This fall, Hugues traveled to Northeast Ohio to participate in The University of Akron TEDx event. His presentation about bringing hope to Haiti through education was inspiring to all in attendance, and has since become very popular online. Take a minute to watch the video and be encouraged.

“No matter how desperate and discouraging circumstances may seem, hope prevails. Hope, combined with education…will surely lead to social improvement.” – Hugues Bastien


I had the privilege to share this message with the students and faculty on the first day of school. The attached video is a sample of some of the wonderful worship that occurred that morning.

Everyone looks so nice in your clean uniforms and full of hope for an excellent year. And, all of us in COCINA have hope for you. In fact, it is our mission to “Cultivate hope in Haiti, one life at a time.”

What does hope do for you and for me? That brings me to the verse I want to share with you this morning – 1 Thessalonians 1:3: “We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” In this verse, Paul gives thanks to God that faith has produced work, love has produced labor, and hope has produced endurance.

When Paul speaks of faith giving rise to work, love giving rise to labor, and hope giving rise to endurance, he has in mind some very definite Christian, spiritual transactions between us and God. You see, the Thessalonians had only recently encountered the Gospel, received Christ, and became Christians when Paul had to leave them behind. Those who had accepted Christ were being persecuted for their faith. In spite of that, they were putting their newfound salvation into action and were totally dependent on the power of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

  • Their FAITH produced good works.
  • Their LOVE gave them the desire to labor for the Lord.
  • Their HOPE produced the endurance they so desperately needed under the pressure of persecution.

The question I want to ask you this morning is this: How do you keep on going in a path of obedience to Christ? How do you keep going week after week, month after month, and year after year, when there are emotional and relational and spiritual and financial obstacles and when the normal human encouragements evaporate and you feel forgotten? What does it take to hang on during the bad times? The answer is Endurance.

Absolutely indispensable in the ongoing life of the Christian is the power to keep going in the path of obedience. And for many of us, that will mean extended endurance…

  • Endurance to always do what is right in spite of the consequences
  • Endurance to work hard and always give our best
  • Endurance to survive the trials of school, family, and relationships

Without the endurance of hope, the work of faith, and the labor of love, anything we do will prove to be no real work of God. That is why COCINA even exists – to give you hope so that you can endure. When you endure and carry that same hope to your country, you each become an agent of change and agents of hope to this generation! What will your country look like to your children? It is this generation that will write that story! Will you be ready? Will you endure? Will you be the hope of this nation?

But that hope must be placed correctly. That hope is in Christ and what He has done for us. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

If you desire the Hope to endure, then you must put your faith in Christ, His death and resurrection, and the hope of His promise – eternal life. If you have not done that won’t you do this today?




TED speaker posterBreaking the Mold

COCINA founder and director, Hughes Bastien, will be a featured TEDx speaker at The University of Akron in Akron, Ohio on September 29, 2015. Themed, “Breaking the Mold,” the event will spotlight individuals brave enough to break the mold—people that push their potential to challenge social norms and drive innovation and creation. In this context, Hughes will share his thoughts and experiences in addressing the topic of Social Change.

TEDx Poster


TED speaker poster


by Marie-Claire Charles

Returning to my home country had been, for me, a dream that my roommate was tired of hearing about over and over for the few months before my college graduation. Every meal, every paper that I wrote, every interaction was for me an opportunity to tell her how much I couldn’t wait to be home. The idea of being home was far more exciting to me than even graduating which was another source of joy that I couldn’t stop rumbling about with my roommate who thought I was mean for being so excited to leave her. On top of all of this, I knew that I was coming home to work at Institution Univers, where I went to school for seven years. I wasn’t sure what job I was going to do exactly, but that didn’t matter much.

I started working in June. Working at Institution Univers means many things to me. First, it means I have a job. Most Haitians graduate from college and find it impossible to find a job. I had not graduated yet, and I knew that a job was already waiting for me. This is truly a blessing, and I want to put my very best into it. Second, it means that I am fulfilling my dream of returning home and serving in my community and my country. Third, it means that I am part of a team – a team of children of God called to serve Him. Finally, working at Institution Univers means that I am honoring the contract that I signed with the school before I left. Signing that contract was only one of the many reminders that I needed to go back home.

I now work as the mission team coordinator and co-administrator of extracurricular activities at the school. I will also be assisting an American English teacher in his English classes. I am glad to say that I love my job. I have already done some mission coordination. I realize that I rely on many different people to do it and that it really is a learning process. It demands passion, patience, good communication skills, and a lot of understanding. I hope that with the collaboration of others and with God’s help I will do a good job. Working at Institution Univers, however, is not my only plan. God has other plans that He needs to fulfill.


I’m not sure I remember what kind of plan I had in mind when I went to the United States back in July of 2009. I knew I would probably get a job in town or at Institution Univers once I graduated, but that was it. Well, it would be quite a surprise that if after five years I didn’t develop other dreams. My beloved Haiti, as you probably know, needs a lot of help, with education of its citizens being one of the most urgent ones. The people representing a threat in the Haitian society now and in the future are the uneducated ones. A clear example is the case of the street boys. Anyone who has come to Haiti has probably seen them. They are the little dirty twelve-year-old boys who ask you for a dollar in the streets, the starving eight-year-old who begged you for a piece of bread…the bare-footed thirteen-year-old who gently asked to shine your shoes for a little money…the fourteen year-old-boy who asked to wash your car for a meal…the dirty little boy whose mother probably sent around begging for some money to bring home…the fifteen-year-old boy whom that man was going to use to help smuggle drugs over the border…the young boys playing at the town square who were caught for breaking into someone’s house…the sixteen-year-old who carries heavy loads at the market in the morning to make money to pay for his school in the afternoon where they will probably send him back home the next day because he didn’t make enough money to pay for this trimester’s tuition and will end up discouraged and staying home because he would rather use that money to eat than give it to the school.

This particular group of children have become my principal concern for over three years now. I have been thinking about a way to help them. I have been talking to people asking for their advice and the best way in which I could make that happen. I have discovered that there are many challenges surrounding this goal but it is a necessity. Someone needs to do something about it. As I work at Institution Univers, I am also hoping to create some time and develop an actual plan, with the collaboration of other people, towards serving those kids and serving my country.

My return to Haiti has been full of hope and frustration, full of questions and wonder, full of excitement and prayers. I hope that the Lord gives me the strength to persevere and stay strong in His way. He has done beautiful things in my life, and I am certain that He will use me to do beautiful things in others’ lives as well.


by Colleen Gill

My name is Colleen Gill, one of three partners and founders of Spring CoLaboratory, Inc. (SCL). Years after first meeting Hugues Bastien, I traveled to Haiti to serve at Institution Univers (IU) for one week of summer camp. For the past three summers, I worked with the 11th and 12th graders and was struck by their gifts and capabilities. I also became aware of the lack of opportunity for most to obtain work or pursue higher education. What could be done and who could do it? The more I talked to people about the school, the more I was encouraged that something could be done.

One day I was talking with my brother and Elizabeth Darnel, both new graduates from an executive MBA program, about IU and the potential of the graduating students. Both Mark and Elizabeth had already been discussing their desire to do something new and were looking for an interesting and rewarding challenge! Today, we three are full of anticipation for the beginning of something new and potentially life changing for many in Ouanaminthe. After months of preparation, SCL is in the final stages of launching what we hope will be the first in a series of start-up companies that simultaneously create jobs, retain local talent, provide scholarships, and offer equity opportunities in Haiti for Haitians.

SCL is a “Benefit Corporation” (BCorp). Benefit Corporations are different than a typical corporation in that responsibilities and rewards exist for all of the stakeholders, not just shareholders. This includes the employees, the community, and the environment. Most important, BCorps must have a stated and material public benefit.

SCL was founded by three partners who firmly believe that education is necessary for a just and prosperous society. That is why we are committed to contributing 20% of all profits toward educational scholarships.

SCL is in the final stages of starting both a manufacturing operation and also a back office services company located in close proximity to Ouanaminthe. Situated in the new Caracol Industrial Park, these new companies have the potential to create over 100 Haitian jobs. Importantly, SCL’s start-ups represent a new opportunity for recipients of COCINA college scholarships to return to Haiti and utilize their education and leadership skills.

The fit between SCL’s unique business model and COCINA’s mission at is remarkable. SCL needs to build a talented team, and IU graduates are among the smartest, hardest working students in the country. On the other hand, IU always graduates more deserving students than scholarships are available. Given the close working relationship and common goals of SCL and COCINA, Hughes Bastien has agreed to serve on the Board of SCL’s Haitian subsidiary and I have recently joined the Economic Development Committee of COCINA led by Chris Gurreri.

Economic development has always been one of the pillars of COCINA’s vision for IU and Ouanaminthe. The economic development team is focused on much needed support for existing business such as the chicken farm, the bakery, and well drilling operations as well as new opportunities that meet the objectives of the committee.

We will keep you posted on SCL’s progress. If you would like to know more, contact me at: