who we are
Thriving Villages is a small organization with a big mission. We go to Pestel, a remote section of Haiti that is poor even by Haitian standards, which is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. There we work with people and groups to save and improve lives.
Pestel is hard to get to, so very few organizations go there. It’s as simple and as hard as that. The region lies eight hours from Port-au-Prince across mountain roads that eventually become little more than rocky riverbeds. Some 240 villages and 60,000 people live in Pestel’s six sections. We take a comprehensive approach by working with village leaders and medical providers so that communities can prosper through their own labors.In this setting, even small gains can be life-changing.
Name: Evens Lanot
Hometown: Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
Job: Project Manager for TVI
Favorite Food: Everything made with vegetable and fruits.
Favorite Bible Verse: When it comes to the Bible you can call me a lover. I fall in love with that book every day I wake up. I don't have a favorite verse, but I have favorite books: the proverbs, the ecclesiast and the apocalypse.
Hobbies: Depending on my mood, I do arts, dance, and read. I enjoy the gym as well, and I'm into sports a lot like basketball, tennis and swimming (even when I don't know how to swim yet).
If you could teach English speakers one phrase in Haitian Creole, what would it be? Viv la vi. (Live life.) I love this phrase so much.
In Brief: Evens Lanot, 27, serves as TVI's Haiti Project Manager. He travels from Port-Au-Prince to Pestel to oversee projects, train workers, meet with stakeholders, translate, arrange in-country travel, and perform many other duties. Current projects include supplying the children of Pestel with vitamin A and the deworming medicine albendazole. He's fluent in English and enjoys teaching Kreyol to non-native speakers. (First lesson: Kijan fanmi ou ye? How is your family?)
Mr. Evens met Dr. Ben Fredrick in Port-Au-Prince when he attended L'eglise Bethel de Clercine. Evens offered to translate the church service, which was in Creole. In conversation afterwards, Ben realized he'd found the ideal project manager candidate. They exchanged contact information, and before long, Ben asked Evens to join the TVI team to help provide water and health care to the people of Pestel. "I was surprised by Dr. Ben's determination, the way he handles problems when they come, and that he is open to hear what others think," Evens said.
Three years ago, Evens fell sick and was close to death. "The doctors didn't understand the symptoms at all. After I healed, I realized how much my past life wasn't very fruitful. That is when I took the decision to be more productive, to focus more on what I want to do." Working at TVI, he said, gives him the chance to see a project from beginning to end.
In His Own Words:"I've dedicated myself to helping others because of my mother. I didn't have the opportunity to know my mother. She died when I was two years old. I'm 27 now and when I meet someone who knew my mother they always cry and start telling me how wonderful my mother was. She was dedicated to helping others. I've seen people making big sacrifices to help educate me. I have always wanted to be a son that my mother would be proud of if she was still alive. I wanted to continue the love and compassion she would have shown to the world."
Thriving Villages International Board Members
Dr. Ben Fredrick, TVI President
Sister Fidelis rubbo
Name: Sister Fidelis Rubbo
Hometown: Ferrier, Haiti and Garden City, Michigan, USA
Job: Director of the Sylvania Franciscan Haiti Mission
Favorite food: Any kind of shell fish
Favorite Bible Verse: I have many, but one is "I will be with you always even to the end of time." Spoken by Jesus at his Ascension, it reminds me that the work I do is His and that He will always be with me no matter what.
Hobbies: Energized walking, watching tennis, visiting friends, and reading fiction If you could correct one misconception about Haitians, what would it be? I'd change the perception that poor people are lazy and that they're poor because they're not trying hard enough. Other countries have hampered Haitian progress from the beginning of their history. They've suffered invasions, embargos, election tampering, a foreign country supporting a coup against the elected president, and even the indignity of France asking them to pay back the money they'd lost to free the slaves.
In Brief: Sister Fidelis Rubbo moved to Pestel, Haiti, in October, 2001, feeling drawn by the immense needs that weren't being met. She began to work in pastoral care, and serve as administrator of the dispensary in Ferrier, deep in the mountains along Haiti's southern peninsula."I immediately felt at home," she said. "People were so grateful, and festive." Every class they visited sang a song for them, and the children followed them from class to class. She thought, "Wow, I'd love to help them have a better future." As she learned about the people and culture, she broadened her scope to include economic development.
There are some 10,000 aid organizations in Haiti, yet very few were in the hard-to-reach rural area of Pestel. It was heart-breakingly easy to make a difference. "I remember one girl, Benia, who came to the clinic when she was 9-years-old. She was pencil-thin, and we thought she had irreversible retardation because of malnourishment." During play therapy, tossing a ball around a circle of children, Benia didn't respond. The ball just bounced off her. But eventually, she laughed. That was a breakthrough, and after several months of care, Benia was talking. Finally she made a full recovery. Usually, it takes the younger kids about two months to recover. "It's wonderful to see."
In essence, Sister Fidelis' work in Pestel is to lift people up physically, economically, and spiritually. On any given day, she could be arranging for the construction of the new guest house, helping to get a chateau d'eau (for clean water), planning with Sister Jo and the Haitian leadership team, receiving people at her front gate, checking on the clinic in the next village, or leading worship.
"I love to lead prayer," she said. "The prayers are so beautiful, it's easy to be inspired yourself."
Of her timeline in Haiti, Sister Fidelis says, "I'm in for the long haul. I intend to stay in Haiti as long as God gives me good health and continues to call me there. Yet we're also training Haitians to take over."
In Her Own Words: "If all that we're building falls apart, what endures? The relationships, the leadership skills, the training for people to impact their own community. Yes, we can give food and medicine, but ultimately you affect one person at a time. We hope that the work continues, but how we have touched people personally by our presence, and the faith, skills, and attitudes that we've developed together will endure in the human spirit from one generation to the next. I went to Haiti thinking I want to share God's love with these people, and let them know there are people in other countries who care. Now, I also think it's important for people in the U.S. to experience the Haitian people and culture, their challenges and faith. They too have much to teach us."