Haiti H2O

Hope to Opportunity

Category: Featured Articles (page 1 of 3)

Support Team Run for Hope

We get it. Giving money is hard. Raising money isn’t any easier. Giving and raising. Both require action, taking a side road from the normal day-to-day living. But sometimes traveling down a side road can lead to a satisfying destination, especially when the end reward outweighs the effort spent to get there.

So, here’s our side road. It’s called the Pittsburgh Marathon. We’re sure you’ve heard of it. This year fifty disciplined, committed people trained through one of the coldest winters on record with the hope of raising $25,000. for Haiti H2O.

Please take a minute and travel down the side road, the diversion in this moment and hit the link to donate to one of the runners for Haiti H2O’s big event next weekend. This side road diversion helps us continue down the main road of our long time commitment to the people of Haiti.Thank you!



4 Mile Medical Mission

 Team Members – George Atkins, Darrell Martin, Mai Lynn Martin,Devin Martin, Megan Martin, Kiera Holbein, Ginny Holbein,Dave Holbein, River Icenhour, Sheri Herstine-lcenhour,Bill Porto, Kate Hurne, Karlyn Wilson, Jennifer Knight,and Jeff VanderMolen (Partner Haiti H20).

This is now the third time Four Mile has sent members to the village of Saint Martin (or as some pronounce it Sain Montain). Saint Martin is roughly 150 miles west of Port Au Prince, and just west of Cayes, right on the southern most point of Haiti. The center of Saint Martin is our Karlyn Wilson partner church. It seeks to address the needs of the community through a primary school, skills training (masonry and sewing classes), and sanitation. The church of Saint Martin asked us to help facilitate a Medical Clinic. On our previous trip we held an impromptu clinic simply because word spread we had health care professionals with us. In two days we treated just over 250 people. We all guessed at how many people we would see this time, since our return was advertized over radio. In just three days we treated 609 patients, and paid to send three to the hospital for surgery! Every team member played a strategic part in the clinic. Here are a few of their stories.

“This trip taught me that no matter how bad the circumstances, worshipping our God takes precedence over anything that is going on around you. And also in busy, hectic situations you sometimes have to take a deep breath and say, I know I am here for Your purpose and to do what You sent me to do. God is Good & his faithful love endures forever!” -Jennifer Knight

My week in St. Martin was amazing. I had the pleasure of meeting people that were resourceful, kind, gracious, friendly, hospitable and filled w/ the love of Jesus Christ. When all the clutter of possessions and busyness of the “modern lifestyle” are missing from one’s daily life, the character that is important to God takes on a beauty of its own. There is so much to learn from the people of St. Martin.– Karlyn Wilson

“Not shying away, but looking into the eyes of those that I served, I saw Gods love looking right back at me. I learned that I was not just serving those in need, but rather serving God’s purpose. 1 Peter 4: 10   Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”– Darrell Martin

“Although this was my second trip to Haiti, it was a different experience than 2 years ago. Going to Haiti is like stepping back in time to when life was simpler – no phone, no TV, no air conditioning, etc.. I forgot how nice it was to escape our everyday pressures involving work and family. I can’t wait to go back in 2 years and see the many friends I’ve made in Haiti.” – Dave Holbein

“I was humbled that God chose me to be His vessel and privileged to help give that care and be the light showing the love of Christ. Thank you Four Mile for your support and prayers as you have no idea how grateful they were to have us there!” – Ginny Holbein

“I was once again struck by the hospitality and the generosity of theHaitian people. They continually encourage me to love the people around me. Feel free to ask me about the trip!” – Kiera Holbein

Field Report-Jeff VanderMolen

I just got home from Haiti on Saturday, the second trip in one month. I am encouraged by all of the things happening right now. I visited all of our Haitian partners and all of the communities: Baissin Camain, St. Martin, and Plain Matin. In Baissin Caiman, there are 18 baby goats to distribute to new families. The fourth composting toilet has been installed, and the first three are working well! The program has expanded to St. Martin.

