At times I can hardly contain my excitement as I think about traveling to the place I’ve grown to love. Not to mention the people… some are Haitian friends who I can’t wait to hug, others are people I know through blogging and social media (a few who I’ve actually met in person, and others who I’ll be meeting face-to-face for the first time).
Then there are the tear-filled times when I think about the daily suffering that takes place in the poorest nation in the world. There are so many vulnerable children and orphans, and sometimes it seems like there’s… just. no. hope.
I could tell you about how excited I am to hang out with the A-list team of writers, speakers, bloggers, and other storytellers, because it’s really a pretty impressive group.
But I’d rather tell you about a few of the most important reasons why this trip should really matter to you. And I can honestly tell you that every one of the rock star storytelling crew on this trip would sum it up in the same way…
It’s not about us.
Instead, it’s all about God and the work He’s doing in the communities and lives of the Haitians who we’ll get to meet. We’ll visit several sites, people, and projects; and there are three of them that I’m particularly looking forward to because of how they impact the kids in Help One Now’s child sponsorship programs.
Pétionville Tent City
I remember the first time I met Pastor St. Cyr. We were enjoying an ice-cold Coke in his office as he talked about the community and school he oversees. Two years after the earthquake, there were still over 30,000 people living in tents in this one community. When he found out that I am a writer, he told me to tell the truth about the Haitian people.
It’s a challenge that I carry with me to this day. It’s not about judging and making assumptions. Rather, we have a responsibility to get to know the people who we’re writing about, and share their voice… not ours.
Since my last visit, Tropical Storm Isaac has wreaked havoc in this community. Storm winds and heavy rains destroyed most of the tents, and many lost everything they have… again. But in the middle of this community is a tent church that we’ll be visiting that continues to be a beacon of hope for a people who don’t have much reason to hope at all.
Yahve Shamma Orphanage
Some people call this place “Holy Ground”. And with a pastor who retreats to the roof of his house every day to read the Bible and pray, I certainly know that it’s built on a foundation that’s unshakable. My personal connection to this place is in a playground that my son wanted to help build for the orphans in this community.
This is a special place, and the work being done here is giving the kids a fighting chance. The kids are fortunate to have an incredible leader in Pastor Gaetan, but sometimes I wonder if he feels like he’s more blessed than anyone to be in that place.
I was supposed to meet my sponsored child last time I was in Drouin. And when they couldn’t find him in school that day, many of us quickly became concerned about whether he was okay or not. You see, life in Drouin is rough. And if you understand what life is like there, then you can’t help but to think the worst.
Fortunately, we discovered that his family had just moved away in the week prior to my visit so that his father could find work, something that was difficult to find in this severely economically depressed area.
The sponsorship program in this community means that these kids get a meal while they’re at school. Often this is the only meal most of them get in a day. The local pastors are working hard to make sure that these kids get a quality education, and a chance at survival. The goal is to create an environment where the children of these children won’t have to be sponsored.
A Call To Action
My biggest prayer on this trip is that God would steal the show, and empower our team of storytellers to show the world how He’s moving in these communities. One thing that I’m certain about is that this is going to be one to watch. Here’s what you can do to help: