My journey with Holy Name High School started at the pre-trip meeting. I stood there looking at the 10 faces of high school students and their parents who were willing to send their children to a third world country. I knew in that moment that their lives would be changed by the week we were about to experience together. I was both excited and nervous for this week- it was after all the first time I was leading a group into Haiti.
Throughout our week, I got to get to know these 10 young men and women and I am proud to say that I can now call them my friends. It was beautiful to watch them grow throughout the week with the things they were experiencing.
These 10 juniors and seniors- and their two teachers- pushed themselves in ways i’m sure they never imagined they would. They dug holes to build the foundation of a home; they shoveled and carried concrete; they hammered nails until they bent and then hammered them again; they painted the 4 walls of the house even spilling a little along the way. They pushed themselves to continue to work in the heat of the day- bonding over dripping sweat. They walked on steep slopes in the rain paying careful attention not to fall.
As is always the case, we all were affected by the woman we built for this past week. Upon meeting her, she immediately knelt down on the ground and began praying. She was so grateful to God that we were in Haiti and building her a home. She is blind and couldn’t see anything. She also didn’t have a place to stay. She went around from place to place and now has a place of her own where she will be safe and close to her sister. The most amazing thing of all we found was that her name is Dye Mesi. In Creole, this means “thank you God”. This was so perfect as she was so grateful to God for the things she has and has been given, even within the circumstances that she was living. She kept saying “thank you, thank you, thank you a million times” as we handed over the house to her. In return, we all thanked her as we too were touched by the experience of being able to provide for her.
In many ways I too was affected throughout the week even though I have experienced Haiti many times and for long periods of time. It was incredible to see the children at Be Like Brit speaking English in conversations that they could understand. My mind was absolutely blown by the ability in these kids and I have such hope that they will be successful and do great things in their lives.
As part of our week- I shared with the group some Haitian proverbs. They discussed how they identified with these proverbs. I figured I would share with you some of their thoughts as they reflected on their week. They were quite profound in their reflections.
“Deye mon, gen mon.” Beyond mountains there are mountains.
“Even though we changed one person’s life, there is still so many more people in need of help. … after we solve one problem, there are so many more that need attending to.”
“Although this week was not easy, in the end, despite the difficulties and challenges we faced, the final view at the top was worth it. And although there are mountains in the distance, after this week, I know that I’ll be able to face these mountains and challenges that come with them.”
“Men anpil chay pa lou.” Many hands make the load lighter.
“When everyone does some of the work, it becomes less taxing.”
“I couldn’t imagine building that house by myself and I couldn’t imagine coming here by myself. Everybody worked well together and not one of us could do it without the others. I will take this lesson home with me and the next time I feel the need to do everything on my own, I will think of Haiti.”
“Everyone played a crucial role in the process and we all supported each other.”
“We each had each other’s hands to hold, which made the emotional “load” lighter.”
“Piti piti wazo fe niche li.” Little by little the bird builds its nest.
“Day by day we had a little more of the house done.”
“We arrived at the barren site and left with four standing supports. Next came the cement, followed by the walls then painting. Little by little we birdies built a house and changed a woman’s life.”
Thank you to these wonderful young people from Holy Name High School for the great experiences we got to share this week. Your hard work and never-ending perseverence is inspiring. I’m so glad we got to share this week and help the people of Haiti at Be Like Brit and in Grand Goave together!!!