Last June, a committee from St. Martin came to Baissin Caiman to take part in a workshop on composting toilets, led by Jilsen and Onis, the head of the committee in Bassin Caiman. After learning about this approach to sanitation, they toured the working toilets, and said this is what they need in St. Martin. On this last visit, I sat down with the St. Martin committee to initiate the education component before beginning construction on the first composting toilet.

Education is important when introducing new ideas and technologies! The people who serve on the committees understand they are ultimately responsible for the success of a new project. They chose a site outside of the church courtyard so the new toilet would be perceived as a community toilet, yet would also ensure adequate supervision to keep it clean.

I have had multiple people confirm that Baissin Caiman wants to pursue a community corn grinder business. The success of the bread oven—it has been operating for the last six years as a self-sustaining business–has prompted them to explain how a corn grinder would benefit many people in the village. Right now, the ladies have a four-hour walk with their sack of corn to the nearest place to grind their corn, and then a four-hour walk home. Sometimes, the grinder is so busy, they cannot get their load finished in one day so they have to return another day to pick up their ground corn!

There are many more stories to tell. Needless to say, God is on the move in Haiti, and we are privileged to be a part of what he is doing. I have four more trips to Haiti planned for the year, and I am excited to keep the momentum going for the communities and people we have come to know and love.

In his grace,
Jeff VanderMolen
Haiti H2O
Trip Coordinator

Sustaining Members

Sustaining Members- From hope to opportunity
We have seen the community grow from the prayers of a few faithful to a vibrant church, a full school K to 8th grade, access to clean water, a community bread oven, composting toilets for cleaner sanitation, and a stronger economy through The Goat Project.

And we have grown! After years of building a solid foundation, cultivating healthy relationships, and mentoring local leadership, Haiti H2O is poised to increase our impact in rural Haiti. We started with two trips in 2006 and now lead programs and ministry that run all year long. We have three part time staff in the US, three Haitian partner communities, four Haitian partner pastors, two Haitian project staff, six interpreters, and a Haitian toilet manager who runs the composting toilet program.

But we need your help. We cannot operate it alone. We need partners to help us sustain this ministry in the communities where the seeds were planted. Will you join us by becoming a sustaining member of Haiti H2O? Your monthly gift of $10, $25, $50 or $100 will nurture their hope and provide opportunities for a better tomorrow.  To become a sustaining member click here. 

Donations can be mailed to: Haiti H2O/ PO Box 5445/ Pittsburgh, PA 15206

The Goat Project Committee at a recent meeting.

“Haiti Taught Me….”Four Mile Team Reflections

Haiti 2012 Mission Trip: May 19-26, 2012

Upon return, the team was asked to finish this sentence, “Haiti taught me . . . .”


God used my experience in Haiti to teach me that I shouldbe grateful for all that I have in my life.   I have always been a very grateful person and cherish all I have been blessed with however, I now have a newfound respect for these things.  It has taught me that less is definitely more!  The Haitian people who have very little have great hearts, souls & spirits that we can all learn from.  They smile, laugh, delight in one another and in God.  The Haitians worship on Sunday, Tuesdays & Thursdays as a congregation.  Their music was off beat, didn’t fit and most of the time was off key but, you know what?  They sang with all their hearts and souls and praised God like no others I have ever seen.  Being blessed isn’t measured by the things you have in your life but, by the people you surround yourself with and how you live a Godly life. God is GREAT!!  I am very thankful for this experience that I was so blessed enough to have.  I look forward to being part of another missions trip in the future and to share this gift of God with others and my family! Jen Knight 

sheri_and_madam_pastorGod used my experience in Haiti to teach me / remind me what true joy and love can be found even in the most impoverished areas — if God is invited in.  The Haitians we met and lived with did not allow extreme poverty and hard daily life to rob them of laughter, serving, celebrating and worshipping through impassioned song and prayer.  It was impossible not to fall in love with these people. I was taught not to pity them, but rather to come alongside them, to help encourage and strengthen them, and in doing so, I received an even greater dose of encouragement and true inspiration in return. For me, despite being in the heat, dirt, and out of the comfy life that I am used to, I have a feeling of wonderful peace that comes from knowing I was right where I was supposed to be that week in Haiti, doing what I should do, and striving to live in the will of my Lord. The opportunity to serve Him is a priviledge, and I am truly grateful and humbled.
Sheri Herstine


