Everything Started with Craig and Kathi Juntunen

They had seen pictures of starving and abandoned children in the streets of this poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. They had researched the statistics of how natural disasters and economic, political and social instability had ravaged Haiti. And they had listened to stories of how a friend had adopted two girls from Haiti to give them a chance to thrive. The Juntunens’ hearts were stirred. They knew they had to do something to help the children.

In 2005, they made their first trips to Haiti, where they met the two boys and one girl they would shortly after adopt to nurture and to love.

Helping in Many Ways

This love spread to even more children as the Juntunens founded Chances for Children in 2006, and today the organization transforms the lives of hundreds of Haitians as local church leaders are empowered to bring restoration to their communities.

The non-profit organization’s original mission was to provide funding and management for Crèche Enfant Jesus, an existing adoption orphanage run by Gina and Lucien Duncan in the small village of Lamerdelle east of Port au Prince. In its early days, C4C helped fund the community’s local school along with electricity and the addition of a water purification system. The community project was transitioned to the Duncan family at the end of 2009.

Another natural disaster, this time an earthquake, struck Haiti in 2010, and Chances for Children quickly responded, delivering more than 46,000 pounds of food, medicine and supplies to Haitian villages.

A Growing Relationship

Since that time Chances for Children has partnered with Pastor Renelus Maxime of the Arche de L’Alliance Church in Kenscoff, Haiti, with the belief Haiti can only be restored through faith-based programs that empower local church leaders and their communities.

C4C’s main campus in Kenscoff, a mountainous area 15 miles east of Port Au Prince, is home to a crèche, a pediatric medical clinic, a guest house, agricultural programs, clean water systems, a vocational training center, two women’s empowerment programs with jewelry and sewing, and a Bible college for church leaders.

Through the relationship with Pastor Renelus Maxime and the 13 churches under his association, C4C also operates feeding programs, mobile medical clinics, clean water systems and women’s programs in a dozen other locations. Currently, the ministry employs 160 individuals in Haiti, including those pastors who are trained, mentored and supported to lead their communities from the stages of survival and stability to sustainability.

The children of Haiti captured the hearts of Craig and Kathi Juntunen before the couple ever set foot on this island country in the Caribbean Sea.

Haiti's History

The Small Island Country

Haiti is a small country, which shares an island with the Dominican Republic, and has a surface area of just 27,750 square kilometers (10,714 square miles). Haiti is second only to Barbados as the most densely populated country (399 per square kilometer or 1,032 people per square mile) in the Americas. Currently, there are 10.9 million people living in Haiti.

Haiti has a long history of under development and political instability.  The struggling country is beset by widespread poverty, economic decline, violence, food scarcity, poor education, unemployment, poor governance, and lack of resources. Natural disasters, such as the earthquake of 2010 and Hurricane Matthew of 2016, has left the unstable country even more vulnerable. Haiti is in desperate need of economic improvement.

Some staggering facts about the situation in Haiti:

42% of children less than five years of age suffer from stunting of growth.
Literacy rates in Haiti for the general population were 60.7% in 2015.
There are over 35,000 children without parents in Haiti.
72 out of 1,000 children will die before the age of 5.
Haiti has the highest maternal death ratio in the western hemisphere, leaving many children orphaned within their first week of life.
Only 57.7% of the population have access to an improved water source.
In rural areas only 17.2% of the inhabitants have electricity.
Haiti is ranked 163rd out of 188 on the 2016 United Nations Human Development index.
The World Food Program reports that food supply covers only 55% of the population.
WFP also reports that 3/4 of the population lives on less than $2 per day and 1/2 of the population earns less than $1 per day.
Haiti ranks among the three worst countries in the world in daily caloric intake per person.