Haiti H2O

Hope to Opportunity

Category: Haiti (page 1 of 6)

Have we MET? 

Haiti H2O values partnerships that affirm dignity.  We see long-term relationships and strong communities as the keys to lasting change.

Being part of a Mission Exchange Team (MET) builds a bridge of respect between separate communities.  The time together allows partners to deepen their relationships, face-to-face.  Haitian and American teams visit one of our 4 partner communities for 7-10 days.  During this visit, the team resides in the community, shares in preparation and clean up of meals, as well as works alongside, visits and worships with the host community.  We take time to slow down and listen, learn from each other, and love one another.

The goal is much broader than a typical Short-Term Mission trip.  It is more than just another stamp in our passport or an opportunity to get “perspective” and be grateful for our many blessings. More deeply, Haiti H2O hopes that a Mission Exchange Team’s investment of time communing together, breaking bread together, and working together can build a bridge of mutual respect that allows both communities to care for each other and partner together to alleviate poverty.

Join Haiti H2O as we partner with rural communities in Haiti and walk alongside their leaders in the difficult work of alleviating poverty.




These short, memorable descriptions have become identified with a product:

  • Just Do It! (Nike, 1988)
  • What Happens Here, Stays Here (Las Vegas, 2002)
  • Snap! Crackle! Pop! (Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, 1932)
  • Can You Hear Me Now? (Verizon, 2002)

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. This is quoted so often it has become a tagline for the nation. It’s the short, memorable description that has become identified with a product. Help us tell another story:

Haiti is a land of hope.  After attending the primary school in Bassin Caiman, Ronald attended higher learning in Cayes, and upon graduation returned to teach back in his hometown.  Haiti H2O helped build the school and sponsor the teachers during environmental disasters. Marie leads a team of four women who bake bread to sell in the community in an oven sponsored by Haiti H2O. The oven has been operational for over 10 years under Haitian management. Jean sends her son to school with money they earn through the Haiti H2O Goat Project.

Haiti H2O works in a nation of hope. You just have to look past the tagline to see a people of Hope, seeking and seizing Opportunities. Right now we need you to help this reality stay a reality.

The Pittsburgh Marathon/Half/Relay & 5K 
The Pittsburgh Marathon/Half/Relay & 5K is our biggest fundraiser. This year, we are focusing on recruiting relay teams from local churches. I am looking for team captains who will help me recruit and run for Haiti H2O. Would you consider leading a relay team for your church? Do you know someone else who would enjoy this opportunity?

The relay teams are made up of five participants who will run or walk distances between 3.8 to 6.5 miles.  The fundraising minimum commitment is $150 per person, for a team total of $750.

More relay info can be found here: www.pittsburghmarathon.com/marathon-relay
  by Sarah Vandermolen, Marathon Team Captian

Walking the Road of Partnership

“We make the road by walking it” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

My first trip to Haiti was an adventure that involved traveling a lot of roads—some smooth, some bumpy, some dusty, and some so muddy that our 4-wheel drive truck nearly got stuck.

This serves as a good picture for working in Haiti.  We Americans complain when there are a few pot holes on our street and we tend to expect things to go smoothly most of the time.  Life in Haiti is less predictable, and as Luther, one of our missionary founders, often said, “In Haiti you must be flexible, or you will break.”

In January, Doug, Jeff, and I had the opportunity to meet with our partners, including pastors, their wives, and other leaders from the four communities that we have partnered with for more than a decade. The community of St. Martin hosted our Leadership and Training Conference, which also included coordinators and translators who have worked with us over the years. It was such a delight to meet the many people that I’ve been learning about since starting as Director last fall. The roads are difficult at times, but the people of Haiti are such a blessing—their strength, joy, and hospitality are remarkable.

Haiti H2O desires to come alongside our brothers and sisters in Haiti to help develop hope and opportunity in their communities. Partnership is not the same as charity.  Partnership involves mutual respect and affirming the dignity of each person.

That is why our board and staff felt it was crucial to meet as a complete organization—Haitians and Americans—as we strategize for the next decade. We celebrated past accomplishments, discussed the assets of each community, and proposed needs for 2018 and beyond. It was a wonderful weekend, and we are all excited to grow together to meet the needs in each community.

Our community partners expressed a desire to host more American teams—at least two teams per year for each community.  In order to accommodate an increase in trips, we all agreed that it would help to formalize our in-country leadership structure. One of the assets of Haiti H2O has always been strong relationships within each partnering community. That spirit was evident as we discussed developing the infrastructure to host more teams.

