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)?
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.