The mission of Emmaus House is to transition orphaned youth into independent living in Haiti.
Emmaus House empowers orphaned youth and restores their hope through Christ.
We believe that orphaned Haitian youth can heal, grow, and thrive in Christian, familial settings. We believe these young people have the potential to create generational change as faithful leaders in their communities.
Haiti has long been the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. Fifty-nine percent of its 10.7 million inhabitants live beneath the international poverty line, earning less than $2 per day (World Bank 2012). Most of the country is underdeveloped with minimal infrastructure in regard to healthcare, education, basic sanitation, and employment, creating an environment where 2/3 of the labor force do not have jobs.
It is estimated that there are over 300,000 orphaned children in Haiti. Without the support system of a family and the stigma of being an orphan, a young person in this environment is rarely afforded the opportunity to obtain a successful future.
We believe the greatest untapped resource for a healthier future for Haiti is found in its children and youth. Over 50% of Haiti's population is under the age of 24. We acknowledge the neglect in this critical population and believe that failing to invest in young people is a loss for the entire developing country. These young people are the future of Haiti.
An estimated 32,000 children reside in 760 orphanages. These young people "age out" of the orphanage system at 18 and often have no where to go. Worldwide, youth who grow up institutionalized are 40x more likely to become criminals and 10x more likely to enter prostitution in order to survive. These youth are also 500x more likelty to attempt suicide after aging out. Not all orphaned children in Haiti grow up in orphanages. An estimated 300,000 children reside in the restavek system where a children is sold or given to another another as a slave in exchange for shelter, food, and sometimes, although not often, education.
In January 2013 Hunter and Jillian Kittrell received notice from Haitian social services (IBESR) that all youth, ages 18 and older, were required to leave the orphanage where they were living and serving as full-time directors. Having witnessed what life was like for orphaned youth in Haiti, they knew they needed to find a way to stand in the gap for these often forgotten young adults.
With the help of Gerome Annee (Program Administrator) and Tanya Pirtle (Executive Director), the concept of Emmaus House was created. In August 2013, Emmaus House opened its doors to 17 youth in Cap Haitien, Haiti, and has been committed to helping orphaned youth transition into adulthood ever since.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
There is a story in Luke 24 about two men who traveled the road to Emmaus shortly after Jesus’ death on the cross. Feeling as though all hope had been lost, they mourned the loss of their Savior. As they walked, Jesus met them on the road. Although they didn’t recognize who He was, Jesus journeyed alongside of them. Arriving at Emmaus they broke bread together and the men’s eyes were opened. Jesus was alive and with them, and their hope in life was fully restored.
We chose the name Emmaus House because just like the two men in the Bible, we want our youth to journey alongside Jesus in order to find true hope. Yes, they all have endured tragedy and live in a country where so many odds are against them, but with Jesus all things are possible. They are not alone. He is always with them. We want Emmaus House to be a place where Haitian youth can come to have their eyes opened to Christ and their hope in life restored
When Emmaus House was originally founded, it was our intent to only serve youth aging out of the Cap Haitien Children's Home. However, we quickly became overwhelmed by the cast needs of all the orphaned youth who were aging out of the various systems in which they were brought up. Witnessing this need, we decided to expand our approach beyond the CHCH.
Currently we rent two houses and are at capacity with 17 residential student at one time. In the Fall of 2016 we began fundraising to build a new facility which will enable us to serve 30 residential students at one time. Owning our own property will allow us to become a more financially sustainable ministry, have a permanent residence in the city, and almost double the number of residential youth we can serve at one time. In addition to our residential homes, the new campus will also include an administrative building, an outdoor classroom, and a small guest house.