Donna and I had the unbelievable privilege of going to Haiti to visit the two kids our family sponsors and to see first hand the work Compassion does. I have been trying to figure out how I could possibly convey to you the impact that our trip has had on us. I think I can sum it up in one word, HOPE.
When we landed in Haiti and drove through the streets (I use the term loosely) to our hotel we were first introduced to the sights, sounds and smells of Haiti. There is no such thing as an infrastructure in Haiti. You observe many half complete block buildings. Broken down, abandoned and/or striped vehicles are found around almost every corner. In many areas garbage is tossed out onto the street or collectively down the hill on some empty lot. It was not unusual to see people rummaging through the garbage for something that may still be of use to them along side of pigs and goats looking for something to eat.
We were told that the average wage in Haiti is about a dollar a day. At one point Donna asked our guide “Is that enough to live on?” Our Guides response is one I will never forget, he said “No it is not enough to live on, it is just enough not to die.” We saw both urban centers and rural centers. We toured a hospital run by a mission organization that partners with Compassion. The Dr. who showed us around labors under huge limitations because of the poverty. They don’t have the medicines that are required to treat simple things like tetanus. She introduced us to a 13 year old girl who is blind. Afterward she told us that she is a brittle diabetic. Her vision loss is a direct result of her diabetes. The Dr. said in Canada she would test her blood sugar levels 4 or more times a day, but they are lucky to be able to check her levels weekly because of the poverty. The Dr. told us she will be dead soon because when you are starving you eat whatever you can find and one of the mainstays of her diet is sugar cane. The poverty in Haiti is overwhelming!
In all the poverty is saw great hope. The dictionary defines hope as.. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. What I have described doesn’t sound all that hopeful, but we also toured a number of Compassion projects and saw the huge difference $35 dollars a month can make. We met both of the children our family sponsors there. We were able to see with our own eyes the hope a sponsorship gives a child and their family. A sponsorship provides a child and their family with hope for the future. A sponsored child’s needs for food, clothes, education, and healthcare are cared for. Sponsored children are given training in vocations that can help end the cycle of poverty. That is hope!!! Most importantly children who are sponsored through Compassion are systematically told about Jesus, that is the ultimate hope.
One night we met with six university students who had been sponsored by Compassion as children and are now in a Compassion program for leadership development. They are training to become doctors, teacher trainers, and engineers and learning how to be solid Christian leaders so they can make a difference in their country. Donna asked them what was the most significant thing in their lives as a result of being sponsored as a child. Two students responded to the question and they both said, “I was introduced to Jesus through Compassion.” THAT IS HOPE!!!!
On Sunday we attended a Haitian Church. Spartan would be a kind way of describing their facilities. Huge would be an inadequate way to describe their hearts! Even though I could not understand all that took place I was in tears a couple of times as they sang songs I recognized the tune to and sang along in English. The most moving part of the service was when they paused to pray for the United States (something they have been doing ever since September 11th . They, who have nothing, praying for us in North America who have more resources than we need. My thought was these dear people are praying for their selfish North American brothers and sisters.
Before we went to Haiti Donna and I were sold on the ministry of Compassion and were glad to be partners with them using our platform as speakers to spread the word about what they do and encouraging others to sponsor a child. Since going to Haiti we have found our hearts tied more closely to the country, our children there and the work of Compassion. If you had seen what we have seen I know you to would be passionate about seeing kids get sponsored because for $35 a month we can give hope! Hope for here and now but more importantly the hope that Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago to bring, hope of a relationship with God now and forever with him.