This is my friend, Nicole.
We flew the same plane into Port-au-Prince on June 14th, 2011, and moved into the same house that day. It was a big, pink and white house in a neighbourhood called BelVil.
We clicked from the day we met, and over the days we laughed at our endless uncanny similarities. Our passion for Haiti. The wounds on our hearts. The fact that we both made our high school graduation speeches.
And then we talked about our dreams. And we saw that the God of the universe had written dreams on our hearts that were sentences starting on hers that finished on mine. It was complete.
Uncanny, we thought.
Then there was that night when we realised two brothers liked us. We laughed so hard that night, lying on mats on a balcony, shaking in silent laughter while forty others around us were falling asleep.
But then only months later, we laughed again, realising that we too, had feelings for them.
Two years later, we met on that island of Hispaniola, on a mission: to explore more of Haiti. To see more, to learn more. And so we did. And only three days apart, we started dating those brothers. It actually kind of surprised us.
One year on, and here we are. Married.
So now, meet the Seliscars and the Celiscars. We spell our surnames differently. It was an accident on Jacques’ birth certificate.
Over the past three years the vision we first talked about in that pink and white house has been growing steadily.
We’re calling it ‘BelVil’.
BelVil means beautiful city, which is exactly what we want to see. Beautiful cities reflecting that heavenly city.
We all met in a neighbourhood called BelVil. We came as broken people, rich and poor, needy and vulnerable, but left knowing who we were as children of God. And the vision of the organisation is what happened in BelVil. Broken people came and lived in a community where their lives were transformed, and they left as people empowered and discipled, to go out and fulfill the call God had given them, and to transform their own communities.
And so our mission is this: to empower and disciple individuals to live out their God-given destinies and transform their communities.
And how will we do this?
To be honest, we are still figuring it all out. We’ve got plenty of ideas, but we are just getting started.
We believe that a transformed community depends on what’s often called the ‘7 spheres of influence’: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family and religion.
So we are focusing on the town of Montrouis, Haiti (the our husbands’ hometown), and here is some of what we are working on right now.
Many children in Haiti don’t go to school simply because they can’t afford to. Instead of learning each day, they stay at home and play, and it’s not uncommon for students to finish school in their mid-twenties.
It’s also common that children only have 1 snack and 1 meal a day, which makes it harder for them to focus at school because they are so hungry.
We are partnering with a local school to:
– generate funds so parent’s can pay what they can afford, so even if they are poor, their children can still go to school.
– provide a snack mid-morning and a lunch for the students, so they don’t spend the school day hungry.
– increase the quality of education at the school so students have a quality education that builds their capacity.
– increase the effectiveness of discipling children in the school, so students are nurtured and encouraged to have authentic relationships with God.
Belvil Cafe and Internet Cafe
The unemployment rate is outrageously high in Haiti, leaving many struggling to pay for necessities such as food, healthcare and education. Also, plenty of literate young people don’t have a basic understanding of computer/internet use.
We are starting a cafe and internet cafe with the hope of:
– creating 16 part time jobs, so people can learn new skills and have a regular income.
– providing an affordable 1 on 1 training with computers and Internet, so people can use these skills to leverage their often minimal resources.
– forming a loving, encouraging community, where people find they are valued, loved and built up.
Twice a month, we are cooking a Haitian feast for 50 children, teaching them the gospel, singing songs and playing games. Through this we hope to teach children about Jesus that will help give them a good foundation for their lives.
Twice a month, we are screening a movie for free to the public. Because there’s a lack of entertainment in Haiti, people often turn to unhealthy forms of pleasure or fun. After the movie is screened, we’ll discuss with the audience what can be learned from the movie. Through this, we want to have fun, build community, and help people think more about their character and actions, about what is right or wrong, and eventually point them to Jesus.
We have lots more brewing, but these are the projects currently in action. Stay tuned, my friends. If you made it to the end of this blog post, I’m very grateful and I’d love to know. We are so excited to journey this with you – and would love for you to be a part of it. Let us know what you think, if you have any ideas or think you could contribute in any way.
Love and sunshine,
E + the BelVil team.