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A History of Mountains of Hope for Haiti

Haiti gained its independence from France in 1804 and became the world’s first independent black republic. The history of Haiti includes years of foreign intervention and manipulation, and civil unrest, born of fear and greed; of promises left unfulfilled; of projects begun and abruptly halted; of political, social and economic corruption and unrealized reforms. Haiti is a land of inconsistencies, where the very rich live in close proximity to the very poor and where the poor are often exploited for the needs and wants of the rich. It is a land which forces one to wrestle with deep and controversial issues. 

 Haiti has been recognized as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere with 80% of the population living on less than 2 USD per day. It is also a land of great beauty from its mountains to its oceans. Yet a closer inspection reveals mountain-sides devoid of trees and vegetation, the result of years of clear-cutting wood used for cooking fuel and heat sources. It is this lack of vegetation that makes the spring and fall rains so devastating, resulting in damaging erosion and landslides.

 In the midst of all the challenges the people of Haiti face, there are signs of hope. Its greatest resource is its people. A proud, faithful, and resourceful people, Haitians make the best out of the worst situations, carrying water on their heads, eating one meal a day and walking for miles to the market. Hoorywever, there were noticeable signs of change. Foreign aid had started reaching the general population. The airport had been upgraded, the streets seemed somewhat cleaner, roads were improved and private commerce continued to grow. Mostly through the efforts of both Governmental Organizations and NGO’s, as well as the dedication of the Christian faith community.

That, all changed on January 12, 2010.

The Methodist presence in Haiti dates back to 1816 when missionaries from Britain first traveled to Port-au-Prince and began a mission outpost. The New York Annual Conference has also had a long history in Haiti. In 2002, Pastors Tom and Wendy Vencuss of Wethersfield, Connecticut, visited Haiti and in 2003 NYAC mission teams began visiting Haiti again. A Task Force was established to oversee the mission in Haiti. In 2004, Haiti was endorsed by the Connecticut District and then the New York Annual Conference as a mission priority. In 2008 the Task Force formally changed its name to Mountains of Hope for Haiti.  Mountains of Hope  (MHH) works with leaders of the Methodist Church of Haiti and local churches and pastors to develop its projects and mission. Under the auspices of MHH, at least 19 teams involving more than 150 people from 20 different churches in New York and Connecticut have traveled to Haiti.

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 Core Values

We believe in:

A loving and just God

            The sacred worth and dignity of every individual

We believe that:

We are one in Christ

We are called to be in a relationship with one another

Every person has a “God given” right to a fundamental quality of life

We are called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve others

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Poem

To Touch The Sky

 We climbed up high to touch the sky

And saw God’s presence in their eyes

It touched our hearts to hear them sing

And smile and laugh without a thing

 

They call us names like Missionary

But God has chosen them to carry

Burdens like His son had done

Crosses held for everyone

 

They travel far to praise His name

While most of us whine and complain

Away from TVs we now sit

Our eyes are opening up a bit

  

Obstructions from our ears are gone

Each time we gather to share a song

No colors here, we are all one

Brothers, sisters everyone

 

God’s lessons learned each way we turn

From children who simply want a turn

To feel the blessings we receive

And show us love before we leave

 

They reach out with their hands in trust

Come and come again, we must

A call or maybe more a shake

Through them God helps our faith to wake

 

So, may the things we see and hear

Be kept around our hearts, so near

Reminding us, God’s work’s not done

Until it reaches everyone

 

Bring us home safe to share the joy

We saw in every girl and boy

Peace and Love on earth? say Oui!

Then say to God, begin with me

                                                By Mike Joyce

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