Giving from the Heart, Texas Couple Helping Haiti Amid Personal Crisis
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Aug. 4, 2020) Dallas native Ben Hewett has a philanthropic heart as big as the state he calls home. The Texas businessman and his wife, Connie, built a community of 20 homes in Bernard, Port-de-Paix, Haiti, through Food For The Poor and they are working on establishing a second community.
Giving back is something the couple deeply desired, but the path was uncertain. Hewett, 62, said that after years of deep prayer and extensive research they decided to sponsor children in Haiti through Colorado-based Compassion International, and work with Food For The Poor to build two homes in the Caribbean nation. The couple visited FFTP’s Florida headquarters in March 2018.
“Our strategy was to accomplish more through a few missions, rather than a little through many,” Hewett said. “Pursuing our objective started with evaluating ministries that we could trust to use our contributions effectively and that our Lord Jesus would receive the credit.”
In April 2018, the Hewetts traveled to Haiti for the first time to assist Compassion International with planting a child development center and church. Seeing the dire need in Port-de-Paix forever changed the couple and their personal mission.
“Bernard, Haiti, is a remote undeveloped area, served only by a difficult-to-navigate dirt road with no electricity, sewer or water service,” said Hewett, an executive vice president at a building firm. “We observed a couple of tiny huts constructed from what appeared to be a variety of scrap materials. The roofs and walls had many gaps where they were not weather tight. They also did not appear to be stable or secure. Some walls were simple stretches of cloth between other scrap materials.”
Moved by what they witnessed, the couple wanted the families of the children who would be attending their child development center to have safe homes, so they partnered with FFTP to build stable homes in the area. In November 2018, FFTP completed 20 homes in the Bernard community; including solar-powered lighting and clean water access through rainwater harvesting.
“We are amazed at what Food For The Poor was able to accomplish,” Hewett said. “The conditions would have been overwhelmingly difficult in ‘normal’ Haiti circumstances, but the recent unrest and violence there made the project seem inconceivable. Food For The Poor validated the trust we put in them and we feel like we have a trusted partner that we have total confidence in.”
Motivated by their faith, the couple decided to fund another 20 homes for a second community in Planton Djany, Haiti, in 2020. They were moving ahead with the process when Ben was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Soft-spoken and private, the couple and their adult son focused on helping Ben get through his treatments.
Not to be sidelined, the Hewetts are more determined than ever to see the second sustainable community completed, even though the building work in Haiti has slowed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are sincerely humbled by the determination of the Hewetts, who have not let a personal challenge or this virus hold them back from accomplishing their mission to help those who are truly in dire need,” Food For The Poor President/CEO Ed Raine said. “I truly admire their compassion for the people of Haiti, which motivates us to do all that we can to help break the cycle of poverty.”
Content with their choices and longing to do more, the Hewetts have decided to move forward with hope and optimism.
“We feel the Bernard experience was very successful, and while much remains to be accomplished, Bernard has a great foundation to build their community upon,” Hewett said.
“Our Lord has equipped us to do more, and we feel it’s a great use of the resources we have been blessed with.”
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for orphaned and abandoned children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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