The following was written by volunteers from our 2017 Vision Trip: Dauna Geddes and Bev Robertson
He leaves his field in the mountains to find a better future for his eight children.
Like all good fathers, Mark Robensen Lounds dreams of a good education, health care and nutritious food for each one.
The family survives in the city of Grand Goave by growing a garden and raising goats and chickens. Their one meal a day is cooked over a three stone fire with wood gathered from the surrounding green space.
When asked what his favourite food is, he replies, “when you have no money, you don’t have a favourite food”.
He creatively finds enough food to feed his children from a small garden but can’t always provide them with the rice and bean staples they need.
The earthquake of 2010 wipes out their home and garden and they must start over with very few resources.
In 2013 the mother and wife passes away for unknown reasons and suddenly Mark is a single father.
He is saddled with all the cares and responsibilities of a growing family, which in the Haitian culture is no easy task.
Challenge after challenge strikes this resilient man.
The hurricane of 2016 washes away his entire garden and all his livestock.
Once again he and his children have to begin over.
His youngest boy, named Robensen, is in charge of lighting and maintaining the cook fire in their cook hut. The thick smoke fills the air burning his eyes and making him cough.
The Bread Winner
His three eldest children need to move to the Dominican Republic for work. His five remaining children, range in age from 10-20 are going to school and living with him.
It is difficult to find full time employment so Mark takes piece-meal labour jobs in order to provide food for the family.
It is hard to work and be both father and mother to his children.
The Gracious Host
We knew nothing of this story when we first met Mark settled into his cinder block home. We discover it slowly as we make inquiries. He is quietly and graciously working with two of his daughters to prepare a Haitian meal for two of our team mates.
He and his family cook all morning. It takes time to create this delicious meal.
Mark and his family were the recipients of a smokeless stove provided by New Hope School Society, made on site with local materials and with local volunteers.
It is men and women like Mark who are the heroes of our work. They are the ones who are actively building their families and communities in the middle of terrible circumstances.
We are the sidekicks.
Privileged to work alongside of these heroes. Doing what we can to support their investments into their communities.
Mark was thankful to have a stove that reduced the amount of smoke his family had to breath. His children will be healthier and happier.
Life will be a little easier.
Mark’s only expressed concern with the stove is his sadness that his neighbours were not able to have one as-well.
Perhaps you want to help Mark write the next chapter in his story …
Are you the partner we need to put more stoves in Mark’s community? It doesn’t take much, A charitable donation of $30 would help us to equip the local leaders that are building stoves in Grand Goave and beyond.
Will you join Mark as he continues to write his story?