Some might be surprised that in Haiti I love going to church. Every morning at 7 AM, Fr. Rick, my favorite priest, offers mass in his tiny chapel. The daily theme during these masses, sadly, is death. Since the earthquake, every day, 4-10 body bags are lined up on the floor of the chapel, respectfully covered with a linen blanket decorated with fresh flowers. Mass is short and powerful, the homily always connects to daily life, love, and death - in Haiti. After mass, accompanied by the traditional singing of Haitian voices, the bodies are moved to the back of a pick up truck for their mass cremation, the blankets are removed, grown ups and tiny baby bodies are uncovered and suddenly visible in their plastic bags - and then, as I am trying not to cry, I wonder how on earth (or in hell), is this happening?
While infrastructure seems to be improving, roads are getting better, buildings are finished, tent cities are disappearing, there is still such crisis everywhere. One raining evening we were driving through what seemed like a waterfall of trash. There is no drainage, apparently, still. Traffic is crazier then ever, in spite of the newly placed traffic lights. Health care? Little by little NGO's are closing their programs, the general hospital has never enough medical staff and if your family doesn't bring your food, you just won't eat. The economic crisis has hit Haiti hard: international organizations (not mine!) pay double and triple wages while older NGO's and Haitian organizations can not increase the salaries and have huge budget cuts. Extreme contradictions go on and on and make life really hard and confusing for middle and lower class families in Haiti.
While Haitians are desperately crying for help to improve their living circumstances, health care, education...the world is ignoring and abandoning Haiti. That's how it seems, on these mornings when I go to mass.
Then, as the day unfolds and I am traveling on a motorbike passing beautiful nature, smiling faces and yes, again, heart breaking situations as well. Haiti looks different. Because I see some hope, I see some changes and I see the beauty of a country. Oh how I love Haiti, even with all it's difficulties.
I love to see the joy on the faces of my students when they very proudly share their ideas and projects. Or when they shyly hand me a thank you card. I love hanging out with them, seeing them dance and tease each other. I love hearing about their hopes and dreams and most of all, I love seeing those dreams come true.
And now that is actually happening! After a few years of hard work, the first results are showing and a bunch of our students are financially stable and independent now. They might not be in the job of their dreams yet, but yes, they are living success and hoping it will remain this way. Thank you, donors, sponsors, volunteers, board members for not giving up!
Let me tell you about one or two of our students (so hard to chose, they're all so interesting), Alfredo. October 2010: no family, no diploma, no home, no job. March 2013: not only is he now part of the social safety network of KCH, he has a diploma in his pocket, a house that he can afford, a job...and the best detail yet, a bike. Now he can independently go to and fro work and earn his wages. The smile on that boy's face, I will never forget!
Or, another young man on his way to a better life, Amos. After the earthquake: homeless, abused, scared, not attending any school. Now: he is not there yet, but hope is on the way. We help him leave the streets, create structure in his life through a full time internship at a real company (as opposed to washing cars at the traffic light) and a mentor who will give him daily homework in preparation of next school year. We will provide him with a room and help him cut ties with the street kids. It will be hard, but it is possible. Amos is so motivated, he is smart and he understands that this might be his only chance to escape. Please pray, cross fingers or send positive energy his way. He needs all the support he can get to do it!
At KCH we are doing what we can to offer our students the chance to not feel left out. To find a job that can actually pay the bills and to offer chances for progress and independency.
Please, like us on www.facebook.com/kidsconnectionhaiti, and read about the individual accomplishments of our students. Imagine what your dollar can accomplish!
Thank you for your support!