In 1968, Tony Wolf and his wife, Pearl, left their West Michigan farm home to improve conditions for the inhabitants on the Island of LaGonave, 15 miles off the mainland coast of Haiti. LaGonave, sometimes called the “forgotten Haiti”, has the reputation as the poorest area in the Western Hemisphere. Suffering almost continually from draught, it cannot produce food to sustain even a meager diet for the 100,000 inhabitants. West Indies Self Help (WISH) was born from Tony Wolf’s vision, emphasizing the need to provide a foundation for the local Haitians to improve their living conditions. Pearl Wolf died in 1979, but Tony continued his work on LaGonave until going home to the Lord in 1987.
WISH is a non-profit, inter-denominational mission governed by a thirteen-member volunteer board of directors, with full-time field directors serving on the island. The mission employs over twenty full-time Haitians and numerous part-time help through its involvement in a wide variety of community service and construction projects. These jobs provide steady income for the employees who support large extended families. A major focus of the mission has been to provide a safe and reliable source of water for the hospital and village of Anse-a-Galets, population 25,000.
The devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010 brought thousands of refugees to LaGonave, seeking medical care and shelter with relatives and friends, further taxing the sparse island resources. Many homes and buildings on the island suffered structural damage, including but not limited to, the WISH dental clinic. WISH has been instrumental in transporting food and aid supplies for the island. The mission continues to support the work of other charities and local government in the long recovery process while furthering development of community service projects, remaining true to Tony Wolf’s vision to improve conditions and encourage Christian values for the people of LaGonave Island.