West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Drew’s Advent Meditation


Written on Sunday, December 4th in Haiti

We are preparing ourselves on Sunday both mentally and spiritually to return to the land of milk and honey after we have been in the desert again. We have seen the poorest of the poor in the world, how they live, how they survive-if they do at all, how they maintain their sanity in a country that is beyond broken and chaotic. What we as Americans have been given by the mere accident of our birth! We must be
generous with our blessings, our time, and our talents to further the cause of the poor at home and in Haiti.

I was mistaken when I said previously that the children of St. Vincent’s only own the
clothes on their backs. I was wrong. They cannot even call the clothes they wear their own, for they share those with their brothers and sisters. Their joys are in their hearts, not in their things. They do not open their computers and check Facebook pages or tweets when they arise in the mornings. They use communal showers with cold water, get dressed in discarded clothes that we send down when we are feeling generous. They lead what any of us would consider a very monotonous life. So many simple pleasures are theirs, which we as Americans would turn our backs on-no glitz or glamour here. A balloon held by Yolinde or Diana brings such joy these kids.

Yolinde, who is so physically challenged, that the mere effort of grasping the balloon gives her a sense of accomplishment and a big smile.

The coloring books that Missy Gandy provided brought many hours of joy to all the
children. Even the used pages of these books were made into paper airplanes and were
sailed into the humid air.

The time we spend there liberates us from the stuff we are so attached to. We give a fewdays of our lives to these beautiful children. This is the least we can do with our time, Dr. Susan Nelson’ talent and skill, and your treasure.

People ask me, “Why Haiti?” I feel I can speak for all those who have been down there. That we see life in the states just a little differently. That our hard hearts have been cracked open and we receive the love and gratitude and the Holy Spirit from thesegenerous and giving people.

Those of us who do not speak a word of Creole still receive thanks and gratitude througha hug or an embrace or simply a smile. We capture these in our hearts and bring them home with us. But unfortunately, we let these memories slip through our fingers much too soon under the pressure of our live back here. That is why we keep going back, some of us for as many as ten times. We try to recapture what they so generously give.

Dr. Nelson always schedules a trip during Advent so we are there during the celebration of the International Day for the Handicapped at St. Vincent’s. The Bishop of Haiti, The Rt Rev. Duracin, celebrates the Eucharist. Father Sadoni gives a report on the state of St. Vincent’s to the many dignitaries and special guests who attend. The children get meat and a soda that day. This is the only day in the year that they receive meat to eat. The children provide the entertainment. They get new clothes for the celebration but afterwards the jeans and dresses are returned to the closet until next year.

We cannot remain silent. We must bring you the story of St. Vincent’s and of Haiti. We cannot turn our backs on our children and wash our hands of them and the challenges they face every day of their lives.

The day-to-day survival of our children is assured, God willing. They will not starve to death or die sitting on a curb begging in the streets of Port au Prince neglected and abandoned.

Father Sadoni, the director, has seen to their care with your help and support. Dr. Nelson, after many medical missions, has gotten the children’s health stabilized and improved tothe pint that we can move our medical mission from emergency care to health maintenance. She and her team found very little anemia, no worms, no sign of cholera,and no scabies in our children.

The pharmacy tech, which you help us fund, is charged with the task of giving each child in the school a vitamin everyday, thanks to your generous donations. A simple vitamin has changed their lives for the better.

As Father Kesner Ajax said, “There is hope in Haiti.” How can this be, one might ask?
Surely, the challenges posed in the country as a whole would seem daunting. But we lookat a little piece of heaven on earth, St. Vincent’s, our cathedral for and of children, behind the walls where abandoned and physically challenged children are alive and well.

We are making a difference in their lives. Not wishful thinking, but a tangible, physical, measurable difference in many ways.

Join us in our mission to give these beautiful children an opportunity for a full,
productive life, that otherwise they would not have except for St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children. Yolinde, Samuel, Ferdnand, Frenel, Diana, Magarite, Vincent, Watson, August, Wishme, Berneka, and all the others thank you and send you their love, which is all they have to offer. This is really all we need to possess!

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