Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Understanding Disabilities in Haiti

I have spent the last few days studying up on the Hatiains view on Disabilities as I feel like I need to understand it in order to set up rehabilitation programs in Haiti. I know now more than ever that God need me in Haiti. He gave me the gifts and talents I have for just a time as this and for this purpose. It breaks my heart to know that Hatians with disabilities are viewed this way. I truly believe For Jonathan Sake Program (community outreach program) and all the Miriam center programs will help to change the negative stigma put on these children and how the community views them.

View of Disabilities in Haiti
Disabilities in Haiti are viewed completely differently then they are here in America and therefore understanding of the Haitian perspective is crucial to the development of any program. It is rare for people in Haiti to discuss disabilities whether acquired/lifelong or mental/physical. Typically, disabilities are perceived as having origins in the interaction of the natural and supernatural worlds, rather than being a medical issue. There is a shame and social stigma that is attached to disabled individuals and their families. These attitudes prevent Haitian families from seeking support and social inclusion of their sons and daughters into community activity programs. Families may never take advantage of social programs and services that are available. Many of these children become socially isolated, and the families live a life apart from their community.
It is important to understand religion in Haiti to understand this negative stigma that is put on disabilities in Haiti. All these statistics are prior to the earthquake because the earthquake is even affecting and changing religion drastically. 90% of the country is catholic and 10% is protestant. Voodoo exists side by side with Christian faith. Many Haitians see no contradiction to calling themselves Christian while engaging in Voodoo practices. Voodoo is a mixture of African and Haitian beliefs. It has a complex cosmology made up of a large number of supernatural spirits. Each family has a spirit (lwa) associated with it. Daily life is conducted according to what would make these spirits happy. If a lwa’s request is not honored, the lwa may possibly punish the mother or child by giving them a disability. While lwa are voodoo in nature, the same type of explanation holds true within the framework of Christianity. Hatian Christians believe that going against God is the same as going against lwa. God punishes those who do not obey. Disability may also be the result of a spell cast by an enemy. In this case, a disability may be a sign that the disabled individual mistreated someone. For this reason regardless of religious orientation, disabilities are seen as supernatural in origin. It is never just an accident or just genetic
After a women gives birth to a child with a disability, the father of the child may intentionally go out and impregnate another woman. He believes that if the second women gives birth to a normal child, this provides evidence that the first child’s disability is a function of the child’s mother rather than himself. In these cases the mother of the child with a disability is left on her own. In fact many Haitian Children with disabilities are cared for by single mothers.
May Haitians are afraid of disabilities and are uneasy around people with disabilities, who may be called “crazy,” “stupid,” or “possessed.” They may also be labeled “non-functional” or “worthless.” Disabilities are treated as if they are contagious, since the disability may have been caused by an angry spirit, there is always the chance that the spirit may come after anyone who makes contact with a person with a disability. Since people are afraid of disabilities and believe them to be at type of supernatural punishment, many parents keep their disabled children away from the public view. Even though parents love their children dearly, parents view children with disabilities as “worthless.”

View of Rehabilitation in Haiti
When an individual has a disability, any decision about rehabilitation is made by the family as a whole. Each member of the extended family is consulted. The preference is to address the needs of the individual with the disability through a support system within the family itself. When the family does seek help outside of the family structure they typically choose from 2 options: religious or institution-based rehabilitation. Since disabilities are typically believed to be a result of an angry God or lwa or of a spell cast by an enemy, one option for rehabilitation is to turn to religion. Individuals or family may turn to Catholic Priests or Protestant minters to talk about their situation and conditions. By becoming correct with God, the curse or spell may be lifted. If the family cannot provide support, and the religious approach is not successful, individuals or family may turn to institutions that provide rehabilitation. Often times institutions are used as a refugee from the stigma put on them for having a child with a disability. Many Haitians put faith in foreign-based non-governmental organizations, particularly if staffed by whites. Often, there is the expectation that these institutions will provide miracles.
For many Haitian parents rehabilitation is not perceived as a long term process that is achieved in incremental steps. Rehabilitation is seen more as a miraculous, instantaneous cure of what has plagued their child. There is No understanding of rehabilitation as a process. Parents often expect immediate results and do not understand their role in the process. Josette Beaubrun, a Haitian disability rights advocate, believes that “Our Haitian parents need to be able to understand how to help their children and themselves and not to rely solely on the professional to solve their problems for them. They need to learn to be involved and to be more confident and independent in the choices they will have to make for their children.”

