Restore Haiti aims to reduce global poverty through a child sponsorship program and relationship building in regions of Haiti. This nonprofit organization founded and formed through friendship continues to change communities through relationships.
How it Started
In 1997, Restore Haiti founder Philip Peters went on a mission trip to Jamaica. There he met Gerald Lafleur, a student on the island. They quickly became friends over the trip and the two stayed in touch through letters. In 2004, Peters took a team of 12 to visit Lafleur. There, Lafleur shared his vision to help his homeland of Haiti with Peters. The two wasted no time and a year later Peters took a team of six to visit a local community in Haiti. “After seeing the need, I knew that the little that I had and the resources that I had were something I could use, and a long-term commitment was birthed,” said Peters. With the help of mentors and the local church, Peters gathered clothes and shoes to donate to the community.
“I want[ed] to live life with them,” said Peters. “When I saw the look in their eyes, I knew a relationship was starting to develop and I wondered what could happen as those relationships went deeper and deeper.” Go deeper the organization did, as Peters and Theresa Swain, Restore Haiti’s Executive Director, partnered with others in the U.S. and Haiti to create a child sponsorship program.
Restore Haiti serves in three main locations, Morne Oge, Matador and Carrefour. All three communities operate five days a week providing education and hot meals for students through the child sponsorship program. In the Morne Oge region, where the nonprofit originated, it partners with Restoration Ministries to provide food, education and medical care to those in the sponsorship program. In addition, this program equips over 700 elementary, secondary and university/trade school students with sponsorship for their education. A medical clinic within walking distance from the feeding program gives students access to health care. The Restore Center located a short distance away in downtown Jacmel houses a computer lab for both students and staff.
The Matador Region
The nonprofit’s work in the Matador region, located on the outskirts of Jacmel a few miles from Morne Oge, serves 240 children who attend elementary school. These students suffered malnutrition and the community had no funds to pay teachers. In 2016, Restore Haiti extended scholarship opportunities to students in this region to help cover tuition to keep the school open. The nonprofit also extends hot meals and medical care to students in this region.
Restore Haiti’s location in Carrefour near Port-Au-Prince provides education and food for the children in this region. Additionally, this region focuses on mentorships with students, life skills training and character building. “In Carrefour, they are receiving English lessons and art classes at this time,” Juli Wendt, the Director of International Service for Restore Haiti, told The Borgen Project. In an area where most youth join gangs or live troubled lives, providing food, education and life skills gives the necessary foundation for change in this community. According to the Overseas Security Advisory Counsel’s Haiti 2019 Crime & Safety Report, gang on gang violence has risen along with homicides, which totaled 757 in the Port-au-Prince region approximately four miles from Carrefour.
Reynold Yordy, President of Restore Haiti, reported that “[The people of Haiti] need a hand up, not necessarily a handout. That is what I am excited to see us do as an organization…having people mentor someone.” With a dedication to see relationships built and mentorship continue, Restore Haiti changes the community.
Restore Haiti’s Accomplishments
Restore Haiti has several accomplishments. Along with a child sponsorship program, the nonprofit focuses on disaster relief providing water and re-establishing agriculture for local farms. In addition, Restore Haiti provides supplies and tuition for 60 schools, drills wells for clean water and prepares students for universities and trade schools.
Restore Haiti employs over 50 Haitians who serve over 1,000 students in these three communities. Juli Wendt told The Borgen Project that “38 students have graduated with the majority being female, 30 girls and eight males. We motivated the girls more to succeed as they were the most vulnerable group and it clearly paid off.” An education impacts earnings, childbearing, population growth, health, nutrition, well-being and personal decision making for girls according to a Global Partnership Study.
This cultural shift also comes from the students giving back. For instance, Larry John, a graduate of the Restore Haiti program, got to attend school and university through the sponsorship program. “We children [had] a place every day to go to school, reduc[ing] the consequences we have here in Haiti,” he said. Reducing those consequences by providing students with education and food gives them an opportunity to live life. Now he works for Restore Haiti as a photographer in the program and lives the life he dreamed. “The program gave me a monthly salary which allowed me to get married,” he said. In addition to having a life of his own, he gets to give back hope to his community.
The Future for Restore Haiti
In an interview with The Borgen Project, Philip Peters said that “As Restore Haiti has been in existence for 15 years, we…started with wanting to see [kids] eat, have access to medical care and go to school. As those students have grown up, it is our desire to continue to offer [them] opportunities for life. That could be enrolling in university, pinpointing skills and having them get a job, get married and build a life of their own.” When asked how Restore Haiti can help graduates and the community going forward, Peters said that “With the program, we currently offer over 50 jobs, from medical staff, cooks, teachers and now creating photography, video and social media teams. We are committed to dream, find jobs, opportunities and team up with people to help us provide jobs as we see more and more [students] move into adulthood.”
– Danielle Beatty