In January 2010, a magnitude 7 earthquake hit Haiti destroying most of its capital city, Port-au-Prince. The victims of the earthquake set up camps in the squares of the city where the Haitian Government - with the help of non-governmental organizations - provided food, water and sanitation services.
Lack of resources cause the displacement of some victims of the earthquake to other areas around the capital city. Canaan, which is located a few kilometers north east of Port-au-Prince at the beginning of route 1, is one of these areas. It is a large area where the displaced victims of the earthquake have set up temporary homes, usually made from tarps or other basic materials. There was no official community organization when people began arriving and the tents were set up in any free space available. Canaan lacked the basic community services like running water, sanitation, transportation. The new community had no schools except for a few abandoned UNICEF tents that were also used as churches by Canaan residents and had no medical or health services. Because was also no basic police force or any policing of the area, residents had to rely on the assistance of United Nations personnel who regularly patrolled the zone.
By 2016, an estimated population of 200,000 had settled in about a 50 square kilometers sized territory and even now the area still lacks most of the basic necessities of a functioning community. The Government of Haiti has for a long time refused to recognize settlements like Canaan as permanent settlements, and officially banned the construction of any permanent structures or the implementation of any infrastructure projects in the area. But, in reality, there is no control or regulation at all by the public authorities. Since the government and public authorities were not able to provide development opportunities for adequate public housing alternatives in other recognized communities, the Haitian authorities are now being forced to recognize Canaan as a legitimate community. Though recognized, Canaan is still not officially represented, which means it still lacks running water, sanitation services and reliable electricity.
As Canaan continues to grow each day, the new community is in need of support through community development projects that help sustain the people there and provide them with basic services. Organizing the community is a key step as permanent housing is being built and the land is being preeminently settled. Innovative community development that supports human development is needed. Development of the local community leads to generating income for the inhabitants. This is necessary to ensure that the residents of Canaan can survive, eventually begin to prosper and become a model for other settlements. Schools are a highly necessary basic service that has been missing in Canaan and can help set up the children of Canaan for success.
Samedy Roberson is a Haitian pastor, born on July 23, 1979 in the southern part of Haiti. He was raised between two worldviews – his mother was a Christian and his father was not. Samedy married Venise Genestey January 14th, 2006 and they now have three beautiful, smart daughters.
In 2008, Samedy attended STEN where he studied Theology for four years. After his studies, he met Pastor Pierre Prinvil Clautaire, a former partner of a Christian Organization founded by Dan O’Deens called CPR-3, now called Breathe Partners (more information can be found on this organization here). Pastor Pierre asked Samedy to became a part of the CPR-3 movement. Samedy accepted the position and chose to take God’s work to the village that was the most difficult in the movement –Canaan, Haiti. On July 1st, 2012, Samedy started a church in Canaan and two years ago he and his family left their home in Cabaret, Haiti to come and live permanently in Canaan.
The most important (and interesting) chapter in Samedy's life began when he and his family moved to Canaan. When he was faced with the reality of life for some people in Canaan, it reminded him of his childhood. He soon realized that many children in Haiti were living daily with the same difficult life he had lived. God put a yearning in Samedy’s heart to make a difference and he found himself saying, "A school for the kids. A school for the kids." Samedy had only $200 when he had this idea, but he trusted and believed that God would help build the school with that money.
A dream was turned into reality, with the help of God and a lot of friends. Grace School of Canaan opened enrollment in 2017. The school continues to grow each year and prayers are being answered!
Our desire is to improve and change the lives of the children and youth in Haiti by building schools that will provide a quality Christ-centered education, food, health services and vocational training.
To follow the great commission Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19-20 – make disciples of all nations and teach them all he commanded.
To empower the people of Canaan to take the hope for an education from dream to reality.
To teach financial responsibility and accountability as given to us in the Bible.
To show Christ's love to others as He shows his love to us.
To never do for others what they can do for themselves.