Second Haiti Workcamp Continues Rebuilding, Funding Needed for New ‘Brethren Phase’

Church of the Brethren Newsline
Nov. 10, 2009
Above: A Haitian family poses in front of their new home, completed by the workcamp that visited Haiti in October. Standing with them are Brethren Disaster Ministries executive Roy Winter (left) and Jeff Boshart, Haiti Disaster Response coordinator (right). The family had been living in a temporary house with tarpaulin walls. Below: One of the 10 people who took part in the second Haiti workcamp sponsored by Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Brethren Haiti mission. The work was hot, but productive. The group accomplished work on latrines for 18 families, painted 20 houses, and wired 20 houses for electricity. Photo by Roy Winter

A second disaster relief workcamp visited Haiti on Oct. 24-Nov. 1, part of a joint effort of Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Church of the Brethren Haiti Mission to rebuild homes following four hurricanes and tropical storms that hit Haiti last fall.

Participants included Haile Bedada, Fausto Carrasco, Ramphy Carrasco, Cliff Kindy, Mary Mason, Earl Mull, Gary Novak, Sally Rich, Jan Small, and David Young. Leadership included Jeff Boshart, Haiti Disaster Response coordinator; Ludovic St. Fleur, Haiti mission coordinator and pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla.; Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries; and Klebert Exceus, a consultant for the work in Haiti. The group was joined for much of its trip by leaders from the Church of the Brethren in Haiti.

A highlight was the opportunity to attend the dedication and opening worship service of a new church building in Fond Cheval. The church has been built by the local community as a gesture of gratitude to the Brethren for rebuilding homes in the area. Many people gathered for the dedication, including Brethren members from congregations in Port au Prince, the newly formed Haiti Church of the Brethren Leadership Team, and some people from Exceus’s church. “It was standing room only,” Winter said. A special donation to the church’s Global Mission Partnerships program helped cover church construction expenses that local Haitians did not donate.

“From there we hiked into the mountains and visited the work in the Mont Boulage area. We saw good work there,” Winter said. However, the workcamp spent the bulk of its time–most of a week–rebuilding homes in the city of Gonaives. The group accomplished work on latrines for 18 families, painted 20 houses, and wired 20 houses for electricity.

It was “hot work” Winter said, the heat forcing some participants to stop work by noon. Some workcampers also spent time with children who would gather at the construction sites. “Many children helped or tried to help with the painting,” Winter said. “During breaks workcampers would spend time offering love and comfort. Sometimes they would spell names and talk about the alphabet…just being present with the children.”

The group closed its trip to Haiti with a visit to a Brethren congregation in Cap-Haitien and a sightseeing tour of the Citadel, a historic fort built above the harbor. The Citadel has been restored by UNESCO, and the visit there “gave people a sense of history,” Winter said.

Boshart reported that “the Haitian supervisor in charge of the project was very satisfied and pleased with the work of the workcampers. During a short worship service on Mont Boulage, where Brethren Disaster Ministries has already completed the rebuilding of 21 homes, mission coordinator Pastor Ludovic St. Fleur recalled a Haitian proverb which says, ‘If someone sweats for you, you change a shirt for him.’ I believe our workcampers felt this hospitality as we were well cared for by the local church members wherever we went.”

“For some workcampers, visiting the churches was the most important to them,” Winter said. He noted that the Church of the Brethren in Haiti has many preaching points that even St. Fleur has not had a chance to visit. “I am somewhat in awe of the church plant there, how much has been accomplished, and how it’s growing,” Winter said.

A principle function of the rebuilding project is supporting and helping to push forward the church in Haiti, to “help create synergy for them,” he added. “I believe many of the workcampers were surprised by the difficulty of the situation, especially in Gonaives–water on and off, electricity off part of most nights, no fan, unusual food for some,” Winter said. “The hardship became in time a way of being in solidarity with the Haitians, many living in even more difficult situations.”

Brethren Disaster Ministries has now completed 72 homes in Haiti, working toward a goal of 100. “We need to do 28 more houses,” said Boshart,”By my count, at $4,000 per house and $500 per latrine, we’re talking $126,000 to do all 28.”

