For over 50 years, ICCM has supported children and families in Haiti through education. Tens of thousands of children have discovered the joy of learning, hope for living and the love of Jesus through our persistent efforts.
Sponsoring children’s education, providing uniforms, books, and lunches, and employing teachers and others who oversee 59 schools — these are no small accomplishments! Children’s education through the Free Methodist Church is our core mission.
Yet we know that for Haiti’s long-term economic survival, and even to keep up with the ever-increasing cost of feeding our students and working toward paying a living wage to our teachers, we also need to work on sustainable initiatives. In 2013 we began partnering with Eden Reforestation Projects in Haiti, casting a vision for Creation Care through our schools and getting children involved with “hands in the dirt” projects. Now we are taking this partnership to a whole new level, and it’s exciting!
Eden and ICCM are now partnering with Agrinotech, a successful Haitian-led agricultural group, and Harvest Craft, a small NGO, to tackle poverty and deforestation on several fronts:
- Teaching the most effective ways of planting trees and transplanting saplings; 60% of these will be fruit trees, and others will provide materials for fencing, building, and burning. As thousands of trees are established, they form a canopy that lends shade and nutrients for ground-based crops.
- Teaching best practices for chicken and egg projects that are now being implemented by Agrinotech and Harvest Craft.
- Establishing nurseries at ICCM schools, training adults and upper grade students in all phases of farming.
- Working with Haiti Providence University to create an Agricultural Extension Center where small farmers can come to learn better methods, purchase vaccines and other necessary items for raising goats, chickens and other small animals.
How do these initiatives fit with our long-term goals in Haiti? Just as extreme poverty forms the breeding ground for child labor in the restavek system, many other seemingly insurmountable problems in the lives of our friends in Haiti are caused by the poverty arising from the country’s 98% deforestation. For instance, the absence of trees degrades soil and makes subsistence farming less and less viable. Crop failures and decreasing yield undermine food security for families and the country as a whole.
Fund for Peace rates Haiti as the 10th most fragile nation in the world. Our graduates will only have a chance at a job and an improved future if the extreme poverty is addressed. Although our impact may seem small, as we partner with others and combine our resources and personnel, we can work holistically for the Kingdom of God and the betterment of Haiti.