Life in Belle Vie

God’s Ministry in La Gonave serves the people in the village of Belle Vie on the island of La Gonave. To better understand our ministry, you need to know more about where and to whom we minister.

Where in the world is Belle Vie?

La Gonave is located off the coast of Haiti. It’s 37 miles long and approximately 9.3 miles wide, and the terrain is rugged, hilly and barren in many places, making travel, agriculture and other activities difficult, if not impossible. Belle Vie (which means “beautiful life” in Haitian Creole) is located on top of the island, approximately 11 miles (two hours by truck) from the port city of Anse-a-Galets.

To get to Belle Vie from the United States, you must first fly into Port au Prince. Then, you need to hire a truck to drive a few hours to the ferry, which takes two hours to cross the open sea and land in Anse-a-Galet. Then you need to hire a truck to travel another two hours to the village. It is impossible to make the full trip from the U.S. to Belle Vie in one day.

Belle Vie’s remote location is important because it means very few organizations have ever made the trip to provide humanitarian aid to the people in the village and surrounding areas. The government itself rarely even makes the trip. The village is truly isolated from the rest of Haiti, and even more so from the rest of the world. God’s Ministry in La Gonave is literally the only support the village has when it comes to basic food, healthcare, education, ministry and infrastructure.

What is life like in Belle Vie?

Approximately 1,000 people call Belle Vie home. Most (85-90 percent) are unemployed. Those who do have jobs are often severely underemployed as hole diggers, laborers, small-scale farmers/gardeners (as the conditions allow) and resellers at the market. A few are skilled enough to work as teachers, carpenters, builders and seamstresses.

The average family survives on less than $1 per day. This lack of income makes it difficult or impossible to have access to enough food, education and medical care. That’s why God’s Ministry in La Gonave is so important to the village. The ministry subsidizes tuition, making it possible for children and young adults to receive an education. We also provide jobs for teachers, administrative staff and cooks, and we hire local labor for building and repair projects as funds allow.

In addition, Laura provides basic medical care (using over-the-counter medications and medical supplies purchased by the ministry or with her personal funds) to the village, which is important since the nearest medical facility is located in Anse-a-Galets – a costly and lengthy trip that can only be made in true emergencies and/or if funds allow. The ministry also administers a feeding program for students, provides food to hungry villagers and assists with disaster recovery as funds allow

A typical villager eats once a day, and sometimes not even that often. The Haitian diet consists of rice, beans, corn meal, cassava and seasonally available fruits and vegetables (provided there is not a drought). Occasionally, a family may butcher a goat or chicken for a special occasion; this meat will be shared with many people, so meat is definitely a special treat.

Due to the high cost of travel, most villagers do not leave the village except to go to the market or to visit a nearby village within walking distance. Sometimes, people visit Anse-a-Galets, but it’s rare for anyone to actually leave the island.

A typical village home is made of a wooden frame covered in mud made from local limestone and sand. Roofs are thatched or covered in tin. Approximately 30 percent of homes are made of poor-quality cinder blocks that have been formed on site. Many of these homes were damaged or destroyed when Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016 and have yet to be properly repaired.

How can you help Belle Vie?

Your support of God’s Ministry in La Gonave enables us to make a difference in the lives of the people of Belle Vie as we fund the school, the feeding program, disaster relief and our church programs.

If our income exceeds these core operating expenses, we would like to repair/replace homes, repair/improve roads and build outhouses (most villagers do not have access to any type of bathroom facility) and rainwater cisterns (for a closer source of clean water). We will also continue to purchase medical supplies and food to assist those who are ill or under-nourished, to provide transportation to the hospital in case of emergency, and to fund projects that not only improve life in the village but also provide jobs for local workers — fair wages for an honest day’s work.

Thank you for your ongoing prayers and financial support. Make a donation today.