I am asked all the time why do I do this? Why am I here in Haiti?
I am here for these children, for these kids. The look in their eyes everyday as I walk down the halls. There is something in them that I very rarely see here. Hope. Looking around in Jubilee there is not much to see. Barren land echoing the despair of a life once lived. Broken down houses reflecting on the outside what kind of family situation lies on the inside. The only life that remains here are the only ones not free to leave. Humanity so broken they do not know their own strength. They do not think past today because they cannot imagine tomorrow. No planning or forethought because this breath, this day, is hard enough. No hope for change. No hope for the future.
But these kids, these kids that fill the halls of this school- they know something different. Everyday they come in droves of green and khaki and torn up shoes shuffling in and sitting down, eager to learn; To learn of the ocean, their bodies, learning new languages and studying problem solving. They figure out puzzles and play games, shout out numbers and correct sentences. And they interact. They are held to a standard of conduct. Lovingly disciplines. And told they are valuable. Each day they sit in their classes and are praised for being smart, beautiful, loving, kind, and honest. They are told where all of this comes from- their Heavenly Father. Who is so very different from the man they know as father. They learn how to pray, how to love and what Jesus wants from them. They are told they have a future. They are told to think past today. Plan. Prepare. That they can have hope.
And so they do. Some say it is naivety, but we know that it is the Holy Spirit. Teaching them, guiding them. We have a belief here that everyday we tie a knot and they go home and the parents untie it, so we must work twice as hard to tie two knots a day to have an impact. It is true. We work in direct counterculture. But isn’t that what Jesus asks of us; to be countercultural? We teach our kids to use their words to resolve conflict, not rocks. We teach them that their words can hurt and pierce, that their words hold weight and their actions do too. We teach them everyone is valuable and should be treated as such. That we all were made equal. And we get a hundred opportunities a day to remind them of that.
We believe education is the way out of poverty for these kids. Not just material poverty. But poverty of the spirit. We believe that in educating them, especially about Jesus, they can change what they are living. They are not stuck in Jubilee. They wont be forced to take menial jobs, scraping by, thinking of today, with no hope for tomorrow. Being drained of spirit and soul as their future slips away in quiet oblivion. But rather they can change this country. They can solve problems. They can do great things, even great small things, for Jesus. Starting now.
So everyday when I wake up and put on my sandals and head to school, I remember what I am here for. As we sing the ABC’s it may not sound like we are changing the world. But just you wait. Just you wait and see.
We dream together… “One day…”