Admittedly, taking our first mission trip to Haiti created a strong sense of excitement and nervousness. However, the invigoration we felt before traveling abroad to help the poorest of poor children far outweighed any personal concerns, health or physical safety. Yes, we had to take a preventative approach to healthcare and embrace safety precautions while in the country, but within a few hours we were comfortable with our environment and our ability to maintain a strong sense of safety, both emotionally and physically.
When people asked us about our Haiti experience, there were no words to adequately capture this transformational time in our lives. It was an awakening, like no other, where the visible level and volume of poverty was trumped by the beauty of the human spirit. We continue to be in awe of a people that had so little materially, but gave so much of their essence.
During our trip, the heat was oppressive, and we didn’t have the comforts of home, or even the basics in many respects. What we did have was a wonderful, diverse travel party who gelled quickly for a singular purpose. There was something we absolutely loved about the simplicity of life without the many distractions of home, or today’s electronics. A new world opened-up and we experienced and witnessed, first hand, an unfamiliar, yet very appealing terrain. We wish every privileged person could take this trip to truly humanize the real struggle to survive and the human beauty that exists among the most desperate and dire of circumstances.
The children and staff at St. Marc School is our collective happy thought. To wade among the morning sea of children who simply want to hug, smile and connect with you is surreal. Their hearts are big and smiles captivating – and, we marvel at their desire to learn. You see, school is the most stable force in many of their young lives and interacting with them was more than fulfilling. St. Marc School is a privilege to Haitian children, not a chore. Candidly, they can’t wait to come to school in the morning and don’t want to leave when the afterschool activities end. We understand why.
During the school day, we found a disciplined approach within a chaotic country. The laughter, singing and playful nature of this population’s young people are magnetic. You see, the beauty and innocence of these children transcended any barometer of poverty, race or stature – the life lesson was loud and clear, we are all human beings who are in place on this earth together for a very short period of time. And, we have an inherent responsibility to help one another.
The High Hopes for Haiti organization is amazing; their work is God’s work, made possible through the conviction of many to provide hope and opportunity. Our admiration for Dr. Mortel is deep as his life experience, vision and drive for results is unrelenting. He, and his team, fight for Haiti’s most vulnerable children so they, too, may one day realize their dreams, just as St. Marc native, Dr. Mortel, was able. We can think of no higher calling.
There is a question we often ask of ourselves – When all is said and done, what do we want to have said and done? Since our trip to Haiti, while personally observing the essential work of the Foundation, our life’s calling is even more clear. We couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to serve and support our world’s young people. They are our future.