Will you help change the life of a young man in Haiti?
You can make a difference
Thanks to your support, we have been providing grief support workshops in the aftermath of natural disasters for the last 15 years. Hundreds of volunteers have been trained to provide peer-support to the bereaved, and if you are reading this; you are likely one them. Thank you for your compassion. You are making a difference in the world.
Sometimes, during and after a natural disaster, the loss of life and property is so overwhelming that the shock paralyzes recovery actions. For example, in Sri Lanka where in one day, the tsunami killed 30,000 and destroyed 500,000 homes. Or in Haiti, where the earthquake killed 316,000 and injured 1.5 million and left 1.5 million homeless.
Disaster recovery one person at a time
Huge amounts of funds are raised for disaster recovery, but so often some families never see a pennyworth of assistance. Like me, you may feel frustrated to the point of inaction. It reminds me of the man who walked the beach one morning after a violent storm. He saw thousands of starfish washed up on the beach destined to die in the blazing sun. He felt overwhelmed with sadness that he couldn’t help so many starfish. He saw a woman stooped over near the water and he commented to her how sad it was that so many starfish would die and that it seemed impossible to make a difference. The woman grabbed a starfish and tossed it into the water and said, “It made a huge difference to that one.”
When you offer compassionate care to someone with multiple losses, it may not feel like you are changing the world, but you are making a huge difference to that person. For example, in Sri Lanka, we raised funds to build a house for a family whose house was swept away in the tsunami and sent the oldest son to school to study business administration. He is now married with three children, has a profession, and is so grateful for his successful career. We may not have helped the five-hundred thousand who lost homes, but it sure made a difference for that one family.
This young man touched my heart
I want to introduce you to a family in Haiti that touched my heart. The parents are subsistence farmers in a rural area where poverty and disease contribute to a high mortality rate. They had 11 children, 4 died, and as they struggle with their grief, they are at a loss to send their son Jean Werly to university. Recognizing that we can’t help everyone, but together, we can make a difference for one family by raising funds for Jean Werly Olibry to attend university in the Dominican Republic (I will explain). This campaign seeks to raise $1,400.00 so that Jean Werly may attend Spanish language classes in preparation for university. Jean Werly was inspired by his now-deceased brother Jean Saint and he wishes to dedicate this effort to his memory.
Here’s his story in his own words.
My name is Jean Werly Olibry. I was born in a rural region of Haiti with about 2,000 inhabitants. I was the 6th child born in a family of 11 children. Two of my brothers died at child-birth. One brother died when I was 19 years old. The other brother died from a disease in 2017.
I finished my secondary school education at GOOD SAUVEUR DE CANGE—an Episcopal Church School. My family are subsistence farmers and could not afford to pay the full tuition. My family plant and cultivate crops using hand tools like picks, shovels, hoes, and machetes. They work hard and without rest to survive. Farming is a family business so all of us children worked and helped our parents. In spite of my family's economic weaknesses, they always encouraged their children to reach for a high level of education.
The family goal was for the children to finish basic education and then get
into university, but they do not have the financial resources to support a son or daughter at a university. Paying for tuition, housing, and other education expenses is out-of-reach for my family. I studied hard and obtained very good grades. I am in the top 10% of my class academically. My professors and I believe I have the potential to pursue a professional education at the university level. However, there are two challenges that I face.
First, my family cannot afford to send me to university, and there are no scholarships available. Second, the political and economic instability in Haiti, since the earthquake, has created an insecure and chaotic situation at the universities in Haiti. In the large cities where the universities are located, there is a lockdown of activity due to political riots, road blockades, robberies, sabotage, killing, and food shortages. The universities are closed more than they are open. So many Haitian students have failed to complete their education because the universities have failed or closed. There is no safe and secure place for me to study in Haiti. To not continue my studies at the university level would mean a depressing future.
However, I have found a university in the Dominican Republic where I can study the career that I choose. My goal is to pursue a career in business administration. I am highly motivated and determined to learn professional skills so I may return to Haiti and start a business. Students who study in the Dominican Republic and return to Haiti find it easier to find employment. Before I can apply to that university, I need to take a four-month course in Spanish in the Dominican Republic. I want to study in the Dominican Republic so that when I return to Haiti I can help my country and my family.
God has blessed me with a strong faith and belief in myself. With the support of friends and even strangers who hear my story, I will be able to pursue my dreams. Thank you.
Haiti is in chaos but $1,400.00 can give Werly a chance to fulfill his dreams
In August of last year, I was invited to conduct grief support workshops and clergy training on pastoral care of the bereaved in the rural area where the Olibry family lives, but because of the chaotic political situation and the warning from the US Embassy against travel to Haiti, I asked a Haitian pastor friend to travel to Mireblais and Cange to make a site visit and check out the story. He not only verified the story but told of how shocking was their living situation—humble and rustic.
Unfortunately, the political situation worsened to the point of locking down cities and transportation. As Jean Werly tells in his story, the chaos and dangers in Haiti block him from studying there. He needs to attend four months of Spanish classes in the Dominican Republic to qualify and register for the university there. This campaign is to support the first four months.
I was touched by the hope, faith and resilience of Jean Werly in the face of his multiple losses and incredible challenges. I believe that education is the key to a successful future. Together, we can make a difference for him, his family and community.