Heart for Haiti was founded in December of 1981 by Dutchman Johan Smoorenburg, a missionary of 36 years. He started his work on the island Martinique. After 10 years there, he left Martinique and went to Haiti with his wife and two children with a vision to do something for young people.
Johan Smoorenburg received this vision when he took a trip to the island two years before. He visited an orphanage resembling more of a pigsty than it did a home. There were more than 50 small children—all of them malnourished and sleeping on the floor. With support from the Netherlands, he realized his dream to build a children’s village. His goal was to allow underprivileged children to receive good care and education. Heart for Haiti is committed to helping Haiti’s poorest children. Our dream is to give them a better future, and that is possible at the children’s village ‘Bon Repos’. This village is located in Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince. In the 1980s, the village was quite literally built from nothing by missionary Johan Smoorenburg.
Almost 150 children live at Bon Repos in twelve apartments. Twelve children of different ages live in each apartment, where they are supervised by an ‘aunty.’ This means that the set-up is as close as possible to that of an ordinary family. These children are orphans or they are from families unable to care for them. In the village, they are given a roof over their heads and enough to eat. They can attend school and go to church and this enables them to build a stable future.
Educate for the future As well as these apartments, there is also a school at the children’s village. This school is not only for the children who live in the village, but other children can also be taught here. In total around 500 children from Port-au-Prince go to the Heart for Haiti school. There are also various vocational courses, made possible through the help of the foundation. Examples of these are the Bible school, the bakery and the water project.
Church is a ray of hope The church in the village is a thriving community. Many children and employees from the village attend church, but other worshippers also regularly attend the Sunday services. The church is a ray of hope in the difficult lives of many Haitians. A school and church have also been built in Leogane, a village situated a little to the north, which are the responsibility of the foundation.
Pleasant old age Part of the village is reserved for the elderly, and elderly Haitians who have no-one else can enjoy their old age here. This means that a project which was originally only designed for children has become a blessing for children, adults and the elderly.
Let the light shine Apart from its work at the village, Heart for Haiti also provides emergency relief outside the village. Haiti is frequently victim to natural disasters, a terrible example of which is the major earthquake of 2010. But flooding, cholera outbreaks, political unrest and smaller earthquakes also frequently claim victims. In those darker moments, Heart for Haiti also wants to let the light of Christ shine.