Diaspora

The next 10 years; God's Planet for Haiti focuses on farming, increased support – Maryville Daily Times

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Jemps Maignan poses in front of the papaya trees planted to support his ministry, God’s Planet for Haiti, which operates a Christian school in Haiti.
Several students graduate from the preschool program at God’s Planet for Haiti Christian School in Hinche, Haiti. They are now first-graders.
Students at God’s Planet for Haiti Christian School participate in graduation ceremonies recently.
These students are part of God’s Planet for Haiti Christian School in Hinche, Haiti. There are 95 who attend.
Several community members, students and farmers came together to help God’s Planet for Haiti get its farming projects off the ground.
Jemps Maignan, founder of God’s Planet for Haiti, in front of the fish pond where he hopes to raise fish to sell. The money would go to support the school in Haiti that Maignan started almost 11 years ago.

Jemps Maignan poses in front of the papaya trees planted to support his ministry, God’s Planet for Haiti, which operates a Christian school in Haiti.
Several students graduate from the preschool program at God’s Planet for Haiti Christian School in Hinche, Haiti. They are now first-graders.
Students at God’s Planet for Haiti Christian School participate in graduation ceremonies recently.
These students are part of God’s Planet for Haiti Christian School in Hinche, Haiti. There are 95 who attend.
Several community members, students and farmers came together to help God’s Planet for Haiti get its farming projects off the ground.
Jemps Maignan, founder of God’s Planet for Haiti, in front of the fish pond where he hopes to raise fish to sell. The money would go to support the school in Haiti that Maignan started almost 11 years ago.
Come October, Maryville resident and Haitian native Jemps Maignan will have operated God’s Planet for Haiti Christian School for 11 years, making trips back to his homeland multiple times each year to ensure its success.
In the past, he’s organized trips that included teams from Remote Area Medical, a nonprofit based in Rockford that provides free health care to anyone who needs it. Nurses from Carson-Newman University have likewise made the journey to this Caribbean nation to help with clinics. And churches here in Blount County and beyond have offered their help with the annual Christmas shoebox project where Maignan provides things like underwear and socks to the students at his school along with a community meal.
The school, located in Hinche, provides a Christian education for 95 students in grades preschool through sixth. After that, they must enroll in one of Haiti’s government operated high schools. But Maignan has hopes that one day, he will receive enough support to add on a high school to his campus.
Taking volunteers with him to see God’s Planet for Haiti in action has been halted for now due to civil unrest and uprisings in Haiti. Maignan described the Haitian governments as very corrupt. Children, he said, should not be forgotten and deserve the chance at a good education so they can help those next in line.
Maignan just returned from a trip to Haiti where he saw firsthand a nation in turmoil.
“There was no fuel,” he said. “None at the gas stations. I had to buy from someone else. I paid $60 for four gallons. That’s $15 per gallon.”
Prices for everything else have also skyrocketed, Maignan said. “Food has become a luxury. People are suffering. It is really sad.”
Despite the hardships, God’s Planet for Haiti Christian School marches on. A graduation was held back in July for some of the school’s preschool kids as they prepared to enter first grade. Maignan was there in early September for a parents meeting and to gather with local farmers to ask their advice. The school sits on about 11 acres and is now farming some of the land to help feed the children and also support the school.
It is Maignan’s goal to one day make the school self-sustaining. Currently, God’s Planet for Haiti is growing plantains, papayas and beans. A pond has also been established to raise fish to sell and feed the students. It costs this nonprofit about $3,300 per month to operate the school. That includes feeding the children and paying staff.
“We are really trying to push agriculture,” he explained. “We had a group of students come from Port-au-Prince to try and help us.”
To move forward with this plan, the school will need things like a water pump, equipment to help plow the fields and food to feed the fish they are raising.
Over the past 11 years, there have been financial struggles, but this founder of God’s Planet for Haiti said he has never given up. He remembers desperate times seven years ago when the school needed $850. Maignan organized a yard sale, not knowing what else to do.
“We raised exactly $850,” he said.”We have never had to stop.”
For most of his recent trips, Maignan has been driving down to Miami to ship supplies before boarding a plane. He has a son, J.J.who is a second grader at Eagleton Elementary. J.J. helps with packing up supplies and is always finding ways to help the Haitian children, his dad said.
“I hope he stays with a giving heart,” Maignan said.
Gaining his U.S. citizenship was special for Maignan. He still has family in Haiti, including his parents and sisters.
There are always needs so Maignan asks for assistance from his community here in East Tennessee. He said God’s Planet for Haiti would never have survived these 11 years were it not for the love shown here. He is happy to visit local churches and organizations that would like more information on ways to help.
This is a ministry, Maignan said, that God laid on his heart when he was 14; he is now in his 40s. After moving to Maryville, he enrolled in electrical school and had a good paying job but gave it all up to answer this call. He said he never regrets that choice.
“I always ask myself, ‘What is my purpose on this earth?’” Maignan said. “It’s not to advance myself but to be a servant for God’s kids and God’s people. The Bible never said it would be easy. Jesus said ‘take up your cross.’ It’s not going to be easy but it’s not impossible either.”
Jemps Maignan, founder of God’s Planet for Haiti, is available to come speak to churches and other organizations about the ministry. Call him at 865-257-7680. He lives in Maryville. The website is godsplanetforhaiti.org.
Melanie joined The Daily Times in the early 90s and has served as the Life section editor since 1993. A William Blount and UT alum, Melanie is generally the early arriver who turns on the lights in the newsroom.
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