When it comes to human trafficking, social development and infrastructure is often not focused on. Social development is defined as an alteration in the social order of a social group or a change in the nature, social institutions, social behaviors or social relations of a society. However, in order to build a healthy anti-trafficking work, be it in prevention, rescue, or restoration, there must be a healthy infrastructure. In other words, social development is the foundation work that must be laid in order for all the other work necessary to fight human trafficking to have any sort of sustainibility.
We love challenges. In late 2010 and early 2011, we began to research places in the world, where trafficking was rampant, yet very little work was being done to stop it. One of the places we came up with was Haiti. Since the earthquake of 2010, according to many reports human trafficking stats have only risen, specifically among orphans. According to the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, the number of children sold over the Dominican boarder has gone up from 960 a year, pre-earthquake, to 7,300 the year following the earthquake. Our original hope was to simply go in and build safe homes, however, after a research trip, we found out, that most of our safe homes would be empty, not for the lack of need, but due to the lack of development. What we have learned over the last several years, when it comes to humanitarian issues, vision comes from need. Then, as we meet that need it begins to lead us to a deeper one, and then we are introduced to another need and so on, we just have to start somewhere with restorative justice, and it will evolve.
Our plan is to team up wiht local Haitian leaders to help create a new paradigm in the Haitian people. We need to help them form a new idea about the value of humanity, specifically children. We need leaders teaching the value of human life to those they influence. Jean-Marc of the Free Methodist church in Haiti said, “when you have a country with need, children are the first ones to be overlooked.” Haiti needs a culture shift, without loosing what makes them distinctly Haitian. In order to bring in a new paradigm, we need to start with the holistic Gospel. The gospel is the full counsel of God, it begins with God and the narrative moves into creation, the fall, redemption and restoration. When the whole Gospel is laid as the foundation of all else we teach, train, and do, then our basic view of humanity has to change.
So, we have committed to Haitian leaders in the following four arenas:
Prevention Homes: We are partnering with HELP End Local Poverty and the Free Methodist Church to build homes for those who have been pushed into the realm of vulnerability for various reasons. These homes will mainly go to: widows, orphans, single mothers, and aged out orphans, these happen to be the population groups that are most susceptible to human trafficking.
Pastor’s Helping Pastors: Can pastors help Haitian pastors find the justice thread that runs through the entirety of scriptures? Help them see that a commitment to justice is the result of a person saved by grace – They believe this will help them change the cultures in their churches and then cultures influenced by their churches.
Haitian’s Mentoring Haitians: Help pastors in Haiti create family mentoring programs for their families, to mentor other families. The truth is, the first ‘institution’ created is the family. Healthy families create healthy trajectories, just as broken families create unhealthy trajectories. This will begin to help entire families live with and lead families who need mentoring, to help the view of children begin to change. We know this will have upward movement and positively affect and lend to positive social development.
Strengthening Already Existing Health: We are committing to help local leaders build homes for families who have lost theirs in the earth quake, so that they can have a place to be a welcoming family in their community. Tomorrow's change rest heavy on the shoulders of today's children. There are many good orphanages in Haiti committed to the total well-being and future of children. Most Haitian children will leave the orphanages to become thugs, drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes or slaves. If we can help build and influence the orphanages that already exist, we can help shape the children, and thus shape the future, including the fight on slavery.
Forwarding Their Agenda: Rather than coming in with our own agenda, we need to help, support, and empower Haitian leaders forward their agenda. This is hard for us westerners to do, but here’s what we know: when we forward their agenda, we allow Haitians to take responsibility for their own nation, their own people. Then we know new needs will rise to the top, and we know these will eventually lead to hitting the subjects that pull at our heart strings, specifically human slavery.
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