By Matt Mehaffey, Regional Director of Advocacy, Southeast Matt was in Haiti in July and wrote this report of his time there.
Friday - After a couple cups of coffee at the guesthouse we set off for a Haitian church that is partnering with World Orphans called New Jerusalem. School was in session when we arrived and we spent the next hour hugging on kids. A couple young guys loved my DSLR camera and so I gave them a quick lesson, and in turn they taught me phrases in Creole.
New Jerusalem is led by Pastor Yvon, and under his leadership many members of his church have adopted children who were orphaned after the earthquake. Through their U.S. church partner, New Jerusalem provides support for those adoptive families so they aren't stretched beyond what they can handle. This is a beautiful picture of the unity churches should have even when oceans a part.
Saturday - This morning we were invited by New Jersualem to attend their school's graduation. You can tell the church puts a very high value on their children. It struck me while watching the kids sing songs and read Bible verses that many of these kids on stage knew what it was like to be orphaned, but now they are receiving a good education and have families who were cheering them on in the audience. Awesome.
Later in the day we built 24 water-filtration systems to take to the homes of the adoptive families in New Jersualem. The system is two five-gallon buckets on top of one another with a filtration system that looks a bit like a Brita water pitcher.
We divided up into three teams (each with an interpreter) and began making the trek on foot to the homes.
The first home we visited we met Givland. She was a beautiful eight year old girl who loved to draw and design clothes. Her Aunt took Givland in, along with her little sister and brother, after the earthquake killed their parents. This addition meant there were now eight people living in a house with two 10x10 rooms.
Our next stop was the home of a shy, six-year-old boy named Woodly. Same story as Givland. It's the same story for all these children. I knew the earthquake of 2010 was bad, but today I saw the true aftermath. Woodly was being cared for by his godfather. Before I left for Haiti my sister, Daria, gave me a bag full of unopened McDonald's Happy Meal toys. The first smile I saw Woodly give was after he received a Batman toy from my bag of goodies. Thanks sis!
One of our last homes belonged to another six year old boy named Woodson. When we asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up he said, "I want to be President." I followed up with, "Woodson, WHEN you become President what will be your first action?" Woodson listened to the interpreter and thought for about twenty seconds before answering. Then he said, "I will make this place beautiful."
I'd vote for Woodson.