DSC03248Bonjou (Hello Four Mile)I am very excited about coming back from Haiti and to share my story that I have experienced. First of all, thank you to everyone who was willing to send the Haiti Mission team from Four MIleto go and help the Haitian people. When we were down there we had to learn Haitian proverbs and recite them to the translators every night. It was quite an experience. My Haitian proverb was “ Nen Pran Koe Joe Kouri Dlo.” This means “nose runs, ears hurt, eyes make water.” Another thing that I thought was fascinating was in church we sang two songs every service that were 15 minutes each.  I have learned some Creole. God used my experience in Haiti to teach me ,” se moun yo kemeveye anbil. Voyaj le fe ‘m santi mwen lakay mwen be’t you janti tou e Bondye fe’ mwent remen be ‘b Ayisyen an.” The means that people are so wonderful and  amazing.The trip has made me feel welcome and feel as though I am at home. The animals are so trusting and God has brought me to love the nation of Haiti. Merci (Thank You) Tiffany Keagy




God used my experience in Haiti to remind  me of his love for all  people. That we are allexactly alike;  we strive to care for our families, we all struggle, and kids are kids across all cultures.  God taught me humility in a people, that store their treasures in heaven, that joyously worship him 4 services a week for who he is. God taught me patience when it does not come naturally. I learned that God will take care of the details, and that obedience can bring rewards that can’t be put into words. 

Bill Porto




I had always wanted to go on a mission trip.  When I attempted Mexico, God shut the door on me twice.  It just wasn’t my time.  God blessed me with medical knowledge and I wanted to give back and serve His people – somewhere.  Well, God opened the door wide open and since January, George wound this trip to Haiti around Dave, Kiera, and my vacation week.   It was definitely a trip led by God – but Haiti?  My rendition of “roughing it” is the Holiday Inn.  So, needless to say this was a major stretch for me in trusting God to get me through a rough and tough environment such as Haiti.  He did toughen and strengthen me through this experience.  But, all this wasn’t about me.  I was there to serve the people of Haiti – so His glory could shine.  The Haitians are very sweet and considerate people.  They would always smile- and as Kiera stated- always were so hospitable.  They loved us visiting their homes and were so appreciative of the home packs that Four Mile sent to them.  Four Mile- you have been blessed and prayed for over and over- just because you offered soap, band aids, toothbrushes and tooth paste!  The biggest impact for me was running our small impromptu medical clinic. Once the word got our that we had medical knowledge and some medicines, the Haitians came to our church as early as 6:30 AM -three mornings in a row– waiting to tell us their ailments and hoping to get relief with some medicine.  P1040868The toughest patients were the children.  They had various problems such as malnourishment, anemia, upper respiratory infections, scabies, and etc.  A fellow nurse practitioner friend provided me with antibiotics, prednisone, anti-fungal meds, hydrocortisone creams, and many other meds that we had enough to provide to 250 patients!  It reminded me of Jesus taking the few fish and loaves from the small boy and feeding the multitudes!   Our medical team included Kiera, Jenn, Sherri, Tiffany and myself.  Our medical room was a small room in the old school building with a chair and all I had was a stethoscope.  I was told we couldn’t have a clinic so I didn’t pack my exam equipment.  But, God had other plans and I was so glad He used me in this way.  It was rewarding but yet, I had tears in my eyes at times because I wanted to do more.  We take for granted our medical system in America.  We have the best.  These poor people can’t afford medical care.  God gave them that care through Four Mile!  Lastly, to watch these people glorify God in a church service is amazing!!! They sing and praise from the bottom of their hearts!  It put me to shame.  They not only talked the talk- most importantly- they walked the walk.  Thank you Four Mile- for your donations- you have no idea how grateful the Haitians were for those home packs.  Thank you to my team members George, Billy, Sherri, Tiffany, Jenn, Dave and Kiera.  Our team was so congruent and we picked each other up when needed. When I felt overwhelmed -my team supported and lifted me up in  prayer to persevere. It was a stretch for me- but again, It wasn’t about me – I was just the vessel through whom He worked!!  
Ginny Holbein

