I had the privilege of getting to serve in Haiti alongside Kate, my dear friend and roommate, and thought it only appropriate that you should hear her perspective and see some of the things we experienced through her eyes. This is what she had to say about our time at the Darres':
On our first full day in Port au Prince, we had the opportunity to visit a local pastor and his family who had recently decided to take in and care for 6 special needs children.
This family, the Darres, lived in the heart of the city, and had very few resources to care for their own family, let alone for 6 new children who required extra attention. Yet, they had a heart for serving these children, and the faith to trust that God would provide what they needed.
My aunt, Kandis- the physical therapist from Texas, had held a clinic for 40 special needs children at the home of this family before and had warned us that when we got to their home, we might see some things that made us feel uncomfortable, so I tried to be prepared for what we were about to experience.
(or as prepared as it is possible to be when in Haiti… )
When we arrived at the Darres' home, my first sight, ironically, was a blind man sitting outside the door where the special needs children were. He was tenderly holding a baby, and he very much seemed to be a kind of gate keeper for these children. Even though he couldn’t see them, you could tell from the way he held them and talked to them that
he loved them very much.
After speaking to the man, we peered into the dark, window-less room where the children were liying on the concrete floor on tattered mats. Kandis told us our only job was to go inside and love on them, hold them, laugh with them, play with them. And we were happy to do whatever we could.
The temperature in the concrete room was well over 100 degrees and several children had very high fevers. As I sat down on the floor and began to fan flies off the face of a two year old boy with cerebral palsy, I was overwhelmed with anger and frustration. He was crying out and obviously in severe pain and discomfort, but there was very little I could do to make him feel better. In that moment, I was so mad at the brokenness and fragility of this tent of a body that we carry around with us, disgusted with the lack of medical care available to people in these circumstances, angry at the ugly mark that sin has left on this earth.
At the same time, I thought about every time I obsessed about my body or appearance, every time I griped about a “first world pain”, every time I neglected to show patience and mercy in a situation where someone was desperately crying out for help. As I continued to hold this sweet boy, doing anything I could to communicate that someone was right there with him, God hit me over the head with a complete feeling of helplessness. As someone who (most days) feels like “if I just work harder, maybe tomorrow I’ll have it all together” or “I-can-take-care-of-myself-thank-you-very-much” , I have a hard time grasping the extent of God’s provision for me. But through this experience at the Darres' home, I envisioned myself and my circumstances through the eyes of this child- unable to do anything for himself, completely dependent on the mercy of someone else to provide for his every need. Without someone-his nanny, his caretakers, a volunteer-coming in to stoop down, pick him up, and take him outside to experience the sunshine, he would always lie on the floor alone.
But God always provides exactly what we need. And for this boy, and every other child at the Darres home that day, God provided wheelchairs. These wheelchairs, which are worth close to $10,000, were donated by people in the United States who knew that my aunt takes them to people in Haiti. She doesn’t bring the wheelchairs with any specific person in mind, but inevitably, they always fit someone who needs them. That day at the Darres, my new friend was picked up off the floor and put in his very own wheelchair. This provided almost immediate relief from a lot of the pain he was experiencing, opening up his lungs and allowing him to breathe more easily than he could on the floor. Even though he will never run or walk, he also will never spend every moment of his life lying on the floor. God lavished His grace on these children through the gift of a new, better way of living and experiencing the world.
Praise God that He graciously gives that same gift to all His children.
(The following images are of the 6 children who received medication and wheelchairs from donors in the states and the men, women, and children who care for them.)
If I'm honest, this was one of the hardest things to photograph while we were there. Sorrow and joy were both very real at the same time. I would say these photos accurately portray the many ups and downs of the week and encouragement that came in the midst of grieving. It's hard for me even to post these photographs as we saw these children living in what I can only describe as the worst of circumstances I had seen at that point...but oddly enough...they're better off at this home on this hot floor than in the tent cities where they came from...more on that soon.
If you or someone you know has access to wheelchairs or medication to be taken to Haiti on future trips please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment below.
Check out our connection to Haiti and the group of boys we went to serve here.
Thanks for stopping by,