It is a bit daunting to go into unchartered waters and figure out new systems for doing things. However, the Haitians are up for the challenge and we Americans are trying to be flexible and take cues from our brothers and sisters who know much more adversity than we do on a daily basis. Coming out of the conference, we hope to follow in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps as we continue, together with our Haitian partners, to “make the road by walking it.”

  by Rhonda Smith, Director

Run for Haiti H2O!

Commit to run or walk in one of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Marathon events

May 4-6,  2018.

Marathon 26.2 miles * Half Marathon 13.1 miles

Relay Team * 5K * Kids Marathon

Commit to help Haiti H2O by inviting people to financially support your run.

Your efforts will help Haiti H2O provide clean water projects, agriculture, sanitation, schools, and more to rural Haitian communities, cultivating hope and opportunities.

 Join Team Haiti H2O at the 2018  Pittsburgh Marathon

and help us raise more money than ever before.

It’s a really simple strategy—you get (or stay!) fit, make friends, and raise some money to change the lives of people in Haiti! Haiti H2O will use the funds you raise to provide clean water, sanitation, schools, and small business opportunities for people in rural Haiti. Sound good?And don’t worry—we’ll be with you every step of the way.  We’ll help you with training programs, access to Haiti H2O’s coaching team, and we’ll have fun monthly get-togethers where you can network with other runners. We’ll also provide you with access to tons of resources to help you become a better runner.Now you must really be ready to join team Run for Hope!
Fundraising goals are as follows:
$300 for Marathon
$300 for Half Marathon
$750 for Relay ($150 per runner)
$150 for 5K
$50 for Kids Marathon
For more info, visit www.haitih2o.org or contact us at info@haitih2o.org.

Bassin Caiman 2017

Trip Report:
Friendship Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA

Walk with me around one small acre of land where…

…kindergartners in bright green uniforms are lining up at the water pump for a teacher to wash their hands. Turning to our right, within a few feet, we see team members repairing school benches. And young people—Haitians and Americans alike—are  learning to use power tools.

A few feet in the other direction from the pump, we find others who are building the forms for a concrete stairway to the roof, where a library is planned. In the same space, village women are using the bread oven. Over and over they knead the dough through the heavy rollers.

Walking on, maybe 50 feet beyond the bread oven, outside the main compound, we would see that local bosses and workers are building a shelter for the corn grinder. A team of Haitians and Americans dug the footer in January. Since then, local workers had put up the block walls and had the rebar belts ready to install—including the extra belt halfway up the walls (post-earthquake design).

Let’s turn back now, the way we came, passing by the outhouse, to arrive at the kitchen, a one-room building in the central compound, where women are cooking over an open fire, chopping chicken and goat—and slicing cabbages, carrots, and onions ever so fine (in their hands!) for “piklis,” a spicy cole slaw.

In the meeting room just opposite the kitchen, we come upon older students studying French and Algebra in the meeting room. They continue their class even though 20 of us are coming in and out for water and meals. Next to the kitchen on the other side, we enter the two-story school. Primary age children in blue and gray uniforms, and older students in apricot and brown uniforms, are sitting on long benches as young men teach. One displaced class huddles under the stairwell. School goes on even though we have taken much of their space with our cots and suitcases.

Stepping out of the school into the center compound, the church, just to our left, is bustling. A crew has been assigned to repaint the church and prepare it for a new mural. A small team of Haitians and Americans design a mural depicting John 3:16 in the context of this mountainous village.  Inside, people are painting the walls during the day, practicing praise band every night, and worshiping in the Spirit on Sunday. One evening there is a lively women’s gathering.

If we had stepped into the church during the women’s gathering, we would have seen, after a song and brief lesson from Philippians Chapter 1, each woman – Haitian and American—string about 5 inches of beads to represent her personal joys and sorrows, her hopes and anxieties. From these separate strands we created a wall hanging—one for each church—to remind us to pray for one another. This ensemble of beads represents the coming together of our prayers.  It represents our partnership in the gospel!

At the end of the meeting, after we had sung a praise song, we broke into joyous dance with our sisters in Christ, so happy to be together in the Lord.

Thanking Sarah VanderMolen

Our Haitian missionary friend and mentor, Luther Hansley used to remind us that “In Haiti you must remain flexible…because if you are not flexible Haiti will break you!” Don’t have a ladder…make one with branches; missing a tube repair kit,…use string to patch a bike tire. With electrical power often shut off for days at a time, or roads that are closed because of a flood, our Haitian brothers and sisters have learned to adapt and remain flexible in order to engage in a fully alive life.  This adaptive approach has been important for our work at Haiti H20 as well.

As our director, Sarah Vander Molen has carefully laid the scaffolding for our little steamship of a mission organization. On top of managing her household of five, she has faithfully managed the work of steering our organization and administrating the many details—from mission trips to board meetings to implementing the Pittsburgh Marathon Fundraiser. She has truly mastered the art of adaptation-along-the-way and we are grateful for her service to Haiti H2O. Thank you Sarah!

