Our Story - Nou Istwa
Striking first impressions
Neatly uniformed schoolchildren pass in clusters. Strong young men push carts heaping with scrap metal. Women skillfully balance the enormous loads upon their heads. The sun-baked city streets are alive with beautiful, dark-skinned people going about their daily work. I sit agape in the back of a pickup as we bounce over crater-like potholes and swerve to avoid overflowing tap-taps - local taxi-trucks - some honking and blasting what sounds like South African hip-hop. A white UN vehicle passes, full of armed soldiers in blue helmets.
These are common sights when driving the streets of Haiti. Our medical missions team had flown down for a week to support two long-term missionaries. We stayed at their home in Cap Haitien, helping with a building project at a medical clinic in LaBruyere and a few other projects. The people amazed me. I was touched by the smiles of deepest gratitude for our smallest efforts, but broken by the poverty that seemed so overwhelmingly vast.
Beauty and decay, pride and poverty...side by side
Haiti is a place of many contrasts. Its land is lush and beautiful, yet its streets and buildings show the decay of conflict and neglect. Its people are strong and proud, but they lack the resources to reach their full potential and for most of them, every day is a fight for survival.
This country has a long and complicated history. It was once called "The Pearl of the Antilles," thriving on its plentiful exports to France. Haiti has since suffered abuse and neglect from countries who refused to recognize its independence. Floods have repeatedly eroded soil and damaged crops, and while the country has many natural resources - coffee, chocolate, peanut butter, bananas, and coconut, to name a few - their export is largely controlled by the elite. Most impoverished farmers do not have access to mainstream trade.
From heartbreak...to hearts on fire
I came back to my abundant homeland both inspired and frustrated, feeling nearly powerless to change what I had seen or even to describe it to anyone who had not been there. And what I saw was an eyeblink of what the people of Haiti struggle with every day.
But there was a fire in my heart, and now I had to do something. I knew my perceived limitations did not matter, for "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Soon I was brimming with ideas, but I needed a focus. I began to ponder and brainstorm with family members and other Haiti missionaries.
My mom, Lisa, quickly caught my enthusiasm. As a copywriter and Internet marketer, she had the experience we needed. Her skills and my artistic interests could work together perfectly. Inspired by an article she found about an online shop called Nest, she began to form a vision based on a "teach a man to fish" philosophy.
Just feet (and hands - our hands) from self-sufficiency
"Bon bagay" is a Creole phrase my team members often used in Haiti. It means "it's a good thing." It is my hope that we can use the many good things God has blessed us with to help those who have so little. Eventually we hope to expand our business to include Haitian merchants, thus helping them to become self-sufficient through their own creative gifts.
Haiti is now in a delicate balance. The current world food shortage has made daily survival even harder for people who live on so little already. At the same time, missionaries, humanitarian aid workers, and others are working to give Haitians the means to rise above the poverty that stifles their lives.
It is never hopeless
The picture looks bleak, but it is never hopeless. People of faith and others are working to pave the way to a brighter future for Haitians. Here are a few ways to get involved:
- Read about Haiti's history
- Visit our online shop
- Donate to support the cause
Please keep Haiti in your prayers. May God bless you for your compassion.