Bonjour Tout Moun,
Or in English, hi everybody!
My name is Megan Manning, and I am the Web & Graphics Design Manager at Cireson. This July, I was lucky to have the incredible privilege of travelling to Haiti with my home church, Journey Community Church of La Mesa – San Diego, and have been asked to share my experience for our blog as we are a charitable organization.
As you may know, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere – over half the population lives on $2 a day. The 2010 7.0 earthquake claimed over 230,000 lives, left 3 million harmed, and led the country to an 80% poverty rate.
It is a country in desperate need of aide, both physically and spiritually – and the children of Haiti are particularly vulnerable. 50% of children do not attend school. 30% of children attending primary school will not make it to third grade. 60% will abandon school before sixth grade.
In partnership with an organization called Gabriel’s Promise, volunteers from my home church put on 3 weeks of Summer Fun Camps (SFC) in Carrefour, one of Haiti’s most vulnerable areas. Each week was geared toward a different age group, ranging from 4 years old up to high school age. The camp is designed to help reach the children of particularly marginalized and poor areas and who members of our satellite church in the area. This includes child slaves, homeless kids, church-going kids, and kids who have grown up exposed to Voodoo practices.
It is no secret that Shaun, Paul, and the whole Cireson family lead with their hearts and believe in giving back. So it was no surprise that prior to my departure, they came to me and asked how they could help. Thanks to their generosity and the help of Haitian locals, like our lead Cook Izra and her team who cooked all day for the kids, we were able to serve 1,883 hot meals to our kids and leaders. From the cooks, to our bus drivers, and amazing (and very patient) translators, the Summer Fun Camps not only created a safe place for kids to be kids, but also created jobs in a place where good jobs are very hard to come by.
During the camps, each of our small groups had a Haitian lead, an American partner lead, and a Haitian assistant lead. By breaking up our kids into these groups, we could make sure that each and every child received the attention and care they deserve. This allowed us leaders to get better and better at loving and encouraging each child in every group.
So what did we do at this camp? We led crafts, like decorating kites and backpack, performed biblical skits with bottom line messages and group discussion on how these lessons apply to their lives. For many of these children, they are never given the opportunity to learn to swim, be at the beach, or even have an open space to play sports and dance- so two of the biggest days at each camp were spent taking the kids on field trips to a local beach club and huge Sportsplex.
You’ll see the IT Monkey even got in on the fun! I was lucky to snag one when packing, and he quickly became a huge hit with the kids’ field trip bus rides, being sling shot across the bus and making his signature cackling sound. The kids absolutely loved him, so much that his hands were detached from his body by the last day.
The donation in money, prayers, and support for these kids and the Carrefour community is no small thing. It goes way beyond; it’s the lasting relationships, it’s the empowerment of kids, the building of leaders in the community, the expelling evil where evil has taken root before. Our hope is that every child attending the Summer Fun Camps would become part of our church family and experience the Love of God in a real and tangible way, some for the first time.
Huge thanks to Shaun, Paul, and the amazing Team Cireson for supporting me on every level. If you want to learn more about how Gabriel’s Promise is moving mountains in Carrefour, please visit www.gabrielspromise.org.