Teresa Long plays with children in Haiti

Love of Our Neighbor fund ... part of community benefit ... helps to bring radio signals to economically challenged area

Haiti    Monday, April 29, 2019

Teresa Long has special connections with Haiti; those connections arose immediately before her senior year of high school when she visited her uncle, a Bible school teacher, in the Caribbean country.

In fact, she met her future husband, a Drexel University student at the time, in Haiti and then lived in the country for three and a half years beginning in the late 1970s.

But a very special connection for Long, executive director of Twining Village, is the continuing work she does with her engineer-husband and teams of other volunteers to repair and improve Haiti’s communications infrastructure.

The volunteers do this by supporting the Radio Lumière organization, a communications lifeline for the economically disadvantaged country. Through nine radio stations and one television station, Radio Lumière reaches more than 90 percent of the country.

The goal was to replace a 250-foot radio tower, each section weighing 300 pounds ...

“It’s the primary means of public communication in the country,” Long says. “TV is only in big cities, like the capital city. There is limited newspaper in the highly illiterate country. Radio Lumière is the source for news, education and encouragement. Haiti is a very religious country, so there’s also religious programming.”

Long and her husband have organized small teams of volunteers to tackle Radio Lumière projects since 2004. The teams pull from the expertise of engineers based in the United States and Europe.

One of their most recent projects shows how challenging their work can be. The goal was to replace a 250-foot radio tower, which had to be disassembled and replaced in 20-foot sections, each weighing 300 pounds. Local residents and engineers worked alongside the volunteers in 80- to 90-degree weather.

“The terrain is rough,” says Long. “There are no cranes in the country. This project was done with manual labor and pulleys.”

A nurse, Long makes sure everyone on the team stays healthy, hydrated and safe. She also helps with tasks such as painting. Her husband handles the logistics of getting needed supplies and structures, including the radio tower, to the country, which is part of the island of Hispaniola.

Closer to home, Long also feels connected to the Haitian staff at Twining Village, who hold medical technician and housekeeping positions.

“I think they are surprised when they learn I can speak their language,” she says. 

Long joined Diakon in 2017 and learned about the Love of The Neighbor Fund the following year, as she was planning her latest trip to Haiti. “I would not have been able to do it without that support,” she says.

Workers prepare to place another tower section.

Teresa Long’s volunteerism was supported by Diakon’s Love of Our Neighbor fund, whose impact is calculated as part of Diakon’s annual community benefit. To read more about our community benefit, which totaled more than $21 million in 2018, see our report.


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