ATN Moving Forward: Job Creation
You may have seen on our Facebook account recently that February 25 marked the 4 year anniversary of the Incorporation of All Things New! It is amazing to see how far we have come as an organization, all of the different relationships (both in Haiti and America) that we have formed, and the way that GOD has taken us down so many different paths to have us arrive exactly where we are right now. When we started this ministry our goal was to purchase land, build a big orphanage, and bring in children to fill it. GOD has changed that plan and for the better! We have learned so much about how orphanages here work and we have also learned that Haiti (and I would venture to guess 99% of the rest of the world) does not need new and bigger orphanages. Haiti needs for the orphanages here to do better for the short term, but for the long term Haiti needs jobs! Most children are not in orphanages because they don’t have parents or families, they are in orphanages because their parents and families either cannot afford to take care of them or because they do not have the desire to take care of them (and in my experience it is about 50/50). If we, as an organization, say that we are here to care for orphans and abandoned children, then that absolutely means that we have to make one of our goals job creation for our community.
Before I move into our plan for job creation, let me dig a little deeper to show you how important job creation is for Haiti (click here to see a previous blog about this same topic). One of the biggest issues in Haiti is that there is very little free public education. Even at a nominal yearly cost (and nominal is relative to us as Americans) many Haitians cannot afford to send their children to school. The latest numbers show that only about 21% of Haitians receive any secondary education with only about 17% graduating high school and only 1.1% attending university. Job creation, assuming these jobs provided a livable wage, would help more children receive an education which we all know can lead to wonderful changes not only in the community but the entire country! An educated population could change things for the better.
Another term that many of you may have heard is the term “restavek” which is the Haitian word for a child who is sold to another family for the sole purpose of doing housework or other labor. Restaveks are normally not sent to school and are treated as second-class citizens (and this is putting it mildly). While this is absolutely wrong, many families do this because they are compensated for their child and because their child will at least be provided for with the family where they live. It is a terrible way to live and it is truly one of the more atrocious aspects of this country. You may also know that there has been a big push in America to fight slavery world wide and Haiti is definitely one of the countries where this takes place. While things have to be done immediately to change both of these systems in Haiti, job creation again should play a huge long term role in the success of destroying the prevalence of these 2 institutions.
Finally, one of the things that we have first-hand experience with in Haiti is the fact that orphanages, oftentimes, are not what they seem to be. Many orphanages in Haiti are nothing more than a way for corrupt “orphanage directors” (Haitian and foreign) to make money by exploiting children and raising funds that do very little for children but a lot to line the pockets of the “directors.” These men and women convince families that their children will be better off with them only to, at the very least, exploit these children for money and the worst to do much more evil things. If we could begin to provide jobs to people in our community and change the economic climate in our area then less children would need orphanages and more children could stay with parents or other family members who could and would really care for them.
I understand that none of these things would change over night, and Haiti desperately needs well-run orphanages (like All Things New), anti-slavery missions (like Rapha House), schools (like Christianville) and organizations that fight against the institution of restaveks (like Respire Haiti) right now because these things are really important. In the long run, however, Haiti needs jobs! It needs government to step up and create a public sector, it needs national organizations to step up and create a marketplace, and it needs the foreign organizations that operate here to look at Haiti less and less like a place that “needs” charity interference and more and more like a place that needs us to help create jobs! And not poor-paying jobs that maintain a dependence attitude, but jobs that provide a livable wage that helps the entire local economy.
As far as job creation goes, you have already read in a previous post that we desire to continue to provide the jobs we currently offer and even increase the number of people we employ. On top of that, our desire is to begin to look into new avenues of job creation for our local community. We desire to do this so that our children, when they leave our orphanage, have an existing job market to transition into, so that less and less local families have to send their kids to orphanages, and because we truly believe this is the greatest need in the Gressier community where GOD has placed All Things New. Our vision is to help local entrepreneurs to find the means and skills necessary to make creative local businesses work. Right now there is a tendency in Gressier for people to start businesses like driving a taxi, selling things in the market, or going to school to become a mechanic or cook. The problem is that the market for each of these traditional things is completely and utterly saturated and the people who start these businesses barely make enough (not always but most of the time) money to break even. We want to pinpoint local “talent” and come up with ways to make people with new and different ideas successful.
In a vision casting blog, you would expect now to be the time that we would cast a vision for this ministry. The truth is with both our discipleship and job creation program, the main aspect of our vision is the fact that we have pinpointed the need and desire to move into these areas of ministry. In fact, this is how every vision begins…As a need! In a previous blog I described to you different committees that we are forming for All Things New, and one of those committees is our “Haiti Team.” This team will help us to develop a more specific vision moving forward here in the states and if you are interested in joining, please let me know! In addition to that, there are trusted Haitians and friends who have experience starting new businesses in Haiti that we are approaching to learn from and to gain wisdom and insight from what they have done in the past. Again, the major component of what we need right now is prayer! You have seen how vital this type of ministry is to Haiti, at least from our perspective, so please join us as we strive to make sure All Things New helps to meet these needs.