Updated: Jun 21, 2022
In 2012, myLIFEspeaks’ inception year, almost 450 people came to the village of Neply, Haiti on short-term mission trips with myLIFEspeaks.These teams worked on community projects, village clean-up and beautification (there is not a structured trash or sewage system in Haiti), building and repairing homes, painting village trees (a Haitian-custom to differentiate villages), worship nights, sports camps, dance recitals, and much more. Since then, thousands of people have visited Neply, Haiti; experiencing and participating in ministry, firsthand.
In 2017, we shifted our visitor model from a ‘mission trip’, which unfortunately has the "go-and- do for them” connotation, to an ‘immersion trip’; with the focus of “being and doing” LIFE together in community.
"Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well." - 1 Thessalonians 2:8
This key difference highlights the reality of what the experience really is; an opportunity for visitors and locals to do daily LIFE together working collaboratively towards a common goal: a Haiti firmly rooted in Christ.
Our goal has never been to come in and “Americanize” the culture of Haiti, rather we celebrate Haitian culture while investing in locals to lead others and together elevate the future of Haiti. MyLIFEspeaks’ mission is to empower Haitians to help Haitians, knowing that true sustainability and change comes from within.
The idea, as Mike Wilson, Co-Founder and CEO of myLIFEspeaks, always says, is to "work ourselves (as American employees) out of a job." It has never been about Americans “coming in and saving the day".
We maintained this immersion trip model for two years, seeing thousands of visitors experience LIFE in Haiti while working alongside locals as one, unified community.
However in 2019, unrelenting protests, violent demonstrations, and gang activity rocked the country; forcing us to permanently halt immersion trips for the safety of the team members and staff. At the time this was a devastating call. However, we now see how God was working all of it for even greater good; bringing more growth and beauty than we could have imagined possible.
In the absence of visitors, it now fell on Haitian young adults and community members to step up and continue the momentum. In this metaphorical passing of the baton, we saw unprecedented growth in our Haitian leadership, with dozens of youth stepping up to lead their peers and community by example.
Locals seamlessly filled the roles that team members had once established and played. They had seen how things worked, they knew what needed to be done, and they took it upon themselves to keep the community initiatives moving forward.
In short, the ministry we had prayed for was being lived out right in front of our eyes. Our Haitian community proved they could lead in ways we had not imagined because we had been dependent on people coming in from the outside; a humbling moment for our ministry, indeed.
We now know with even more conviction that lasting impact comes from within; from empowering locals to be the change they wish to see in their community and country.
Today, we are extremely proud to share that myLIFEspeaks is 95% Haitian-led and run on-ground in Neply, Haiti with 168 Haitian employees and counting. Other than five full-time U.S. staff in Haiti, all of our employees on-site are Haitian men and women from our local community. These employment opportunities empower locals through dignified work and the ability to provide for their families and greater community; all while creating lasting, sustainable change in Haiti as a whole.
We are constantly inspired and encouraged by how our Haitian directors and employees continue to step up to God's Call and lead extraordinary lives set apart for Christ. MyLIFEspeaks continues to strive to be a catalyst for change in our community, and the goal is to now cause a ripple effect throughout the entire country of Haiti. We are motivated by the power of the Gospel and we aim to let our lives speak of that power every day in all we do.