Most of us do not have the opportunity to walk alongside the lives of people living in overwhelming poverty. However, for twenty volunteers who participated in a Watts of Love global trip to Haiti in January, these lives became intertwined, dramatically impacting both volunteers and local residents.
The trip to Haiti, Watts of Love’s second visit to the nation, focused on the rural communities of Thomonde, Mirebalais, and Hinche in the Central Plateau region. These areas are untouched by electricity and modern convenience. Team members also revisited individuals who received Watts of Love lights during a previous 2016 trip to measure the impact of the lights.
Light recipient Nelson Magali, standing in front of the home along with her daughter Angé Stephnaïdjie on the day she received her solar light.
This follow up image six months later shows just how much progress has been made on her home. Now her daughter can study at night.
Madame et Monsieur Fed Pierre (pictured above) used to walk two hours from his home to the town of Hinche, to charge his cell phone for an hour, and then walk back home every other day. He smiles because nearly 30 hours of his time has been reclaimed each week and with his savings he was able to purchase a chicken.
Because of their new solar headlamps these boys will not longer be forced to study by dangers and expensive kerosene lamps at night.
Light recipients are typically new to even simple technology. Education is key to helping them utilize and maintain the health of their light.
"To witness the ease in which Lily connected with widows, orphans and 17-year-old moms, was a lifelong gift to me. I share WOL’s story and impact almost every day; what a great privilege it was to be part of their amazing work,” says Brian Walsh
"As part of the WOL team, my 16-year-old daughter Lily and I truly learned what it as to serve the poor in Haiti." says Brian Walsh, travel team member and President of Faith Direct, Inc.
Retired Major General Tom Wessels, President of Malteser International-Americas, demonstrates how the headlamp works. “Watts of Love is a true blessing for the needy of the world. Supported by the Order of Malta and others, they are able to bring light and hope to the needy,” says Wessels.
Watts of Love travel team and local guides celebrate their arrival. Bottom: Ernso Sylvain, Brian Walsh, Steven de Keratry, Kerry Walsh, Lily Walsh, Hannah Seaver, Kelli Campbell, Sadu, Tim Campbell, Tom Wessels; Top row: Nancy Economou, Christie Dunne, Connor Economou, Trisha Kapp
Working in close partnership with Fonkoze, a microfinance organization that identifies and supports the ultra-poor (defined as receiving protein fewer than three times per week), Watts of Love reached a community of women in Mirebalais. These women have been working to build sustainable housing for their families. According to the International Women’s Development Agency, women reinvest 90% of their earnings back into their families.
With the extra help from Watts of Love lighting provided during an earlier trip, these women have made incredible strides. Houses have been constructed more quickly and safely because of the gift of light. Nearly 400 additional lights were provided to these hardworking women during this trip, allowing them to continue building on this progress.
Although she refused to smile for her photo, she was a stylish and beautiful as anyone we saw in Haiti.