March 8th to March 13th, 2016 was a continuous 144 hours over 6 days of wonderful and sad experiences with my Haitian friends. As tiring as these days were, it was complimented by the love, hugs and respect of the many people we served. Filled backpacks of school supplies generously graced each student as new measurements and photos were taken for the 2016/2017 school year.
I saw many that live in abject poverty as some of us visited their homes. Though their living conditions were meager at best, they were proud to show us what they had built. It makes me appreciate so much more of what I have in America. Yes, we have poor in America, but we have public assistance programs providing them with food, safe drinking water, housing and the means for their children to attend school. This does not exist for the majority of the Haitian people. Many ask for rice or bagged beans so they can suck on pieces all day long. The children don't ask for toys, or games, but for food for them and their families... We have so much and they have so little.
144 hours of continuous motion was filled with beautiful and fulfilling days. This included our sleep, which wasn't really sleep at all - more like quiet rest, as even then, I remembered all I did that day and those I met or visited. And I prayed for God's wisdom to help me help them. In the morning I couldn't wait to get up to start it all over again. Seeing all the students and their families and how appreciative they are for our help is very rewarding to me, and so worthwhile to them, which made for a joyful and fulfilling experience for us all.
But with that joy, we also saw sadness in some of the eyes of mothers who wanted their child to attend school and this was heartbreaking. We interviewed close to 70 new children. We would love to help all of them but without enough sponsors to support them, it is so difficult. Our mission is to find a sponsor for them to pay for their tuition and school supplies for the next school year. We hope we won't disappoint them.
Our final full day, Sunday the 12th, was a time to remember. Deacon John gave a superb celebration service for my dear sister in the Lord Lorrie Charpentier, who with her husband Norman founded Haitian Outreach in 1998, Claire Giuliani-a powerhouse of dedication managing the operations until her death in 2013, and one of most generous benefactors Ray LeClerc, who died in 2014 and whom Haitian Outreach named our Haitian warehouse “Bureau LeClerc”. The sisters sang like angels for us accompanied by bongo drums played by two of our students and one of the sisters.
We then proceeded out of the chapel to our warehouse where Deacon John gave a special blessing to Bureau LeClerc. I know this building was provided so that we may do God's work for the poorest of the poor in Haiti; His grace using our hands. It is a privilege and an honor to do so.
What a spectacular event we had to complete our 2016 Mission to Haiti!
Happy to go and sad to leave, and yes, I left a "BIG" part of my heart in Haiti once again...
Rose Mary Richard