Psalm 33:22 Let your steadfast love be upon us, oh Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
Today was a day filled with hope and love. We saw it in every place we went. Our first stop was at Papillon. Papillon employs and empowers Haitians, provides childcare while they are working, and allows them to make a wage that supports their families. Their mission is "Orphan Prevention Through Job Creation". The majority of the children in orphanages in Haiti have parents, but the parents cannot support them. Papillon provides training and jobs for a collective of artisans--that are parents--that create something new out of something discarded and seemingly unusable: metal, cereal boxes/cardboard, aluminum, dirt and paper to make jewelry and other beautiful things. They also have a cafe, and we enjoyed smoothies, frozen lemonades, french fries and coffee drinks prior to shopping in their gift shop. Spending money on handmade items, and seeing the people it is supporting--well, let's just say it all felt really hopeful. (you can read more here: www.papillon-enterprise.com)
TeacHaiti was our next stop. This is a school for kindergarten through the 13th class, founded by a Haitian who has an amazing testimony and story to share, and who felt compelled to pay it forward in her home country. We were met at the gate by lots of smiling faces from kids of all ages. (I have loved watching the kids close in age to the girls on our trip "check out" our girls and smile and whisper to each other. It's fun to wonder what they are saying and thinking. Are they seeing the similarities or the differences?) We visited the kindergarten classroom first, where we introduced ourselves and shared our ages and something we like. We sang the Hippo song for them, and the class sang Jesus Loves Me for us. Adorable! We also sat in the 9th grade, 7th grade and 10th grade classrooms and had the opportunity to ask the kids questions and for them to ask the girls (and grown-ups) questions. What is your favorite subject? What sports do you play? What do you do after school? It is clear that education is the key to moving out of poverty in this country. The barriers to going to school are numerous. But if the kids can get to school, stay in school, pass exams, finish high school--or perhaps go on to a vocational school or university--well, talk about hope for the future of these Haitians. Guess what it costs to send one child to school for a year.....literally a dollar a day. (you can read more here: www.teachaiti.org)
LaPhare orphanage was our final stop of the day. Here the kids came right out and greeted us with hugs and smiles and were ready to play. Blowing bubbles, writing names and drawing pictures on whiteboards, making bracelets, jumping rope, dancing, braiding hair, making balloon animals....each one of us finds what helps us connect with the kiddos, and the time goes quickly. There are people who have been on trips with Healing Haiti in the past few years, who have been able to recognize and reconnect with kids they have seen before. This was for sure another place we saw love and hope.
We are tired. We are taking in a lot in hot weather. Some of us aren't sleeping well and our GI systems are challenged. We have two big days ahead of us. But we are headed to bed, filled with hope and love.
PS On a personal note, having this experience with my 13 year old daughter, along with 4 other girls and their moms (and the 4 other women)--is very special. These girls are wise and brave and hearing them reflect on the day, choosing a Word of the Day, and sharing their highs/lows---my heart kind of explodes. Lots of love and hope in them!