Help for Haiti is on the way

A team from Sardis Fellowship Baptist Church prepares to return to Haiti in March, raising $25K to support education in rural areas.

Pastor Rod Heppell (centre) is getting ready to embark on a second service trip to Haiti with his team from Sardis Fellowship Church

Pastor Rod Heppell (centre) is getting ready to embark on a second service trip to Haiti with his team from Sardis Fellowship Church

“Buy a book, or buy a brick.”

That’s the slogan that builder Mike Whitaker has been repeating as he requests $5 donations.

It’s simplified, sure – but it’s accurate and effective.

Whitaker and a team of 17 others from Sardis Fellowship Baptist Church are collecting donations for their second service trip Haiti next month.

They’ll be joining the United Christians International (UCI) organization in the small village of Caiman, in the Central Plateau of Haiti.

Since 2005, UCI has taken a holistic approach to development in this rural area, working to improve nutrition, healthcare, housing, education and agriculture.

Pastor Rod Heppell and 13 others embarked on their first service trip to Haiti in April of 2014.

“We raised $40,000, which was awesome, and we went down to build houses,” Heppell explained.

That housing is now the residence for professors who travel to this area of the countryside to teach in UCI’s pivotal project, the university.

Thanks to years of volunteer work and donations, Caiman now has an elementary school that offers education up to grade six, and they continue to add one grade per year as resources are available.

In the meantime, they’re continuing to develop facilities and programs for the accredited Caiman Christian Community University (UCCC in French), which will be celebrating its first graduating class this spring.

Fostering education in the large spans of rural communities that exist between the larger cities of Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haïtien is crucial to the livelihood of those who live there, because students who leave to study in the major city centres rarely return.

“UCI is trying to elevate the standard of education in the countryside,” Heppell explained. “How is a country going to change and break the cycle of poverty without education?”

When Heppell first visited the university in 2013, they had 70 students. Today, there are 500 students.

“In a relatively short amount of time, [UCI is] making a significant difference in this region,” Heppell enthused. “So for us as a church, it’s very exciting to support them in their vision.”

As this team of 18 people, including five youth, prepare for their mid-March trip, their goal is to raise $25,000.

The money will go toward building a second floor to the boys’ dormitory (the brick) and the remainder will be designated to sponsorships for students to study (the book).

The majority of UCCC’s students can’t afford to pay the full cost of tuition, but all who receive sponsorship participate in a work program to continue to upgrade the school.

In addition to the substantial sum of money that Sardis Fellowship is raising for this organization, the team will make great efforts to personally connect with the people of Caiman.

For the kids and youth, the team will be running daily English lessons in the elementary school, running craft sessions and carnival games, soccer scrimmages, and pantomime musicals.

They’ll get to know the university students through games, films, projects and conversations that will also allow the students to practise their English.

“Little games and activities create humour, interaction and camaraderie. It breaks down barriers,” Heppell enthused.

The group will also help out with the nutrition programs, run dental clinics led by Isabelle Chenail, and do home visits with the students.

All of the team members are responsible funding their own trip costs, meaning that 100 per cent of the community donations will be gifted to the UCI program. They’ve raised more than $7,000 thus far, but are determined to hit the $25,000 mark.

Their major fundraiser for the project is the auction, coming up on Feb. 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Sardis Fellowship Baptist Church (45187 Wells Rd).

The team will be serving coffee and desserts during the silent and live auctions. Auction items include RV rental, a set of braces, a sailboat trip, gift certificates to Chilliwack businesses and many more.

Reserve tickets ($5 each) by phone at 604-858-8433 or email by Feb. 24. Those unable to attend the auction can make financial donations to the Haiti project online at

Just Posted

Items seized by RCMP during a May 13 raid on Butchart Street. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP seize guns and drugs during raid on Butchart Street property

Police executed a search warrant on a home May 13, arresting one man at the scene

Transit Future Action Plan for Chilliwack and FVRD aimed at increasing services over five years and restoring ridership to pre-COVID levels. (BC Transit)
Future planning for Chilliwack transit aims to restore ridership lost to pandemic

Transit future plan envisions adding peak buses and service hours over next five years

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

Looking out over the Fraser Valley from Chipmunk Ridge from the proposed Bridal Veil Mountain Resort. (BVMR)
Chance to ask questions about gondola resort proposal near Chilliwack

Project team for Bridal Veil Mountain Resort is holding another virtual info session

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Linda Annis, executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, at press conference Monday. (Submitted photo)
Crime Stoppers receiving $200K from province for ‘Guns and Gangs’ tip line campaign

Executive director Linda Annis broke the news Monday morning in Surrey

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Most Read