Oklahoma Baptist University

Professor Shares Hope with Haitians through Music Camp

Students play the violin at the North Haiti Music Camp, which provides an annual opportunity for musical and leadership growth for Haitians.

Each summer, Dr. Louima Lilite spends a couple of weeks ministering to the people of Haiti, teaching them music appreciation at the North Haiti Music Camp (NHMC). It's a relatively long journey for the Oklahoma Baptist University associate professor of music. But for Lilite, it's also a return home and an opportunity to give back to a camp which made his own future in music possible.

Lilite grew up in Haiti. His parents served as Christian missionaries in the remote Haitian village of Wasenbeck. And at the North Haiti Music Camp, Lilite's passion for music grew. This summer, he'll help others discover more about music during the camp, conducted July 15-28. It will be Lilite's 11th year to volunteer.

"Ms. Laurel Casséus, a native of Haiti, founded North Haiti Music Camp in 1977, with the vision to train Haitian choral directors to become more effective leaders and musicians in their local churches," Lilite said. "Between 1985 and 1991, the camp grew to such proportions that there was a strong band program, a children's choir, two adult choirs, a good string program, several advanced piano students, and much more."

The camp is designed for those who don't have sufficient funds to pay for music lessons, yet have a passion to express themselves in song. In fact, Lilite experienced his first formal lesson at the camp when he was child. It is a completely volunteer-based organization seeking "to empower individuals to use music to reach out to others with the love of Jesus, and to equip leaders to bring about positive change in their communities, their churches and their own lives," Lilite said.

The mission of the North Haiti Music Camp clearly is being fulfilled, confirmed through the lives of students who have attended the camp.

"Alumni of the camp have gone on to become pastors, doctors, musicians, educators and other professionals who have impacted thousands of individuals in their respective fields," Lilite said. "It continues to transform the lives of passers-by who stand mesmerized as beautiful sounds from the camp choirs, the band and selected soloists erupt in the afternoon sky in the town of Limbé."

One of the main focuses for North Haiti Music Camp is to educate the Haitian people, because those who are educated have a greater influence in the community. With music being a central part of Haiti's culture, people with knowledge of music have the ability to bring about change in a Christ-centered manner due to the instruction they received during camp.

"It is with the belief that literacy and Christ-centered training can bring about change - and release people from the bondage of poverty and a life without Christ - that the leadership of the camp continues tirelessly in this outreach" Lilite said. "Through music, the Haitian people retain a vital link to a remarkable history and a proud national identity."

To maintain the ministry, the camp partners with the Haiti Hope fund, started by former missionary Ivah Heneise. The fund was established to help those in underdeveloped countries receive education through Christ-centered instruction. North Haiti Music Camp uses the funds to supply scholarships to students as well as to maintain the facilities at the camp.

For more information regarding the camp and how to get involved, contact Lilite through e-mail at louima.lilite@okbu.edu.

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