July 29th, 2010 - I left a piece of my heart in Haiti
Hello friends! Our latest blog post comes to us courtesy of our organization’s Public Relations Director, Jared Williams. We are inspired by his recent trip to Haiti and his work there and hope you will be too. –Chris Sorbi
It’s been a week now since I returned home from an 8 day missionary trip to Haiti. What I saw in that time has clearly changed me and helped me to grow and coming home has been surprisingly hard. I long to be back in Haiti where I can see myself helping people directly and can see the faces of those receiving my gifts. However as I contemplate my trip and my contribution, I have wondered if that is truly the case, would I really help those in need more in Haiti or more back home?
I do not have that answer and perhaps it is not one answer for my entire life, but I will try to share with you some of what I experienced in Haiti. Each aspect perhaps reflects a lot on who I am and my personal story. For you to really fully understand the situation in Haiti and how it reflects on you and your life can not be done through my pictures, my videos or my stories. It would only happen with taking a trip to Haiti yourself and experiencing it in person.
My fulltime job involves large-scale planning and tracking for road and bridge projects for a 3 billion dollar 8 year program. I am used to looking at single projects and seeing how that interacts with hundreds of other projects working together as part of one large infrastructure program. My mind has been trained for years to break down huge construction projects to smaller and smaller pieces until they are manageable work activities then link them back together in a sequence and order to calculate how long it will take with a given effort to get to the eventual completion of the project. A simplification would be to say the greater the effort the less time it takes, and the smaller the effort the longer it takes.
While many on the trip saw the volume of destruction as insurmountable, I saw work activities that needed to be done. After temporary shelters, the road and transportation infrastructure immediately stood out as the first area needing focus in Haiti. This would help with the physical rebuilding of homes and businesses, but also aide the eventual economic rebuilding required to one day lift the country out of the immense poverty it is in. Unfortunately, throughout my stay I saw very little progress with a few curbs being made with hand-mixed mortar and stone and a stretch of roadway being placed with the only concrete mixer I saw, all ¼ yards of it. I even saw a single backhoe and loader along with a handful of dump trucks. The scale of reconstruction ahead of Haiti demands fleets of vehicles, massive transfer stations to break down the rubble into reusable aggregate, concrete mix plants and so much more that just isn’t present or available. Needless to say it was easy to see no end in sight for the cleanup let alone reconstruction with the current effort on the ground six months after the earthquake.
Once we got to the work sites, my trade experience as a carpenter kicked back in, and I felt good to be actively helping the people around me in a physical way. I got to meet the 26 children in Leogon using the orphanage we were putting walls up on; I got to see the 400 children in Laquil using the school that had no roof when we came benefit from finishing the roof over them, I got to see the 200 children in Foe Shea who would benefit from our trenching and wall building to keep their school above the flood level during the rainy season. It might be a postage stamp effort in a country that needs so much, but I could finally dig in and do work that was helping those in need.
Everyone we met in these villages was so thankful for us and our help but working alongside some Haitian workers I felt a sense of selfishness as what I spent to come to Haiti could pay for a crew of them to work for a month, helping both the schools in need and the workers and their families. This feeling was short-lived as they were so receptive and thankful, even the concrete crew I helped would say, “Merci Jared” after each pail of mortar I mixed and shoveled for them. The resounding message they all told me was simple, to not forget them and to share their story. They did not see me as taking their work but helping them as an equal and a brother that could take their story home to all of you reading this.
Now what touched me the most during my trip relates to my role as a father of three wonderful children. I saw so much faith and hope in these kids. They grew up in these surroundings and even with losing the little they had with the earthquake they retained a bright outlook on life when the rest of the world sees little to no hope for them. The faith they had reminded me of a Bible verse that has stuck with me for a while but came to new life in Haiti. In Mathew 18:1-6 it reads:
“1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
We can learn a lot from these children and I saw the schools MissionE4 run as a direct and real tool being used in God’s name to support and further the faith these children have for their future. My personal sponsorship of Falonne is not just helping to feed, educate, and clothe her but is helping her to remain a child just a bit longer. This little gift by my standards is everything to her and directly helps her maintain that humility and faith through giving her a chance at a future in a country with so little.
As I was in Haiti and even coming home, I have struggled with how I can help best: is it being in Haiti and doing work on the ground, is it “sacrificing” a few luxuries I really don’t need to give a onetime gift towards rebuilding homes, or is it making a longer commitment to one of the many children still in need of a $30 a month sponsor? So as I ponder how best can I help my brothers and sisters in Haiti, I simply ask you to consider the same question. Do not let guilt guide you but only give what and how you are comfortable with. Is it a commitment to come on a future trip, or to give a onetime donation to the rebuilding effort, or to sponsor a child, or maybe all of the above?
Now in closing I ask you to consider the many options of who to donate to and where the money goes when you donate. While millions of donations are filtering through the government and other large aid groups its use and impact is hard to see on the ground right now. I pray it will be seen and real change will come but as I pray for that, I see smaller groups like MissionE4 as a direct and immediate channel to help the people in the most need. My reason for choosing to continue supporting MissionE4 is that they were in Haiti helping before the earthquake, they have the people and infrastructure on the ground to immediately put your dollars to work now, and when the rebuilding is complete, the sponsorship program ensures they will be funded to continue helping long into the future. I urge you all to consider the options, pray about it, and give cheerfully where and how you feel God will best use the gifts he has bestowed upon you to share with those in need.
Information on going on a future trip to Haiti: http://www.missione4.com/expeditions.htm
General information and rebuilding donations: http://www.missione4.com/index.html
Child Sponsorship information: http://www.missione4.com/sponsorachild.htm
As a volunteer for the child sponsorship program you can also contact me directly at JaredNWilliams@gmail.com with questions or information on children looking for sponsors.