A little look at how the Haiti Hospital Appeal began. It all started with a post-it note...
The Haitian Pastor’s Post-it Note
In 2005 two 21-year-olds, Carwyn Hill and Jonnie Horner, were touched by a seemingly random encounter with a Haitian Pastor. Dragged by their church to The Baptist World Alliance Conference in Birmingham, England, they felt challenged by the number of delegates who’d come from developing countries but didn’t have the money to afford hotels. In a conference which focused on the need for the Church to take issues of poverty and justice seriously, God challenged them to invite one of the delegates home.
On one notice board was a scrappy post-it note with the name of a Haitian pastor scribbled upon it. He was one of many, who were after a place to stay for a few nights. After a short internal battle in Carwyn’s mind, God may it clear that this mans little note needed a response. The response was made…
A few days later a Haitian Pastor turned up at Carwyn’s house. The Pastor was expecting an older, white bearded man in sandals, and was a little perplexed by the young guy who presented himself. Carwyn was equally as confused to find that this Pastor happened to be The President of The Baptist Convention of Haiti.
Despite their differences, a great friendship started as the Pastor spoke of the desperate need of his country. A nation with the highest rate of infant and maternal mortality, where about 75% of the population are unemployed and most live on less that $2 US per day. Touched by the injustice of what they heard, God again challenged the students about the seriousness of their faith and whether they were willing to respond to this need.
The First Trip to Haiti
Two months later, Carwyn and Jonnie travelled to Haiti with another friend to see for themselves the pain they had so movingly heard about. One morning they got to visit Haiti’s second largest Government Hospital in the North of the country. As they walked into the children’s ward they were stunned by the injustice. The dimly lit room was littered with a selection of old rusty beds, torn up mattresses, and damp weathered walls.
A host of empty, hopeless eyes stared towards them, except for one girl. An 11 year old girl called Julia who had tragically died a few hours before the team had arrived. They asked one of the doctors what had happened to Julia. ‘I knew exactly what was wrong with her’ explained the doctor, ‘I knew exactly how I could treat her, but I simply lacked the equipment to do anything.’ It became apparent that every day across Haiti people were dying through a simply lack of basic health care intervention.
Stunned by the injustice of standing just feet away from a child who had died just two hours from Miami simply due to a lack of basic care, the team stood in silence. As they watched on at little Julia, a man and woman came and stood over her bed, presumably her mum and dad. The father wept uncontrollably, yet the mother had a very different face. It was an expression of hopelessness and acceptance. A look that proclaimed this had happened before and would probably happen again.
The two students knew they could not call themselves Christians and walk from this scene without trying to do something about it. As they returned to the UK, despite a lot of skepticism, they found a small team of people who believed something could be done, and together launched the Haiti Hospital Appeal.
Over the years, young and old, rich and poor, people of faith and of no faith have joined together to respond to Julia’s story. The vision was to build a Hospital that would not compete with government efforts, but help strengthen the overall health system in the North. A facility that would help the 60% of Haitians who have no access to health care.
The Health Centre, a Children’s Home and more!
It started with a health centre opened in 2007, and has followed with an ambulance service, a children’s disability respite centre and much more. But beyond these projects on the ground, it started with a decision by a few people to respond to the post-it note of one man. To seek to put the call of Jesus into reality, that we should love others as we would wish to be loved ourselves.
From it’s humble beginnings the Haiti Hospital Appeal is now having a dramatic affect on the health care situation in Haiti. However, everything you see in this site has only been made possible by individuals, schools, churches, organisations and the like who have responded to this need. This is not a website about the story of a few students and a Haitian Pastor. This is a story about you. About every person who has ever supported this work. About the difference that can be made when people join together and take injustice seriously.
It’s our hope and prayer that through exploring this website you’ll come to realise the incredible difference you can make. With a little bit of sacrifice, time, energy and compassion, children like Julia can be saved. It just depends whether we’re willing to love others as we’d like to be loved ourselves?