Women_waiting_at_clinicGod used my experience in Haiti to teach me what true hospitality looks like. I was fortunate enough to conduct home and health surveys in peoples homes, along with Sherri. Sherri and I had both an interpreter and a Deacon of the local church with us, and we asked a series of questions to each household we visited. The Haitian’s hospitality towards myself and Sherri truly amazed me. People dropped whatever they were doing to spend time with us and answer our questions, and they always did it with warm smiles. Families offered us the few chairs they had even if that meant that they had to stand. They offered us coconuts to drink. The deacon we followed always insisted on taking our bags so that we did not have to carry them. Once we were finished with our questionnaire, we gave the families small home kits with toothbrushes, toothpaste, bandaids, and soap. The thankfulness that they had for something so small was amazing. I imagine that the response to a spontaneous visit here at home would be quite different in terms of hospitality, as we do not want our busy lives to be interrupted. My hope is to become more hospitable, and show love and joy like the Haitians in every area of my life whether it be at home, work, or at church. I am so thankful for this trip and all that it has taught me.
Kiera Holbein

P1040726I have always known that I was blessed.  I have a beautiful and talented wife, a smart and wonderful daughter, a good job, etc. Not to mention the Grace and Mercy God shows me every day.  I could go on and on how blessed I am.  However, God used my experience in Haiti to teach me several new things.  I learned that the Haitian People are an extremely hard working people whose many misfortunes are not necessarily their own fault but that of several crooked and evil regimes ( the US is not exempt from that one).  I learned that people are the same everywhere no matter how rich or poor, black or white, educated or illiterate they are.  We all have the same dreams, to be healthy, to have a family who loves us, and to have financial security.  The people of Haiti were very welcoming, trusting, and eager for God’s Love.  I’ve always known that 4-Mile has many God loving good Christian people but getting to spend a week in one of the most forsaken places on earth with the 4-Mile team is one fantastic experience I will never forget.  Our team worked well together as we learned to trust in God for safe passage (try riding on one of Haiti’s roads sometime), shelter, food (ever had goat?), and health (fear of typhoid, malaria, Cholera, etc).  I met several young people whom I learned have a hope that one day things will get better  They asked me to relay to the 4-Mile Community that they need our prayers.  And finally, I learned that I need to go back again one day to Haiti.  I need to continue the friendships I made and to show the Haitian People that they are not forgotten by others or by God.  Thanks to George, Billy, Sheri, Ginny, Kiera, Jen, and Tiffany for putting up with me for the week.
Dave Holbein


I’ve been to Haiti several times, and every time Haiti stretches me in new ways. It always challenges my sense of comfort and security, but this challenge has become like an old friend. Knowing that a car accident, or car break down are always possible keeps me on high alert.  Haiti is teaching me that I’m not in control and to relax.  Haiti is also teaching me to be grateful for the small things; a coke, meat, cool nights, running water, and laughter. 
George Atkins





The 2012 Haiti Team: George Atkins, Sheri Herstine, Dave Holbein, Ginny Holbein, Kiera Holbein, Tiffany Keagy, Jenn Knight & Bill Porto

The three big things that I learned in Haiti were…

Eastminster’s Haiti Trip 2012, by Keea Dorsey

When I first heard about my church’s annual trip to St. Martain, Haiti, I felt an immediate tug on my heart to go. I knew deep down that God was going to do something great on this trip. At first, I had the typical Christian mindset – I was going to go down there and God would use ME to speak to these people. But while I was in Haiti, God blew my mind! He used every single person I met to touch MY heart and teach me something. There is no possible way for me to put everything I felt and learned into one summary – it would take a year to read! So without further ado, the three big things that I learned in Haiti were 1) don’t worry, just trust 2) love strongly and 3) give your all.