“It is significant to mention that we’ve tried very hard not to show favoritism towards Brethren families who were victims of the hurricanes,” Boshart reported. “In Gonaives, of the first 30 homes, none of them were Brethren. We now wish to make the next phase our ‘Brethren phase,’ which would mean building six homes for those Brethren families. This ‘Brethren phase’ would be $27,000.”

“We still need to raise significant funds to accomplish the goal,” Winter confirmed. He also hopes that the undesignated reserve funds already expended on the project through grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund can be replenished, anticipating increased giving as the project comes close to reaching its goal. “We have expensed $370,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund for the work so far. So far we have only received $72,500 (as of the end of September) in donations designated for Haiti–the rest came from undesignated gifts.”

From now on, Brethren Disaster Ministries will not be using any more undesignated reserve funds in Haiti, Winter announced. “At this point we will build as we receive designated gifts,” he said.

A third Haiti workcamp is planned for January 2010. To express interest, contact or 800-451-4407 ext. 8.

The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Contact to receive Newsline by e-mail or to submit news to the editor. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.


Brethren in the News

“Brethren Village opens Welcome Center, Courtyards,” Lancaster (Pa.) Intelligencer Journal (Nov. 9, 2009). Brethren Village has thrown open the doors to 120 new, private rooms in a cozy, home-like environment. The Church of the Brethren retirement community held the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for the two new features of its residential campus on Sunday, Nov. 8. Craig Smith, district executive for the Atlantic Northeast Church of the Brethren, was the keynote speaker.

“Funeral set for officer who had H1N1 flu,” Dayton (Ohio) Daily News (Nov. 8, 2009). Eaton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is hosting the visitation and funeral for Preble County Sheriff’s Capt. Michael Thornsberry, who died Nov. 6, apparently from H1N1 flu virus and complications, including pneumonia. He was 38 years old and a 15-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. The funeral will be held Nov. 12, at 1 p.m. at the church in Eaton. Thornsberry is survived by his wife, Michelle, daughters Faith and Allie, and granddaughter Jenna.

Obituary: Donna Louise Kuhn, Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal (Nov. 8, 2009). Donna Louise Kuhn, 82, died on Nov. 6. She was a member of Richland (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, where she had served as deacon and board member. She was also a board member of Church World Service and volunteered with Hospice of North Central Ohio. An avid quilter and crocheter, she won many awards. She was preceded in death by her first husband, George McKean; and her second husband, Robert F. Kuhn. Http://

“The Church Lady’s gift,”, Canton, Ohio (Nov. 7, 2009). Church of the Brethren member Marjorie Petry’s heart, faith and principles forever will lie on her mostly pristine homestead. In life, she devoted herself to God. In death, she wanted to spread the word, with a gift. Upon her death, she donated her property valued at some $500,000 to Haven of Rest Ministries offering religious-centered assistance and shelter to the homeless and poor.

“Triad Area Closer To Being National Historic District,” WFMY News 2, North Carolina (Nov. 6, 2009). A rural area comprising about 2,300 acres in southwest central Forsyth County, N.C., with ties to Hope Moravian Church and Fraternity Church of the Brethren is one step closer to becoming a national historic rural district. The North Carolina National Register Advisory Committee agreed Oct. 8 to put the historic rural district application for the Hope-Fraternity area on the North Carolina Study List, a step toward National Register recognition.

“Brethren Village Announces Change in Board,” Central Pennsylvania Business Journal (Nov. 4, 2009). Brethren Village Retirement Community announced the appointment of new members to its Board of Directors, including F. Barry Shaw of Elizabethtown, Pa.; Douglas F. Deihm of Lancaster, Pa.; and Alan R. Over, also of Lancaster.

“Lower Deer Creek Church raises the turkey,” Carroll County (Ind.) Comet (Nov. 4, 2009). Members of the Lower Deer Creek Church of the Brethren have been having fun with a food collection project called “Raise the turkey, hide the pastor.” The idea was to collect a pile of food for the Carroll County Food Pantry in front of the pulpit, and stack it so high that it would eventually hide pastor Guy Studebaker.

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