission of Hope Haiti and write heart-wrenching blogs in response, posts that never fail to make the tears spill over into my coffee and blur my computer screen. Last time she saw me, Elise slid her small hand alongside mine, gripped softly and asked what was wrong as I dabbed my face with a dishtowel. And it wasn't even 9 a.m. yet.

Jen Hatmaker (another hero) partnered with Help One Now to build a school in Haiti, and has continued to do work there. She wrote last November about how she saw a Tent City that still had 20,000 displaced people, still struggling after the earthquake that hit in 2010. And I cry over her blogs, too.

So it’s hard not to feel like we’re just jumping on the Haiti bandwagon.

But here’s the thing – the statistics are simply staggering. Because statistically, Haiti is the poorest country in the world.

Here’s what one news story had to say about Haiti:

“The World Bank notes that more than half of Haiti’s population lives on less than $1 a day, while about 80% of the country lives on less than $2 a day. The country’s estimated unemployment rate as of 2010 was 40.6%. The impoverished nation is in a state of rebuilding since a devastating earthquake hit the country in 2010. … The official figure by the Haitian government estimated the death toll at 316,000.”

It gets worse. According to several sources, children have been hit the hardest. Many were orphaned when their parents died in the quake – no one knows the exact number, as there are no state-run orphanages, and many additional “orphans” have been placed in private facilities by parents due to extreme poverty. But estimates number in the hundreds of thousands; Haiti Orphan Project puts the number of orphans at roughly 750,000 children.

Child trafficking is a concern. There is no free public education – school enrollment is at 50 percent. Less than half the adult population can read. And social services are pretty much nonexistent. So it’s easy to get bogged down in the numbers, the despair, and the hopelessness. Where do you start to confront so many problems? What can we do?

-       Pray. This week, we’ll pray for Haiti. There are so many areas to pray for – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – that it's a good idea to choose something specific: Rebuilding. Orphans. Education. Poverty. Or whatever else speaks to your heart.

-       Fast. We’re going a different route this week. Since apparel and textiles make up 75 percent of Haiti’s exports to the U.S., it seems fitting to give up all extra, unnecessary spending for the week (source here). Did you know that the average annual income (GNI) in Haiti, according to Worldvision, is $650? If I make one trip to Caribou per week and buy one fancy coffee, by the end of the year, I would use up the equivalent of 40 percent of the average Haitian’s annual income. 

-       Give. At the end of the week, I’m going to take the money I would have spent on “extra” items for my family and instead give it to organizations that are making a difference in Haiti. I’ve already named a few: Mission of Hope Haiti. Help One Now. Haiti Orphan Project. And there are many, many more, including great organizations like Worldvision.

-       Do something. Have you heard of Garage Sale for Orphans, an initiative of Help One Now? According to their website: “There are currently over 59,000 self-storage facilities in the USA and we spend over $22 BILLION each year to store our excess stuff!” So here’s their idea: Have a garage sale. And give the proceeds to a project in Haiti (they also have projects in Zimbabwe or Uganda). And, you can pick the project out, like an anti-trafficking home that’s being built or funds for teacher training in Haiti. How cool is that?

I know sometimes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the hurt and pain and need in the world. But how hard is it to throw a garage sale?

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James 1:27)

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