One of the first things I noticed was that the people of Saint Martain trusted God with every fiber of their being and it showed in the way they live. They rose when the sun came up and worked, without complaining and while giving their best, until the sun set. They went about their day knowing that God would provide. Some people I met were sick. Some had children, friends, or relatives that were sick and they were caring for them. All these people were honest in saying that they did not know why this was happening. Not once did I hear anyone’s lips part to complain or say “why me?” They gladly welcomed prayer and stated that they knew God had it under control. One particular visit to a home stood out to me. We came across a godmother who was taking care of her goddaughter. The goddaughter had dementia among other problems. The godmother told us that her dementia “just happened and they didn’t know why.” Toward the end of our visit we offered to pray and sing a song with the two ladies. I was amazed as the godmother went into her hut and came out with a covering that the young lady with dementia specifically used for HER prayer time to the Lord. Thousands of thoughts rushed through my head. I couldn’t believe that in all she was suffering the goddaughter remembered to spend time with God and give him thanks and praise. After the prayer, her caregiver said something that stuck with me. She proudly stated, while looking at her goddaughter, “This is a test that the Lord is giving her and she is passing, she is passing.”

Second, these people know how to LOVE! I can’t begin to describe to you the amount of love I felt upon my arrival to Haiti. After 24 hours of non-stop travel we were having difficulties reaching the village in a timely manner. So many wonderful people pitched in to help get us to the village of St. Martain. At one point in our journey there, the pastor of the church in St. Martain left his home (after dark) to come looking for our group. He was worried because our group had not reached the village. I thought it was so amazing that a man we had never met could and would care so much. To top it all off, when we finally reached the village way later than expected almost half of the village was waiting for us at the “little river crossing”. They were there to welcome us and make sure that we would get across safely. At this point I knew without a doubt that traveling over 24 hours to get there would be so worth it. These people know how to love others because they truly love God. On our first day in St. Martian, one of our translators pulled a couple of our team members aside and began passionately talking to us about the love of Christ and asking if we would trade Christ for anything. You could clearly see that his heart was for Christ, his word, and his people. I fought hard to hold back tears. It was just so refreshing to see someone who had been walking with Christ for so long express his love for God as if he had just found it!

Lastly, these people give their all to Christ and to their brothers and sisters in Christ. Their ability to give is amazing. They have few material possessions but their spiritual wealth is great. The community is helping raise a little boy named Emmanuel because his mother is not able to properly care for him. On Sunday morning at church, I watched as several people not only gave their offering to the Lord but placed money in the basket for little Emmanuel. I immediately thought of how many times I’ve tried to get around giving my all to God (spiritually or financially). Even though I don’t make much by U.S standards, I’ll make more than some of those people ever will. Yet, their heart for giving is great. It is to be treasured and to be learned from. How could I be so selfish in the way that I love and give when I’ve been so blessed?

During my time in St. Martain, God showed me things about myself – about what still consumes me and insecurities that I have not fully given to Him. He showed me how I should love (like Him), with my whole being. He showed me how I should give, putting others ahead of myself at all times. He taught me how I should trust – all the time no matter what the circumstances are. God showed me through Haiti H2O, the translators, and the people of St. Martain what it looks like when everything revolves around Him and you make Him the center of your life.

If I could leave you with anything it would be this: These people live like we wouldn’t dare to live – with great fear of God, great love for God, and great faith in God. They put God’s Word into action and they cherish it. Let us first look to Christ where all great love comes from. Then let that love seep into us so that others might see it, feel it, and be compelled to change their ways. This love changed me in St. Martain and it is this love that is going to change our world.

Eastminster Haiti Trip 2012

Tee shirts packed.  Gatorade powder – packed. Bug spray – packed.  Passport –ready to go.  While I was packing for my trip to Haiti, a country known for its poverty, political turmoil and devastation caused by a recent earthquake, I kept thinking about the Wedding Feast of Cana. That’s the story in the bible when Jesus tells the wedding servers to fill six stone water jars. The jars could hold 20 – 30 gallons each, so the servers gathered  180 gallons of water! When the head server tasted the “water” he ran off to find the groom wondering why in the world he hadn’t served this crazy-good wine earlier. Basically, he says to the groom, “Why are you wasting this seriously delicious wine on all these drunk people? They won’t even know how good it is!”

So why was I drawn to this story before leaving for Haiti?  What did this seriously delicious wine have to do with the mission of our outreach trip?

It is hard to summarize our group’s 10-day trip to Haiti. There is too much to tell.

