Anyone who goes to Haiti to work knows this question. It is followed by all the questions about how overwhelming the problems are and how much has been done, and “really, are things getting any better?”

We have been working on two initiatives lately, maternal health and education for girls. The first one became a focus because the women told us how dire the lack of care was on La Gonave. The other came up because we were given a generous grant from Greater Good ( this winter to help young girls who would have to drop out of school to remain in school.

We have chosen, as a matter of policy, not to use “poor, suffering children” to try to raise money. So, be warned, this is not about asking for money. In the process of trying to identify young girls who needed to be in school, some partners from Eastside Church in Atlanta interviewed some young women and talked to them about their dreams and desires, and their difficulties staying in school.

When we went to review the interviews we were so touched and  said, “This is why we don’t get discouraged. It is the people who remind us what social injustice looks like and keeps us motivated to work harder.”

This young woman is a perfect example of how one trip to Haiti can change your life and motivate you to do things you never knew you could do. In an attempt to give you just the facts of this woman’s life I am going to reprint the “notes” we got from the interviewing team.  No setting to make the story more moving…just the facts.

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Christela, age 14
  • Does not go to school because family can’t afford it- completed the 5th grade
  • Hasn’t been in school for 3 years
  • mom died- she was sick, went to hospital, was told to go to medicine doctor (voodoo specialist) & died from treatment
  • Lives with aunt now
  • Doesn’t know where dad is- last saw when mom died
  • 1 brother lives with aunt as well (has 2 brothers & 5 sisters but split up since parents died)
  • wants to be a nurse when she grows up
  • would like to learn how to do anything (i.e. sew, make jewelry, etc)
  • aunt lives on farm; far from water; she gets the water
  • she cleans & cooks (can cook anything!)
  • goes to Ticolette church- likes to read the bible & sing in church
  • community needs water
  • has access to personal hygeine items
  • Anything else she wants us to know about her- she feels bad when she needs something & has to ask someone else for it; she feels like she wants to kill herself because she can’t go to school (and has to watch all of her friend and community go to school)

So, there are the facts of Christela’s life. She is not begging or whining. She cooks and cleans for her aunt, hauls water and goes to church. She loves to read the bible and sing. She is less aware than we are that she is being denied basic human rights. So we return to teach her that she not only “wants” to go to school, but she “deserves” to go to school.  And no matter how hard it is and how complicated the political situation, we return for Christela and all the others like her who want a better life. A life that at least has the basic human needs that we believe all people have a right to have.

As we meet next week for our annual meeting, and tackle difficult issues of how to provide services, it is important to remember why we do what we do. Why God makes it possible for us to be there.

Deb Griffin

For the partnership