Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken and several business leaders are getting inspiration from a small city in Haiti. The group, made up of about a dozen people, just got back from a service trip through Mission Haiti and the Dispatch Project organization.
He may now be Mayor, but that’s not stopping TenHaken from making his annual trip to help those in need in a Haitian city called Ti Riviere.
“This is how I’m going to spend a week of vacation every year. This is not a city junket. This is not a political trip. This is me needing to go to Haiti to recharge my batteries and get some perspective each year,” TenHaken said.
He remembers one Haitian woman from last week who told him not to forget about what he saw… from a lack of housing to hunger.
“Don’t make this a just a one time thing. Don’t forget about me. Come back. Help me. Help us here in Haiti. I’ll carry that line with me for a while and remember her saying that to me,” TenHaken said.
TenHaken has been making the trip for several years and through a local organization, he tries to inspire others to join him.
The Christian organization is called Dispatch Project. A dozen local leaders joined TenHaken this time around, using their own time and money for the cause including Click Rain CEO Natalie Eisenberg. Surprised by the level of poverty, she’s now sponsoring three kids through Mission Haiti.
“Two the ages of my own children and then a high school girl who’s on her way to being a doctor. I’m really looking forward to continuing the communication with those kids and hopefully seeing them through to many successes,” Eisenberg said.
City of Sioux Falls Public Works Director Mark Cotter also went and brought his daughter with him.
“We got to experience it together. There’s certainly a lot of highs and lows when you go to a developing country but I certainly took great perspective back on the good fortunes that we have here in the USA and Sioux Falls and know that there will be ways that we can help,” Cotter said.
TenHaken says Sioux Falls residents can make a difference outside of KELOLAND.
“That’s what I want people to know is that our work is not just in Sioux Falls. Our work is around the world and we can have impact wherever we want,” TenHaken said.
During the trip, the group visited local schools, met with orphans and conducted home visits.