ER’s Jenny Reitz Compere serves on behalf of House of Hope, a Children’s Home in Northern Haiti that cares for up to 80 kids, many of whom are experiencing severe illness, emotional distress, abuse, neglect or abandonment upon their arrival. She shared these updates in recent blogs.
I am back from my trip to Haiti. It was a wonderful time for all of us and as always ended too soon! I have many stories to share and hope to do that in bits and pieces over the next few weeks.
Of course, seeing my two girls just made my trip. We spent as much time as possible together over the weeks I was there. Every time we had a chance to hug Nannie (on the right) would tell me, “I’m not done with you yet” and the hug would go on for a while longer.
They are both doing really well though. Lala (on the left) is just a huge help to Linda with all of the younger kids. I’m so proud of both of them. Lala brings a seriousness of someone who knows the importance of bringing order out of chaos. Nannie comes along behind and brings an insatiable joy to every aspect of life.
Another highlight for me was finally getting to hold little Lyse. What a precious little girl. I was surprised to see how alert she was; she is a fighter and is just fighting for her life with all her might. Here we are…
Every day is touch-and-go for little Lyse as she can hardly go a week without needing a blood transfusion. This makes each day stressful for her mom and dad as blood is not always easy to find. They asked me to pass along their thank you to you all for keeping them in your prayers.
On my way into Haiti, I received a phone call from a friend in Miami who has a doctor friend who wants to see if he can help us help Lyse. While we do not know if anything really can be done to help her complicated condition(s), we are so thrilled to have that possibility arise. I was able to get all the information we needed to write a complete medical history for her. We have sent it to the doctor and are just waiting for him to get back to us with his thoughts. Please continue to remember this family.
Linda is busy in getting things together for the new school year. She has many uniforms to get made as well as decisions as to who should study in which school. One of our biggest needs as the start of the school year looms before us is the finances to pay the tuition, books and uniforms for the year. There are 50 students and the cost is $300/year to send them to school.
In addition, the hospital next door is asking us to pay off some of our debt. We have come to a place where we are really in need of your help at this moment. We have mentioned the financial struggle we have had off and on for the past couple of year. We are so grateful for everyone one of you who has been a part of the House of Hope family over the years; whether it is through giving of your time or resources or your encouragement and prayers.
The past couple of weeks have been tough as we are receiving more and more pressure to pay off the debt to the hospital. It has been around for a long time and no matter how hard we have worked to reduce it, more expenses continue to be added to it. The pressure to pay it has become more intense.
We realize not everyone is able to help us in a financial way. But if you are, would you please consider helping.
We appreciate you all and the various ways you help us bring hope to the children and youth of Haiti.
Sign up for Jenny’s blog here. To donate, click here and designate your gift “House Of Hope Haiti”.
“Every human should be able to sleep on a mattress.” – Travis Clark
Would you travel 9,500 miles – each way – at your own expense – to have your heart wrecked by some orphans? That’s what happened to eight volunteers from Canvas, a San Francisco-area church, when a team led by lead pastor Travis Clark and his wife Jena visited Belwop Rescue Centre.
And get this…they want to go back.
When the Canvas team traveled to Nyeri, Kenya, to visit the kids a Belwop, they intended to do some projects and spend time with the kids. But they got way more than they bargained for.
“We definitely saw the lives of our team changed,” Travis said. “Their lives were impacted in a way that only hands-on missions can do. When you get a hug from one of these kids, it’s not just a ding; it wrecks your heart.
“The trip really filled our tanks with compassion and generosity. It helped us meet physical needs and love our neighbors in another country. It allowed us to connect personally to Belwop and its mission of rescuing kids.”
The Clarks first encountered Belwop while Travis was serving as a young adults pastor in Arizona. He joined a team that traveled to visit Belwop in 2012. During that first visit, Travis learned that building relationships could be more powerful than meeting physical needs.
“I was personally impacted by a little boy named Peter. I met him the first time I was at Belwop when he was in second grade. He’s now in sixth grade and we picked up where we left off. He’s my guy there.
“We had so many good moments. I asked Peter if he could go anywhere in the world, where would he choose to go. He said he wanted to visit me in my home.
“Saying goodbye was another special moment. Peter tried to act tough. He stared at the ground. But then I bear-hugged him and the floodgates opened. We experienced a deep love for each other. It was the second time I said goodbye to Peter and it was definitely harder because our relationship was deeper.”
Travis also shared a special relationship between a Canvas team member, Angelique, and a Belwop girl named Judy.
“Angelique really connected with Judy because they shared some of the same things. Judy was struggling with loneliness and isolation and Angelique was able to identify with that and speak into her life. Judy was very quiet when we first arrived, but not when we left.
“Kids like Peter and Judy break your heart in a good way.”
The January 2016 Canvas trip to Belwop was the fulfillment of a passion the Clarks have carried since their first trip where they met Veronica Mumbi, who oversees the children’s home. Travis started sharing Belwop’s story soon after joining Canvas in 2013.
