INTENTIONAL GIVING TO HAITI
Nancy B. Detweiler, M.Ed., M.Div.
I would like to share a short synopsis of a true story with you—a potential contributor to Haiti (and to other countries as well). This story was published in the Richmond Peace Education Center’s Newsletter and written by Micol Hammack, a faculty member of Virginia Commonwealth University.
William Deng’s native village is Aweil in South Sudan. He lived in a hut with his Mother and siblings—the youngest of 13 children. As the youngest child, he was especially close to his Mother, who was widowed shortly after William’s birth. As soon as William was old enough to be left alone, he took over herding the family cows. After chores, William had time to play with the village children.
Life felt secure until, in 1987, men on horseback invaded the village, raping and pillaging. They kidnapped the children and forced them to march for days without rest, food, or drink. Many died. Seven year old William was sold into slavery.
Two years later, William escaped his abusive slave masters and made his way to Khartoum, capital city of Sudan. There he spent seven years in a refugee camp in Khartoum, then traveled to Egypt. From Egypt, he was granted political asylum in the US and settled in Richmond, Virginia. After two years of English as a Second Language, William entered Virginia Commonwealth University, majoring in political science and homeland security. William graduated in 2008.
“Without education, William could not have understood the problems that Sudan and Africa face, and without widespread understanding, solutions are impossible. He is determined to use education to create a new generation that will move towards peaceful resolution and fair leadership. For this to happen, educational opportunities must be available to all.”
William founded the Southern Sudan Project for the purpose of establishing the first high school in Aweil, Sudan. Here, he hopes to educate future teachers, nurses, and engineers. Once the medical and educational needs of the people are met by locals, they will be empowered to address their political needs with the goal of establishing a democracy in Sudan.
Meanwhile, William has established a school in Richmond offering classes in English, computer literacy, and basic skills to immigrants. He hopes to use this model for a school in Aweil for South Sudanese women. In William’s words: “If you teach the women, you teach the kids. If you teach the kids, they will become the leaders and spread education and ideas of equality and fairness.”
William takes into account the problems women may have attending school. In Richmond, the school provides transportation and childcare for women, most of whom were illiterate. Now there are 50+ students, including men, from 9 African countries and the Middle East. People who thought they could not learn are now rapidly moving forward in their studies. Many are working toward their GED. Becoming computer literate has allowed some to join Facebook and to communicate with Sudanese throughout the world. William provides this school free of charge so these students can reach out to immigrant communities and spread education around the world. The students are learning how they can go home and begin to change their communities and bring democracy to their 9 African homelands.
William now owns the land where his school in Sudan will be built and architectural plans are underway. He and Micol Hammack are presently writing a book. He is on Facebook.
End of excerpts from Micol Hammack’s article
Why tell William’s story in relationship to giving to Haiti?
William’s story illustrates perfectly the intentionality with which we all need to give to Haiti. We need to assist Haitians to build for a brighter future from the grassroots up. We cannot immediately transform corrupt governments. However, we–through our INTENTIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS—can offer the opportunities for Haitians to help themselves.
Education is the means of empowerment for the people, granting them the tools with which they can transform their own country.
Drawing from William’s story, we glean several basic needs upon which to focus our intentional giving: Food and water, medical care, education. Research is needed before choosing the agency to which we will give. The agency needs to be on the ground in Haiti or be partnering with an organization that already has established work in Haiti.
Many of us are familiar with the denominational mission boards and know them to be worthy of our trust. I offer the following suggestions.
CHURCH WORLD SERVICE represents the cooperative efforts of numerous denominations in offering assistance around the world. Church World Service offers both emergency and long term assistance in helping the people to help themselves.
Through its member denominations, CWS is already present on the ground in Haiti.
http://www.worldventure.com/Home.html World Venture already has representatives on the ground in Haiti.
WEEK OF COMPASSION
http://www.weekofcompassion.org/ Week of Compassion is a part of the Disciples of Christ denomination and works in cooperation with Church World Service. Week of Compassion is already present on the ground in Haiti/Dominican Republic.
All of the church mission programs that I know of include the establishment of schools and offer resources for medical care. They are stationed in a country for long-term service.
CHILD FUND INTERNATIONAL (formerly Christian Children’s Fund) You may read information regarding Haiti at: http://www.childfund.org/help-haiti/ Child Fund was founded in 1938 and presently has work in 31 countries, assisting 15.2 million children and their families. Their distinctive approach is working with children from infancy to young adulthood, partnering with numerous organizations as they do so.
Readers may know of additional resources that can be trusted to use our monies for the people. If so, please add the resource as a comment to this article.
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