The longer I am here, the more I realize, no matter how well I know Creole, no matter how many people I know in Gressier, no matter how many people call me “White Haitian” (and treat me as an equal) and no matter how well I “integrate” into this community…it always falls back to the reality that I am not and will never be Haitian, I will always be a “blanc” American.
At times I have let this anger me, wishing that I could be a chameleon of sorts, changing colors to be able to go into places my children live to see what really happens to them, where they really sleep and what they really eat…but I know that unfortunately this won’t happen 🙂
But when I move past the frustration of color and being different…I am able to realize what God is doing.
He is growing in me the desire to TEACH, to ENCOURAGE, to GUIDE….TO show CHRIST. Over and over.
Last week, as I was picking up Jessica from Kindergarten…her teachers and I spoke briefly about Jessica’s behavior and for the first time ever, one of the teachers said, “But Michaelle was in a really miserable situation. I saw it. It was terrible, she was always working, always being treated terribly.” My heart stopped, as I looked back up at her in shock for a second, we talked some more about Michaelle and her transformation. I KNEW that this teacher had lived close to Micha, but I just assumed since she never spoke about it before with me that she hadn’t REALLY noticed Micha’s situation. We spoke a little more about Michaelle and a few other children in similar situations…and I walked away somewhat in shock and with somewhat of a revelation….
ALL people in Gressier KNOW what Restaveks are….MOST people in Gressier KNOW that it is WRONG…but hardly ANY people in Gressier know what to DO!
God spoke so clearly in that moment saying…Point them to ME. Point them to JUSTICE. Point them to FREEDOM. Show them how to FIGHT for these Fatherless.
My mind raced as I quickly did the math….there is an estimated 225,000 to 500,000 Restaveks in Haiti…I have custody of 2 little girls who were in this situation….we have almost 300 Restaveks at our school…
I thought…what does it look like to be the ARMY of GOD. The gently yelling (if there is such thing as gentle yelling 🙂 ) VOICE for these children. I kept thinking….if people in Gressier KNEW how to fight for FREEDOM…if they KNEW where to go to HELP…how many more children could be saved??
What this Kindergarten teacher did was remind me how IMPORTANT it is for the community of Gressier to be aware of Child Trafficking…of Child Slavery…of Child Abuse— but then have a WAY to take ACTION!
A WAY to Point to Kindness, to Gentleness, to Compassion…To LOVE…
A WAY to point to Freedom and to Change.
God has been the most amazing teacher in times like this…when Respire Haiti Christian School first started…we had to start from the very basics (in my mind). We had to start with showing the teachers why they couldn’t HIT the children in class (Here in Haiti MOST teachers still use Corporal Punishment in schools). We had to start with showing the teachers how they NEEDED to be supportive, encouraging and loving towards these children.
We also had and have to show the parents in our school how important it was for THEM to support, love and encourage THEIR children.
Setting the standards HIGH for the children and the parents… and BELIEVING in them!
There is a beautiful program that has begun here in Gressier…we have a LARGE number of parents from our school who are in it as well as our 3 ladies who help at our house. They have started going to SCHOOL! They all go to school every afternoon (soon to be taking place on Bellevue Mountain)….learning to read and write in Creole 🙂 I love seeing our parents of the students in our school desiring to learn to read and write so they can help their children do their homework!
I will never forget the first time that one of our ladies (who is in her mid fifties) came upstairs to show me how she had written her own name for the first time.
This is Beautiful,Empowering, Encouraging.
In a place where people live surrounded by injustice. Surrounded by fear, slavery and voodoo (just last week there was a 5 month old baby sacrificed in a ceremony only a few miles a way from us)….with all of this confusion and bondage….it is always beautiful to see Kindness, Gentleness, Love.
God is GROWING me and these people here in Gressier. He is opening up my mind and their minds and hearts to what it looks like to fight for freedom, justice and hope together.