Ongoing Haiti Mission Connection Project Being Developed

April 21, 2011

The California-Nevada Annual Conference's United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) director, Phil Bandy (in head shot below), is traveling to Haiti this week to develop the details of a new project, described as an Ongoing Haiti Mission Connection. The project is being developed by local church volunteers and will be presented to Cal-Nev congregations in coming months with an invitation to participate. It is outlined below. All those wishing to support the project, or who desire more information, should contact Warren McGuffin at, Bandy says.

Ongoing Haiti Mission Connection

The purpose of this project is to provide support for a program of ongoing assistance in Haiti. Currently we need prospective donors and support from churches in the California-Nevada Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Building off our continued mission team recovery assistance, the goal of this project is to establish a pilot school lunch program in Thomas, Haiti. We are partnering with a local Methodist church in its ministry to its community. We also envision adding English language classes, education grants, computer classes, a sustainable agriculture initiative and a clean water program – over time, as resources are available.
We are looking to raise $100,000 to fund a two-year pilot program. In addition, we need volunteers to lead program areas and to participate on our periodic mission teams. These volunteers will provide construction assistance, program services (such as starting a community garden) and offer community life development (such as vacation Bible school, health and hygiene training, etc.).
Beginning with the September 2010 team, the Conference has been sending mission teams to assist with earthquake recovery every few months. These teams have worked at various sites in Haiti, as assigned by the UMVIM/United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) operation in Haiti. The work has been primarily reconstruction assistance, supporting Haitians leading the rebuilding effort. In addition to reconstruction, most teams have engaged in limited community recovery tasks, such as working with kids at churches or schools. 
A recent team worked at Thomas, a community about two hours west of Port-Au-Prince. That team established a relationship with one Methodist-run school and the local church leaders. The team began to explore ideas about how to help the community beyond repair and reconstruction. Given these initial discussions, Thomas is viewed as a good candidate for expanded assistance. The people there are very engaged with their local community and are eager to partner with us to address some pressing needs.
The Need/Outcomes
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The 2010 earthquake, complicated by an outbreak of cholera and political unrest, has brought the country "to its knees." Recovery will take many years and will require continued mission support. This reconstruction mission program will continue to be orchestrated by UMVIM and UMCOR.
The purpose of this proposal is to define how we would extend the reach of our support into additional areas, such as supplemental food programs and programs to help Haitians invest in their future. This program will be a Conference-wide effort, coordinated with the overall UMCOR mission in Haiti.
Many kids go to school every day hungry. And they leave that way. We propose to provide one nutritional meal each day to help bridge the gap. We propose to launch this school lunch effort for 150 children at the Thomas Methodist School for about $1.75 per meal, beginning with the start of school in the fall of 2011.
As a companion effort, our community development initiatives will address the need for improved agricultural practices, better health, clean water, and education. Each of these are challenging areas in everyday Haitian life. Breaking through systematic barriers and historic behaviors will lay the groundwork for fundamental change in lifestyle. Training, hands-on coaching, and access to resources will foster the chance for positive change.
The expected outcomes include: improved heath, increased local church vitality, improved job skills, increased community stability, better utilization of natural resources, higher/more efficient agricultural yields, and lasting recovery momentum. 
Resources and Timeframe
Our goal is to raise $100,000 and recruit volunteers to fund a two-year effort. We will then assess how it is going, adjust our scope and approach, and establish an ongoing stream of funding and volunteers. We are looking for $50,000 in initial church commitments and from major individual donors to start.
Assuming a school lunch program start date of September, 2011, program setup is underway. We will run a pilot during June and July. Planning and design of the remaining community development program elements would be done during 2011, with rollout in late 2011 and into 2012. It is envisioned that this program will be a candidate for broader rollout to other Methodist schools in Haiti.