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Haiti News: Changing Children Within a Community
Posted By Ephraim Lindor On January 23, 2009 @ 1:02 am In Country Staff | 5 Comments
Growing up in Haiti, Milord was no stranger to need. In his rural home of Petit-Goave, where the average income is barely more than $1 a day, he experienced poverty personally and saw how it affected those most vulnerable, women and children. It became his personal dream to impact his community for good.
When he moved to the city and became part of the Capitol Development Center, he became the leader of the youth club … and decided he wanted to become the leader of the entire child development center so he could help make an impact on his community.
Milord was so committed that he, once a Compassion-sponsored child himself, achieved this mission when he became the director of the Capitol Development Center. He is honored to minister to 450 children through the child sponsorship  program and 90 children and caregivers through the Child Survival Program (CSP). His mission is to bring them spiritual, socio-emotional and economic change.
Milord has now been successfully working as the center director for eight years. He became director just several years after graduating from the program himself, having studied social work and theology at the university.
As director, Milord has many responsibilities. He supervises all center activities, ensuring they are well implemented, and plans programs with the staff. Milord also mentors the teachers, reminding them of their duties to protect children’s rights.
Besides planning and training, he maintains contact with the children and parents to monitor their needs and influence changes in their lives. Through this he assesses what the needs are and creates appropriate programs. In his interactions, he challenges the parents to value children and protect them from abuse.
Milord also encourages children to participate in spiritual activities and helps them to develop leadership skills at an early age. Lastly, stimulating children to maintain good relationships with their sponsors through quality correspondence is also part of his duties.
These are just some of the ways Milord ensures the mission of developing children is happening at his child development center. Milord gains motivation for his mission to change lives through the knowledge that his work is not in vain.
One particular experience helped teach him this. A sponsored child named Idline was severely ill with convulsive attacks. Among Voodoo worshipers in Haiti, convulsive attacks are big signs of Satan’s attack and force parents to offer sacrifices.
As Idline’s parents were not Christians, they took the child to a Voodoo priest in the countryside to be cured. Unfortunately, the child’s situation became worse.
After their vain efforts to save Idline’s life, the mother decided to take the child to a child development center activity called: “Moment of Decision,” a spiritual activity held in all Compassion-assisted centers to challenge the children to experience God.
Bibles are distributed to children, and they spend time together praying, worshiping and sharing testimonies. Many Compassion children have accepted Christ at this activity.
When children are told about Christ, small groups are formed for a moment of decision, a moment of counseling and motivation for children to experience God. After a moment of prayer, Idline recovered her consciousness and the convulsive attack stopped.
As a result, she accepted Christ as her personal Savior by the end of the event. Currently, Idline is in good health and, thanks to that experience, her mother and her twin sister have also accepted Christ as their personal Savior. Milord says,
“That vivid example has motivated me to be more committed to ministry to children. I feel that my effort as a director is not in vain. I am striving for changes in children’s lives within the community.
“I am committed to see that my work bears fruit in the life of the children and parents; this will be my greatest satisfaction. I do not expect anything in return from the children or parents, but the reward is God’s blessings.”
Milord is finding that his mission is more a ministry than just a paying job. His greatest dream is to ensure that all 450 child development center children, plus the 90 CSP children and caregivers, succeed and become real agents of change.
He wants them to grow with love for their community in particular and for the country in general.
Success for Milord is that the children grow with fear for God, dignity, independence and a capacity to have an impact on others.
“My dream is that all these children become self-supported with a skill to use in life, a trade to function with a spirit of service to God and to their community. I dream that these children will improve their life condition at all levels.”
Individual attention is given to each child, helping all know their value. Playing with the children makes them feel important. In Haiti, many parents from the lower class never play with their children, thinking that playing with children provokes disrespect. So playing with the teachers and directors becomes very important for the children to learn they are valued.
Children are sometimes carried in the director’s arms in order for them to feel secure. The director shows concern in the way he feeds them. Building the children’s social skills and self-esteem is a key part of the child development center.
During Christmas season, children are given the opportunity to develop their talents on stage in the presence of their parents or guardians. The children exchange gifts.
And each year in commemoration of International Children’s Day, various activities take place in order to raise awareness of the need for the child development center staff and parents to care for and advocate for children.
Another important part of the children’s development at the program is the letters from sponsors. “It is crucial that the sponsors regularly write to their children and visit them when they can,” says Milord.
Milord confesses that sponsors’ letters can change the life of a child forever.
“A sponsor’s letter makes the child feel that they are not alone. The child feels that they have an obligation to do well in school and to behave at home in order to make their sponsor happy.
“It is certain that the sponsor does not replace the parents; but as any parent, the sponsor plays a great role in the success of a child’s life through letters of encouragement and photos.”
Being a child development director doesn’t come without challenges. The socio-economic situation prevalent in the country is an obstacle to child development. For instance, in a family of 10 children, there is chance for three to be enrolled in the Compassion program.
Milord tells about one child from the child development center who suffered from malnutrition. The center staff made acquisition of nutritional food supplies for that child to last several days as to improve his health condition.
But the director was surprised to see during a home visit that all the food supplies were used in just one day by the whole family.
This situation is very common among families with several children. The living conditions of the families make it difficult to have an impact on the life of one single child from many others.
Another challenge is cultural. Some parents accept poverty as a normal condition of life. Milord says,
“Despite all our efforts to bring in the change, some parents seem to be in their comfort zone; they are, unfortunately, not ready to move out.”
In Haiti, it is very difficult to bring people who are poor back to school to learn a vocation, especially when they already have children. Some of them think that since they have children there is no chance to move forward.
Milord finds it difficult to have the participation of most women in the sewing class, although it is free and would generate a good income for parents in the long run. A vivid example is the non-formal vocational program for parents at the center. Some parents are more interested in receiving gifts and support than to practice activities that generate income.
Despite the challenges, there is also great satisfaction in directing at the development center.
“One of the things that has had an impact on me the most is that 50 percent of the staff are former Compassion students.”
When Milord was first transferred to the child development center, it was very difficult for the church to find human resources in the community to run both the center and the school.
Milord believes that those 450 children from the child development center will continue to learn to have a positive and durable impact on the community, just as he learned himself.
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