One of my favorite things about the Livesays and all the people associated with Heartline is the amount of respect that they show to each of their clients. Heartline doesn't do handouts. They give a hand up. Heartline was started by John and Beth McHoul over 20 years ago. Their vision and passion for the people of Haiti is evident in everything the organization does. They empower, they teach, they listen, they love. I asked Tara to write a little something to tell you about what kinds of things Heartline does. In an age where there are so many charities asking for your money, I want you to see first hand what your raffle donations are going toward so that you may believe in their work as much as I do. So without further adieu, here's Tara...
By Tara Livesay
Heartline Ministries has been serving in Haiti for more than 20 years. Over the years the focus of our ministry has shifted. While we used to place children in families abroad via adoption, we've shifted our focus to empowering women to have more ability to choose to raise their children themselves.
Haiti is a difficult place. If you have read anything about this island, you probably already know this. What you may not know is that women here carry the vast majority of the responsibility. Women usually raise children alone. Women are not often supported financially or emotionally by the men with whom they have children. Women have far less power than men in this culture. For these reasons and more we believe that women need a hand-up. Women need to see and experience the love of Jesus in tangible ways. Women need training and education to improve their lives and the lives of their children.
See this post about Haiti's women: http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/2010/02/they-are-haiti.html
The Women's Program of Heartline Ministries includes the following branches:
Literacy Education - It is estimated that more than 50% of the adult population cannot read or write. It only becomes clear how serious that is when you see someone you care about struggling to get through life without this necessary skill. We believe that every woman needs to know how to read and write. We're grateful to be able to offer year round literacy classes at no cost to anyone willing to work hard. Most students will learn to read and write in approximately three months time. The classes are five days a week for two and a half hours. We currently offer a morning and afternoon class.
Sewing School - For those that are able to pass an entrance exam we offer a nine month sewing school. Those that graduate at the top of their class may be offered contracts to sew purses for the Haitian Creations (http://www.haitiancreations.com/) website. Others will go on to start their own small business sewing school uniforms out of their homes.
Jewelry Making - Recently we added a bead making class and those products will also be sold at Haitian Creations. This program is very popular. Not only are we building community and relationships with the women as they create beautiful art, we are also helping them earn an income and become more financially stable.
Prenatal Program - By word of mouth women come to the Heartline Prenatal Program. This program is so popular that we could double the current size and still have a wait list. To see what happens on Thursday's at Heartline please visit this post:
http://allthingshendrick.blogspot.com/2011/01/thursdays.html Written recently by a friend and partner of Heartline Ministries, Heather Hendrick
Once in the program the women are able to deliver their babies with our trained midwives. The options for labor and delivery in this country would absolutely stop you in your tracks. Most women give birth at home. If not at home they will often enter a large room where 20 or more women are laboring with one or two doctors running from woman to woman. The maternal death rate and infant mortality rate are the highest in this hemisphere here, the reasons are obvious. Women lack basic access to health care and a safe place to give birth. It is not uncommon to meet a woman who is pregnant for the 4th time but she has never had prenatal care of any sort. When women in our program deliver they are treated like royalty. They have two to four women tending to their needs and offering love and support as well as a safe and clean place to deliver.
Early Childhood Development Program - Once women give birth to their babies they switch to a Tuesday class. In this class we teach about bonding, parenting, nutrition, and early childhood development. The women stay with us for six months. At the six month mark they graduate. This does not end our relationship with them as they are welcome to return to us for Bible Study on Fridays or for Family Planning.
Harbor House - This house is a new program being started this year to meet the needs of very young mothers in our Prenatal program. Currently we have five girls living at Harbor House. To read more about it go here and here :
More than anything we've come to believe that investing in women is investing in the future of Haiti. Building relationships through time spent with them is the best way to truly bring about teaching, trust, and lasting community. We're thankful God has given us this opportunity to serve and learn from the beautiful women of Haiti. We're grateful beyond words to those of you that encourage us with prayers, tears, and hard-earned dollars. Thanks especially for taking the time to spread the word about what is happening in Jesus name for the women of Haiti.
Please take a moment to watch this video about Heartline's women's program!
photos by: Tara Livesay, Beth McHoul and Jonna Howard