We are now at another crossroad that invites adaptive change. Sarah realizes that to better serve her family and Haiti H20 it is time for her to step down as director. She will continue on serving Haiti H20 as overseeing the Pittsburgh Marathon Fundraiser, but will transition out of the director of Haiti H20 in the next couple of months. Those are some big shoes to fill, but we are confident that this opportunity will again be an opportunity to grow and develop as we adapt to additional leadership and transition.

As President of the Board, I want to thank Sarah for her amazing service and joyful work on behalf of Haiti H20. Her enthusiasm and love for Haiti has offered us a deep rudder that has enabled us to steer this organization towards hope. Please be in prayer with us as we try to fill this Director position in this New Year.  We are very excited for new opportunities that invite us to grow in our partnership in Haiti.  If you have someone who comes to mind and heart please don’t hesitate to contact us via email. We have included a job description on the website for possible applicants. Again, please take a moment to let Sarah know how much you appreciate her important work here at HaitiH20.

A little over ten years ago, Jeff and Sarah approached me with a great idea. Let’s start a mission organization that can serve as an umbrella organization for Luther to do his mission work. Since the three of us had led trips with Luther for many years,… well this seemed like a no brainer. We put some big ideas on paper and jumped through the hoops and finally became a licensed 501c3 non-profit.  But around the birth of Haiti H20, Luther sadly informed us that he and Carol were finishing their 18 years of work in Haiti. We were left with a shiny new mission organization with no missionary. We had to adapt.

This unplanned occurrence invited us to think differently about what we actually had going for us. Instead of relying on our western model of mission with a foreign missionary living in country, we stumbled on the divine truth that we had Haitian friends who actually lived there and remained there and were capable to lead and guide this important work. We had our eyes open to the incredibly talented community leaders who had dreams and visions for their own communities. So adapting along the way, together we engaged in conversations with our Haitian partners to think differently about how to do short term mission in a long term way.


Doug Bradbury 
Board President, Haiti H2O
Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, Geneva College

A Perspective of Poverty

Family in front of spot where house once stood.Article by:

Article by:Gabby Demers
Rhode Island College, School of Social Work student

On the morning of October 4th, 2016 devastation hit southern Haiti in the form of a category four hurricane. Hurricane Matthew affected the lives of roughly 1.125 million people and I got to meet some of them. This past week I had the opportunity alongside a group of eleven people to go into the village of Baissin Caiman and it’s surrounding towns to learn how the people are living just four months later. Our team was able to survey about 70 homes throughout three different communities.

As we walked by foot for miles on end what I saw was overwhelming. I saw pieces of land where homes once stood. I saw people in need of medical attention, children crying for parents and houses that consisted only of roofs. In America, we like to throw around the word “poverty” and we often define it as being poor; living below a comfortable or normal level of society. My journey through these villages drastically changed my perspective of living in poverty.

In America, most people living in poverty receive some form of government assistance whether it is S.N.A.P (supplementary nutritional assistance program) benefit, unemployment benefits, Child Care Assistance Programs and much more. However, the people in these villages are lucky if they are even noticed by their local politician. Any government assistance program would be a huge step in the right direction. These people live and thrive off the land around them. Their homes are built from a clay-based paste. Their roofs are often thatch and the homes are not strong enough to withstand a minor storm. They work for months, even years to get enough money to build only one part of their home. Their lives are constant work. They must start a fire anytime something needs to be warmed. They must walk for hours to reach an outdoor market. Their water is retrieved from a well if they’re lucky. And yet, with this entire struggle the people of Bassin Cammin are strong and persevere.

What I was able to witness are homes that were once completely destroyed, rebuilt to meet temporary needs. I saw people who had not lost hope. I saw families who remained strong and supported each other through devastating moments. I was able to witness the light of Christ strongly present among these people. As a social work student, I come in contact with people who are considered poor on a daily basis. These people have homes, they have food, they even have electricity. They are considered poor because they are not making a sufficient income.

However, being in Haiti I was able to realize what being poor really looks like. These people have no assistance programs, no electricity, no place to get food when they run out. Yet they continue to live and thrive. They are a community unlike any other. They are strong and do not give up hope. Out of 70 homes surveyed 30 homes had been completely destroyed by the hurricane and yet just four months latter half of the destroyed homes have been completely rebuilt. As I return home my challenge is to encourage those I met in poverty, to remember that I am truly blessed by the amenities of modern living and that God is also working in my life through the people of Bassin Cammin. I am beyond thankful for this opportunity and the support and prayers of all. I am excited to see how Haiti H2O continues to encourage the people of southern Haiti.



