In an email/website update on April 21, we shared a bit about how we’re moving into the next phase of earthquake relief, as we begin the process of helping families rebuild homes. And we wanted to expand a little more on how we are approaching that.
Our philosophy in all ministry is to support and equip Haitians to be successful in helping themselves and ministering to others. At times that means teaching and training them. Other times it means providing financial support. And sometimes it means doing those things they aren’t yet equipped to do in order that they might succeed where God has gifted them. We don’t want to descend on the country and attempt to fix all of their problems for them. Rather, we desire to work beside them – or to stand behind them – and help them do the things God has called them to do.
Here is how that philosophy applies to rebuilding homes. We are not going to bring in a team of Americans and Canadians to blitz-build several houses. Besides not being a particularly cost-effective way to build these homes, it robs Haitians of meaningful work. It is important for home-owners to invest in their own homes by contributing what they have – which is their labor. And there is a great deal of value in their local Christian brothers and sisters coming along side them to help them during the construction process. This is one of the ways we see the local church built up in Haiti, as Haitian Christians help each other through these difficulties, and we don’t want to interfere with that.
Here is what we will do, though:
- Specialized Labor Assistance
Money for construction materials is the most obvious need for Haitians who lost their homes in the earthquake. And God has provided enough funds through your generous giving to build a significant number of these Haitian homes. Pastor Diogene and other Haitian leaders are involved in the selection process right now, deciding who we will help. Once they have identified the first of the families, we will begin providing funds for the first stage of construction.
We have developed plans for basic, efficient Haitian homes that we will provide to home-owners prior to construction. While the basic building methods will be what they are acquainted with, we will also, through our Haitian construction managers, provide training in a few areas that will result in better homes. For instance, by teaching them better ways to mix mortar, they will produce stronger walls that will stand up in more extreme conditions and last longer. It will also be through this contact that we will stay connected with these families during construction and provide encouragement to them.
In order to ensure that the money is used in the way it is intended, we will distribute it in stages. Before receiving any funds, home-owners will need to prepare their site, cleaning up the debris from the earthquake. They will then receive what is necessary to build their home’s foundation. Once the foundation is completed and inspected by our construction managers, the home-owner will receive funding for the next stage, and so on, through five or six building stages. This approach also allows us identify any construction problems early and help the home-owner fix them.
Specialized Labor Assistance
We took a similar approach to helping families rebuild after the hurricanes in 2008. The home-owners then were also responsible for the labor, and in each case, the process was ultimately a success. As several of those homes neared completion, we believed it made sense to bring in a team to install the metal roofing on those homes. It is likely we will do that again. By that point, home-owners (along with their fellow believers) will have made a significant effort and labor investment in their homes, and it will bless them to help them complete this final stage.
Construction should begin on the first of these homes later this month. We anticipate that the first ones will be completed by the end of the summer, and we look forward to joining many of these families as they dedicate their new homes to the Lord.
Thank you for the role you play in making all this possible. God is using your gifts to show the love of Jesus to these needy people. We pray for you often, thanking God for your faithfulness and asking Him to bless you with every spiritual blessing. It is good to be in partnership with you.
Serving our Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp
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