Located nearly 6,000 km from Chilliwack is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with its prosperous neighbour, the Dominican Republic, is regularly struck with disaster and its needs are seemingly endless. It’s here, north of Port au Prince, that a group from Chilliwack is doing its best to help a grassroots organization rebuild Haiti from the ground up.
|A young Haitian boy and his homemade wheelbarrow help out with family agriculture.|
Sardis Fellowship Baptist Church began fundraising for Haiti four years ago when a member of its parish connected them with United Christians International (UCI), an on-the-ground organization that focuses on bettering the community through improved education and health resources.
“We had been looking for something for a while,” says Pastor Rod Heppell. “We wanted something ongoing, not a blow in, blow out sort of deal.”
After visiting UCI in 2013, Heppell says he appreciated their holistic approach to helping Haiti, and set up an ongoing partnership through Hungry for Life International. Since 2014, the Sardis Fellowship congregation has raised more than $75,000 for UCI. This year their goal is $50,000.
To achieve this, the Sardis Fellowship Baptist Church is hosting a live and silent auction the night of Feb. 17, at 7 p.m., where there will be anything from bikes and electronics, to vacations rentals and a daytrip on a 94-foot luxury yacht.
|r. Chenail does some dentistry work while in Haiti.<|
“This money isn’t wasted,” says Heppell as he explains how UCI benefits local Haitians. With a low daily wage and a literacy average hovering just above 60 per cent, Haitians are helped by UCI’s efforts to improve life by providing education, agricultural, and medical access for those in more rural areas.
Dr. Isabelle Chenail, a local dentist and congregation member, has been on the previous two trips and will be attending the Church’s third trip, which departs on March 16 and returns on March 27, to donate her time and skills.
“It’s (always) been pretty challenging,” says Chenail of her previous trips. “Our first trip was quite archaic. They had a lot of issues with (electricity), and since we need power to run everything, but it was so unreliable, we ended up sterilizing our instruments in a pressure cooker.”
And while the 15 members of the Sardis congregation who are traveling to Haiti are doing so to practise generosity and give back to a community of people in dire need, Chenail says they often come back with more than what they left with.
“You get attached to the people there,” she says. “They have a strength from struggling for every single thing that we don’t have here in Canada. We don’t go to bless them, we go for them to bless us.”
Tickets to the Haiti Auction and Dessert Evening are $10—you must have a ticket to attend—and can be purchased through at the Sardis Fellowship Baptist Church office. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone (604) 858 – 8433. Donations for the Haiti mission will also be accepted at the Church, or on its website via the Donate Now button.