Haiti is in the news again and it is disheartening. While the current crisis may seem despondent, we want to encourage you with what God can do with a few church members. Haiti is not beyond help and despite appearances we believe Haitians are cherished by God. There are small things we can all do to partner with God and his people in his work in Haiti. The initiative we are describing in this article has been led by Haitian disciples on the ground and abroad. As organizations have continued to pull volunteers from Haiti for their safety, it has become even more important to support locally run projects. 

We are a group of several disciples of Haitian descent and friends of Haiti who have had the privilege to build a relationship with the disciples living in the Hope Village in Haiti. This community was built in 2012 for disciples without shelter after the catastrophic earthquake. The village has been described as “a foretaste of paradise” because of its majority church member make-up and its fraternal atmosphere. We have been blessed with amazing hospitality from our brothers and sisters during our visits and have bonded with them over their love for God. We also got to know and serve the kids and have found them to be delightful, talented, and joyful despite their humble living conditions. Over the years, we continued to connect with the families and helped fund Christmas parties and back-to-school drives. Margarette Vernet as well as Lesly and Danie Cadet, previous leaders of the Haitian churches, were instrumental in fostering these supportive relationships between the local Haitian disciples and friends of Haiti.  

In 2021, as the financial and security crisis unfolded in Haiti, kids in the village started to have significant difficulty attending school. Driven by the idea that access to education is one of the most legitimate needs of children, our group brainstormed ways to address this issue. We contacted other established organizations to gauge interest in starting a school in the village. We realized we needed to start a non-profit, H3KIDZ, to address the kids’ urgent needs. Our mission for H3KIDZ was embedded in its name: Happy-Healthy-Haiti-Kids. God’s help was crucial as we had careers in various non-educational fields, and we did not know what the response of the surrounding gangs would be. We rallied around Margaret Vernet, MPH, who had served the church and the village in many capacities for several years to head the project.

In 2021, Immacula Perkins, a Haitian-American sister, started a tutoring program between a group of older disciples and younger students. When H3KIDZ started the school in the village, we used a similar model of using local disciples to staff the school and teach the students. This became even more necessary as travel from one part of Haiti to another became increasingly dangerous. Empty buildings in the village were used to house the different classes. We were able to purchase basic school furniture, supplies, and school uniforms. Our official launching occurred in 2022 with the support of individual donations, HOPE worldwide Canada, and the Twin Ports Church in Duluth, Minnesota. The disciples in the village named the H3Kidz school after Wilner Cornely, a late church evangelist in Haiti known for his selfless love for God and Haiti.

By the grace of God, “H3kidz Institution Mixte Wilner Cornely” now boasts 94 students from kindergarten to sixth grade. The school serves the village as well as the surrounding communities. It is recognized by the city governance and is currently in the credentialing process with the Ministry of National Education. We are blessed to have several village disciples leading this process because of their teaching and university degrees in various fields. In addition to growth in numbers, there has been academic success. Students who have recently graduated from sixth grade have had great success and high scores in outside middle schools when able to attend safely. This has been a testament to the quality of the education provided by the Haitian disciples.

The H3KIDZ school has provided more than education. It has been depicted as an emotional and financial lifeline for the village. The school has become one of the only employers in the area. Due to gang violence and barricaded roads, only 4-5% of working adults from the village currently work outside the village. Most remaining adults are supported financially by their school-related work. H3KIDZ provides access to over-the-counter medications to treat minor ailments through the school infirmary. The school has also provided occasional meals to students who struggle with hunger, but the organization has been unable to do so consistently due to funding. It has been reported that Haiti now faces famine. The need for funding to provide meals is now urgent. 

We have been amazed by how God has multiplied our loaves and fishes. We are boldly praying that God also multiplies our partners and supporters. Prior to this most recent escalation of the security situation in Haiti, the school had significant financial challenges. Now, the needs have increased exponentially. One urgent need is to provide lunch during the school day, as complaints of abdominal pain during class are often hunger-related. The disciples providing help and support to the kids are underpaid due to our need for more funding and the aggressive inflation environment in Haiti. There is also a necessity for more academic materials and basic supplies. We are also working on obtaining financial support to ensure the structural integrity of the houses used to host courses. Several walls currently have cracks, which is not reassuring in a country that has had devastating earthquakes.

We believe the kids in Haiti deserve the same care and concern as kids around us in other countries. They have been exposed to unimaginable levels of fear and insecurity. Their parents – our brothers and sisters in Christ – dream for them similarly to parents in other countries. We want to foster their emotional well-being by building a playground and continuing joy and hope-building activities like Christmas parties. We have developed proposals to help create a new building for the school so the kids can evolve in a safe and suitable learning environment.

Haiti has suffered from donor fatigue but this may be due to a lack of awareness of the cost involved in supporting projects. The funds donated to Haiti after the earthquake may be compared to the funds required in other communities to support recreational centers, stadiums or bridges. The pandemic and the work required in Ukraine have shown us the scale of funding required to help communities. We are grateful for what God has already done in Haiti with modest funding and few Christians and are confident that he will provide the financial support needed to create the infrastructure for the kids’ growth

If you want to partner with us in this life-changing endeavor, please email us at logistics@h3kidz.org. We pray for all our donors and would love to name different classrooms after willing benefactors. You can visit our website at H3kidz.org.

Click here to donate to H3KIDZ.

Elisabeth Aponte, MD (Minnesota)
Margarette Vernet MPH (Florida)
Jude Deristile (New Jersey)
Clodel Bellance, Pastor (Haiti)
Guy Bernard, Specialist in Education (Haiti)
Ben Morissette (Illinois)
Mike and Lisa Wenholz (Minnesota)

On behalf of H3KIDZ