Toxic Charity Review

Our latest review covers the book Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, and How to Reverse It by Robert Lupton.

toxic-charityToxic Charity provides an excellent reminder that we must always think critically about how our giving impacts those we seek to help.  It shines a spotlight on the problem of charities and churches who believe they are helping the poor, but are really engaging in activities that create dependency and destroy dignity.  

As an example, Lupton illustrates a ministry that for years had collected Christmas gifts to distribute to families in the inner city.  I’m sure you’ve heard of something similar.  Over the years, a trend was observed. When the donors would distribute gifts to the families, the kids were obviously excited…they were getting new toys. The mothers in the home would grin and bear it for the sake of the kids. But the fathers were nowhere to be found. They would leave the room or choose not to be home altogether.  The whole affair cut right at their dignity as male role models and providers for their families.  Over time, the ministry morphed into a Christmas store where community members could come and find bargains, using their own money to purchase gifts instead of accepting handouts. If they couldn’t afford gifts, the ministry would put them to work at the store so they could raise their own funds to purchase gifts. The dramatic transformation from dignity stealing to dignity giving made a huge impact in that community.  Wherever we serve, be it the inner city or abroad, we need to think about whether our actions empower, give dignity, and point others to their value in Christ. 

Similar to how medical professionals are bound by the Hippocratic Oath, Lupton believes a new oath should govern the non-profit industry.  He calls it the “Oath for Compassionate Service,” and here it is in its entirety:

  • Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves
  • Limit one-way giving to emergency situations
  • Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements
  • Subordinate self-interest to the needs of those being served
  • Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said – unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service
  • Above all, do no harm 

 


New Bracelets!

In March, we commissioned some of the teenagers at EBAC orphanage to produce a bulk order of bracelets to sell on the website.  We received two color schemes with the word “Espwa” prominently displayed on each bracelet.

Thank you so much to Waiky, Ricardo and Dophka for your excellent craftsmanship and entrepreneurship!

You can now purchase these bracelets for $7 in our Storefront here.

Here are Waiky & Dophka (Dophka was camera shy!).

waiky_dophka

 


Jovenel’s Crops

Many people ask us what kind of crops Jovenel and his Agrolide organization grow on the farm.  There is definitely a diverse selection.  Here’s what’s currently growing:


St. Anthony’s Renovation

St. Anthony’s is one of the primary medical clinics at which Espwa serves in Cap Haitien, Haiti.  Our longtime friend and medical director, Dr. Eugene Maklin, sees patients there each week.  After this past March’s medical trip, it became clear that St. Anthony’s was overwhelmingly hot, overcrowded, and too small for effective patient exams.  Between April and June, one of our network partners, Food for the Poor, was able to raise the capital needed to address some of its shortcomings.

By employing Haitian construction crews, the building underwent a dramatic transformation.  Site improvements included the following:

  • Demolishing one exterior wall and extending two rooms and the gallery
  • Reinforcing structural beams and columns
  • Reconstructing concrete slab floors
  • Repairing bathrooms
  • Replacing the electrical wiring
  • Replacing the roof with new plywood underlayment, metal roofing, and hurricane strapping
  • Repainting and refinishing

We can’t wait to return and serve at St. Anthony’s on our next medical trip and are so excited that community residents have such a nicer clinic!


June 2016 Trip Report

We wanted to express a big thank you to everyone who supported us on the trip a few weeks ago – from financially, to prayers, to supporting our family members while we were gone.  It is always encouraging to see how these trips come together and the impact they make.

The blended team of Duquesne Faculty members and Pleasant Hills Church experienced many things in Cap Haitien.  We had an amazing time seeing the progress on the New Hope Hospital and visiting with Dr. Eugene.  In his typical easy-going but passionate fashion, he gave us a tour of the hospital and grounds, as well as a visit to the newly renovated St. Anthony’s clinic.

The team also visited the site of Jovenel’s first farm, as well as EBAC orphanage.  At EBAC, we met with longtime missionaries Alice Wise and Kathy Gouker, whose stories never fail to captivate, as well as our pastor to the Peace & Joy Families, Benjamin Fleurant.  Our time with Pastor Benjamin, strengthening the relationship and getting feedback from his time with the children and their families was much needed.

One brief success story from this trip is worth sharing.  Our project liaison and owner of Haitian Creole Tour, Frantz Louis-Charles, was very excited to show us the tract of land he had recently purchased!  After very humble beginnings at EBAC orphanage, Frantz has flourished these past few years in the tourism business that was originally funded through an Espwa small business project.  To see Frantz as a landowner, working hard and succeeding in his profession, it brings a great sense of pride in the work that we do.  We do it for the Frantz’s of Haiti.  People we love and who just need some hope.  A little empowerment and faith goes a long way.

