Thursday, September 27th, 2018
What a beautiful day filled with God’s grace. After a tasty breakfast prepared by the wonderful Healing Haiti ladies, we were off to our first stop for the day – Sweet Home Orphanage. We were greeted by a brightly colored facility that we soon realized matched the demeanors of the children. We arrived to the facility at breakfast-time for the children so we waited just a little bit on the patio. The first child who came our way was Zachary. He is the only child at the facility not in school so he was able to come play with us first. Zachary is a little boy that is full of life and full of love. He thoroughly enjoyed rolling the soccer ball between teammates on the ground. Just a few minutes later, 15 other children in bright yellow school clothes came our way and soon enough, another group of 15 additional children joined us. Noah’s Ark stickers, balls, and coloring were the activities of choice. It was very apparent that the children of Sweet Home are well loved. Not only are the provided with food and shelter but also the opportunity to go to school. Most of all, the children are surrounded by people that are able to care for their well-being. Sweet Home Orphanage or No Place Like Home is currently expanding to welcome in an additional 50 children that are in need. It was so wonderful to see kids that were just able to be kids.
Our next stop was Papillon. Papillon offers opportunities for Haitians to provide for themselves and their families through employment. As a result of this empowerment, it is the hope that families can be kept together and children stay out of orphanages. Papillon makes many beautiful gifts including, jewelry out of clay and paper beads, pottery, printed shirts, and sewn crafts. We were fortunate to be able to get a tour of the facility and see the various treasures being made. The craftsmanship involved in even just one bead is outstanding. Afterwards, we were able to spend time shopping for the crafts that we had just seen being made. I highly recommend visiting their website to look at the magnificent work available for purchase and support the amazing cause: www.papillonmarketplace.com
Prior to heading to our last stop for the day, we spent time in Papillon’s fantastic café taking in sites of Port-Au-Prince while sipping on delicious smoothies. This moment was a nice moment to relax and spend time in fellowship with each other prior to our last stop for the day.
Just a short drive away was our last stop for the day at TeacHaiti. TeacHaiti is a school founded by a woman Miquette with such an amazingly faith filled story. Miquette describes herself as the “luckiest woman in Haiti”. She is, certainly, one of the most faith-filled people I have ever met. Being born into poverty herself, her family made the difficult decision of giving up two children for adoption in hopes that they could have a better life. Miquette, herself, grew up in a small home with 10 people sleeping in one room. In Haiti, families have to pay for their children to go to school. There is no such thing as public education in Haiti. This means, that if a family cannot pay tuition for a period of time, the child does not go to school. Miquette said that she was in and out of school for a good part of her life due to not being able to pay for periods of time. She described how much shame and embarrassment she felt every time the teacher called out her name indicating she needed to go home as a result of not making a school payment. She said that experience is not uncommon for kids in Haiti. In high school, her sister’s adoptive family visited Haiti and started working towards bringing her to the United States (Minnesota to be exact) for a foreign exchange experience. Through God’s grace, she eventually received a visa. She travelled to the United States knowing limited English for high school and eventually college. After graduating and working as a registered nurse for a while, her heart was still drawn back to Haiti. Her mind was drawn back to the experience as a child being taken out of school as a result of not being able to pay. If you haven’t been able to tell from her story already, Miquette is a force of nature with a strong will and big heart. She started assisting at-risk children in Haiti finding sponsors for their school tuition. She was able to find more and more sponsors and provided more and more children with the opportunity to go to school. And then in 2010, the devastating earthquake rattled Haiti. Almost all of the schools with sponsored children, were leveled. So Miquette, opened a school called TeacHaiti in Port-Au-Prince. All of the children at the school are sponsored through generous donors so that they can stay in school and hopefully, provide a better life for their families in the future. Through all of the hills and valleys of her life, she stayed committed to the Lord and His will. Her last point was that God gives us more than we can handle because it is for that reason that we need Him. If God gave us only what we could handle on our own, then we wouldn’t need a God. God’s grace is always present, even if we sometimes struggle to see it. Her testimony alone was worth the trip to Haiti.
At the school, we interacted with a 7th grade class working on their English skills. One of our team members, Tina, did a wonderful bible school presentation to teach the children about the importance of prayer in their lives. The children then filled out a booklet with three different prompts written on three different pages. These prompts included, “My Prayer, My Praise, and My Dream”. For some children, this task was easier than for others as all of the children had varying English language skills. At the end, several children shared their dream for the future. As heart-warming as it is to hear the hopes and dreams of young children with SO MUCH potential, Miquette shared a few statistics with our team afterwards that really put things into perspective. In Haiti, only 35% of Haitian children make it past 6th grade. Only 2% of children make it to college. All of the childrens’ dreams that we heard required at the very least, a high school diploma. TeacHaiti is such a blessing to Haiti as it provides children with immense internal potential the opportunity to make it past a lot of external obstacles towards a brighter future. For only 365$, one child is sponsored for the entire school year. If you are interested in learning more about TeacHaiti, check out their website: www.TeacHaiti.org
The day ended with a delicious, traditional Haitian meal. The rice and beans, fried plantains, potato soup, spicy coleslaw, roasted chicken, green beans, and meatballs created quite the symphony of flavors in our mouths. With happy bellies and full hearts, we settle into the evening with corn hole and time at the Elite Hotel watching the Vikings play.
Today was such a blessing. What a blessing these three organizations are to Haiti. These people saw a need and used their God-given gifts and talents to be the change that they wanted to see. All of the organizations are growing and moving towards making more change a reality. Although there is a lot of work yet to be done, these people provide hope to their country. Hope is such a powerful thing. We are all born with God-given gifts. Not every person will build orphanage for children or open schools to educate at-risk youth, but we all have the opportunity to use our gifts for His will everyday. We all have the opportunity to be the light of Christ for someone else, we just have to be open to it.
Bondye Beni’Ou. God Bless.