By ANDY GOODELL
The Oskaloosa Herald
NEW SHARON —
He’s seen what life is like in both Nicaragua and Haiti and he wants to help.
The Rev. Terry Pollard, of the New Sharon United Methodist Church, recently completed a mission trip to Nicaragua along with a handful of other missionaries from Iowa.
Since the late 1970s, Pollard has also done mission work in Haiti, which is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Nicaragua being the second poorest. Pollard compared the difference between Haiti and Nicaragua to the difference between the United States and Mexico.
“The difference between the first and second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere is the difference between the United States and Mexico,” explained Pollard. “Haiti is incredibly impoverished. It’s actually a culture shock when you go to Haiti.”
In Haiti, the average yearly wage in U.S. Dollars is around $600, said Pollard. In Nicaragua, average yearly wage is $2,900 in U.S. Dollars.
Pollard will venture to Haiti once again during the last week of this month in to June.
For this mission effort, Pollard will go to Les Cayes on the southern peninsula of Haiti. He’ll spend time in a community called the Village of Hope.
Pollard said there is an Iowa connection to post-earthquake Haiti. He said there’s housing in Haiti, which was made by the Sukup company in Iowa.
“They have built modular housing in that area,” said Pollard.
While there, Pollard will do leadership training. He said he’s having a three-day conference with up to 100 pastors/community leaders.
Typically, when Pollard goes to Haiti, he does “poverty intervention training,” which is basically leadership training. Many of these Haitian leaders are in their 20s and 30s, added Pollard.
These leaders are making a difference in heath, education and agriculture.
Pollard’s first trip to Haiti, back in 1979, was his first time being outside of the U.S. He went with his father and others for about 10 days. That trip left a lasting impression on Pollard.
“It just kind of caught my heartbeat and I’ve learned to love the Haitian people,” said Pollard.
In the decades since that first trip, Pollard has been back to Haiti numerous times. Over the years, he’s seen a lot.
“In many, many ways, Haiti is very much like it was in 1979,” explained Pollard. “Hence — the continued poverty.”
That being said, there have been improvements in agricultural intervention, sanitation and health education, said Pollard. He also pointed to a reduction in issues with Malaria.
When it comes to his purpose while in either Haiti or Nicaragua, Pollard it was to “help you to learn how to use the resources you have to make it better for your people.” A lot of this comes with education, he said.
In his years doing mission work in Haiti, Pollard said he’s always stayed in a Haitian household or mission home, rather than a hotel. This next time he goes will be the first time he’s stayed in a hotel while in Haiti.
“I’ve slept on straw mats and dirt floors in Haiti,” said Pollard.
As for Haiti’s future, Pollard remains positive.
“There’s a tremendous amount of hope and there’s a lot of education going on,” Pollard said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on. It’s just taking a lot of work and a lot of time to get it done.”
Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.