When we were down in Haiti in April, we met an interpreter named Alain. He worked with us for the week we were there and he and I (Paul) established a bit of a bond. Alain had a great smile and a deep, infectious laugh. One afternoon while we were sitting on the porch of the mission house I asked Alain, “What can we do to create jobs here? Get people working?” It’s the question everyone asks about Haiti – a place that has gotten used to handouts when that is far from a solution.
“I want to show soccer matches in my village,” said Alain. “I can get 3-4 Haitian dollars (about .08-.10 US) to show matches. Maybe even more for big matches.”
For those of us in the United States with TVs in every room, this seems a bit silly. A dime to watch a soccer game? In Haiti, TVs are extremely rare. And TVs with a satellite that can get soccer matches beamed in? Like finding a Sasquatch.
Over the next couple of hours, Alain and I cobbled together a business plan around showing soccer matches, movies with French audio, kids shows in French, etc. What admission fee can the market bear? How many matches can he show? What about the downtime when there are no matches? How will we get power? In the end, we came up with the costs and what Alain would need to get rolling. Dispatch decided to give him a loan (not a handout, but a loan) to kickstartthings.
Below are some pictures of “Alain’s Cinema House”. There is still work to do with figuring out the power issues, programming, marketing – the same stuff any business struggles with. I hope this venture can prove successful for Alain. If not, we will learn from it and continue to find ways to create jobs – even if it is just one – and through those jobs, be the hands and feet of Christ.