Mom in Haiti in the spring. This winter, I'll be joining her in this picture!!

A few times, I've mentioned my plans to go to Haiti in the relatively near future and have given (seemingly empty) promises to provide more info. Well, finally, here it is. Following is a letter I wrote that gives a bit more information about the logistics and vision of my trip, as well as info on how you can support me financially, if you so wish:

Dear Friends,
I am writing to share with you an exciting opportunity and to solicit your support in pursuing it. During my final months in Ha Noi, as I wondered what on Earth I would do next, God stepped in—as usual, in a way I wasn’t really expecting. My mom, fresh back from a ten-day trip to the recently-earthquake-shaken Haiti, invited me to go along with her on another, longer trip to the same destination. I agreed, and we plan to spend November 8 to December 24, 2010 in Haiti.

My mom, who has had a vested interest in Haiti ever since she spent a trimester there in college, reconnected with a Haitian family she had known then. The Hudicourt family founded a private hospital in Port Au Prince, and is generally deeply involved in promoting growth in the country. When Mom visited, she asked the Hudicourts and other Haitians she met how she, a non-Haitian, could be the most helpful. In summary, their response was three-fold; they said she could help as follows:
1. Listening and telling the stories of Haitian heroes and struggling businesses.
2. Facilitating interactions between Haitian and non-Haitian professionals in which ideas, techniques and inspiration can be mutually shared.
3. Soliciting financial support during the transition from an aid-based to a self-sustaining economy.
The Hudicourts encouraged my mom to return, and me to join her. You might ask, “Which organization are you going with? What, exactly, will you accomplish while you are there? What are your goals?” Well, it is hard for us to explain what we plan to accomplish while we are in Haiti. Why? Because we want to operate by a radical plan: Listening first.

We plan to listen to what Haitians are saying. First, listen to their stories, learn what they see as the problems and be open to their ideas. Second, keep our eyes open, looking for Haitians who are doing good things for their people. Third, we want to offer ourselves, to make our own gifts and talents available to support Haitians who are helping Haitians.

Now, we do have some ideas, instigated by the contacts Mom made in the spring. She plans to work with Haitian artists who are striving to use their art to support themselves, their families, and not least, the Haitian economy. She will also investigate the feasibility of straw bale building in Haiti, where straw is a plentiful but wasted resource. And she will help my Dad put together a continuing medical education conference where Haitian and North American physicians and nurses will teach and learn together. And me…I plan to tag along and document it. The stories, the needs, the hope, and, most importantly, how people like me, you, and all the other non-Haitians can help Haiti to build itself up to be stronger than it was before.

I have been invited to partner with World Next Door, an online Christian social justice travel magazine based out of Indiana. I will work as a journalist for this organization, which seeks to move suburban Americans to action by using journalism to make them aware of social justice issues around the country and the world. I will also continue updating my blog, and am open to and searching for other publication venues.

I really can’t do this on my own, though. Having been a volunteer for the past year, I am not in a position in which I can support this venture financially. I estimate that I need $3915, a figure that would cover airfare, room and board, in-country travel and interpreter expenses, and minimal medical insurance. If you would like to contribute, please send your (tax deductible) check to:
World Next Door
720 Willowbrook Dr
Fishers, IN 46038

Please address checks to “World Next Door” and write “Haiti 4” in the subject line. Excess funds will go toward World Next Door’s continuing journalistic ministry.

If you have any questions (or just want to say “hi!”) feel free to email me at c.r.schlabach@gmail.com. In addition to your financial support, I covet your thoughts, prayers, and your reading of my articles and sharing them with your communities.

Thank you for your continued support,

Calah Schlabach
a mural Mom helped to paint at the Hatian Community Hospital during her spring visit

Like I said in the letter, if you cannot or do not wish to support me financially, I still covet your prayers, emails, and interest. If nothing else, please check out World Next Door !!!

If you are interested in more information about the situation in Haiti and, particularly, about how people like you can support Haitians who are working to rebuild their country, email my parents at birkbach@hotmail.com to receive emails about Haitians Helping Haitians.


i thank You God for most this amazing day

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of a sky ;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday ;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

--e.e. cummings