On October 30th, Rays of Hope International volunteers embarked on a 16 day mission trip to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Their goals were to institute various construction projects, minister to children, build relationships with several ministry partners, and bring hope to the hopeless.
Our first stop was in Rousseau, about 60 miles north of Port au Prince on the rural, mountainous, north coast of Haiti. A little over 6 years ago, Dr. Jean-Gardy Marius formed a humanitarian group, called OSAPO. Their basic vision is to improve the living conditions of fellow Haitians by providing education, agricultural assistance, medical care, access to latrines, and healthy drinking water.
Although pediatrician, Aimee Tow was able to provide comprehensive health care, the rest of the team worked building benches, shelving, and cabinetry. Highlights included participating in the safe delivery of a precious baby boy, driving an ambulance in the middle of the night to nearby St. Marcs for an emergency C-section, and hiking treacherous mountain paths to visit the agricultural projects and nearby towns.
The remainder of our time in Haiti was spent working at the Children of Jesus Orphanage and School just outside of Port au Prince interacting with the children, building school benches, digging trenches for a water system, and doing roof repair. The temps ranged in the high 90’s almost everyday, but despite the heat, much was accomplished.
After serving10 days in the country, the team flew to the Dominican Republic to work at Lighthouse Ministries located in Los Alcarrizos and enjoy the cooler temps and it’s beautiful garden setting. Lighthouse Ministries has been working in the country for almost 20 years. Their main focus is a ministry of education. Through the Russel Van Vleet School and Vocational center they serve over 1,000 children and youth from preschool-12th grade. More than 300 youth and adults participate in training programs in the areas of computers, electricity, auto mechanics, all areas of beauty treatments and massage, marketing and ESL. In addition, they serve the community through a water purification plant and a variety of building programs from paving streets and sides walks, to building homes and churches.
Lighthouse is a very impressive center of ministry and a true model for other non profit organizations. Despite the short time we spent with this partner, we were able to do some painting, masonry work, and assist with a breakfast feeding program for the neediest of their student population. Experiencing an up close and personal encounter with a very large, black, hairy tarantula will be ranked up on our list of truly memorable moments…
I believe that I can speak for everyone on the team that our adventures in both countries were impactful and life changing not only for those we served, but for each one of us. A verse that I find inspiring as I serve in these impoverished countries is Psalm 83:2a “defend the weak and the orphan.”Won’t you join us on our next trip? To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world…