Day 1: Lovin’ on the babies
“Let no one ever come to leave you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” -Mother Teresa
After a wonderfully uneventful travel day yesterday, our first full day in this beautiful country was spent at the Home for Sick and Dying Babies. Despite its’ name, the hospital is a place of hope for desperate families. The nuns who live and work here are the epitome of kindness, modesty and patience. And we learned that, truly, these nuns are working miracles on the very sick (mumps, tuberculosis, AIDS, cholera, etc., most of which are PREVENTABLE and CURABLE in the states), and the very (very!) emaciated babies.
A huge percentage of them go home.
Driving up to the clinic, the first thing we saw was a line of parents out the front door, waiting for their chance to have their children admitted. There are only a limited number of beds, and a limited number of nurses, but they do everything in their power to make sure those who need help, receive help.
We spent our time holding the babies, giving them love (i.e., human touch), changing their diapers, feeding them lunch (an incredible experience), changing aprons after holding vomiting babies, and playing with the toddlers who were well enough to be on the playground. When you see what looks to be a newborn baby, but later learn is 9 months old, your heart does a funny thing. It folds into you, aching, pulling and shattering. But then you see the nun, holding her, gently feeding her, nurturing her body and soul, and your heart lifts up again in faith and love. God brought the child to the nun, and the nun to the child. It’s a beautiful thing.
Trying to find the words to transition to our afternoon is as challenging as the transition itself. Leaving the Home for Sick and Dying Babies was hard. Going to the Apparent Project was awesome.
The Apparent Project was started by one woman and an idea. She came to Haiti to adopt a child, but when she realized the child wasn’t a true orphan (her parents were alive, just unable to care for the child financially), her heart broke. She decided to learn WHY this was happening, and what she discovered is changing the lives of hundreds of Haitians today. She hired Haitians to create amazing art/crafts/jewelry, and provided free childcare for every employee who worked there. Being able to earn an income AND have their child lovingly cared for changed everything. They went from 5 employees a few years ago, to 191 today. Needless to say, our team spent as much as we could in the Apparent Project Store. Leaving money here creates opportunities, which creates jobs, which creates stable families, which creates more opportunities. Hundreds of lives changed by sustainable employment. And it started with one woman and an idea. One woman and an idea.
We ended the day with devotions. We easily determined our group’s Word of the Day was HOPE. Everything we saw today was built on hope. And hope is what sustains all of us, regardless what tiny plot of land we call home.