I had the chance earlier this month to set foot in one of the most different places I have ever seen. And I struggle to even put it to words. The truth is, I don’t know much of what I’m talking about. I’m simply a middle class american man who traveled to the Caribbean to document some of what I saw for a non-profit organization whose mission it is to holistically care for orphans, both in America and abroad.
I gratefully and excitedly set out on the trip. What I found was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Haiti is a beautiful chaos. It is bumpy roads, and crowds of people, and street vendors, and local taxis (called: tap taps) cutting you off. It is horns honking and traffic jams on two lane roads. It is trash on the sidewalk and in the fields, goats and pigs in the alleyways, and roosters crowing at all hours of the day and night. It is the smell of fire smoke, diesel exhaust and sweat. It is poverty on a scale I’ve never experienced. It is broken government, largely broken families, and high levels of unemployment.
But look closer. Past the chaos. To the faces of children in orphanages, not abandoned by uncaring parents; most were placed there because of economic hardships. Most still have good relationships with their mothers. Almost all have no idea who their fathers are. The orphanages care tirelessly for the kids, give them an education, 3 meals each day, friendship, community and belonging. Look closer, past the orphanages. To the secondary school created and funded by this organization, teaching young adults a trade – like how to work on a car, how to sew, or how to cook. And then look closer again, to the factory started by this organization, creating t-shirts, and other garments that are sold around the caribbean and the united states. Quality shirts created, and dignified jobs provided for the factory’s workers. As a result of these jobs – all far higher paying than the normal worker gets in Haiti – most of the workers support up to 10 family members with their salary. This is holistic orphan care playing out. It is care for the child, for the future adult and worker, and for the economy.
I went as one privileged to document some of what I saw. But what I experienced was, beneath everything, hope. It is a broken country filled with beautiful residents. I was so honored to be a small part of the GO project on this trip, love what they do, and would encourage you to get involved!