The man behind a Christian charitable group dedicated to rebuilding Haiti stopped into Trail this week for the first time to share his story.
Marc Honorat was born into an impoverished family of 15 children and became a slave child when he was five. His parents couldn’t afford to care for him and thought giving him up would offer him a better life.
After years of physical and emotional abuse, he moved into a children’s home and was sponsored by North American families, one of which later became his adopted parents.
“I never experienced parents giving me a kiss and hug and telling me ‘Marc, I love you,’” he said. “Now, I want to go out and rescue slave children and bring them to a safe place.”
Nowadays, the part-time Calgary resident is committed to strengthening the Haitian people spiritually and expanding their skills through Haiti Arise. The organization’s many projects include establishing an elementary and high school, medical clinic, rebuilding a technical school that was wiped out in the most recent quake and focusing on setting up a children’s village and goat farm program.
“If it wasn’t for someone taking the time to invest the little bit they have in my life, I don’t know what would have happened,” said Honorat. “Because of what they did for me, now lots of Haitians have benefited from it.”
Honorat has close ties with Rev. Bryan Henry of Fruitvale’s Christian Fellowship church and Nelson’s Rev. Jim Reimer, who started up the Each One Build One campaign under Haiti Arise.
The Kootenay Christian Fellowship was in Haiti with a group of 17 students and six adults when the devastating earthquake leveled the country in January 2009.
With 15 homes completed, Each One Build One’s goal is to construct 1,000 concrete homes that will withstand hurricanes and earthquakes. A house costs $6,000 and the concept remains “many hands make light work,” with a family helping build a home before they can work on their own.
“One in every 10 children in Haiti before the earth quake is a slave and then after the earthquake it’s become more terrible because you have lots of parents who’ve died from the quake and leave their children behind,” explained Honorat. “Two-hundred thousand people died from the quake and that’s already replenished because girls are getting raped and pregnant.”
Security is a major concern with Haitians living in temporary tents – young girls are raped in the middle of the night – to add to the slew of poverty and sanitary woes that plague communities.
“If you look at a North American ghetto and you take them out of a house and put them into tents, you can well imagine what you have,” said Henry. “There’s really no protection, it’s not a pretty picture.”
Both Henry and Reimer continue to raise money and awareness for Each One Build One, with Reimer planning for his next trip in January, where former students who took the first trip with him will likely come along.
“There was some criticism over ‘what were you thinking? And why would you bring those students down there?’ But not one of those students were sad that they went and experienced it,” said Reimer. “The value of having that experience is priceless. To have a perspective of what’s going on in the world and getting out of ourselves and being able to help people is amazing.”
Reimer also considers his trip a means of checking up on the projects local families and organizations have sponsored. He is blown away by the level of accountability Honorat and Haiti Arise holds and encourages residents to help the charity.
For more information on Haiti Arise visit, www.haitiarise.org
To get involved in the local effort, Henry can be reached at 367-6611 or Reimer at 250-352-7700.