In 1944 Rueben and Lila Clark arrived in Haiti with a burden for the interior of Haiti, the Central Plateau. In 1945 - 1946 they moved to the small inland village of Pignon to preach Christ where His name was unknown - or so they thought. Instead, they found 300 people who knew of "The Great One" and had been praying for a teacher for twelve years. During the period between 1946 and Rueben's death in 1951, the Clarks established some of the first schools in the area and laid the basis for what are now an estimated 80 indigenous churches.
Lila stayed eight more years translating Sunday school material into the people's native Creole language. She then returned to the United States to educate her daughter.
For several years Lila returned to Haiti each summer to teach English and Bible classes. Then in the late 1970's she returned full time to Haiti to establish a secondary school on the Central Plateau. In 1977 Lila and a group of Christian educators formed the Haitian American Friendship Foundation (HAFF). With the help of a grant from American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA), HAFF constructed eleven buildings used for classroom and technical training on a forty-acre campus. The secondary school, l’Institut Pratique de Bohoc or IBP, opened in the early ’80’s and teaches more than 200 students in their teens and early twenties in grades 7 through 13. Classes are taught by a combination of Haitian and American staff.
In 1986 Connie Curilla joined the full-time missionary staff at HAFF as a teacher and field bookkeeper. She lived full-time on HAFF’s campus and worked with various programs in addition to running the eyeglass clinic until 2011. She is now the US administrator for HAFF.
Since the early ’90’s Dr. Jerry Pennington, an American dentist, has spent up to six months per year in Bohoc under a cooperative agreement with HAFF. He has maintained a full service dental clinic employing a staff of Haitians whom he has trained. Services have included basic cleaning, fillings, extractions and the manufacturing of dentures.
The team was joined by the Wilson family in 2006, Colin, Carla and their two daughters Becky and Rachel. The Wilsons have a history of family farming, so Colin and Carla have worked with the Haitians to refine the agricultural ministry of HAFF. Carla works to develop curriculum and teach in the school and Colin works with HAFF’s Haitian field bookkeeper. They both serve on the Haitian American Executive Committee.
Jon and Kathy DeRuischer and their five children began their service at HAFF in March 2018. While Kathy home schools the children and works in the eyeglass clinic, Jon coordinates visiting teams and maintains the buildings and grounds of our main campus. He also serves on the Haitian American Executive Committee.
Dr. David Selvey became the HAFF executive director in August 2019. He leads the week-to-week operations of the ministry developing and implementing strategies for development and growth of the ministry. He works directly with the board of directors, the American staff, and the Haitian American Executive Committee.
Over the years HAFF's ministry has expanded beyond the borders of the 40-acre campus striving to create a holistic ministry meeting the spiritual, educational and physical needs of the Bohoc community and surrounding area. HAFF's education program has grown to provide community education through a number of different programs. HAFF helps to provide training for administrators and teachers in underprivileged rural primary schools in the area. Project Healthy Family works in conjunction with Haitian volunteers in remote areas teaching literacy, health, hygiene, and evangelism. Few pastors in Haiti have formal training creating a great need to equip local pastors with a better understanding of God's Word and how to effectively teach Biblical principles. To meet this need HAFF utilizes visiting North American pastors as well as full-time staff members to teach and mentor local church leaders. Rural Haiti has many regionally and community based peasant groups dedicated to acquiring training to share with their groups. Countless opportunities exist to present potentially beneficial workshops and mini-seminars on subjects such as bee keeping, soap making, fruit tree grafting, basic first aid, carpentry, and small engine repair to name a few.
HAFF understands the importance of meeting physical needs in addition to spiritual and educational. HAFF has developed mercy ministries to better address many of the physical needs of this area. HAFF maintains a small medical dispensary managed by Haitian nationals to help respond to the great demand for reasonably priced health care. Visiting doctors and nurses from the United States and Canada have the opportunity to help in our on-site clinic or participate in one or two day mobile clinics to remote areas. Visiting medical professionals are encouraged to exchange techniques and information with our Haitian medical staff. HAFF also has a clinic that distributes eyeglasses when they are available.