I don’t think the emotions and thoughts I felt on this trip can even be put into words. I am sure everyone else has said, “it was an eye opening experience, and we need to be grateful for the things we have.” Even though that was a huge part for me, I want to attempt to veer away from those two subject matters, because it was much, much more than just those.
I started the trip with what I thought was an open heart, knowing that I have been spoiled with all these material items. Needless to say, I was wrong. These kids and families have absolutely nothing. I’m here worrying about what shoes to wear, debating if they even match my wardrobe, and whining about having to wake up twenty minutes early for work on some days. Meanwhile, these kids are grateful if they even have clothes, regardless if they match, or a pair of shoes. I never heard a single child complaining of their clothes or shoes, or having to walk to the compound. After a re-examination, my heart was actually completely empty.
Here in the free world, we are able to state our opinions, choose our religion, riot and protest because we have that freedom. In Haiti, there is a constant battle between Christianity and voodoo, between God and satan, and good and bad. Seeing how women and children with disabilities are treated in Haiti pierced my heart. Some of the children are taking the risk of abuse, physical and mental, from their families when they step foot on the Live Beyond Compound. But regardless of their situations, they continue to return, knowing in their hearts what is right for them. Watching four children get baptized on this trip was an amazing sight.
I broke down on the last day, not because I was sad for the kids, but for the fact it has taken me 27 years to realize how empty my heart was and how addicted to materialistic items I actually was and the fact it took me a few days to just see how strong these kids are, mentally, compared me myself. I am very thankful for the opportunity to go on this trip. Thank you STAR, the Vanderpools and Live Beyond, the Haitian Staff, KPT kids, Johnny’s Kids, the STAR team, and all the other teams that were on this mission for helping me fill my heart with the love and compassion it needed. I will never forget this trip and I cannot wait for the opportunity to go back again.