Tag Archive: Change


The longer I am here, the more I realize, no matter how well I know Creole, no matter how many people I know in Gressier, no matter how many people call me “White Haitian” (and treat me as an equal) and no matter how well I “integrate” into this community…it always falls back to the reality that I am not and will never be Haitian, I will always be a “blanc” American.

At times I have let this anger me, wishing that I could be a chameleon of sorts, changing colors to be able to go into places my children live to see what really happens to them, where they really sleep and what they really eat…but I know that unfortunately this won’t happen 🙂

But when I move past the frustration of color and being different…I am able to realize what God is doing.

He is growing in me the desire to TEACH, to ENCOURAGE, to GUIDE….TO show CHRIST.  Over and over.

Last week, as I was picking up Jessica from Kindergarten…her teachers and I spoke briefly about Jessica’s behavior and for the first time ever, one of the teachers said, “But Michaelle was in a really miserable situation.  I saw it.  It was terrible, she was always working, always being treated terribly.”  My heart stopped, as I looked back up at her in shock for a second, we talked some more about Michaelle and her transformation.  I KNEW that this teacher had lived close to Micha, but I just assumed since she never spoke about it before with me that she hadn’t REALLY noticed Micha’s situation.  We spoke a little more about Michaelle and a few other children in similar situations…and I walked away somewhat in shock and with somewhat of a revelation….

ALL people in Gressier KNOW what Restaveks are….MOST people in Gressier KNOW that it is WRONG…but hardly ANY people in Gressier know what to DO!

God spoke so clearly in that moment saying…Point them to ME.  Point them to JUSTICE.  Point them to FREEDOM.  Show them how to FIGHT for these Fatherless.

My mind raced as I quickly did the math….there is an estimated 225,000 to 500,000 Restaveks in Haiti…I have custody of 2 little girls who were in this situation….we have almost 300 Restaveks at our school…

I thought…what does it look like to be the ARMY of GOD.  The gently yelling (if there is such thing as gentle yelling 🙂 ) VOICE for these children.  I kept thinking….if people in Gressier KNEW how to fight for FREEDOM…if they KNEW where to go to HELP…how many more children could be saved??

What this Kindergarten teacher did was remind me how IMPORTANT it is for the community of Gressier to be aware of Child Trafficking…of Child Slavery…of Child Abuse— but then have a WAY to take ACTION!

A WAY to Point to Kindness, to Gentleness, to Compassion…To LOVE…

A WAY to point to Freedom and to Change.

God has been the most amazing teacher in times like this…when Respire Haiti Christian School first started…we had to start from the very basics (in my mind).  We had to start with showing the teachers why they couldn’t HIT the children in class (Here in Haiti MOST teachers still use Corporal Punishment in schools).  We had to start with showing the teachers how they NEEDED to be supportive, encouraging and loving towards these children.

We also had and have to show the parents in our school how important it was for THEM to support, love and encourage THEIR children.

Setting the standards HIGH for the children and the parents… and BELIEVING in them!

There is a beautiful program that has begun here in Gressier…we have a LARGE number of parents from our school who are in it as well as our 3 ladies who help at our house.  They have started going to SCHOOL!   They all go to school every afternoon (soon to be taking place on Bellevue Mountain)….learning to read and write in Creole 🙂  I love seeing our parents of the students in our school desiring to learn to read and write so they can help their children do their homework!

I will never forget the first time that one of our ladies (who is in her mid fifties) came upstairs to show me how she had written her own name for the first time.

This is Beautiful,Empowering, Encouraging.

In a place where people live surrounded by injustice.  Surrounded by fear, slavery and voodoo (just last week there was a 5 month old baby sacrificed in a ceremony only a few miles a way from us)….with all of this confusion and bondage….it is always beautiful to see Kindness, Gentleness, Love.

God is GROWING me and these people here in Gressier.  He is opening up my mind and their minds and hearts to what it looks like to fight for freedom, justice and hope together.

The Real World.

I peaked over his shoulder as he flipped through the book slowly, my heart sunk deeper and deeper into my stomach with each page he turned.  I KNEW the truth of this  situation.  I KNEW the background of my children here, but for some reason seeing it on paper made it more real.  IT Made it HURT more.  It Made me actually SEE the Real World I am living in.

Because of our growing number of students at Respire Haiti Christian School I decided to conduct a quick written survey of each class.  Even as one of the Directors of the school and I wrote the questions…I still felt somewhat in shock of the reality of this situation and the questions we were needing to ask.

