If you have the time…

… I wanted to share a story with you.

A few years ago in Haiti, I met a guy who told me about his high school experience.

It was startlingly different to mine.

At the start of eighth grade, his parents could not longer afford to send him to school. And so he went to work.

He worked for a year in construction, then he went and did his eighth grade.

After that, he had no money for ninth grade.

So he worked for half a year, finding as much work as he could in construction, plumbing and cleaning and saved up. He worked extra hard and did ninth and tenth grade in one year, to make up for missed time.

He couldn’t pay to do his eleventh grade.

So his school director asked him to get 7 other students to register the school, and his school fees would be free. He did this. In the middle of the year, the school director asked him to pay. He couldn’t.

So, he was kicked out of the school.

Unfortunately, this kind of story doesn’t surprise me. He’s only one of the many people I’ve met here in Haiti who have told me that since they were young, their parents either abandoned them or couldn’t afford to help them, so they had to work to pay for their own schooling.

This particular story is stuck in my memory though, because it’s my husband’s.

I sometimes look at my friends here in Haiti, and wonder how different their lives would be if they were placed in a developed country, and had all the same advantages and opportunities that I had growing up. Most of them would have finished university. He’d be a doctor. She’d be an engineer. He’d probably have his own recording studio by now.

But they aren’t in any of those positions because somewhere along the way, something broke down for them.

And for the vast majority of them, it was the lack of finances for their education.

At New Light Institute, children come to our school for free, because we believe that children should not miss years of education simply because their parents can’t afford to pay for school. We have a blue and white uniform, but if they can’t afford a uniform, they can come in white shirt and jeans. And if they don’t have that, they can come in whatever clothing they do have.

This is because our vision is to see a school where children come, regardless of what they can afford, and receive a quality education for free. We want them to be taught by loving, Christian teachers who believe in them and encourage them to become all that they are called to be.

And today, we want to share with you a special opportunity to impact not only one child, but a whole class of children.

Sponsor a teacher today, and help provide quality education to a class of children.

Your sponsorship will help cover a teacher’s salary to teach a class – educating, discipling and preparing Haiti’s youngest citizens, to lead tomorrow’s Haiti. It will mean this school can continue to operate for free, and the neediest children in the community can still receive a quality education.

A teacher’s monthly salary is $150 US, so a full sponsorship of $150 per month will ensure that teacher is paid month in and month out to teach up to thirty children. If you’d like to sponsor a teacher but are unable to give that much, please consider giving partial sponsorship of $25, $30, $50 or $75 a month. Any gift is a blessing and your prayerful and financial partnership is greatly valued.

Meet our teachers, a group of wonderful, loving individuals who are passionate about teaching and helping the children become all they’re called to.

If you’d like to sponsor a teacher today and help provide quality education to a class of children, simply leave a comment here or shoot me an email at emilydiana at gmail dot com.
With so much gratitude and love,
Emily, the team at BelVil, and some of the cutest kids in the world.

This is my friend, Nicole.

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’.

Why 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.

Vision School 

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.

Community Outreach:

Children’s Ministry

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. 

Movie Ministry

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.