Wednesday, March 31, 2010

leve project


the Leve Project
  lā ・ vā (v) creole word meaning to raise/to lift up/grow

Empowering Haitian families to break the cycle of poverty through opportunity and education. 

    The core of our project is a LifeCenter...
 ’s all about partnership and working together to improve Haitian lives. It 
                       starts with five families coming together and forming a Life Group.      
  In a Life Group, these families will provide each other with 
accountability, community, and support. We will share meals together,   
     provide educational classes, study the bible together, 
offer childcare,  healthcare, and grant micro-loans.  The heart of The Leve Project 
    is believers coming together as one,  serving and supporting one another as the church did in   Acts 2: 42-47.   In doing so, we believe we will be a part of   
               bringing about drastic change and improvement within that community. 

The idea of Leve Project developed after working in Haiti with different ministries for many years. The founding partners of Leve Project have both spent much time in Haiti, giving them not only a passion, but also the first-hand experience of how to do it efficiently. The need is great. But with what we have seen and what we have learned, we feel a mission like the Leve Project is the best and most productive way to break the cycle of poverty in Haiti. 

The founding partners are Eric Schweig and Megan Haug. Eric and his wife Michele serve on the Board of Directors. Eric has a background in business and experience with many other projects in Haiti. Megan has been involved with Haiti for several years and has been living there since September 2008. She served as the operating House Manager at an orphanage and also partnered in other ministry roles. Also, on the Board of Directors are Kevin and Amy Jones. Kevin has started and runs his own company. 

We have an EIN number and are in the process of completing our 501c3 status. We have a projected budget in place and are working employee contracts and a code of conduct.  We hope to have the web-site up soon! 

If you would like to be involved or find out more about Leve Project, please leave your email address, or contact Megan at or Eric at

Saturday, March 27, 2010

that feeling

it's 2am and i can't sleep. yes, it's largely thanks to the red bull i just drank. but it's what's running through my head that got me out of bed (sorry for the rhyme). Tara has been detail blogging about the first days of and after the earthquake. you can read the first night here, with the rest following. she talks about when Troy and I left late the night of the earthquake to go check on Three Angels. and that's what's running through my head. that feeling that i had.  currently, i can only remember one other time when that feeling was so strong. 

it was May 5, 2000. my sister answered the phone and i immediately knew something was wrong. she hangs up. "uh mom, Seth (our younger brother, then 12) was hit by a car by J.D.'s house." my mom took the van and drove the couple of blocks there. my sister and i stayed to call our dad and we tried to call a few church friends and family. after that, we decided to walk there. that's when i had that feeling. 

the same one i had walking to Three Angels that night. you've probably had it, too. you know what i'm talking about, yet i don't even know how to describe it. 

you are panicked, unsure of what you will find. your heart is beating fast. your legs feel like jello. you don't even realize that you are walking. and then it's like your brain finally discovers that you are walking, that your legs are moving, but it quickly forgets again. you are thinking 1,000 different things at once... yet your mind feels blank. you feel numb. simply because you don't know how to process what is happening. you have to remind yourself to breathe. you realize there are probably people around you, but you don't notice them.  you are shaking. if someone asks you a question, you might respond, but you're not even paying attention to what you're saying. you feel disconnected from your body.

before Troy and I left, we had not yet stepped outside of our gated neighborhood. we knew it had to be bad out there. but nothing can prepare you for seeing it. and the closer we got to Three Angels, the more the fear swelled up in me. buildings were down all over the place. people crowded in the streets. we soon realized we had passed the street for TAs and we turned around. there was a dead little girl on the side walk. her arms were spread out to her sides and people were pausing to look at her, then walking on by. then we saw why we had passed Delmas 91, it was unrecognizable. a huge building on the corner had collapsed, blocking the road. so we parked farther down and walked down the next street that connects over. and the whole time we walked, i had that feeling.

many days after the earthquake, like after any tragedy, you have that disconnected feeling. it's still all impossible to process. but it's different. it's a different feeling. it's just not quite the same as when you are walking (or on your way) there.  you keep telling yourself "they're okay. they're okay. they have to be okay." but you know you can't will them to be okay.  it's the not knowing. but you know you are on your way to find out. it's that feeling. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

megan goes to church.

Before I moved to Haiti, I remember seeing this book come out at the Christian bookstores- "Jim and Casper Go to Church: Frank Conversation about Faith, Churches, and Well-meaning Christians."

Jim and Casper are friends. Jim is a Christian. Casper is an atheist. The book is pretty much the two of them traveling around to different churches, and Casper gives a "review" on the church.

I never read the book.  Nonetheless, I decided I didn't like it.  I won't get into the details... because that is not the point. But today, I realized why church has been weird for me. I feel like a visitor in the American church. I'm seeing it from different eyes than I use to. I see everything from different eyes than I use to. 

And it's because of Haiti. Haiti changes you. Living in Haiti really changes you. My worldview has changed. My view of Christianity has changed. I see God differently, I have a different idea of what love is, and I would even say my theology has been altered. I just feel like I stand in a different place than the typical American Christian/church. I am not saying I am above or below... I'm just saying it feels different. 

I've been in the states for just over a month since after the earthquake. I've been to several different churches. Some of them have been great experiences... others not so much. But in both cases, I still feel very much like a visitor. And yes, I am a visitor... but it's more than feeling like a visitor to that church, it's feeling like a visitor to church. I've grown up in church, but the church no longer feels as familiar to me. And maybe that is good. Sometimes we let things grow too familiar that they lose their beauty to us. Or, we are so familiar with it that we overlook it's flaws.  I found myself thinking back to the book of Jim and Casper Go to Church. Casper the atheist, going to christian churches and deciding what he thinks they are doing wrong and right. Casper, to whom the church has not become a familiar thing, viewing it from different eyes. Now, of course, my worldview (and therefore view of everything) differs hugely from Casper's. But in a very small way, I felt like I could relate to him. Being a visitor in the american christian church. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

a must read....

CBS News article...

Haiti Still Suffers When Cameras are Gone
Posted by Bill Whitaker (click title link for original post and more photos)

The cameras are gone; Haiti is off the front pages. Now two months later, it's possible for those who experienced the magnitude 7.0 earthquake through the media to think of the devastation and the
humanitarian crisis that followed in the past tense. Chile and health care and
unemployment demand our attention. For the people of Haiti, however, the crisis continues — a constant, inescapable, overwhelming reality.

I was in Haiti for a month, arriving one week after the quake. The first week I spent in shock. I had lived through the Northridge quake that rocked Los Angeles in 1984. That was horrible. But nothing prepared me for the horror I encountered in Port-au-Prince.

Block after block after block was leveled. So many people in that impoverished Caribbean country had little to begin with. The earthquake left hundreds of thousands with nothing but their faith and their spirit.

I saw that faith and spirit in abundance. My CBS News crew and I met a middle-class woman, Madame Yolene Bartroni, whose house was the only one in her poor neighborhood still standing — cracked and unlivable, but standing. She opened the gates of her property to neighbors. More than 100 children, women and men joined Madame Bartroni and her family sleeping under makeshift tents in the yard.

Two weeks after the quake, no aid agencies had made it to her part of Port-au-Prince. So, with her salary as a hotel receptionist (she was one of the lucky Haitians still to have a job), she bought water and food and medicine and diapers. When she ran out of money, she tapped her family in the U.S., which used social networks to gather donations. Grateful neighbors say were it not for Madame Bartroni they'd be homeless and hungry in the streets. Holding back tears, Madame Bartroni told us they struggle to live day to day.

We saw that kind of giving every single day. People who had little sharing with those who had nothing.

It would have been understandable if Haitians had cursed their fate, but we witnessed just the opposite. Haitians are people of deep faith.

They marked the one month anniversary of the quake with prayer services all over the city. You could barely drive a block without seeing worshipers spilling out of the churches that were still standing or a congregation gathered where churches once stood.

Hymns filled the air. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the boulevards that surrounded the collapsed presidential palace, an ornate white structure that now resembles a melted wedding cake — hundreds of thousands solemnly praying for those who had died and joyously thankful for having survived.

When the minister called for five minutes of silence, the only sounds heard were quiet, heart-wrenching sobs here and there in the crowd. It was a powerful moment.

With the rainy season approaching and one million homeless people living in squalid tent cities, Haitians need all the faith and spirit they can muster. Proud and resilient as they are, they cannot get back up on their feet by themselves. They desperately need the helping hand the world extended immediately after the quake. Haitians wish they had the luxury of referring to this tragedy in the past tense. They need the world to remember it is their present and their future.

Friday, March 12, 2010

all the little things.

the earthquake changed things. that's obvious. it can be overwhelming to think about. but try to break it down and think of it on a smaller scale. all the individual lives that were changed. and all the little things that changed for just that one person. maybe no one even died in their family. but they wake up in a tent instead of their house. the child doesn't go to school like he use to because it collapsed. the mother doesn't cook on a stove anymore... but instead just piles up some charcoal and makes do. the little girl doesn't go play outside with her friends, like when they use to pretend to do each others nails and give make-overs, because she hasn't seen those friends since the earthquake. they might be alive. maybe they just set up a tent in another area. but she doesn't know. they never had a father. the boyfriend of the mother stopped coming around because he can't handle taking care of them. he has nothing to offer. the mother used to buy fruit from a lady up the mountain, and she would then sell it on the streets in the city. but she hasn't seen that lady since the quake. she tries to buy fruit from someone else, but it's more expensive and she can't seem to make ends meet.

that is just a story. but i'm sure it's the "nice" version of the reality for many people now.

i had just arrived back in Haiti on January 11. i unpacked and got resettled. paige and i had plans to start running. vivien and i both brought soccer balls back, because all the "young" people in our neighborhood liked to get together to play sports at least once a week. we made plans. we talked about things we wanted to do. and we talked about when our other friends would arrive back in haiti.

but none of that matters anymore. who knows where the soccer ball is at. the field we use to play in quickly became a tent city. the games and movies we brought for our "hang out" nights have been long forgotten. i have a suitcase of things with me. everything else i have has been shoved in a room at the guest house, along with vivien's things and all of the furniture.

everything changed. what use to matter, no longer does. and it's not just the big things-- it's all the little things.