Often in mission newsletters and the media, Haitians are portrayed as hungry, hurting, and helpless. This perception of the people of a nation has led to multi-generational dependence on outside aid. This has led to despair and a feeling that without outside aid things cannot change.
However, nothing could be further from the truth! Haiti has a wealth of people who have a natural optimism about life and the future. Because of corruption and lack to training people have often not been able to successfully work together to accomplish goals. When one person has been successful the others often tend to pull them back down.
Open Hands brings a refreshing message of hope to Haiti. Our message to the Haitian people is that they can do it themselves. They are not dependent on outside funds or foreign people. Our curriculum teaches the Haitian people how to work together effectively with transparency, leadership, discipline, and relational support.
Many people in savings groups have commented about how they didn’t know how much they had until they started a disciplined, regular habit of saving every week. By being faithful in a small way on a weekly basis they were able to accomplish their goals.
Many of the savings groups in Haiti also have an assistance fund out of which they give gifts to group members with special needs. Last year I visited a group and the treasurer of the group told me, “No one in our group needs to ask someone outside of the group for help. We help each other. We take care of the needs we have within our group. We are all advancing together”. This is a powerful concept and change in thinking from being dependent on outside aid.
I was in several savings group earlier this year and heard a number of women share a testimony of how they had saved enough funds to send all their children to school. I could sense the satisfaction they felt at having been able to do that without asking a foreigner to help pay their school fees for the year.
One young boy was part of a savings group. He was about 12 years old. I asked him what he was saving for and he told me, “I am saving for a motorcycle, because I want to be a motorcycle taxi driver some day. With my savings I bought a goat. That goat has had a kid which I can sell. I want to keep saving and buying goats or chickens until someday I have enough for a motorcycle.” That young man is going to be successful. He has goals. He has people around him to encourage him.
Your interest in Open Hands and your support for our project in Haiti helps us to help Haitians to help themselves.