One of the main objectives of our recent trip to Haiti was to visit the World Vision Canada community development programs, in order to get a good understanding as to how they work. We visited three different Area Development Programs (ADPs) at different stages in their 15 year cycle.
It was obvious from our visit that these community development programs really work! Here are some of the things that really convinced me of how well the programs work:
We went to La Belle Mer ADP. This is the newest ADP, started only three years ago. This is an area that is predominately agricultural, yet families cannot grow enough food for their daily needs. Yet, only three years into the program, the community leaders we talked to were filled with a sense of hope and had a clear vision and passion for the future of their children. We could see this in their faces and hear it in their voices. They understood that it was up to them to do most of the work, and that World Vision acts more as a facilitator. They understood the process, bought into the process, and were very thankful for the support provided to them under the program.
We went to a meeting of a woman’s association. They shared openly of their day-to-day challenges. When asked if they had seen improvements in the health and education of their children over the past few years, the response was a spontaneous, resounding “OUI !!!”. The community development had profoundly changed the lives of their families.
Sagnol, a World Vision Haiti staff member, joined us for our visit and provided translation. On one occasion, I asked him if any families ever decline to participate in the community development programs. He paused and gave me a look, as if in amazement I could even ask such a question. Then he shook his head emphatically from side to side. “No, no, no” he exclaimed! He explained that the situation these families face is that no matter how hard they work, they simply cannot produce enough food for their families. Without the World Vision program, they simply cannot make progress.
Perhaps the best evidence of the success of the World Vision programs is the children themselves. We saw many children. It clear from their joy, from the light in their faces and from their health, that these programs really work!
I come away from this visit with a real passion for World Vision programs. They truly make a difference. They truly transform lives. They truly provide a sense of hope and make communities self-sustaining.