It’s been only a few days since I’ve been back in the states and I’m already wishing I could be back in Haiti! There seems to be a breeze of fresh air in this small island nation that tugs and pulls at my spirit constantly. I spent three awesome weeks this time!
To sum it up briefly, Week 1 we taught CPR and First Aid training to approximately 60 nurses and community people. We also had children’s ministry. We shared God’s love with the kids and had activities for them.
Week 2 we had a 26 person medical/dental team for a mobile clinic in a local church. We treated over 800 patients. Our last day of clinic, we went to a local orphanage and treated the children. At the end of the week, we all had a new family, 26 people that worked hard together, shed much sweat and tears, maybe a little blood. I will forever be grateful for the relationships we built and the new family we have. I felt us leaning on each other and lifting each other up as we served God, each other, and our patients.
Week 3 I went to an orphanage a couple days and then went to a new community that I had not been before and visited some children that needed sponsored for school. We were able to bring book bags and school supplies along with toys and personal care kits to give to the community.
Now let me share with you what God did in my heart in these three weeks.
Haiti needs education. It’s one of her top needs. As much as the nurses and community people need to know how to respond in emergencies and take care of each other, I’m kind of burned out on teaching. We have done this for a while, and I hate to admit it, but my heart is just not in it at this season in my life. We had enough people with us this first week that I was able to be relieved of my teaching duties. It gave me time to sit back and watch. See things that I might not otherwise notice while teaching. I got to see the eagerness on the faces of the students to learn new things. I got to witness the passion in the faces of those teaching. I got to see Haiti birthing her love in our newbies. I got to watch the children outside the church playing and watch them in school while the teaching was going on.
I watched several days as a child hung outside the classroom listening, trying to soak up all he could from outside. He was not dressed in the school uniform. I could see his desire to attend school and how happy it would make him if he could sit with the other students in his nice blue uniform.
Lately I have been bothered by the “system” in Haiti. Everyone is poor. Education is not free and it is near impossible to come up with the money to send your child to school, let alone make sure they are fed daily. There are overcrowded orphanages in every town. Orphanages that are supported by folks like you and me. Life in Haiti becomes so hard that many mothers and fathers have to make a very difficult decision. If you knew there was an orphanage down the road from you that would feed, clothe, and send your child to school, would you take them there, or would you keep your child knowing you could not pay for school and many nights your child will go to sleep hungry?? What would you do? This is life in Haiti. New Hope Children’s Home that we support in Haiti is the same. Most of our children are not true orphans with dead parents. So how do we fix this problem? I have thrown my hands up many times and just decided it did not matter. We are feeding and educating children in need, so who cares their circumstances. But this still pricks at my heart. One of our children shared their story with a small team a few years ago that he did not “make the cut.” You see his mother had 10 kids and as she watched them suffering, she had to choose which kids she could care for and which kids to take to the orphanage. This particular child was taken to the orphanage. And although he has a better life now, I’m not sure how this damaged him emotionally. I wonder will he deal with trust issues as he grows up. I wonder if he feels inadequate or unloved. Will he allow this to affect the way he perceives God’s love towards him as he grows older? I wonder what his mother feels. Is she torn up with guilt everyday? Has this taken her away from God because she is angry that she could not find a way to provide for her family? Did she take him to the orphanage because he was the weakest and he needed nourishment, or because he was the strongest and she knew he could survive alone? I have so many questions.
I recently heard about a friend that was helping kids and families in a different way. He also realizes the problem in Haiti with orphanages. Him being Haitian himself decided the best way to help was to send kids to school and support families with basic needs and food. This will keep a child at home and keep families together. Although it seems so simple, it never crossed my mind. Currently this organization supports 20 children and their families. It pays for their school and brings food and other needed items to the families. No money is given to the families, only food and toiletries.
My sweet mother and sisters are always looking to help so they sent me with 20 backpacks and school supplies for these children. I did not know I was going to get the opportunity to deliver them myself. The medical team left behind large amounts of toys, food, medicine and more school supplies, solar panel lanterns, clothes, and personal care kits containing soap, washcloth, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush. I had a car load full of suitcases and bags to take to this small village. We even had to rent a bigger car because it was too much stuff to take in the small car! I’m not sure how this all worked out, but it seems that God multiplied all of the supplies so we would have enough to take to this community. I think God does this every chance He gets!! So we head out for the community. No teaching. No medical care. No fixing or pulling teeth. No agenda other than getting to know a community and their needs. Going into people’s homes and seeing where they live. Seeing how they live. I have gotten so used to seeing our Haitian patients or students through the years come to our clinics clean and dressed in their best. I sometimes forget where they come from and how far they walked to get to us. It was a blessing to go to them. Meet them in their home. Hold their hand in their home and see their suffering firsthand. This is not something we usually get to see in the clinic.
We walked around the village and met people. I got to see the water source for the village. This is where they bathe, wash clothes, and get their drinking water…and they walk for miles to get there. I realized that I have been working in the city for far too long. My mind had forgotten these sights, but I remembered very quickly. As we drove to the village we saw all the kids outside, doing nothing, just sitting. In the city we see all the kids in their nice school uniforms and we take pictures of them as we drive by, feeling proud, like we have helped them in some way. I watched a kid climbing high up in a tree after food. I was so scared for him and we told him to get down immediately. If he fell, he would surely fall to his death. I was so upset that he would not listen and get down. My Haitian friend reminded me quickly that the boy was hungry.
We gathered the community together to give the kids in the sponsored program their backpacks for school and to tell them that although school had started 3 weeks prior, they would get to start school on Monday because we talked to the school and promised that we would get sponsors and have money to the school soon. The kids were ecstatic to get chosen. I had to look several kids and mommas and daddys in the face that were not chosen. I came home with a new fire. I came home determined to help this community. Now that I have seen, I am responsible.