I stared down at the paper we finished writing together earlier that week.  In the left hand column, I read the words he wrote in BIG BOLD LETTERS that were meant to be checked off if they applied…I read them slowly, realizing how painful these ONE word questions were…..

Orphan (Mother and Father)?

Orphan (Lost Father)?

Orphan (Lost Mother)?

Restavek?

Extreme Poverty?

Person Responsible?

Address?

Reading through the words listed in the questionnaire, it suddenly hit me how REAL this is in my world in Gressier and in all of Haiti. Restaveks…Orphans…Extreme Poverty.

As our director continued to flip through the pages of answered questionnaires…my heart sunk again…deeper and deeper.  My mind raced.  Each name on a piece of paper…a child…A child who has been through more in their short life then I will ever go through…

He gave the book to me…looked up and said, you look through them.  I took the book slowly and one by one flipped the pages of our 1st grade….Orphan…Orphan…Orphan and Restavek…Lost Father…Restavek…Lost Mother….Restavek…Restavek….I couldn’t breath anymore.  I stopped, looked up at him and shut the book.  My chest tightened as I thought, Oh Crap, How is this real?  HOW and WHY did God bring me here?  This is TOO HARD, TOO MUCH.

I took a huge breath and needed some time…I told them I would be back in a minute, I needed to walk away.

As I walked around our land, I walked to the farthest place on it to get away from everyone and everything…my mind was overflowing with the REALITY of the situation…I KNEW it was big and I KNEW it was tough.  But truthfully, after looking at those papers, I really had no idea.

I held Micha close as we walked home…I couldn’t get out of my mind what HER sheet would have looked like.  I PRAISED God for HIS plan and not mine.

That afternoon was extremely tough…as I was packing up to leave for the states for a few weeks the very next day…I couldn’t believe God had uncovered so much just to let me hear that information and jet off the next day.  As the WHOLE house heard of my NON-excitement to leave (I’m kind of a vocal person)…I realized that the day I had to fly to America wasn’t going away…and I was forced to pack (although I think I packed two things…haha)

All night long I couldn’t get the questionnaire out of my head…it just kept flashing through my mind.  I kept thinking how most of our children don’t even ADMIT they are Restaveks, so there is a good chance the children who said they were Orphans are probably Restaveks too.  The problem kept growing in my mind.

To make matters even worse…as I was on the way to the airport the next day my phone rang at only 9:00am…as I picked it up I heard our director’s voice somewhat worried…as I asked him how he was, he said okay, and then in his broken English said…“We have problem.  Big, Big, Large Problem.”  Trying to stay calm, my mind tried to think of what it could be…I had no idea what he was going to say….he took a deep breath and then explained...”I just finished the evaluations for the 2nd grade.  It is much worse than we thought.  They are almost all Restaveks.  The second grade is very rough.  They need a lot of help.”

Once again my mind raced to thinking of WHY in the world I was about to hop on a plane for a few weeks when all of this information so fresh and so heavy was just being given to me.  Continuing on to the airport in heavy traffic and running late I secretly wished my plane would leave…that I would miss my flight and be stuck in Haiti 🙂  I begged God to give me a reason for telling me this information and then me leaving right after…but he didn’t just then.

I entered the airport…went through security and realized my flight was delayed two hours…I totally thought about escaping, just NOT going…running back to Gressier.  In my one track mind, I thought he was trying to tell me to stay!  I went upstairs to get a cup of coffee and sat down lost in my own world.

The next thing I knew a random person sitting next to me struck up a conversation…she began to tell me of her work with Street Boys…how she had 3 homes…only 6-8 children in each.  She caught my attention.  We went on to talk for the solid 2 hours before our flight boarded.  As we talked about the terrible situation with Restaveks and street children in Haiti…she talked about how she had been wanting to start a home for Restaveks.  “A place of Freedom”, she said.  My heart smiled.  She gave me Hope.  She reminded me.  ONE CHILD.  ONE AT A TIME.  

Sitting in the airport in Port au Prince this righteously angry, independent, wonderfully learn-ed woman was my Angel.  Reminding me WHY God has me here.  Reminding me HOW things will change…One Child At A Time.

I left the Port au Prince Airport that day with a new VIGOR.  A new vigor for HOPE.  A new vigor for CHANGE.

These questionnaires were created to help us serve the children in our school and know their needs.  THIS DOES NOT DEFINE THEM.  THIS IS NOT THEIR IDENTITY.

They are ALL children of the King.  They are fearfully and wonderfully made.  THEY are beautiful, chosen and held tightly to the Kings Heart.

God continues to instill in me a passion for these children that is righteously furious.  God continues to encourage me (and He uses others to encourage me) to be their VOICE!  These children need CHANGE.  They NEED someone to be their voice, to fight for them.  The Restavek situation in Haiti needs to be dealt with HEAD ON…Slavery has GOT to end…Children deserve to be children…and being a Restavek…something that is sadly and disgustingly culturally accepted by most in Haiti is something that MUST CHANGE NOW.

Pray with me for FREEDOM…for these Children’s RIGHTS……and FOR CHANGE IN HAITI.

There is no way I can even begin to put into words what God has done in my life in 2011…but I will try with few words, and many pictures 🙂

After starting Respire Haiti in November 2010 and meeting Michaelle in December of 2010, God guided my path to Bellevue Mountain in Gressier.  Moving to Gressier, Haiti on January 9, 2011 I had no idea what I would be doing…

The only tree on Bellevue Mountain

Over the past 8 months, Respire Haiti has purchased over 3 acres of land to build a school, library, pavilion, medical clinic and more…

Our recently acquired land, the top of Bellevue Mountain.

Respire Haiti Christian School started in a one room church in January 2011 with 97 children…with no uniforms, books, school supplies or even desks…

Students in March 2011

Ricardo using a chair as a desk, March 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now we have over 350 students…with uniforms, books, school supplies, breakfast every morning and more!  For the first half of the year we continued to meet in the one room church, outside of the church and in another nearby location.  Respire Haiti Christian School will start 1st-6th grade in a new building on Wednesday January 4th, 2012!

Students in October 2011

We have seen children transformed by the opportunity to go to school…

Vanessa when I first met her in March of 2011

Vanessa now enrolled in Kindergarten at our school.

Taken out of situations of Restavek and other working environments…

Florencia during a school day last spring before she was enrolled in Respire Haiti Christian School.

And put into environments of learning…

2nd year Kindergarten painting with Water Color

 

 

 

We have seen how quickly things can happen in Haiti when it is GOD’s Plan…

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

 

Hallway of first finished 6 classroom building, opening on Wednesday January 4, 2012 for 1st-6th grade.

 

Our first Community Activity was in January of 2011 with just over 70 children…

Now we have two community activities (feeding programs) every Saturday which feeds more than 700 children…

La Colline Feeding

 

We’ve also seen God’s hand move in amazing ways, through the closer of Son of God orphanage after 11 months of fighting for the freedom of these trafficked, abused and neglected orphans…

Son of God Orphanage

And though the fight for justice is not yet over for these children from Son of God Orphanage, the majority of them have been taken out of a situation where they were being abused, starved and neglected.  Praying that God continues to do BIG things in 2012 for these children and the justice they deserve.

 

 

 

And lastly, I have gone from not even thinking about being a MOM to being the Mommy to two beautiful girls who have changed my life forever.

Michaelle (8), Megan, and Jessica (4.5)

THANK YOU to everyone who has prayed, donated and believed in the vision that God has given me for Bellevue Mountain and the children of Gressier, Haiti.

A special thank you to our American builder, Kyle Fishburn, without him we might still be meeting outside under a tree 😉 and to Bernard Joseph, our Haitian backbone/superman that helps us get things done fast and right!

Kyle (aka Kyle the Builder, KTB) pointing out his ideas for the ceiling of the school, and probably teaching me some building techniques and construction lingo as well!

Happy New Year to All and please continue to follow our next endeavor of our 4 classroom Kindergarten as well as our two-story Library and Computer Lab!

Beautiful Birthday Girl

Michaelle, today you turn 8 years old on December 8th, what a Beautiful Golden Birthday!!

When I met you nearly one year ago on Bellevue Mountain…I had no idea what God had in store for you, me or us…

First day I met Michaelle

In the last year…we’ve been through A LOT of trials, pain and sickness…but we have had a lot of friends to help us through 🙂

A LOT of friends 🙂

We’ve lost some family…

Micha and Gabriel

And found some family 🙂

The day Michaelle reunited with her little sister Jessica

First day of school

We’ve learned to give…

Micha holding little Lovemandy at an orphanage in Gressier

And we’ve learned the joy of receiving…

Micha opening a present from friends

Micha, your  sweet spirit, joy and compassion are such a gift.  I am so blessed and grateful for you my precious girl 🙂 …You have changed my life and the lives of so many others!

Michaelle on Bellevue Mountain Last Week

Happy 8th Birthday Beautiful Michaelle!

%d bloggers like this: