Being Jesus’ hands and feet in Haiti
Two men from Northwest Iowa volunteer to work a construction project for Mission Haiti in Ti Riviere, Haiti.
Darrel Hansen (left), Jerry Snyders (right) and their translator, Robinson (center), stand in the construction site of the addition for the church in Ti Riviere, Haiti.
Jerry Snyders (right) became friends with Schnieder, a little boy who was abandoned by his mother and then beaten and abused by the man who took him in. Schnieder is now safe at the Mission Haiti orphanage.
Hand in hand, Darrel Hansen escorts two orphans home from school.
Located in the Caribbean Sea, Haiti is the western third of the Island of Hispaniola. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
After listening to the need for builders and construction workers for Mission Haiti, Darrel Hansen and Jerry Snyders from rural Granite in Northwest Iowa took the challenge to go to Haiti as volunteers.
Mission Haiti is located at Ti Riviere, which is about five hours from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Mission Haiti officially began in 1995 when Pam Plasier took the first of many mission trips to Haiti. Soon her husband, Mike, took his first trip to Haiti and together they founded Mission Haiti as a nonprofit organization in 2005. There is an orphanage there that houses nine orphans. The orphans attend a school sponsored by Mission Haiti that is located about six blocks outside of their compound. (Read Plasier’s article here)
For the first two weeks of November, Snyders and Hansen worked to build additions to the church and the missionaries’ home.
“We went to build a building, but it was the kids and the people that made the trip. They are starving for kindness and love,” Hansen said. “It means a lot to them for us to share time with them. There is much opportunity to serve in Haiti. It was an amazing adventure.”
Construction in Haiti is difficult as everything is done by hand. Cement work is done by mixing mortar, sand and water and is then carried and poured with 5-gallon buckets. Haitians make the cement blocks used in many of the construction projects.
After arriving and looking over the project, Hansen and Snyders prepared a list of material needs. However, they quickly learned that the supplies in Haiti were not available in the same sizes they were accustomed to. They recalculated their needs, purchased what was needed and loaded the lumber and other materials on the top of a tap-tap truck used for transporting people and supplies. Tap-tap trucks pick up people along the road requesting a ride and the driver stops when hearing the passengers tap on the roof.
Hansen and Cory Grimm, the missionary at the compound who went along, tied down the supplies as best they could and prayed they would stay aboard for the bumpy ride to Ti Riviere.
While they worked in 100 degree heat, their translator, Robinson, would bring them drinks -- water, Coca-Cola or 7UP. In the morning Robinson, who is in his 20s, attended school. The average age for young people inHaiti to graduate from high school is 26.
“Another young man named Evan also liked to help,” said Pam Plasier. “He became a Christian a few weeks ago. We had another young man who had only rags for clothing. He would run through the complex every day. You could tell the boy had been beaten. This boy was like a slave to the family that took him in after his (biological) mother abandoned him. The boy’s stepfather had beaten him with a metal bar. We asked his mom if we could keep him. She signed papers and he was allowed to stay.”
“I tried to make friends with this little boy, whose name happened to be Schnieder,” Snyders said. “But he didn’t talk to me until at least eight days had passed.”
The boy finally started to accept Snyders. Having the same name helped break the ice. It was hard for the boy to accept a nice man after being enslaved and beaten by another man. Snyders and Schnieder grew quite close by the end of the trip.
Mission Haiti has four schools in the area with 700 students and many children on the waiting list. They provide education, food and clothing for the students. Classes and other ministries also are provided for adults. Last summer they partnered with Vi Bella to create a jewelry business in Ti Riviere. The workers gather plastic bottles and turn them into beautiful jewelry. It has provided much-needed jobs and opportunities for the women to come together and read the Word of God.
The Grandview Church Sunday School, local Awana program and many families in Larchwood, Iowa sponsor children to attend school in Haiti. If you would like more information about Mission Haiti, sponsoring a child or volunteering to take a trip there, please go to: missionhaiti.org.
“Getting to know the people in Haiti was great. We had two weeks to connect with them,” Snyders said. “Pam Plasier is their light to Jesus. She loves them. Going to Haiti makes me realize how much the Lord has blessed us. It was a privilege to work with the people in Haiti.”