Turning Hopelessness into Hope in Haiti

"With many hands, the load is not heavy." – A Creole Proverb

A catastrophic earthquake just one year ago left the already impoverished country of Haiti devastated. But two people, among millions, live to provide a ray of hope.

When Bobby and Sherry Burnette made their first trip to Haiti in 1972 their hearts were forever changed. They moved to Haiti in 1991 from Miami and never looked back. Witnessing the disastrous earthquake firsthand in 2010, their survival gave them the opportunity to help others survive.

Founders of Love A Child, Inc., the couple began ministering and reaching out to the poorest of the poor through outreach programs. They built 13 schools where hot meals are provided every day, a 21,500 square foot orphanage, the Tilapia Fish Farm and a training center – to help feed the schools and churches – and created mobile and stationary medical clinics all throughout the country.

When the 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, 1.3 million people were left homeless and thousands of businesses, schools, and public buildings were destroyed with no supplies or income to rebuild. Ninety-five percent of the rubble still lies in the streets of Port-au-Prince, and the majority of the displaced still live in tent cities or transitional housing.

Recalling that tragic day, Sherry Burnette said, "January 12th, 2010 changed us forever. Our lives will never be the same."

"The Lord laid upon our hearts the vision of getting these families in permanent housing," she shared. "After much planning and research, we have come up with a nice little wooden house to build for the earthquake families left homeless and living in Camp Hope," a tent city on the Love A Child property, outside Port-au-Prince.

Nearly 400 families that currently live on the land will be given new homes.

"Even though these precious people have been through the most traumatic earthquake in the world, God is turning this tragedy into triumph. He is turning hopelessness into hope," she emphasized.

The master-planned community project is being built, literally, from the ground up by a local ministry, its future inhabitants, and several foundation partners and volunteers. Over 500 permanent homes, public buildings, gravel roads, and a market area for local businesses will complete the Burnette's inspiring vision. Sixty-two acres of raw Haitian land are serving as the foundation for hope, love and renewed life.

Phase one of the project has already been completed, and the first 50 houses are now homes to amputee survivors and their families. There will be five or six additional phases.

When Bobby Burnette showed the amputees and their families what the first house was going to look like, the people "kept singing, dancing on one foot or raising one arm to praise the Lord," Sherry Burnette recorded in her journal.

Every home is being built with earthquake and hurricane resistant materials and ramps for handicap access, and will be provided fully furnished for each resident. The houses will be painted with bright colors, which the Haitians love.

"After phase one is complete, we are believing God that we will have the funds for the houses and infrastructure for phase two," the Burnettes stated.

Phase two is currently underway, with 206 more houses scheduled for completion at the end of this month.

"Miracle Village," dubbed by the residents, is the special name given to the settlement; and it is just that.

"Each evening the Christians from the Miracle Village walk all around the perimeter of the village, praying and praising the Lord!" said Sherry Burnette. "They are praising God, and praying that God will help us finish these houses by faith!"

For the Burnettes, the reason they've decided to stay in Haiti for the past 20 years is simple.

"Jesus taught us to love our neighbor and that's why we are here," Bobby Burnette shared. "We heard the cry of the poor." And God provided nothing short of a miracle.

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