June 2012 Update
The National Spiritual Council of Churches of Haiti (CONASPEH) continues in Development and Reconstruction from the January 12, 2010, earthquake. In a recent visit by Reverend Patrick Villier, President of CONASPEH, and submitted report, CONASPEH conveys its deep appreciation for the partnership with the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) through Global Ministries. For CONASPEH, this partnership has been a source of strength in the recent years, just as it had been before the earthquake
The second new building constructed after the earthquake, the Classroom Building on the CONASPEH grounds, is nearing completion with the dedication set for late summer, 2012. As shared previously, it is being built on an area of a bit more than 18,000 square feet. The building has two floors with classrooms. The student capacity is 1300. The building includes an open-air auditorium to seat 1,000 people. The auditorium has a roof but open walls. In addition to its uses in CONASPEH programs such as training of seminarians, graduations, conferences, and other events, the auditorium will also be available to CONASPEH churches when they have an event.
The Classroom Building also includes laboratories for languages, physics, chemistry, and computer science. The library will include materials in three sections: the K-12 school, the theological seminary, and the nursing school. The building includes a water reservoir and restrooms. The Classroom Building is built of steel and concrete and constructed to withstand earthquakes and high winds. This building design called for a ratio of 80 percent iron and 20 percent concrete in its construction materials. The steel structure is anchored into the ground and will never exceed two stories high.Until the Classroom Building is fully complete and in use, the first new building built after the earthquake and inaugurated in February, 2011, continues to house elements of the nursing school and theological seminary. This first building eventually will serve as offices, a welcome center, meeting areas, and storage.
CONASPEH continues to re-equip its facilities and programs with the materials and resources vital to their functioning and to purchase supplies needed as their mission continues to grow and evolve. One major project is to re-stock the library, as only 2,000 books remained after the earthquake. Texts for the K-12 school, theological seminary, Karen School of Nursing, and skills-training courses in computation, refrigeration, and language are being acquired. In recent months, 60 computers have been purchased and the chemistry lab is being equipped for use by both high school students and nurses. A diesel generator also has been purchased in order to provide electrical power on a consistent basis.
CONASPEH continues to administer a Mutual Support Program through Lumicec, a co-op and credit union organization with experience in the administration of micro-loans, project assessment, and grassroots education for co-op members taking out micro-loans for small business efforts. In addition to administering loans in Port-au-Prince, Lumicec also works with CONASPEH in Jacmel, Artibonite, and Les Cayes. CONASPEH has a committee, made up primarily of young pastors with experience in cooperatives that works with Lumicec in the analytical, educational, and administrative portions of the program. Loan interest rates are about three percent. Lumicec receives two percent for their administration of the program and CONASPEH receives the remaining one percent to reinvest in ongoing ministries. The Mutual Support Program has three aspects.
- Micro-loans to families affected by the earthquake. In order to rebuild the grassroots economy in Haiti, loans of up to $500 are being made to families to allow them to start income-generation projects. Lumicec assesses the viability of the project, trains the families in small-business management, and monitors the projects and repayment of the loans. The loans are being paid back in a period of six to 12 months. Loans also are used to help families move to more stable housing. Families are identified for support by CONASPEH member church pastors and leaders as being in most need and with capacity to carry out the projects successfully.
- Aid and Micro-loans to persons disabled by the earthquake, the traumatized, and their families. CONASPEH, through Lumicec, provides a combination of financial aid and loans for amputees and others who were disabled by the earthquake along with their families. The funds go toward medical attention and rehabilitation; loans go to help the families rebuild their economic livelihoods.
For families who have been traumatized through the loss of a family member, CONASPEH continues to offer pastoral support and trauma recovery through a CONASPEH Pastoral Committee.
- Revolving Fund to rebuild destroyed and damaged CONASPEH Member Church Buildings. CONASPEH established a revolving fund which provides loans up to $1,200 to local churches that are ready to rebuild their buildings, which also function as schools, worship centers, community centers, and/or clinics. These loans will be repaid in a period of one to three years at a very low percentage rate.
Since the earthquake, CONASPEH has sought out options for a Center for Transformation to house visiting groups, CONASPEH pastors, and other smaller gatherings of people central to the life and work of CONASPEH. A deeded property adjacent to the CONASPEH property is being purchased and a building will be constructed there. The plan is for an open-concept building with dormitory, kitchen, dining/meeting area, and restrooms. It will be a one story structure with a steel framework similar to other new buildings being built by CONASPEH. Twenty bedrooms, each outfitted to house several guests, are planned for the structure and additional space to house a Haitian administrator and a global mission staff person. The name for the center is the Ferdinand Garcia Transformational Center, named for a long-time Disciple friend and supporter of CONASPEH who died in 2003. It is recognized that this Center will be a place of hospitality and for participants to discuss, reflect, and to be transformed. CONASPEH's partnership with Global Ministries has brought the transformation of many people both from Haiti and from the U.S./Canada. Having a space of sharing cultures, concerns, and faith will allow all to know and to serve each other better.
The cost for the deeded land is $90,000. It is extremely important that any land purchased by CONASPEH be land for which they will receive the deed. Much of the land sold in Port-au-Prince is without deed which means no guarantee that the land sale is legitimate and final. The estimated cost for the site work and building is $125,000. CONASPEH looks forward to being able to provide this type of hospitality for guests and at a location so ideally located beside the other CONASPEH property. Groups also will appreciate the convenience.
There are many more challenges to be addressed in Haiti and CONASPEH continues to work in many additional areas, seeking the best for the people in Haiti. For example, CONASPEH is engaged in raising chickens to generate income, caring for children in orphanages and, ultimately, rebuilding lives and people's dignity. In addition to financial support for the projects and programs of CONASPEH, the fielding of Global Ministries mission personnel to Haiti is key to community development and recovery. CONASPEH extends heartfelt thanks for the partnership, the support received both in financial and person-in-mission terms, and for the many prayers for their work and the people of Haiti.