About how we all could still laugh and sing after 24 hours of straight-up travel.

About all the great projects we did – building forms and mixing and pouring a cement front porch for the church, adding earthquake-proof mesh to the walls of the school, painting two lovely murals, planting 100 tree saplings on a barren hillside.

About our hilarious struggle to learn some Creole by turning it into a game show complete with Haitian judges and audience. Someone say “WHEEL!…OF!… CREOLE!”

About the adorable baby named Emmanuel that the church community is raising because the mother is incapable.

About the tropical paradise of a cove we swam in everyday.

But for me, my favorite part was the Haitians. They were so gracious and welcoming, fun and hope-filled. On our late-night arrival, the worried Haitians– all ages – gathered at the beach crossing in the dark to make sure we could get through safely. They ran back to the village chasing our trucks. The next day, the children grabbed our hands and asked us to follow them through the coconut and plantain trees to their homes. Then they pulled out chairs for each of us and offered to get us coconuts. Every day fifteen cooks made us delicious traditional Haitian meals. They really put their hearts into it, serving us something a little different now and then as an extra treat.

I fell in love with these gorgeous people. They take pride in their appearance but are not prideful. They probably wear hand-me-down clothes, but who could tell? They look wonderful. While we were there it was Holy Week. Every night there was a service. The church filled up with lots of young people. One highlight was the ten young adult men from the congregation who got up front in matching burgundy dress shirts and sang. Everyone was clapping along and the young men were smiling, obviously having a blast. The song went on and on until it felt like the rafters were shaking. After it was over, everyone clapped and passed a hat to gather donations for the singers!

We were all there together – Haitian or American, rich or poor, sick or well, tired or rested, fed or wanting more, living in a hut or a three-bedroom house. But also there was this stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks wine that was being poured out for us. It was something too deep for us to fully realize. And definitely too good for our drunk, thick-headed selves! Later, as I was reading one of the devotionals that Jeff had us read, I realized that whether we understand this wine right away, or later, or maybe not at all, the delicious wine-filled Hope that we are called to as Christ-followers is always there – 180 gallons of it! That is more than we could ever need.

Who knew we would experience such thirst-quenching Hope in Haiti – described by some as “the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere?” I think the 16 of us who went on this trip would agree: Haiti has wine that tastes expensive and while we were there it was generously poured for us all.

Reflection by Anne Melnyk









Run for Hope

Help Haiti H2O by being a charity runner in the

Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon.

We are looking for runners for all distances (5K-full marathon) on May 6, 2012 to help us run for hope. The money raised will help us in our goals of provide schools, clean water and sanitation in Haiti.

Your Team Haiti H2O registration includes:

*Registration for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon
*Haiti H2O technical T-shirt for race day
*Great prizes for exceeding fundraising minimums
*Simple online fundraising tools
*Haiti H2O group training runs

Your Team Haiti H2O responsibilities include:

*Registering for the Haiti H2O Charity Team by emailing erin@haitih2o.org

*Committing to raise money for Haiti H2O.
Fundraising goals are as follows:
$500 for marathon
$250 for the half marathon
$750 for relay teams($150 per runner)
$100 for 5k runners

For more info please contact:

erin@haitih2o.org or by phone at 412-867-4022

Emmanuel, “God with us”

There is a woman in St. Martin who is mentally handicapped. She has no family in the area so the church helps take care of her. She often wanders around the courtyard or twists herself into a sitting position under a tree staring at the sky the through the branches and talks to herself. The ladies in the church make sure she has food to eat.

She has become pregnant three times. Whether some man took advantage of her physically or she just didn’t understand what she was doing, we don’t know. But we know that she has left two of the babies that she birthed under a tree to die. During the third pregnancy the church people made sure they knew where she had left the child, and rescued it.

Two families have taken responsibility for caring for the child but the whole church has committed to raise the child. Each week they have a dedicated offering for the congregation to give money for the child. This morning I watched as old ladies, children, men and women with families of the own come forward to put a few gourdes or a dollars into the basket. Pastor Voltaire told us later after the service that the child’s name is Emmanuel, “God with us”.

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