Travesty in Haiti Review

This month’s review has an interesting title: Travesty in Haiti: A True Account of Christian Missions, Orphanages, Food Aid, Fraud, and Drug Trafficking by Timothy T. Schwartz.  Sure gives away the author’s true feelings from the start, but here’s our thoughts about the book.

Travesty in HaitiThe book takes the first person perspective of an anthropologist who spent 10+ years in Haiti. The title word says it all – travesty. The author goes through various spheres in Haitian humanitarian aid, including food aid, orphanages, medical care, and schools. He also touches on voodoo, the police and justice system, poverty in rural Haiti, and finally on drug trafficking. The author walks away with a cynical and disillusioned perspective after all of his research – for good reason after all the travesty he witnessed.

As an organization in the business of helping the poorest of the poor in Haiti, this book resonated as a call to examine everything Espwa does. We are founded on the basis of relationships and I think the first step in avoiding some of the travesty is partnering with trustworthy, Christian individuals who share our same vision for poverty alleviation. It would be easy to just pack up shop and say that Haiti is not worth the effort – like the main thrust of this book suggests – but we’re in it for real change, not to pat ourselves on the back. Evaluating ourselves regularly and asking the tough questions are the first steps in overcoming the cynical perspective.

For those who’ve never been to Haiti, this is a good primer to some of the things we’re dealing with down there. It’s taken us many years and much reflection to start overcoming the brokenness wrought by both Haiti itself and foreign aid, but we still consider it a worthy pursuit. If you read this one, do it with a grain of salt and know that we are all broken apart from Jesus.

Disclaimer: there is a bit of language toward the end of the book, but it is more illustrative of the situation rather than excessive.


Haiti, Here We Come!

Next week, we’ll be sending two teams to Cap Haitien, Haiti.  First, we’ll kick off our annual medical mission, which will provide medications (hand carried into country & purchased in country), see dozens of patients daily, and do its best to provide hope to those who’ve been suffering with treatable illnesses.

Next, our second team from Northgate Church (Pittsburgh, PA) will get its first experience of Haiti.  We plan to visit Espwa projects such as the medical mission in action, Jovenel’s farm, and Haitian Creole Tour. We’ll also work to build the Espwa network by meeting with partner organizations (Mission Trakaye & EBAC Church), and one of our Peace & Joy families.

It’s going to be a great trip and we’d appreciate your prayers for safe travels!


When Helping Hurts Review

Ever thought about the impact of short-term missions to third world countries, or even to the poorer areas of your city?  When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert causes you to consider the tough questions when working to alleviate poverty.  Their book is the subject of our latest review.

When Helping HurtsHow do you know if you’re actually hurting those you’re aiming to serve and trying to get out of poverty?  I think many in the U.S. and other wealthy countries believe that those in poverty are simply the people living in third world countries who don’t have access to a lot of the things and necessities of life – clean water, food, job opportunities, medical care, possessions, etc.  That line of thinking can lead to disastrous results when coming up with a strategy to alleviate poverty.  It can give a God complex and make those in poverty feel even more ashamed and hopeless.  It can strip people of their dignity and worth because we think we have all the answers.  This book exposes those problems and gives a paradigm shift when thinking about poverty.  We are all broken and in poverty in some aspect of our lives.  Building relationships with the poor and working for true development is a much more worthy goal than accomplishing short-lived tasks while in-country for a few days or weeks.

Simply put, this book gave words to the experiences and lessons learned we’ve accumulated over many years of serving in Haiti.  It’s how we at Espwa want to operate and it’s formed a large part of our strategy moving forward.  We hope you’ll read this one to get an idea of how we intend to serve and we hope it makes as big of an impact on you as it did on us.


It Begins…

A new year is here and it’s time for our first resolution: a new-and-improved website!  We’ll soon begin development and are excited about the new look and feel.  We hope to transition over in the late summer/early fall.  Stay tuned!