Here at Sivo Insights we subscribe to the mentality that individuals make all the difference. One Sivo team member in particular is making strides to raise awareness about poverty and provide hope in one of the poorest countries in the world.
In 2013, research consultant Julie Monson, and her teenage daughter decided to go on a mission trip to Haiti with the non-profit organization Healing Haiti. During their trip they visited the largest, poorest slum in the western hemisphere, Cite Soleil. Most of those living in Cite Soleil are unemployed and face extreme hunger, gang violence, and high risk of AIDS/HIV.
“There are more than 300,000 people living in3 square miles,” says Monson. “It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The level of poverty, malnutrition and poor living conditions is unspeakable.”
Monson and the Healing Haiti team traveled deep into the heart of Cite Soleil to provide clean water, food, and hope to individuals and families. Following her mission trip, Monson’s heart began to stir with a desire to continue her outreach in Haiti.
After doing some research she soon became involved with Haitian Initiative, a collaboration of partners working together to bring sustainable programs to Haiti using soccer as a catalyst to combat the cycle of poverty. Boys who stay in school and maintain good grades have the opportunity to participate in the soccer program and receive one meal a day provided by Feed My Starving Children. Staying in school is critical to providing the only meal these children get in a day, and avoiding the predominant culture of gang violence in Cite Soleil. The chance to play soccer provides the catalyst to make good choices and stay in school.
“The experience was simply life changing. They have such a different life experience than we do,” says Monson. “For them, poverty is not just about lacking financial resources, but the constant presence of hopelessness and spiritual poverty, thinking that their life will never be better.”
For Monson and her family it’s all about creating a real, personal connection and letting these boys know that there is hope. While her experience with Haiti began as a short mission trip, it’s become something much bigger.
“It has become personal for me. There was no way I couldn’t do it again,” says Monson.
In addition to hosting two boys for one month each summer, Monson and her family have also committed to sponsoring the education for three boys and maintaining long-term personal relationships.
While the magnitude of poverty and hunger can seem overwhelming, Monson believes that by helping just one individual, you can make all the difference in the world.
“At the end of the day it’s all about personal relationships and love,” says Monson. “By helping just one person feel loved, you give them hope for a brighter future and a chance at happiness. You have to address the poverty of spirit, not just financial poverty.”
To find out how you can get involved and make a difference in Haiti, visit the links below for more information.