The final excitement for the trip was our annual beach trip with the Peace & Joy families!  On the 27th of June, we embarked on a bus-turned-tap-tap adventure that started with picking up the families.  Long story short, the bus ended up getting a flat tire that was beyond repair, so a tap-tap army came to the rescue.  Nothing was keeping us from the beach!

Until next time, thanks again for your support.  It’s trips like these that re-focus our efforts and give us the motivation to keep running the race laid out for us in Haiti.


Heading Out Soon

On June 23rd, we’ll be sending a team down to Cap Haitien, Haiti.  Led by Espwa VP, Chris Pfeiffer, the team will have some familiar faces from one of our partners, Pleasant Hills Church, as well as some staff from the Duquesne School of Pharmacy.

The team intends to meet with Dr. Eugene Maklin to view progress on the New Hope hospital.  The hospital has undergone a drastic transformation since its inception last year.  By employing Haitian construction workers, the project has also injected much needed capital into the economy while empowering the workers with an opportunity to use their talents and provide for their families.  Dr. Maklin is especially looking forward to meeting with the representatives from the School of Pharmacy to investigate possible partnerships in the future.

On Monday, June 27th, the annual Peace & Joy beach trip will kick off. This event has become a staple in our ongoing relationship with the 18 families, as we show them love and have an all-around fun day at one of Haiti’s scenic beaches.

The team will also check in with Jovenel (Agrolide farm) and Frantz (Haitian Creole Tour), and see some recent updates to St. Anthony’s clinic.

Let’s be praying for the team’s  safe travels on the way to and in country, and that God will use this trip to continue building up and empowering our friends in Haiti.


Interview with Pastor Benjamin

If you received our quarterly newsletter, you’ve likely seen the video of Pastor Benjamin and the welding generator that has significantly impacted his life.  As can be expected, much of the interview had to be edited out in order to fit into the short segment within the video.  We thought it worthwhile to post the full text of the interview here so that you can get more acquainted with him, learn a bit about his church, and start to see his character. We’re glad to have Pastor Benjamin as an Espwa partner!

Tell us your name and where you serve as pastor.

I’m Benjamin Fleurant. I work at the Baptist Church Army of Christ (EBAC) of Morne Rouge.

Tell us about some of the financial difficulties you face as a church and as a pastor.

There are obviously material difficulties that we face.  But I think the root of the problem comes from not modeling the type of Christ-like living as found in the Bible.  It is difficult to find this type of Christian.

How has the welding generator been able to make a difference in your life?

We want to thank God first, and then the Espwa Foundation, who thought of supporting us in this way. The welding generator sure makes a difference.  Even though I don’t use it myself or rent it every day, at least I have the hope of renting it to find support for my family.

Tell us about the ministry with the Peace & Joy families.

Normally, in my ministry with the Peace & Joy children, I go there and teach them songs, verses, and do Bible stories. Sometimes we also talk with their parents to keep them growing and to bring them spiritual hope.

It’s a pleasure for me to work with those kids. First of all, there is a great need for the ministry, because in the area where they live, it is outside the city and there are not a lot of Christians/believers.  The work we’re doing is progressing, even though on a spiritual level, I wouldn’t say we’ve achieved the progress I was expecting.  I had been ministering once a month, but I found that time interval was too long.  Now, I have decided to go once a week.  We’re also dividing the children into different age groups (5 to 11, and 12 and older).  Another thing we hope might overcome this distance between us is to provide opportunities for the children to come to EBAC Church once a month. The objective is to bring hope to the children’s lives and for their growth.  And that’s where we are right now. I am hoping God will give us the strength we need to keep growing the ministry in Jesus’ name.

What are you passionate about?

My passion is to evangelize and teach people how to understand God better, which is based on Hosea 4:6, which says, “My people are perishing because of lack of understanding of the words of God.”

How can we pray for you, for the Peace & Joy families, and Cap Haitien?

My personal request is that God would give me strength, zealousness, and more faith to continue day by day to do His work.  For the children, my prayer request is that they would have a discerning mind so they can understand the words of God, and for them to be obedient to what the Bible asks.  And my vision for Cap Haitien is for a city-wide evangelization – for the areas where people don’t hear about the gospel – and that I can help people better understand the God’s word.

What does hope mean to you?

For me, hope is one of the greatest words.  If people are living without hope, then it’s like this person doesn’t exist. Because wherever there is hope, there is life. The best hope is Jesus. When a Christian goes somewhere, he should bring hope.  That’s why, to me, hope is life.

What do you want to say to anyone who supported you with the generator?

First, I want to thank God. Thank you to everyone who heard about this opportunity and participated to support me.  I don’t have the words to express my gratitude, but God knows my heart. I pray that God helps you spiritually and materially, so that you can continue to grow in faith and support more people to do the work of God.

 

Check out the video recap below if you haven’t yet seen it: