The island of La Gonave which sits off the coast of Haiti about 75 miles was at one time a lush tropical island in the Caribbean, probably the kind we all dream about. La Gonave was a quaint mountainous island 7 miles wide and 22 miles long which was home to about 12,000 Haitians until the mid 1960′s.
Life changed dramatically when the Haitian government began rounding up the poorest of the poor and deporting them to La Gonave in an effort to “clean up” the mainland. During this era the population ballooned from 12,000 to over 100,000 which severely strained the natural resources necessary to sustain life.
Conditions plummeted in the 1980′s when La Gonave was annexed into the city of Port Au Prince. This allowed wealthy businessmen the right to come in and strip the land of all natural resources leaving the people of La Gonave with nothing but rocky landscape.
The island became a barren wasteland from the overpopulation and stripping of natural resources. The once lush Caribbean island now better resembles the landscape of the moon.
Today La Gonave is void of any hope. There is no natural supply of fresh drinking water leaving people to hike an average of five miles a day to drink from cesspools full of disease. Less than 10 percent of the fresh potable water required to sustain 100,000 people was available on La Gonave when Guts Church started drilling wells.
1 in 10 babies die before turning one and 2 in 10 children die before turning five. Life expectancy is around 45 years old for those who can survive. The high mortality rate is caused primarily by the lack of fresh drinking water and lack of nourishing food. Children regularly eat mud cakes, by mixing urine with dirt, to curb their hunger.
There is no ability for Haitians to improve life as La Gonave is void of any well funded municipalities, education, or business to supply opportunity. Currently there is 90% unemployment and those who are fortunate enough to work make an average of one dollar per day. Many consider La Gonave to be the poorest place in the world.
Because living conditions are so horrific many times parents abandon their children around the age of six by beating them or leaving children in the mountains so they cannot find their way home. There are packs of children running free on paths around La Gonave because they have been abandoned to fend for themselves.
Pastor Bill Scheer and a team from Guts Church visited the island of La Gonave in January of 2001 for the first time. The team visited his mother and step father who had retired to the island to establish feeding stations for children six and under. Guts Church stepped in to raise money to feed children by hosting the Tougher than Hell Motorcycle Rally every June in Tulsa.
Guts Church continues to feed rice and beans daily to approximately 500 children under six, through five feeding stations established in 2001. These children receive a hubcap full of nutrient rich rice and beans which has helped to reduce child starvation among some of the poorest areas of Anse Galet. It costs only $15 per month to feed one child rice and beans everyday.
In 2002 Guts Church funded the construction of a school for first through sixth grade. This school provides an opportunity for over 150 students to receive an education, develop social skills and receive food daily. We have hired some of the finest teachers and staff from Haiti to run the Sunshine school on La Gonave.
Our focus turned to the construction of a medical clinic during 2003 and 2004. This clinic, known as the Mason House, is a state of the art medical facility for a third world country like Haiti. It has the ability to staff and house a full medical team as well as treat hundreds of patients every month. Currently the clinic is used for light medical, visual and dental treatment during specific schedule missions trips annually.
With proceeds from the 2006 Tougher than Hell Motorcycle Rally Guts Church purchased a Schramm T64 rotary drilling rig with the mind to embark on a multi-year project of drilling and installing 100 water wells on La Gonave. The T64 was refurbished and shipped to La Gonave which arrived April 2007.
Throughout the 2007 drilling season Guts Church was able to complete 10 wells on La Gonave, four fresh water wells supplying water to communities, and six wells which will be used for irrigation. Fresh water now flows for families to drink and use for daily living. We can now begin to see the fruit of our labor.
People typically travel by foot on La Gonave which provides only glorified walking paths for travel. Because there are no real roads on La Gonave, access to remote communities was an impossibility.
Guts Church pioneered a road repair and expansion project, partnering with other NGO’s and the Haitian government, to ensure access to villages throughout the island to provide effective water well drilling.
Road construction and repair on a five mile stretch of road was completed during 2008. This provided access to three communities which had no available water supply. Imagine communities with between 2,000 and 5,000 people existing with no available local water supply.
In 2008, Guts Church drilled an additional 10 wells in conjunction with the road repair, providing fresh drinking water for Etriots, Ti Souce and west Anse Galets, servicing a total of 10,000 people.
As we enter the 2009 drilling season, aggressive preparations are being made for the continued construction of approximately 10 miles of road. This gives Guts Church access to an additional five villages and providing water for approximately 20,000 additional Haitians on La Gonave.
The Schram T-64 drilling rig, equipment, and all drilling operations are owned and operated solely by Guts Church.
These programs are just the beginning of our dream to bring hope and opportunity to the island of La Gonave. We invite you to participate in this adventure with us!
Feeding children -
We are all aware of rising food costs globally, especially with rice. It is well documented that the price for rice has increased by 40% between the summer of 2007 to 2008. It currently costs us $15 per month to feed a child rice and beans every day. Our primary objective will always be to keep supplying food to sustain our 500 children six and under, no matter what the cost. Feeding children takes precedent for us, over all other forms of outreach on La Gonave.
Providing fresh water and the message of hope -
75% of all disease is caused by polluted drinking water. By providing fresh drinking water to Gonavians we can reduce disease in dramatic fashion. It takes one well to supply fresh drinking water to approximately 1,000 people. With an estimated 100,000 people living on La Gonave, Guts Church has set the goal of providing 100 fresh water wells for Gonavians.
Water wells are high traffic areas on La Gonave. Much in the same way Guts Church has use the Nightmare outreach, we intend to use water wells as magnets for reaching people with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Guts Church is strategically placing wells with small churches in villages throughout the island. These wells are a tool used to attract people to churches where they can receive the word of life in Jesus Christ.
Our goal for 2008 is to drill 25 wells in 10 villages on the northeast side of La Gonave. By accomplishing this work we will have effectively reached 1/3 of the island with potable drinking water. Each well carries a cost of approximately $5,000 for drilling and installation of pumps.
Providing health care and giving life -
During 2007 Guts Church received donations from the medical industry totaling $1 million dollars in equipment, supplies and pharmaceuticals.
Our hope is to staff the hospital in 2010 with Haitian doctors, nurses, and technicians full-time! Subsidized hospital overhead will run $60,000 annually.
By staffing the Mason House, we can provide a wide range of medical services year-round; such as HIV/AIDS treatment, trauma for burns, lacerations, and infections, baby delivery, immunizations, and many other services currently not readily available. By offering healthcare to Gonavians who have none, we have the opportunity to use the clinic as another tool for giving the life changing message of Jesus Christ to people hurting physically and spiritually.
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.