Nou Hope January Trip Brings Encouragement for the Future
This would be the seventeenth time Melissa Millis had traveled to Haiti, but this specific trip was a significant step towards Nou Hope’s and their Haitian partners’ goals.
The goals for this trip included networking leaders with other co-operative and community development groups in Haiti, walking through budgeting process with school administrators, identifying young leaders and discussing how Nou Hope can best infuse funds into existing mutual funds for economic development purposes.
Even though this was an administrative trip, Millis still focused on bonding with her Haitian brothers and sisters. “As brothers and sisters in Christ, our relationship is more important than anything else,” says Millis. "Because of the focus to connect through language, I have personally been able to navigate the challenges of partnership and have compassion for the people."
According to Millis’ trip report, Nou Hope will be able to work directly with organized leadership to ensure a stronger partnership as NEPAC starts to form. NEPAC (Nouvelle Espoir pour le Development et l’ Avancement des Communautes) translates to new hope for the advancement of the communities.
Haitian leaders in the communities of LaMare and Terre-Salei are close to formalizing NEPAC, which will act as a non-governmental organization in Haiti that works for the development of the entire area, bringing people together and organizing themselves for change.
“As I spoke with NEPAC organizers, I could envision the benefit of bringing all community efforts (agriculture, artisan, mutuals, education, civic engagement, etc.) into this network that will be supported by area churches,” says Millis. “The organizing of NEPAC is in itself an act of liberation from oppression that has plagued the communities, a step toward sustainability, and the empowerment of Haitian people to lead and affect change.”
With its rich and full history, Nou Hope has always been organized differently than other nonprofits. Because Nou Hope aims to empower local Haitian leadership and work directly with community leaders, it doesn't pay any one person on the ground in Haiti to "direct" the work and Millis, being the co-founder and director, doesn't take a salary for herself either.
"The most important mindset that Nou Hope has revolves around relationships and sustainability," says Millis. "Nou Hope's budget fully supports this and financial resources go directly toward the empowerment of teachers, leaders, and economic development initiatives in Haiti."
Millis attended multiple meetings regarding many in-depth details of the progress so far in the communities of LaMare and Terre-Salei. She worked with each school’s administrators, finalized budgets, encouraged Haitian leaders at every meeting, and overall communicated with Haitian leaders about progress.
Through it all, Millis saw major success within every meeting, even if they were small victories. “I’m seeing the fruit of the long, slow and difficult work of reconciliation, of being together, loving one another well, and working together,” says Millis. "That is now being demonstrated through the formation of NEPAC, which was the most encouraging point of the entire trip."
Nou Hope exists to embrace the love of Christ. The way we do that is through relational work and our intentionality specifically for Haitian people. Visit their website to learn more at http://www.nouhopehaiti.org/.
Maria Neathery is a senior public relations and journalism student and associate at Fifth Street Communication, a student-run pr agency at Anderson University.