Saturday, April 16, 2011


Tomorrow I leave on my first trip to Haiti with The 410 Bridge. I've been working for 410 for almost 3 months, coordinating all teams/trips that go into Haiti. Haiti has posed quite the set of challenges for us, but I'm hoping that my trip down there this week will help us iron out some of the hiccups that are happening.

To me, the 410 Bridge is one of the most "Kingdom" organizations I've ever heard of. Each country has its own set of leaders that have a heart for their community and their country as a whole. What I love about this is that there is no American running the show. Our goal is to come alongside these leaders and hear what their dreams are for their area, and then strategize on how to make those dreams a reality. We like to say that we "enable the self-developing capabilities" of those we serve.

In many poorer countries, there is this mentality that says "if I wait long enough, an American will come do this for me." And yes these countries are poor, but we are reinforcing their poverty mentality by coming in and bringing them food, clothes, and other projects (which 9 times out of 10 is just what makes us feel better about their problems). Not that those things aren't good or helpful, but how will these people ever see how capable they are if we keep doing things for them? At 410, our heart is to help them see the gifts and the strengths that they possess, as well as their dreams, and then help highlight how the two go together.  And we measure our success not by what we do, but what they do for themselves. In our opinion, that is true development.

The idea behind every project originates from a Kenyan or Haitian, NOT an American. We want them to lead us, because they know what they need. To tell us what they want for their community. And once they've identified something as important and necessary, we talk through what that looks like. We might fund a well, but not without Kenya telling us they need one, why they want one, how they want it to work, and who will be in charge of it (because if it is not "owned" by them, it will never be sustainable). Once they identify some key needs and plans to help put them in place, then we come alongside and help make those needs happen. But we require the community to participate in every step of the process. Here is a video of a recent project we did in a community called Endana:

The men and women of this community participated in this project, and have a plan for keeping it running. If our project has to be run by an American then we didn't do our job.

Here is another video from our Director and CEO on what we do (we haven't been in Haiti very long, so this video mainly focuses on Kenya):

I love this organization, and I love the way they execute their vision. It is truly a blessing to work for them in such a strategic capacity.

I'll post some more updates and pictures when I get back from Haiti next week!


Patrick said...

I'm gonna miss you.

Dana said...

Wow, Mary, I love the vision of that organization! How many millions have been spent on groups of Americans jetting off to a mission 'vacation' to build some building or other project then return back home with stories and a renewed appreciation for their warm bed...when so much of that money could have been sown into the local community, hiring the local workers to build the same building? I think it was Charisma who did a great article on this topic. Bravo..can't wait to hear more.