Existing Rehab Services in Haiti
Due to the level of poverty and political instability, little infrastructure exists to provide rehabilitation or to survey the needs of the population. Hiding individuals with disabilities makes it impossible to know with any certainty how many people are affected. In one estimation, there are over 100,000 people with an amputation, and virtually no orthotic and prosthetic services. It is estimated that there are around 800,000 people living in Haiti with disabilities. These statistics were before the earthquake now the estimates are that as many as 300,000 people with amputations may be added to that number. While there are some initiatives to help people with disabilities in Haiti not much has been done. As with many other social issues in Haiti, international non-governmental agencies have been very active. Various domestic and international church organizations provide services. Organizations and resources come from many different countries. These efforts appear to be a step in the right directions since they provide direct service and training, but they have been criticized for helping to privatize public responsibilities. By taking over the responsibility of the government, an official, public infrastructure is prevented. While this is a valid criticism, those receiving the direct services are happy to receive them. It is a question of long term goals versus short term needs.
After researching I was only able to find 9 organizations/programs in Haiti helping people with disabilities. I was surprised to find this many BUT this definitely shows there is still a need for more since prior to the earthquake it was estimated that 1 in 10 Haitians lived with some sort of disability whether physical, mental, intellectual or sensory. Ten small/medium size clinics helping over a million people is not enough. Another thing to note is that half of these programs are located in or in the surrounding areas of Port Au Prince and have suffered damage or been completely destroyed due to the earthquake.

What a privlidge I have to be apart of NWHCM that is working hard in this area. Please pray for me as I prepare to go into Haiti in less than 3 months now to strengthen our rehab program for these children. PRay that God will give me wisdom and knowledge to treat each child I come into contact with and the words to educate parents. I am soooooooo excited to see what God in store this summer in Haiti. And I am so humbled and grateful that he chose me to be a vessel for him to use :)

God is BIG...And Moving in Haiti...This Nation is being turned back to God

Many of you may know the song I heard traveling into Haiti my second year that became my 1 of my songs for Haiti and a big prayer for Haiti. It is called "Can A Nation Be Changed" By Matt Redman Below are the Lyrics, they are simple BUT Powerful and have been the prayer of countless people as they have been to Haiti....
Can a nation be changed?
Can a nation be saved?
Can a nation be turned back to you?

Let this nation be changed,
Let this nation be saved.
Let this nation be turned back to you.

We're on our knees,
We're on our knees again.
We're on our knees,
We're on our knees again.
We're on our knees,
We're on our knees again.
We're on our knees,
We're on our knees again.

IT is not that I didn't beleive God could change this nation back to a Christian Nation instead of nation dedicated to Satan BUT Maybe it is I did not believe it would be so soon. I never dreamed the earthquake that shook this nation physically apart, shook them to the core and caused a change in direction of the religion in this country...PRAISE GOD! So many stories are coming out of Haiti showing this nation is changing spiritually. The following are different missionary blogs pointing this out :) I have been so privlidged to have a back seat view of this.....

This is a glimpse from Stacey Ayers Heart A missionary in Cap Haitia with OMS

One of our students and one of our staff members left today for Diquini, the area of Port-au-Prince where Matt and two other staff members and a dozen students worked for 3 weeks, bringing by His grace over 600 to become Christ-followers. They will be working there until Friday to set up a plan, and Lord willing begin a 6 month period of church planting and leadership-raising (AHHHH! Excited).

This morning I received an email from Marilyn S’s sister (a missionary here with OMS for 40 years), reminding me of something I hadn’t thought of.
“It’s so ENCOURAGING to see/hear how God is moving in a mighty way in Haiti, bringing “beauty from ashes” – IN HIS TIME. Your reports have brought tears of joy to our eyes many times – mingled with tears for the suffering of the Haitian people.
It puts all the years of many missionaries & Haitian believers patiently plowing, planting, cultivating, watering, feeding & praying (sometimes with discouraging setbacks) into perspective – just a brief moment from God’s point of view! You’ve been blessed to see firsthand what many missionaries and Haitian believers and friends of Haiti have been hoping and yearning and praying for for a lifetime!"
Just this past Friday, a group of fellow-believers were here, crowded onto our couch and talking about all that they are hearing and seeing. Though they have sought the Lord for years, they clearly just never expected to see their fellow country-men turn from their ways and seek Him.
They had never even thought to pray that Mardi Gras celebrations would be replaced by days of prayer…it just couldn’t happen.
And yet for 3 days now, we have heard loud songs of praise ringing out in Sakenville, the two Christian churches boldly broadcasting a God that has been waiting and waiting and waiting for His people. And since the day after the earthquake, we have heard NO voodoo drums, in an area that we frequently fell asleep to the pounding and chanting of demonic ceremonies.
They had never thought about having a Christian leader, as that president after president has been a “different driver, same bus” polluted by corruption, brutality, dishonesty and partnerships with gangs and far worse, with Satan.
And yet for over a week now, we have heard claims that Port-au-Prince is demanding a Christian leader, a God-follower to lead Haiti in an entirely different direction.
The area of Diquini had never thought of, or even desired, a church. Now, after only three weeks of seminary students and staff doing one-on-one evangelism there, over 500 men, women and children have become Christians, all begging for feeding. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that it was our dream that a seminary student from Port-au-Prince (we thought, one that would be coming in the next weeks) would return to Diquini one day to begin a church.
Yesterday, our one and only current student from Port-au-Prince answered the call to go, even though it means falling behind in school, and Tuesday he leaves with three others to begin house churches, discipleship and leadership training throughout the mountaintop of Diquini.
Our friends had never thought about masses of their countrymen ASKING for the Lord, and instead had continued to pray that they might bring one here, another there, to His throne throughout years of evangelism and Godly-testimony.
And yet this morning a student came to our door, unsure of the details, but claiming that he received a phone call this morning from Port-au-Prince that thousands, perhaps TENS of thousands of people received an invitation to make God THEIR God last night during a huge prayer service that had taken the place of Mardi Gras. (more details as I find them).
They had never prayed for these things, never dreamed of these things, and honestly, neither had we. And yet, as Linda reminded me this morning, for dozens and dozens of YEARS, so many people have dreamed and prayed and worked and died and hoped and evangelized and lived for such things.
And today, I am seeing it.
Might we all dream bigger dreams, family, pray bigger prayers, lift bigger hopes, before our Bigger God.
For He who is able to turn decades of prayers and planting and a month of horror, death and sorrow into beauty and LIFE is able to do far more than we had every dreamed or prayed or hoped.
Here is an email that an engineer consultant for Port-au-Prince Christian Radio sent to his friends…
I think that I will remember this day as one of the most significant in my life, not because of what I did, but for it's meaning. In fact, what I did today was insignificant, and may have even distracted from me fully engaging in the day.
Today was the one month anniversary of the great Haitian earthquake.
About 3 days ago the Haitian president announced that there would be 3 days of holiday from work for the purpose of fasting and prayer. This is absolutely historic. If you have ever been in Haiti as a visitor or missionary, could you ever have imagined such a pronouncement? Could you image such an announcement from the U.S. president.
This morning I saw a young Haitian-American woman, the leader of a work team, crying because the Americans could not understand the incredible importance of this day and wanted to go about business as usual. Remember, it was only about 6 years ago that a former Haitian president called the nation to come together to rededicate the nation to Satan.
This was not "a minute of silence for the deceased" or something as equally insignificant. Whatever the president might have originally intended, this because a real commitment for the Haitian people. As I sit here this evening, I can hear the preaching coming from a nearby church. Services have been going on all day. Let me tell you what I saw and felt today.
Peniel and I had planned an inspection trip up to the Artibonite Valley today. Right or Wrong, I don't really know, but since it was the only opportunity, we went ahead with the trip. As we left the guest house about 7:30 am, we were met by throngs of well dressed people headed to various churches. The sounds of Christian music and worship filled the air everywhere. The next observation was that there was NO traffic.
Port-au-Prince streets are always clogged and overflowing with bumper to bumper traffic. This morning there were only a few vehicles on the roads, a few small buses (tap taps), some UN and military vehicles, and a few private cars. We had clear sailing through town. The same was true of foot traffic. Usually the streets are clogged also with people walking. Today there were only a few and many of them dressed for church. The only place that there were traffic blocks was in front of several churches where the congregations had overflowed the buildings, and the yards and had moved out into the streets as well.
The next observation was that EVERYTHING was closed! We could not find even one business or gas station open. There were no intercity buses running. Whereas the sidewalks are usually overflowing with millions of street venders, we only saw a few here and there. The huge outdoor market near the wharf where thousands work each day and spread out to cover most of the street, was EMPTY.
Where were all the people? They were in churches and makeshift meeting sites. Every church (except a JW church) had services going on, almost always overflowing into the streets. Beside broken down churches, services were taking place outside. In homeless camps, there were services. Everywhere the nation was gathered to worship and pray. No, I did not see any voodoo, Islamic, or Buddhist services. This scene was repeated in every town and hamlet that we passed during the day.
Tonight, Pastor Ignace, who is sharing the room with me, asked this question: "Can people still say that Haiti is a voodoo country?"
What has been happening and is continuing to happen in Haiti did not happen because of the earthquake. It has been happening because the Haitian people know how to pray. This is a tremendous outpouring of God's power as the result of prayer. Twenty years ago I started praying for the Gospel to change the Haitian culture. I think that I am seeing God do that work.
The only sadness that I feel today is for our own nation. While a nation that has long been under Satan's domination is turning to God with total commitment, our nation, founded on Godly values has rejected God and rapidly trying to forget that his name even exists. Let us pray for revival.
The excitement of what is happening is that people across Haiti are gathering HERE, in our literal front yard, to learn how to better and more faithfully take God's Word to their people. God has called them, called them to Himself and to His people. They are obeying, in the midst of a unimaginably difficult time, they are obeying.

The excitement of what is happening is that their people are asking for It. They have nothing. No clothes. No food. No money. No shiny shoes. But they are asking for HIM.

This photo says (Live on faithfulness to God in Haiti...Praise the Lord.)

This picture says(without Jesus, Haiti cannot be delivered)

Melonnie a Missionary with NWHCM prison ministry has expanded from the small jail to the jail in Port a Pax the past few weeks. Now once a week her and her 2 children go and minister at the big jail. Her is a glimpse of what God is doing….

Our God is working. Our God is bigger than that nasty jail. He is bigger than anything those men could have done in their past. Our God is AWESOME. One man at a time, or maybe even many at a time… God is moving through that prison, changing hearts and lives.
It was really neat today to see that one of the guards had taken out his Bible to follow along and another guard was sticking close by trying to listen to the devotion and prayers. I pray that we continue to influence the workers at that prison as well as the prisoners. The guards were all very excited today as we brought them the basketball hoop and backboard that Grant had promised them last week. It was fun to kind of hang out for a little while afterwards with them… one of the guards opened Susan’s Bible and was reading a bookmark that one of her teachers had given her with Galations 5:22-23 written on it. What an awesome sound to hear him reading God’s Word! He also pulled out the picture of Johnny that she still carries in her Bible. Ivenor helped us explain about who he is to us and about the adoption process here in Haiti. Lol… the guard “high fived” me for that!
Before we left, the guards told us that from now on they want us to pull around to the back of the prison into the private parking area. He literally said… “this whole prison belongs to you”. My heart soared because what I really heard in that was this whole prison belongs to HIM. I know that this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal… but to me it really is. I had so badly wanted to be able to expand our prison ministry to include this prison. It is a scary place with a nasty reputation. I had no idea if we would ever even be allowed in the doors… even once. The relationship that is now being formed is only by the grace of God. I had been praying that God would open these doors to us and He did in a mighty way! Mesi Jezi!

I could go on and on with stories I have heard. PRAISE GOD that this Nations is being changed. That it is being turned back to GOd. That people are coming to know Christ and serve Him and Him alone. Praise God that Voodoo drums are no longer heard at night but instead people praising God. PLEASE continue to pray for revival in Haiti and for all the new beleivers.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Meet My For Jonathan Sake children and their Mothers

For Jonathan Sake is the program I wrote about a few weeks ago that was affected by the earthquake and we had to shut down till we raised money to buy food and start it back up. We serve a BIG GOD!!!! Thank you to everyone who responded to the need for this program, we will be opening it up soon!
This is our Community Outreach program. This program provides daily care and outreach to special-needs children in the community and their families, including meals, physical therapy and education. This program is the reason why there are only 24 kids in the Miriam home instead of 50. This is our newest program started in the summer of 2009. This program is teaching families that their children are special, unique, and capable of doing more than they ever dreamed. It is teaching parents how to love their children who society has told them not to. This program is not only changing families and keeping them together but changing a communities outlook on disabled children and how to care for them.
Like I said this is one of my favorite programs and This is the program I will be focusing on this summer while I am in Haiti. I plan to perform evaluation all the children, make treatment plans for them, Educate their mothers on the most appropriate activities to do with their children, teach them to stretch their own kids, provide a Bible study to the mothers and a sewing class for them. I am super excited to meet each and every one of these children and their mothers. To love on them and to share Christ with them :)

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