Proverbs 16:3: “Commit your works to the Lord. And your plans will be established.”
She’s little and she’s spunky and she’s not afraid to speak her mind which is a bit of a rarity in a largely male group. She also wants to be President of her native Haiti one day. Madeline is just one of 12 post-high age young people participating in a pilot project, micro-savings group called “Budding Hope”.
Madeline is joined by Samuel whose goal is to become an architect and to build homes and offices that will withstand hurricanes and earthquakes; Pierre who dreams of becoming a diplomat and helping the world to see a strong and vital Haiti; Julia who wants to become an economist and help to build a stable economy for her homeland; Sophia who sees herself becoming a doctor and helping those who are not able to afford healthcare; and Joseph whose plans of becoming an agronomist will help farmers to grow native crops in nutrient-rich soils. While each young person is quick to share their plans for the future, they will also tell you their confidence comes from God.
As Global Ministries missionaries partnered with CONASPEH in Haiti, Director Patrick Villier has invited us to present the concept of micro-savings and micro-enterprise to the young people who are past graduates of CONASPEH’S classical studies program. The idea is to teach the 19-to-26-year-olds the process of setting up micro-savings programs which can generate funds for developing small enterprises. The young adults have grasped that idea well and have already decided to save as a group instead of individually and to invest in a business venture together. Additionally, they have earmarked future profits from their micro-enterprise endeavors to pay for their university studies.
Finding work that will supply a steady source of income is a great challenge in this island nation with its 75% unemployment rate and the young adults with whom we are working know it is unlikely they will ever be able to go to college without sustainable employment. For that reason, churches, individuals and mission teams from the U.S. are partnering with CONASPEH through Global Ministries to find ways to develop ventures that will employ the young people and give them the needed funds for their savings groups and ultimately an opportunity for an education. One such program is a chicken cooperative where the young people recently built a second and larger chicken coop which they will manage. There are also plans for a greenhouse that will produce plants and flowers for sale; a community garden that will grow vegetables for sale; and a vocational program that will train the young adults in various hands-on skills. Even as we write there are many more ideas and dreams on the horizon.
In this season of Lent which finds its fulfillment in the promise of Easter, we invite you to pray for the Budding Hope youth and the many other young people of Haiti in who hope and a strong faith still lives and blossoms. We came to teach but find that we are learning much through the perseverance and optimism of these young people who continue to remind us that Spirit-filled hearts and minds are powerful forces in meeting each new day with both its gifts and its challenges.
Tim and Diane Fonderlin
Tim and Diane Fonderlin serve with the National Spiritual Council of Churches in Haiti (CONASPEH). Tim serves as a Reconstruction Consultant and Diane serves as a Sustainable Community Development and Micro-credit Consultant.