Travis said the team had goals that went beyond doing good works.
“First, we wanted to accomplish the practical by meeting tangible needs, those we knew about and those we didn’t. We wanted to leave Belwop better than we found it.
“Second, we wanted to build relationships. Our approach is to support a few key relationships but with deeper impact. So we brought Veronica to Canvas for some pre-trip meetings to build rapport.
“Our team now has faces to associate with names. We can tell stories about the kids by name. Most of our team had never traveled outside the U.S., except maybe to Mexico for vacation. It created a bit of shock when they saw how the kids at Belwop live. It brought about the realities.
“The kids a Belwop don’t have much, but their joy is rich,” Travis added. “It was convicting to the team and caused us to re-evaluate our priorities.”
One particular situation created a wonderful opportunity for the Canvas team to be generous.
“We did not know about the need for beds before getting to Belwop. While we were there Nick Carnill (ER Africa Team Leader) asked Veronica to name a big need at Belwop. She mentioned the kids’ mattresses. The kids were sleeping on one-inch-thick foam and cardboard. Once we saw that, we knew we wanted to supply not just the mattresses, but new sheets, blankets and bedframes too.”
The sight of new beds and bedding sent the kids into a frenzy of joy.
Last week the Canvas family came together and provided new beds, mattresses, sheets, blankets and pillows for over 30 kids at the Belwop Children's Home in Kenya. For those of you who were a part of making this happen, here's a quick peek at the their reactions! Thanks for leading the way in generosity Canvas!
“It was a huge win for the kids,” Travis said.
“They share everything, but their beds are special, something they can call their own and be proud of. Every human should be able to sleep on a mattress.”
The Clarks and the Canvas community hope to return to Belwop, perhaps as early as this summer.
“People definitely came back from the trip on fire. We pitched a second trip for August and more than 20 people said they want to go.
“We’d love to do two trips a year, one that is more relationship-focused and another that is more work-focused like a building project. We’d like to find a way to get both men and women engaged.”
Learn what ER staff members encountered when they visited House of Hope, a children’s home located on Haiti’s north coast. ER’s Jenny Reitz Compère, who serves as House of Hope’s Director of Development, hosted the trip.
Upon clearing customs, four ER staff members step outside the Port-au-Prince airport and are greeted by heat, humidity and chaos. We quickly are encircled by local “tour guides” offering their services in both Creole and English.
Eventually, we spot Jenny Reitz Compère and her husband Djordjy. They whisk us off in a rented SUV that will become our all terrain transportation for the next week.
Jenny deftly maneuvers through streets packed with vendors, scooters, goats, mules and pedestrians. She honks, accelerates, and passes cars like a woman on a mission – because she is on a mission.
As we drive into rural Haiti, Jenny uses every gear to navigate hours of unmarked, motocross-style roads. Her energized driving mirrors what’s inside her – a deep passion for Haitian people, especially kids.
Jenny came to Haiti in 1992 as an intern from Briercrest Bible College in Caronport, SK, Canada. She returned to Canada to finish college, but the desire to help kids, combined with friends’ encouragement, led her back to Haiti in 1996. For the last 17 years, Haiti has been home. Jenny and Djordjy were married in 2012.
We arrive at House of Hope (HOH) in the northern city of LaPointe. Along the way we see poverty on a scale unknown in the U.S. Large numbers of Haitians live without electricity, running water, or even latrines. Just getting food and water consumes much of their day.
We pull into the HOH compound to a warm greeting. Jenny is home, and kids of all ages rush to see her and Djordjy. We meet Linda Felix, an HOH “graduate” and its Director since 1988.
With help from HOH, Linda survived a bad case of childhood spinal TB, but not without severe damage that has left her unable to walk normally. She returns the love she received as a child by pouring herself into the kids.
Jenny’s role is more diverse. She, too, immerses the kids in hugs, structure and encouragement. But as HOH’s fundraiser, she has the added responsibility of communicating with supporters from around the world. In this role, Jenny tells whoever will listen about real needs like food, clothing, school uniforms, and medical care.
The needs are big. Really big. More than 80 kids currently live at HOH, including some with special needs. Many of the kids arrive from the mission hospital next door. They are young, often babies, whose parents are sick, dead, or unable to care for them. Some are abandoned.
Many of the children suffer from disease, malnutrition, or neglect. Treatment and care are challenging, but Jenny, Linda and a staff of house moms do their best to create a safe, healthy, and positive environment. Dozens of happy, smiling children are testimony to their faithfulness.
One major challenge facing HOH is finding exit strategies for the kids as they enter adulthood. With extreme unemployment throughout the country, their options are limited. Some remain at HOH well into their twenties.
The future of HOH is tenuous. Having lost financial support during the recession, budget shortfalls occur frequently. HOH needs new supporters.
Today, Jenny Reitz Compère is living in Canada and focusing on Development for HOH. She’ll be returning to Haiti regularly, bringing teams and running programs for the HOH kids.