From left, Brooke Caballero, Karisa Bitner, Megan Brueseke and Christina Surber show off dresses made from pillowcases they will be taking to Haitian children next month. The fifth member of the team, not pictured, is Pamela Sparks.
From left, Brooke Caballero, Karisa Bitner, Megan Brueseke and Christina Surber show off dresses made from pillowcases they will be taking to Haitian children next month. The fifth member of the team, not pictured, is Pamela Sparks.

Archived Story

Empowering moms in Haiti

Published 11:14pm Monday, May 6, 2013

A team of five local women will be reaching out to Haitian women when they journey to the impoverished Caribbean nation next month.

The four young moms and one new grandmother will be supporting an organization called Empowering Haitian Moms, run by missionary Stacie Ulysse and her Haitian husband. Team leader Megan Brueseke knows Ulysse personally.

“This has been something on my heart for a while,” Brueseke said. “Stacie went to Haiti right after the earthquake, and ever since she’s been really passionate about Haiti.”

The organization aims to support mothers in the Haitian area of Montrouis so they do not have to give up their children or leave them along for many hours at a time while they work, which are both common in Haiti, Brueseke said.

“Some women in Haiti will give their children away because they don’t have the resources to care for them,” she said. “A lot of them spend their whole day trying to sell fried food on the side of the road.”

Brueseke organized an event to sew dresses for children out of old materials and spare fabric several months ago. At first, she intended to send the dresses to Haiti, but then felt the Lord was leading her and other women to deliver them personally.

In addition to the dresses, the women will be building benches from kits, building tarp homes, delivering needed physical items like mosquito nets and cloth diapers. They also will show the women gardening techniques they can use to feed their families and earn an income.

But most importantly, the team will be able to share love and encouragement with the mostly single mothers and their families, the women said.

“All of us are moms,” said team member Karisa Bitner. “We know what it’s like to care for our children. For me, that’s kind of a big thing when it’s something so personal and dear to me.”

Team member Brooke Caballero said it is the duty of people who have knowledge and resources to pass it along to people who don’t.

“We want to let them know they are treasured and there is a purpose and a plan for their life,” she said.

Christina Surber of Suffolk’s Cypress Chapel Christian Church said children in Haiti can be sent to school for about $300 a year — about minimum wage for a week’s labor in the United States, but difficult to come by in Haiti.

“To them, that’s years and years of labor,” Surber said. “They just need the basic necessities to help.”

Pamela Sparks, the grandmother on the team, said the trip is an opportunity not to fix everything wrong with Haitian mothers’ lives, but just to let them know they are loved.

“Though it is for sure I cannot always fix anything, I can do what Jesus does, which is to enter in to someone else’s life and circumstances and come to know their hard places and their hurt and celebrated the triumph of knowing Jesus in any circumstance,” she said.

Surber said the trip is sure to change people on both sides.

“We’re going to serve, but we’re going to bring back life changes for us,” she said.

Items or financial contributions can be given to Community Church at Western Branch, 1935 Jolliff Road, Chesapeake, VA 23321 (where all the women except Surber attend church) or to Cypress Chapel Christian Church, 1891 Cypress Chapel Road, Suffolk, VA 23434. Write Haiti Mission Trip in the memo line.

To donate directly to Empowering Haitian Moms, visit

  • PilgrimPastor


    Indeed, thank you for referring to these wonderful ladies as such because they are wonderful ladies doing a wonderful and courageous thing. As the previous respondent has mentioned you are very welcome to contact myself and / or any member of our leadership team. The Great Commission is specifically to our own communities, regional, and global. It is in no way an either / or proposition.

    “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mat 28:18-20)

    “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”(Act 1:8)

    I can’t speak for Community Church of Western Branch (the church most represented on the Haiti team), though I am certain they are engaged in local and foreign missions, but as for Cypress Chapel, we have a robust missional life locally with outreach literally within a mile of our location, people going on regional trips with great frequency, and a present and historically strong support of national and international ministries.

    In other words, we are doing both-and no either-or. If you have a desire for any honest dialogue on this or related matters,don’t post anonymously with a pseudonym on the Suffolk News Herald website, give me a call and we can arrange to meet; though I’m not confident you will.

    Most folks who like to condemn the good efforts of others with straw-man arguments usually prefer to throw anonymous darts from behind fences rather than to risk actually learning something from a courageous soul such as these fine ladies who are setting aside personal comforts, personal financial resources, to open up their hearts to people living on the ragged edge of civilization in one of the bottom five poorest nations on earth, where children are born in such abject poverty and lack of education and the most basic resources so as to have virtually no chance of bettering their life. These people need Christ as deeply as you or I do and I applaud these women for having the courage to open their hearts in so courageous a fashion as this.

    There is no room for criticism of these women. Perhaps you’ll be courageous enough to call me so we may discuss these matters in an honest and respectful manner. But I doubt you will. Good day sir.

    Pastor Chris Surber
    Cypress Chapel Christian Church

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  • humbleone

    You are assuming a lot to assume that work is not being done at Cypress Chapel in the local community. That is factual inaccurate. You are welcome to attend our fellowship or speak to any member of the Cypress Chapel leadership team, if this is something that concerns you personally in regards to the specifics that we support.
    However, that is a side note and not the heart of the story.
    The heart of the message is going where the Lord calls us in service to not just bring needed items, but also spreading the Word of Christ to those that have not heard the message. Goods and services are a vehicle in which God opens a door to allow the Gospel message into their lives.
    As Christians we are all citizens of the World not just our neighborhoods. We have a duty and a calling to feed the poor, scripture does not give us the GPS, only the presence of the Holy Spirit living in us to guide us of where we shall go.
    I will pray for you to be released of your bitterness and judgment for people going forth in the name of Christ to do a good work . Going into Haiti is not the sum total of the calling on these women’s lives. It is part of the story, not the whole story.

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  • humbleone

    This unknown author said it best…”The heart of the Great Commission revolves around the ministry of the local church for God’s plan to carry out His mission and is centered in the church body (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:11-16). It is the only vehicle seen in the New Testament for the completion of the Great Commission.

    It is the divine duty of the church and should be at the heart of every local church. Every church must be involved in God’s mission to win and disciple the peoples of the world making disciples where they are. In order to make disciples, the church must be a participant in the mission.”

    Now go serve where you are called some local and some foreign.

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    • whitemarshtaxpayer

      I am very very sure that within the cypress chapel community there are many that could use the help of the wonderful ladies that are doing this ministry . How can you pass someone that needs help very close to you in your own community and get on a plane to find someone that you have no ties to help ..

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  • whitemarshtaxpayer

    Ladies , I commend you on your venture but you dont have to travel to Haiti to do great things … There are many kids and moms in our own neighborhoods that could use your wonderful help! I am sure any elementary school teacher could tell you where to look ..

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