Lows and highs -- Monday in Haiti
Monday was a challenging day. We are getting more and more connected to the realities of life in the streets and tent cities, and it is difficult to deal with.
In the morning we met with Ivens, school principal and general caretaker of many people in the neighborhood around the orphanage. We wanted to ask some specific questions about what it would take to sponsor kids in school. When kids grow up in poverty, they are likely to remain in poverty throughout their lives. They have children who live in poverty, and on the cycle goes. One of the ingredients in breaking those cycles is to get children as much education as possible. Ivens explained that even if an adult has only had a few years of primary education, they are more capable of reasoning through what it takes to make a family business run.
|Kids waiting to be let in to the feeding program|
In the neighborhood around us, many children don't go to school at all. There is almost no public school in Haiti. President Martelly has made it a priority to make education more widely available, and he has managed to establish public schools for over 50,000 kids in only six months in office. That's great news for Haiti! However, the initiative hasn't reached our neighborhood yet. That's why our team is asking what it takes to get kids into private school.
We left our meeting with Ivens feeling the heavy weight of what life is like here. Especially in the tent cities, the only law that really functions is survival of the fittest. It is not uncommon for children to receive little supervision from parents. When that happens, they are reduced to wandering the streets, looking for something to eat and getting themselves into trouble. Conflicts often result in violent exchanges. Ivens told us that it is not unusual for him to sleep in the tent city, watching over children whose parents haven't come home at night.
|Lili finishes her beans and rice|
When we left that conversation, we were a quiet group. There was more sniffling than talking. We felt like another layer had been peeled back, and we had gained deeper insight into the harsh realities faced on a daily basis by the children we grow to love more every time we come here. What can any of us do to make a real difference in a place like this?
Then we talked about how God has connected us to individual lives here. That filled us with a charge of energy. Sponsor one kid in school. Hug another kid at the feeding program. Visit a family. Pray with somebody. As Jim read to us from the Scriptures this morning in devotions, none of our work is in vain.
|With Johnny Senterra, a very special friend|
Yesterday was an emotional roller coaster. The heaviness I personally felt was made worse by my experience in the street outside the feeding program. I got involved breaking up two fist fights and tried to calm a young boy who had just had his face slammed into the dirt road by an older boy. I figured this is how the kids live day to day. It was ugly and brutal. And yet the kids receive love like no one you will ever meet. Perhaps they are more hungry for it than most other people. All I know is once you open yourself to these kids, it's hard to pull away. They are "the least of these," and to love them is to join in the work of Jesus. At the opposite end of the spectrum from breaking up fights, I got to say hi to the Senterra kids, a family I have gotten to know and care for a great deal. That was enough to make my day.