Thursday, March 10, 2011

Harbor House: The People, The Place

**Update October 8, 2012  ...
As of this moment we're undecided about the future of the Harbor House. At this time we ask that you NOT give financial gifts to this program specifically until we determine if we will move forward with taking in another group of young moms.  The group below graduated on July 21, 2012. We're still working to get each one settled into school or work  (a job) depending upon their needs and this has proven to be a much more difficult task than we imagined.  

Finding the line between advocacy and healthy encouragement/support and creating dependency and entitlement is one of the most difficult pieces of helping someone. Programs that require reintegration into regular life are much more complicated and culturally tricky. We remain uncertain about the future of this program and we ask for your prayers for wisdom and discernment as we decide what to do next and as we continue to help the original 8 teen mothers find their footing outside of the Harbor House. 

Tara Livesay
Heartline Ministries

(Updated June 2012 - see THIS post for newer info.)
Original Post below ...

The Harbor House is a program of Heartline Ministries.  
It is a home for at risk teen mothers and their young children. 

The women in the two photos above are all currently growing, changing, becoming more whole at the Harbor House.

The People:
Joanne (18) and her son Ricardo
Sergline (19) and her son Jobenz

Fedline (17) and her daughter Michlanda

Leoni (20) and her son Judler
Alloune (16) and her daughter Ashlyne

Mirlene (19) and Bianca

Djenie (16) & her son Kenny
(Djenie chose to leave in April - please be praying for her -
we are helping her with a house and still in frequent contact)
The young women living at Harbor House are all in need of a support system due to loss and trauma in their lives. Culturally they face many uphill battles just to be supported to raise their own children. Most of the young women have no contact or support from the father of their baby. The house is currently at capacity with eight moms and eight babies. We hope to one day accommodate ten women but we will need to do some renovations in order to accommodate ten well.

We occasionally  meet with young women to discuss the possibility of them moving into Harbor House.  We listen to their story, ask for some time and then meet with them again in a week or two. These difficult and complicated decisions are bathed in prayer. Sometimes we don't know the right thing to do. Sometimes we just make our best guess. We continue to ask that you pray for discernment, wisdom, and direction in all of these decisions.


Staff of the Harbor House ...
(Left) House Mom Magarette "Maggie" (with Marjorie)

Clarmita, Cook, Misc.
Maudeline Nanny/Childcare
Marjorie,  Housekeeping
Faby, teacher, mentor, leader
Sendy, Tutor
Clarmita works between the Maternity house and the Harbor House. Marjorie is employed by Heartline as a result of being a long-time earthquake patient. Marjorie lost her hand in the earthquake. Together with the teen moms she shares the job of laundry and overseeing the cleaning of Harbor House. They work together as a team. Marjorie could work circles around any two-handed person we know. She is amazing.

The teen moms all pitch in daily with both cooking and cleaning. Faby was hired to work with the girls on discipleship and speaks English, Creole, and French. She is working with the girls three days a week.  Sendy was a tutor after the earthquake for some of the long-time patients. She now works with one or two girls at a time and tutors them at the level they are at in school.  All but two of the teen moms are in elementary school.  Two of the teen moms are in sewing school.  Two are taking literacy classes to learn to read and write Creole.

The program seeks to meet each young women where she is and help her learn and improve from her starting point. Because some girls were raised as servants and others were sent to school, they have a great variance in their levels of education.


The Place:
Harbor House: A place of refuge

Each day there are planned activities (school, chores, classwork, group Bible study) and each month there are days the girls are able to leave to go visit family.  Saturday and Sunday are visitation days when the girls' families can come to the Harbor House.

The most important thing happening at Harbor House is the daily modeling of respect, conflict resolution, child-rearing, and problem solving. The day in and day out real-life examples being shared by those of us that are living here in community with them far exceeds the importance of reading, writing, or arithmetic.

Sarah D. and Sarah O ~ friends of the HH community
Dokte Jen - Harbor House Pediatrician
Three newest babies at Harbor House - all born within four days of each other

As we are now in the position to begin to ask for long-term funding for this program, one thing stands out to us. The success of Harbor House will be hard to quantify.  It is not as flashy and easy to sell as a lot of programs in Haiti. The things we are attempting to impart are hard to measure.

Teaching a young woman to be a gentle and involved mother takes time, especially when that young woman did not have an involved and gentle mother herself. Modeling behaviors and attitudes takes time.  Living an example of healthy conflict-resolution and non-violence is a day-to-day task. The long-term investment into the lives of these young mothers and their children may eventually sow tangible results, but patience will be required in order to see those.

This program is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Once the young women leave the house we'll continue to be in relationship with them.

It is our hope and our belief that investing in these young mothers is investing in the future. Eight young moms raise eight secure, well-loved, well-attached children who go on to raise their own well-loved, well-attached and secure children ... and so it begins.  (We hope.)

Because the success of this program will have much to do with long-term relationships and trust built between the leaders (full-time missionaries) and the residents we won't often have a need for short-term teams. Thank you for loving the girls enough to ask to come, but in a one week trip without language skills it would be difficult to build the trust needed to minister to them.

People often ask us what we need. For those that have asked, first and foremost - more than anything else - we desperately need prayer coverage as we attempt to address the systems that poverty creates as well as habits that need revision and reform.

Click here for a thought provoking post about caring for teen-moms, why is it difficult?

Click here to read about what motivates us  ... a belief that love empowers.

We hope that individuals, small groups, and churches will find value in what we're attempting to do at Harbor House.  We're looking for long term commitments to fund this program.  We trust that this program, born out of a desperate need in a desperate country, will be funded. Our projected annual operating budget is $37,000.  We're looking for partners that might want to invest in these lives in one of many ways:

Sponsor one day at Harbor House: $101

Sponsor one week at Harbor House: $712

Sponsor one day every month for each month of the year: $1,212

Would you take this information, think on it a while and allow it to settle?

Would you then consider approaching your misisons committe, your spouse, your friends, and ask them if it might be an option for them or your group to come along side this work?  Would you be state-side partners to those of us on the ground here?

Please pray about joining us to support this program as we daily do the on-going work to empower these young women and their precious children by sharing the redeeming, reforming, miraculous love of God with them. 

For those wishing to sponsor a day, a week, a month, or more, you can enclose a note with your check when mailing it to Heartline, mark it "Harbor House".

email to let her know your paypal donation was intended for the support of the Harbor House.

Heartline Ministries PO Box 898, Sunnyside WA  98944