Improving the lives of families by empowering women through training, education, health care and job skills leading to employment is a goal of Haitian Artisans for Peace International (HAPI). Not an ordinary mission. Emphasis is on training opportunities not hand outs. Inspired by a Haitian, this grass roots project, approved by the local village, is a faith based community and through the help of American teams have built and completed a community center and a health care facility in less than a decade. Both facilities operate from solar energy. Local Haitians were trained in setting up the solar panels and fixing them. Artisans have formulated a cooperative to sell goods. Computers are used for an income producing internet cafe and classes in technology. Classes are provided in speaking English and health care. A midwife is available 24/7.
There is a program for improving the health of pregnant women and a child development program for families with newborns. Residents are encouraged to buy into a health insurance program that costs less than one visit to the larger city for health care. A Saturday program called Peace Pals for kids in the community provides spiritual and physical nourishment. In the afternoon they may play in Peace Park. Kid programs include 4-H, dance troupe, and group sessions for young girls to improve self-concept. The community center has served as a location for church services and conferences on agricultural and health issues. HAPI is under the umbrella of the General Board of Global Ministries as a mission of the United Methodist Women.
Visiting teams have ranged in age from 6 to 80 years of age with a variety of skills or focus on cultural/relationship building. Gail Girbach, Dexter UMC member, has served as the US Team Coordinator for the past 18 months. She is anticipating future trips to work with artisans and continue professional development training for teachers at the local school.