How you serve in Haiti is as important as if you serve in Haiti. Unfortunately many well meaning short term mission teams have gone down over the decades and at times done more harm than good. Mission teams can do remarkable good and lives (both Haitian & American) can be changed. But we should serve in a way that strengthens the long term work Harvest Field is doing on the ground in Haiti, and more importantly, strengthens the local churches we are serving.
We desire our mission teams to serve in a way that empowers Haitian men and women to move away from dependency on Americans or big relief organizations, and instead leads them to becoming self-sustaining and leads them to connect with a local Christian Church. We encourage all short term team members (and at a minimum the team leader) to read the book, When Helping Hurts, by Steve Corbett, prior to serving in Haiti - it provides a great deal of insight about how we can serve without damaging relationships or leading Haitians to continue down a road of dependency.
Because we believe strongly the local church is the most effective way to serve people, all our work is coordinated through local church bodies. Our desire is that when we leave, the local pastor and church are empowered to do more for their community and are stronger than when the team arrived. One example, our short term teams do not give items away. We are delighted when teams can bring much needed clothes, shoes, medicines, etc., but when we give those items to the local pastors for them to distribute (after the team is gone), then it allows the church to minister to their community in a way that makes the church stronger.
There are various ways short term teams can serve:
- Construction - build or repair a home; build chicken coops; build school benches or church pews. And teach some young Haitian men carpentry while you serve.
- Sewing or artisan programs - help teach Haitians a skill that enables them to provide for their family.
- Medical or Dental clinics - serve the people of Haiti, and help some Haitian nurses benefit from your medical training.
- Teach a teacher - Invest in the children of Haiti by training a teacher on a subject you are trained in.
- Provide health education training (prenatal care, child birth, women's self-defense, AIDS awareness & prevention, cholera awareness & prevention)
- Participating in a pastor training or leader training. Literacy classes, leadership training, and scripture training are all great ways to empower the local pastors and church leaders.
The type of service you'll provide is important, but perhaps equally important is going to serve with a teachable, humble attitude, and a desire to see the local churches built up and the long term work of Harvest Field strengthened.