School is ready to begin on La Gonave and we are all wringing our hands trying to figure out how to fund these 10 schools which are so important to the families living on the island. In the process of trying to find the right words (this all goes on in my head the week before the newsletter is due, you understand) I remembered a saying that a Quaker friend of mine told me one time in Washington, DC, when I was worried about a problem at the soup kitchen where I was volunteering, “When it gets heavy, put it down.”
So, I decided to put this problem down as well and in just a matter of minutes I was reminded of all the unexpected gifts the partnership receives on a surprisingly regular basis. These things not only made it easy to “put it down” but they reminded me that we do not carry the soul (sic) responsibility for providing what it takes to manages this program. Consider this:
Last winter a group of women with the Links, International, a group of women who engage in local service projects here in Atlanta, invited us to speak to a group of young people who were homeless and living in a well run temporary housing center. They thought it would be good to have these young people hear about the lives of others less fortunate and to be inspired to “be a part of the solution” as they navigated the difficulties of their own lives. We spoke and showed our slides. There was an amazingly intelligent conversation afterwards with these bright young people offering up some great ideas on how to do our work. Then, a few days later, we received an email saying that the talk had inspired them, the local Links chapter, to initiate a shoe drive, and that they would be sending hundreds of gently worn or new shoes with us this fall so that children in the mountain communities would have shoes to wear to school (a requirement for attending.) All we had to do was tell the story.
Today at 4 PM we will speak at an art gallery owned by a wonderful neighbor here in Nye, MT. He is closing the gallery for the season and decided it would be nice to have everyone attending see the work that the partnership was doing in Haiti. It had casually come up in conversation over the summer, and, being a photographer who has traveled the world, he decided he wanted to help us reach more people. All we had to do was tell the story.
Last spring Lee Wilder was having lunch with a friend who manages a foundation that funds only local projects of a certain ilk. Lee happened to tell her the exciting story of the partnership working with two teachers who teach French in the US by using the “storytelling method” called TPRS (http://www.ntprs.info/) and that they had decided that maybe they could teach Haitians to teach English better if they reversed their method and taught them in French. Lee’s friend was so inspired by the story she volunteered to fund this project privately and in early November we will hold our third training. The enthusiasm for learning this method on La Gonave has been tremendous. All we had to do is tell the story.
It would seem that the lesson here (one that is easily forgotten) is that the work we do is important. But, it just may be that our love for the people of La Gonave, our compassion for their circumstances, and our ability to open up and remember that their story is one of encouragement and hope, those may be the real gifts we bring to this work.
So…as you go through the next few weeks, remember to tell someone you see, maybe each day, a story about how moving it is to be with the people of La Gonave as they work for a better life for their families. How much richer it makes your life to be a part of this amazing partnership. Invite them to go on a trip with you.
Because, you see, all we have to do is tell the story.
For the Partnership