The Caribbean island nation of Haiti has never been a stranger to poverty, but when a devastating earthquake wracked the country in 2010, things went from bad to worse. An incredible 7.0 magnitude quake (followed by aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5), it was the strongest the island had felt in some 200 years. The epicenter was measured only 16 miles west of the capital city of Port au Prince. The death toll was estimated to be as high as 160,000, with millions more affected.
Sadly, in spite of an outpouring of monetary donations from the developed world, little of the funds seem to have reached those in need. A TIME Magazine article published on the fifth anniversary of the earthquake shares this observation: Based on the sheer volume of monies given to this modest nation, the re-building transformation should have been dramatic.
The Inspiration Travel Foundation has found a way to meet the real and practical needs within this fragile nation by giving directly to a mission run by someone we personally know through our travels in Haiti. Allow us to introduce you to this remarkable man and the orphaned boys he’s dedicated to helping.
An Oasis in the Rubble
“Welcome” to the Haiti Christian Orphanage, managed by Jasper Washington Cineus, an American who also holds citizenship in Haiti. After the 2010 earthquake, Jasper felt called to move back to Haiti to help his nation recover. He came to serve at this orphanage, home to 14 boys aged 10-18, and after two years of being on staff, was asked to take over directorship of the facility.
These precious youngsters feel extremely thankful simply to have a more tips here roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. They donned ear-to-ear grins when they were given tennis shoes (instead of the usual slip-on sandals), which are much better for playing basketball and soccer in. Another major, ongoing need is for sturdy mattresses and beds (as opposed to foam pads that are too short for the growing boys) which, at the time of this writing, has not yet been met.
On the same property as the orphanage is a school that daily welcomes over 250 students. The young people learn nursing, basic education or a trade that can lead to a profession once they turn 18. In August, the Inspiration Travel Foundation (ITF) was blessed to donate $2,500 for school supplies necessary to open the facility for the 2016 academic year. (The orphanage is still looking for a matching donation of $2,500 to complete the needs.)
For the past three years, Jasper has been overseeing the outreach as practically a “one-man-show.” He is now looking for partners to lend their vision for the impoverished region surrounding Port au Prince. The property that was donated for the orphanage and school is quite large and serves as “an oasis of relief” for the entire community. ITF President Stephanie Smith who had the opportunity to visit the facility in 2012 agrees it’s a very special place. Its many buildings are surrounded by palm trees, and the whole property overlooks the bay, she reports. “It’s really an oasis in a city of chaos.”
Jasper adds, “It has a lot of potential,” citing the need for a place to provide healthcare for residents. He would love to one day be able to host mission trips as well.
“People need to hear the voice of the boys. My job is to serve and protect them and to help with all the things they face. I pray that God will open doors so that one day, before I die, I can say, ‘God, you have used me.’”
We would say He already has.
Without funding from a church denomination, the orphanage has been dependent on word-of-mouth donors who are few and far between. According to Jasper, meeting the leaders of Inspiration Cruises & Tours in 2012 was “not a coincidence,” and is something for which he feels ongoing gratitude.
Please be the answer to these boys’ prayers and give directly to their need for beds and mattresses. 100% of the proceeds go directly to the cause.