Amazing Growth

Posted Mar 30, 2011 by 9 Comments

“You! You!”  A group of preschoolers ran up to me trying to get my attention.  They had seen my camera and wanted their picture taken.

As I started snapping a few photos, one of the older kids shook my hand and asked in English, “What… is… your… name?”

I answered, “My name is Barry.”

“Beh-wee?” He asked.

I laughed and said, “Close enough!”

Amazing Growth

It was my first full day back in Haiti.  I spent the morning wandering around Nehemiah Vision Ministries’ campus to see what was new.  I had only been here for a few hours, but already I was blown away.

Since my last visit in September, NVM has completed two dormitories for volunteers, finished two homes for long-term staff, and built a giant warehouse out of old shipping containers.  They have raised walls on the hospital foundations and even broken ground on their new children’s home (raising their capacity to care for orphans from 8 children to 64!).

To say that I was impressed would be an understatement.  As I walked past the nearly finished volunteer shower building and heard stats on the number of chickens NVM was raising (yep, they’ve started an egg-selling microfinance initiative!), it was clear to me that God is working here in some big ways.

The new men’s and women’s dorms on NVM’s campus.

But as I sat on a bench surrounded by adorable preschoolers waiting to see their pictures on my camera, one final sign of growth struck me as the most important: there are way more kids in NVM’s school than I ever remembered before…

Humble Beginnings

As I’ve written on past trips, Nehemiah Vision Ministries began in 2005 after Pastor Esperandieu Pierre and his wife Dianne stumbled across the impoverished village of Chambrun while on an afternoon drive.

As they drove between the mud huts looking for a way back to the main road, they were overwhelmed by what they saw: thirteen year old girls breastfeeding their babies, children with distended bellies and orange hair (a sign of nutrient deficiency), uneducated and unemployed men sitting under trees… Some of the worst poverty they had ever seen in their country.

Unable to shake the conviction that they needed to help somehow, Esperandieu and Dianne began Nehemiah Vision Ministries, an organization dedicated to helping the people of Chambrun pull themselves out of poverty.

A few of NVM’s adorable preschoolers!

Realizing that a lack of education was one of the primary causes of Chambrun’s poverty, they began an elementary school for around 25 children.  Their plan was to add a new class of preschoolers each time they moved the previous class up a grade.

 

Today

Today that school has grown to 377 students.  This year’s preschool class alone has nearly 100 kids!

This is what astounded me the most as I sat there on that bench.  Surrounding me was an entire generation of children from Chambrun (and now, other nearby villages) who are being given the tools they need to break the cycle of poverty forever.

But educating so many children is not free.  Although NVM creates ownership by charging very modest school fees to parents, they still require significant financial support to keep so many kids in school.  Qualified teachers need to be paid, books need to be purchased and hot meals need to be cooked (for many kids at NVM, their school lunch is often the only meal they get during the day).

You and I

That’s where you and I come in.  Nehemiah Vision Ministries has a fantastic child sponsorship program that makes it easy for us to directly support a child from Chambrun.  For just $40 a month, we can cover every part of a child’s education here.  Books, meals, healthcare… all of it.

One of NVM’s preschool teachers hard at work.

Right now, there are still 175 children here in need of sponsors.  Some are preschoolers, just starting out.  Others are teens, needing simply a little push to finish strong.

But here’s the thing.  Unlike a lot of great causes to which you might write a check and hope for the best, NVM’s child sponsorships keep you involved directly in the life of the child you are helping.

When you sign up to sponsor a child, you will receive a packet with all sorts of info about him/her, about NVM and about Haiti in general.  As your sponsored child grows and develops, you will be able to stay in touch with letters and periodic updates.  You can send small gifts and even, should you so desire, come to visit him/her yourself!

Unforgettable

I just started sponsoring a six year old boy and got to hand deliver his very first Tonka truck this afternoon.  Believe me when I say that it was an unforgettable experience (more on that in my next article).

There are still many children waiting to be sponsored. Will you answer the call?

My goal for this short visit to Haiti is to secure 25 new child sponsorships for NVM.  As of the writing of this article, we’ve got 3 lined up already.

Will you be one of the next 22?

Think about it.

—————

As I left the classroom of preschoolers, I looked around once more.  The teacher was there, writing on the chalkboard.  The pencils and papers were there, sitting ready at the desk.  The students were there, willing and excited to learn.

All that was missing was you!

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Next Steps
    • Consider sponsoring a child through Nehemiah Vision Ministries. Check out their website for more information!
    • If you can’t do the sponsorship yourself, think of ways you could get others involved. Would your small group like to sponsor a child? Your co-workers? Get creative!
    • Pray that we are able to reach (and exceed!) our goal of 25 new sponsors for NVM!
    Next Steps

About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

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Comments

  1. Aaron Sherrick said... 

    Reply

    March 30th, 2011 at 8:35 am  

    Great job Barry! That last picture is of my buddy Fénelson – one of the biggest smiles you’ll ever see.

    Blessings!

  2. Denise Adair said... 

    Reply

    March 30th, 2011 at 8:36 am  

    Loved this recent post. Thanks for doing what you do Barry and letting the rest of us be a part of it through your eyes.

  3. Dave Rod said... 

    Reply

    March 30th, 2011 at 2:02 pm  

    Can’t wait to be there and see with my own eyes in about 24 hrs! These kids are legends to me. I am privileged to meet them finally!

  4. Tasha Simons said... 

    Reply

    March 30th, 2011 at 4:55 pm  

    Wow! Reading your article sure makes me want to sign up to sponsor a child! I’ll talk to my husband about it. We went on a missions trip to an orphanage in Honduras and it’s heartbreaking to see how little these children have. It makes you want to adopt them all, doesn’t it? You inspire me, Barry! May the Lord keep your heart soft and your mind strong. Blessings, Tasha

  5. Jo said... 

    Reply

    March 31st, 2011 at 12:56 pm  

    i definitely want to look into this. I’ve looked at the pictures of unsponsored (well, and sponsored) kiddos, and a few things strike me: some do not know their age, and some look a LOT older or younger than it says. I’m torn whether to take on a very young one or an adolescent needing some support during a rough time regardless what country he/she lives in.

    I’m so very glad to be back in reading mode and being able to hear all that you experience. Am really looking forward to hearing from the summer interns. I just love what you are doing Barry. I’m guessing God’s cheeks are sore from smiling so much.

    Keep up the great work. What a blessing you must be to all the children who gather round you everywhere you go. How fun for them. Someone who loves them, who will touch them gently, smile at them, take their picture, and make them feel human…so deserving of life as God created them. thanks for being there for them in ways they may not even realize. I know they are meeting Jesus when they see you. Blessings to you!

    Jo

  6. Barry Rodriguez said... 

    Reply

    March 31st, 2011 at 1:04 pm  

    Tasha and Jo,

    It’s so great to hear that you’re considering sponsorship! I really believe we’ll reach our goal of 25 new sponsors very soon!

    FYI, there is a whole batch of new preschoolers that have yet to be added to the website, but they are coming soon! You’ll have a whole range of ages to choose from once they’re posted. :)

  7. Bob Luginbill said... 

    Reply

    March 31st, 2011 at 2:33 pm  

    Barry,
    Excellent post . . . we have 3 grandchildren. So count us in to sponsor 3 kids. Let us know the follow-up required.

  8. Barry Rodriguez said... 

    Reply

    March 31st, 2011 at 10:12 pm  

    Bob, that’s fantastic! I definitely cheered and did a little dance when I read your comment. :)

    The best way is to begin the process is to head over to http://nehemiahvisionministries.org/gallery.aspx to pick the three children you’d like to sponsor.

    Then NVM will send you a packet with info on each of the children in the mail and you’ll start sponsoring them!

  9. Tasha Simons said... 

    Reply

    April 1st, 2011 at 4:13 pm  

    Barry,

    I woke up excited about the prospect of sponsoring a child and I signed up this morning. Keep us posted on how many kids have sponsors. Our God is a father to the fatherless (Ps. 68:5) and I know He will provide for each of these children. Blessings, Tasha

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