Here's a great article from the Dallas Morning News about Dieula Previlon, the Haitian-born missions pastor who joined us on the initial Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT) assessment trip last month. As you would imagine, Dieula identifies with the tragedy intimately and has a great passion for her struggling people. In the article below, Dieula speaks of Rood, a boy who lost his whole family – and his arm – in the January 12th earthquake. Rood really touched the hearts of everybody on the HORT team.
Stay tuned: I'll be posting up a couple of videos about Rood early next week, right here on Abandoned-Orphaned.Com.
On Friday, April 30th, I'll be moderating a panel on Haiti at the Christian Alliance for Orphans' annual Summit. Dieula, and other ministries leaders who work with Haiti's orphans, will be participating on the panel. If you can, please join us there in Minneapolis.
After visiting homeland of Haiti, Irving minister longs for relief from other natives of stricken nation
12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, March 24, 2010
By DIANNE SOLÍS / The Dallas Morning News
IRVING – Dieula Previlon met Rood Lapointe outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a few weeks after the 13-year-old boy lost his mother and all of his siblings in the January earthquake.
Photo: KHAMPHA BOUAPHANH/Special Contributor
Like so many survivors, Rood suffered an injury that led to amputation of his arm. But the reed of a boy also had a wide smile and a resilient spirit – and in that, Previlon saw herself. Previlon, the minister for international initiatives at Irving Bible Church, was also a child of Haiti. And she also knew what it was like to be uprooted.
When her parents moved to New Jersey, Previlon and her three older sisters were left behind with a grandmother. Her parents sent for her and her sisters a dozen years later. Now, at 34, Previlon is translating the tragedy of Haiti to all who'll listen.
Her goal: to open the spigots on relief and even investment in the poverty-stricken country.
And so at a recent Monday night Bible study, the 5-foot-6-inch, jean-clad woman moved with energy on stage that matched the urgency of the story of Rood's burial under broken concrete.
"Within seconds, Rood said his world was turned upside down," Previlon said. "The earthquake struck.
"He fell instantly but then he got back up again, but a huge block struck him on the side of his face. … While he was underneath the rubble, he was able to see his brothers and sisters die. … And as for his mother, they were stuck under the rubble. And he made the sign head-to-head."
Rood lay in that rubble next to his mother for three days before neighbors could save him – the sole survivor of a household of 11. Then, Previlon linked Rood to the biblical Lazarus and said resurrection and redemption are always near.
'Haiti is my heart'
When the quake hit Jan. 12, Previlon knew she had to return to Haiti.
Her Irving church of more than 5,000 members had more than a decade of experience in rural Haiti, working with another Dallas-trained preacher whose portfolio goes beyond preaching to include economic development ranging from electricity supply to microfinance loans for women. The church also has projects in Sudan, India, Honduras and Rwanda that include water wells, education and leadership development.
But this disaster was deep and personal. Previlon first wanted to find a way to mobilize other Haitians, who so often refer to themselves collectively as "the diaspora." Her first idea, as a trained counselor, was to provide trauma relief.
By Feb. 14, she was on a plane, leaving her Haitian-born husband, Fresnel, and their three sons behind in their Carrollton home. She traveled with a group of like-minded church members(HORT), including members from another congregation, Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Carrollton.
"Haiti is my heart," Previlon likes to say.
Her Twitter updates reflected that.
In one, she wrote at 3:20 a.m. on Feb. 16, "Woke up this morning to roosters having a screaming contest and a mosquito serenading my eardrums, I am definitely in Haiti."
In another, at 4:38 a.m., Feb. 17: "It was so encouraging to see churches meeting in the open, their microphones were blow horns, drove by a crusade last night. God is here!"
Garry Pierre Pierre, the 47-year-old editor and publisher of the New York-based Haitian Times, said immigrants like Previlon and himself need to strengthen Haiti's self-sufficiency and reduce its reliance on relief organizations. And every day as he rides the subway with Wall Streeters, he's reminded that the formula must include capital investment that builds factories, hotels, businesses and jobs.
"Relief work doesn't create a civil society," Pierre said. "It just alleviates poverty. … At some point, you need real investment."
Back at Irving Bible Church, Previlon told how she'd like to start an organization called Haitians for Haiti. It would harness talents of those who immigrated to the United States and Canada and were educated as engineers, business people, counselors and teachers.
"They can't believe we came back," Previlon said of reactions to her presence in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. But compassion fatigue is always a worry among those involved in development work or international ministries. Jackie Roese, Irving Bible Church's teaching pastor to women, said she believes her church's energy will be sustained. Its tithing, in general, is higher than the norm, she said.
Then, there is Previlon.
"It is much easier to minimize it as a white man's cause, but she is a woman and she is black and she is from there and it is not second-hand information," Roese said. "She is not telling me about it. She is it."
In the interim, re-entry from it to Texas is difficult. Seeing her own refrigerator filled with food in Carrollton gives her pause. "Why are we privileged and they are not?" Previlon asked.
Three weeks after the trip, her friend Jennifer Lefforge, a community minister at the church, sees pain within Previlon. After services, she touches Previlon's arm and advises her that it will take time and she needs to rest.
"I am fatigued," Previlon said softly.
Previlon is grieving – for all of Haiti, Lefforge said.
But Previlon knows there will be some happy endings in the midst of disaster. A San Antonio couple wants to adopt Rood.
And, Previlon said, "He wants to be a pastor."
The Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT) can be found on Facebook.
Abandoned-Orphaned is the personal blog of Paul Myhill, President of World Orphans. Subscribe to the blog in the upper right-hand corner of the home page. Paul can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @paulmyhill.