“LORD, have mercy on me.
See how my enemies torment me. Snatch me back from the jaws of death.” – Psalm 9:13 (NLT)
Thursday, August 10, 2023
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
Venold Cine, far right, with other teachers from the Climbing For Christ sponsored schools in Haiti. Jean Ronal Michel is second from left near the end of the line. (Photos by C4CNG)
Jean Ronal Michel moved out of the mountains to Port-au-Prince in 2009 to attend high school, study theology in university, and start a school teaching young people how to run businesses. He had a few of his own: a bookstore, barbershop, and he was an announcer for events.
But in June 2022 the sickness and sadness that is the state of Haiti caught up with him. Everything was forcibly taken from him, and he found himself in need. Debt, the bane of the vodou culture of Haiti.
The situation grew worse: he was kidnapped and held for several days by a gang which, by the grace of God, released him unharmed.
Jean Ronal moved back to Morne des Commissaires in July 2022. He was undone, lost in the sea of misery that confronts so many Haitians.
“One day, Pastor Dodo (Renosier Jilbert) came to me saying they would send me to a workshop in Soliette,” Jean Ronal recalled last week.
The workshop was the bi-monthly teachers workshop conducted by Climbing For Christ’s New Generation for educators supported by C4C in Morne des Commissaires, Kalimet, and Majon. Jean Ronal was hired to teach.
“I don’t regret it,” he said. “My mother is very happy and grateful. She always said, ‘God is not going to let you sit here doing nothing.’ God had a plan for me and has done a miracle through (C4CNG) in my life.”
Jean Ronal Michel.
God is in the business of miracles, especially in places where man has given up. Haiti is the poster-country for a place the rest of the world has, for the most part, given up on. It is the definition of despair.
But in the cracks between anarchy and death there is a sprout of hope.
Gilbert Lindor, Climbing For Christ’s Haitian Kingdom worker, is one such shoot – emerging from a place of immense poverty and lack of education to become a medical school student excelling and leading others. Gilbert oversees the three schools we support.
This summer, as teachers and students are on break (while Gilbert continues his medical school education in the 15th of 19 semesters in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), we have prayed for a plan to improve education even more in those three villages. Kalimet is the only one that goes to the sixth grade; Gilbert has proposed adding teachers to get Majon and Morne des Commissaires up to grade six.
Another story: Venold Cine went to school through grade six. He is married with six children. For many years, he voluntarily taught children in the village how to read and write. Then C4CNG opened a school in Kalimet, and he was hired as a teacher.
Venold’s cousin, Arisma Aristene, donated the land where Climbing For Christ built the Kalimet school. It is a family that values education.
Venold and Jean Ronal are two of the 15 teachers paid $100-to-$150 USD a month to teach more than 500 children in the three villages. Gilbert has proposed hiring six more teachers and increasing every person’s salary to $150 a month. This is a significant increase for Climbing For Christ – from $1,600 to $3,150 per month – and we cannot do it without additional support.
Introducing “Sponsor A Teacher.” You can support a teacher for $150 a month. You can be part of the miracle that Jean Ronal has seen or pour into the giving heart of someone like Venold. Email info@ClimbingForChrist.org if you are interested in sponsoring a teacher in Haiti.
Several of the teachers from last school year have fled Haiti into the neighboring Dominican Republic in hopes of finding better paying work. This is problematic, of course. (See “State of disunion” below.)
“When it comes to the mountains, first of all not everyone wants to go,” Gilbert said, speaking about the challenge of finding – and keeping – teachers in the villages. “Not everyone understands that having a school in their community is a sign of development. Not everyone does things out of love.”
C4CNG’s Nehemias Joseph, right, receives two dozen notebooks donated by a young man, above. Below, blackboards for Morne des Commissaires.
Gilbert’s back-to-school shopping list for the students in Haiti includes 2,000 notebooks. Those need to be donated or paid for by donations. This week a young man dropped off two dozen more, bringing to 60 the number received. Still a far cry from what is needed for the school year, which begins next month.
Students also need pens and pencils. Plus, additional benches and blackboards are still on the wish list. We are thankful that four blackboards were recently sent to Morne des Commissaires. Please pray for the provision of materials – as well as teachers – so students in the mountains of Haiti can enjoy a successful school year.
Haiti was elevated to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” last month by the Department of State, which ordered the departure of family members of U.S. government employees and non-emergency workers. “U.S. citizens in Haiti should depart Haiti as soon as possible,” the Department of State order read.
Haitian authorities reported an unprecedented 2,094 homicides and 1,014 kidnappings from January through June, primarily committed by gangs in Port-au-Prince, according to a United Nations report. An American humanitarian worker and her young daughter, whose kidnapping last month made international news, were released on Wednesday.
Several thousand people – their faces covered to protect their identities – marched in Port-au-Prince on Monday demanding protection from gangs. But police in Haiti have been overrun.
The United Nations Security Council is once again considering the deployment of an international armed force. Kenya, in response to Haiti’s call for help, was considering leading the multinational force to confront gang violence.
“A multinational force could help Haiti emerge from the insecurity that is the main cause of people fleeing and the main factor in a difficult life,” Gilbert said.
Many have fled Haiti to the United States and many more have crossed the border into the Dominican Republic, where immigration has been seen rounding up Haitians – both illegals and those who, like Gilbert, are in the country legally. Last month, a young Christian man Gilbert knew through the church was one of three Haitians killed while running from immigration.
A young Haitian murdered in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican assailant was not charged.
“He entered the house of a Dominican to take refuge, but it turned out the Dominican had his knife ready to kill him,” Gilbert reported. “According to what they told me, the Haitian embassy wanted to take the body to his relatives in Haiti, but the Dominican military denied (permission).
“There is not a single Haitian, legal or not, who lives a life without worries, fears, and major depression in the DR.”
Gilbert will once again lead a medical mission in the mountains of Haiti next month. He has two doctors and several nurses who have volunteered to serve hundreds in Kalimet and Morne des Commissaires on successive Saturdays (Sept. 2 and 9). Climbing For Christ will provide $5,200 USD for the purchase of medicines.
Feeding some hungry.
Gilbert, C4CNG, and Climbing For Christ continue to address the physical as well as the spiritual needs in Haiti. Last month, Gilbert used what little relief we received for Tropical Storm Arlene to deliver bags of rice to the village of Bwademie. “No matter how little support is received, it is a privilege to know that some families can eat for a few days because of us,” Gilbert said. “It is a great blessing for those in need.”
We are blessed to be a blessing.
“Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” – Proverbs 1:7 (NLT)
Learn more about Haiti and Climbing for Christ's activities there.
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