We were fortunate enough to be the first group to stay with our mission partners in their new location, which was a beautiful oasis in Cap-Haitien. Judelin (DouDou) and his wife Rodelin were gracious hosts, and their spiritual strength was evident. Dou Dou and his partner, Coty, provided invaluable support as we attempted to tackle an endless list of tasks. Our trip’s main purpose was to assess need and research surrounding resources. We visited clinics in an attempt to better advocate for Garrot’s medical needs. We visited schools in the hope of improving the quality of our existing primary school. We visited a vocational school with the hope of economically empowering adults in the village. In the process of these visits, we were reminded that our organization is only one of many scattered throughout Haiti. (How much more powerful would it be if all the organizations in Haiti, no matter what their denomination or nationality, started working together?)
Most powerful of our visits, of course, was the village of Garrot. It’s hard to capture the excitement of the children upon our arrival. It’s equally as hard to describe the guilt we felt as wealthy Americans when we spoke to the women about issues they face daily--hunger and lack of access to medical resources, illiteracy, and poverty. We called a meeting with the women of the village with the intent of listening (we have learned to assume we don’t know.) Their main concerns mirrored those of all American mothers: they want what’s best for their children. They want to feed them more than one meal a day. They desperately want to work. As we visited the adult education class, we observed the students forming the letters of their names reverently, shining with pride as we read their writing. This is a start. We spoke with a Haitian medical doctor, Dr. Ally, who has generously agreed to start health education classes in the village, focusing on preventative care (prenatal care is literally non-existent at present). This is a start too.
During our visit I was reminded that the hope of Haiti is their children. From the first day we arrived a tiny four-year old girl gently nudged her way through the crowd of older children vying for my attention and slipped her hand in mine. We were there for hours and she never let go, following me around to even the adult meetings. The next several visits, she was equally as loyal. Though she was among the smallest and showed visible signs of mal-nutrition, she fought for my hand with a quiet fierceness. This fierce persistence characterizes the majority of the Haitian people I met. Despite all the set backs they have endured throughout the centuries, they are a people who have not given up hope.
My faith tells me to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, heal the sick. There is an overwhelming number of people in the world to help and the sheer magnitude of the problem can be paralyzing. But it is clear to me that my job is to help these people, the villagers of Garrot, because they happen to be the ones standing in front of me right now. I was personally and spiritually transformed by this one child’s act of trust. I can’t imagine doing nothing ever again.