“How can I stay here forever?” was the first thought to enter my mind when I walked into Alex’s House kitchen area to meet the kiddos for the first time in Haiti. Over 30 smiling faces were singing praises to their Lord with a mountain range in the background and a stunning view of the Caribbean ocean to the side. Inside my heart a small voice was saying that my soul had found peace with longevity in this location. Since that moment, I have been enamored with Haiti and its people, culture, and complexity. After interning with Alex’s House (now Disciples’ Village) for two summers, I knew I wanted to spend an extended amount of time in Haiti to get a better grasp of international living and ministry, continue working with an organization whose heartbeat and mission I fully believe in, and to dip my toes in the vast possibilities that economic and community development can offer developing nations. Not to mention, Haiti has incredible coffee and avocados—two of my favorite things—so this project is a win all around!
During my two years in Haiti, I am a Journeyman tasked with spearheading the development and continuation of microfinance work and savings groups for Disciples’ Village (DV). This will include implementing savings groups in DV’s current partnering communities, with savings groups providing community members a weekly meeting to save money towards a goal, receive business training, and have access to micro loans through the total group savings. Rural communities in Haiti severely suffer from lack of access to banks, savings, and loans, with 66% of all commercial banks and 83% of savings services located in the metropolitan capital of Port-au-Prince (“Haitian microfinance industry overview”). Because of little access to banking in rural communities, there is limited business growth in rural areas of the island which limits overall GDP, economic growth, and perpetuates the cycle of poverty in these rural communities. It is my desire for these savings groups and microfinance work to bring rural Haitian communities some access to the banking services and the specific education they need to stop relying on hand outs and to make a way for themselves. My other duties for Disciples’ Village will revolve around business training/planning for our staff, the children at Alex’s House Orphanage, and nearby community members along with overseeing the Disciples’ Village internship program and any other needs that come about in my time there.
This project is a dream come true, allowing the rare combination for me to spend time doing what I love, with the people I love, and getting to participate in being a small part of a solution to a problem that needs to be solved all over the globe—all while using my education and experiences and learning quite a bit along the way! I’m forever grateful for this opportunity and the experiences and numerous amount of people who have guided, helped, and shaped me along the way. My time in Haiti would not be possible without the grace of God, my phenomenal parents and sister, the Disciples’ Village staff, the many members of Belmont’s faculty, staff, and administration who have taken time to pour into me both in and out of the classroom, Belmont’s Athletic Department, so many beautiful souls who I consider to be dear friends and essential mentors, and the support of the Lumos Travel Award. Thank you for joining me on this journey in Haiti, and may you be encouraged by the work (both economic and in other disciplines) God is doing throughout this country and in the developing world! Bondye beni ou!
Haitian microfinance industry overview. Haitian Microfinance. Retrieved from http://www.haitianmicrofinance.com/HaitianMicrofinanceIndustryOverview.pdf