Can I level with you? Most of you know that the masses in Haiti have created a path to live by each day, finding the courage to walk forward in the midst of challenges you and I rarely face. Trickle down aid from the estimated 10,000 NGOs (non- government organizations, including mission organizations) present in Haiti have had little impact in the midst of the crushing despair. Then along comes Hurricane Matthew, which seemed like another twisted fate imposed on a lovely, strong, energetic people that we love deeply.

Last month, Jeff, Danny, and I headed to Haiti meet with Jules and Lenord. We were not prepared for the devastation that we encountered.

In St. Martin, the small picturesque houses that we remembered lining the ocean side of the road were, for the most part, gone. In many cases, a cement pad was all that remained of homes that once were places of births, celebrations, laughter, and life. Lenord, a.k.a. “The Basket Man,” was right in his initial estimate that eight of every ten trees had been pulled out of the ground. Mango, coconut, avocado, and breadfruit trees were gone. So were the leaves that used to offer shade from the hot Caribbean sun.

As we traveled from home to home, families shared their own stories of the terror brought on by Matthew.

One old man spoke of his family running from his home after the tin roof started to lift off. In the chaos of 140-mile-per-hour winds, he became lost in the dark and sat in the pouring rain in a field, clutching his knees while his family searched for hours trying to find him. Still, with his garden lost and his home in ruins, he found the strength to keep moving into another day.

We encountered a young mother sitting on the side of the road in Plain Matin, pregnant with a child that was due any day now. She told of her grandmother running from her home to find safety while holding onto the hands of her two small children. In a gust of wind and debris, this woman’s four-year-old son was wrenched from Grandma’s grip and was blown into the ditch on the side of the road, filled with wreckage and raging water. He was swept away, never to be found. This young mother’s home was destroyed; she must now find a place to give birth to her child.

Goats and pigs, once used to pay school fees, were swept away. Trees and gardens vanished. Homes were leveled. Children and loved ones disappeared. There is no shade to protect the people from the hot sun and no roofs to protect them from the rainy season.

Where do we begin?

Ironically, in the words recorded by a different Matthew, Jesus offers us direction which is found in the wake of love. He invites us to look for him those in places of despair. As it is written in Matthew 25:37-40,

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?”  And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Hurricane Matthew left despair. The Gospel of Matthew records the Master’s instructions for meeting others in places of despair.

As we continue to partner with our brothers and sisters in Haiti, let’s remember that we have an opportunity to respond to a Jesus who is without home, a Jesus who is with child while mourning the loss of another, a Jesus who is grateful to be found by his family in the flood—a Jesus who is waiting for you and me to demonstrate our love.

Please give generously towards the recovery of these three villages: Bassin Caiman, St. Martin and Plain Matin. We at Haiti H20 are working together with our partners—the church and community leaders who are present and doing the first steps of organization and planning needed to bring hope out of these opportunities. They face unimaginable daily challenges, and they remain resolute and determined to lend courage as they lead in the rebuilding of their communities.

During this season of Thanksgiving, we are especially thankful for all of you who have supported Haiti with your time, talents, financial gifts, and prayers.

Doug Bradbury

Hurricane Matthew Update:

Communications are starting to revive and there is information from the national press available. This article from the BBC summarizes pretty well what our friends are telling us.

I talked to Lucner today (he lives right outside of Les Cayes and has a cinderblock house). His Mom and sister houses were destroyed so there is 12 more people staying with him. He says all the banana, plantain and coconut trees are destroyed. Trees are down everywhere and all of the crops are ruined. He estimates 8 out of 10 homes have their roofs ripped off or are destroyed. Not only was the bridge in Petite Goave-which connected Port au Prince to the South but the bridge leading out of Les Cayes which connected the very southern tip (where St. Martin is) was destroyed.

Lenord François spent the day today trying to get to St. Martin to check in with everyone there. He said bridges are out and trees are across the road, he will have to walk most of the way once he gets out of Les Cayes.

I still have not heard from Pastor Pharyl in Plain Matin. I know everyone is digging out their own homes and helping each other out. Cell phones are dead. Food, water and shelter are the top priorities right now. I am trusting we will hear from everyone when they have the capacity to get a message out.

We do know this. As information continues to roll in the people in Haiti are once again in desperate need of help.

Hurricane Matthew Update


(October 5th)

A little context; below is a map of Haiti. The blue lines show the path of the hurricane. The 3 communities Haiti H2O work in are shown by red arrows. This was a direct hit. I have attached some photos of homes from the communities before the hurricane. You can see that these house stand absolutely no chance of surviving 140 mph winds or the deluge of rain that poured down.

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