Our first visit to Haiti was almost two years ago. We were set up in a nice little town, a ways off from the hustle and bustle of Port-Au-Prince. This place is nestled in between the ocean and the mountains. Montrouis. It is what our entire team came to call as our “hometown” and since our first time in this place, we have answered it to the question of “Where are you from?” from any Haitians we meet. It is always good to return to this city.
Montrouis is composed of only a few roads. On the main road, it’s easy to pass right by a rocky wall and a tattered white gate with peeling paint and a hand written “#7” on the outside. Many, many cars and buses pass by without giving it a second look. I don’t think we could forget it if we tried. This place is lovingly called “The Number 7 Orphanage” and is one of the most amazing places in all of Haiti.
Our first water project ever was done by covering an old well at this place. Last summer, we were able to lead a team of Haitians to build a rain catchment tank to provide fresh, clean water for these kiddos and staff. This visit was intended for teaching and checking up on the tank.
We were welcomed with screams of excitement. This is not because we are anything special, but because these kids remember us well. They don’t see a lot of white people in their home. The pastor and overseer of this orphanage greeted us and immediately took us to see the tank. They had painted it and began speaking in broken English about how great it was to have provided water for an entire year for his kids.
This trip, however hopeful, was also filled with a lot of heartache. Over and over again, my achy heart remembered that we were in Haiti. Haiti. This country is filled with children who will never know the love of parents, the luxury of knowing there will be consistent food and are treated in ways that are incredible demeaning and violent. No one protects them. No one sees them. Trucks and buses and cars drive right by their gate.
I don’t have the answers. I don’t know why this is the way life is for these and many other children in this country. I don’t know why it is me on this side of the computer, typing away with a plane ticket back to the mainland in my possession. Why is it me? Why am I not a mother so poor that I have to give my children to an orphanage in hopes for a better life for them? Why am I not a child who is so at-risk to the many harsh realities of Haiti?
I don’t have the answers. But, I am desperately clinging to the few things I know: God is love. God is justice. God is a Father. Every time I struggle with the “Did we do anything?” scenarios running in my mind after a trip to the orphanage, I can stop. I can remember who God is and what He has already used us for.
All I need to do is picture those kids calling our names as we hopped out of our tap-tap. “Estephanie!” in little raspy Haitian voices. They call me by name. “Bwyan!” They call him by name. They ask for those they haven’t seen in years. And, then I know. Our work is not yet done. But, it is here for sure. I believe the time we have spent giving, pouring into and teaching them does more than we even know. The older kid with nothing to do has now learned more about the upkeep of the tank giving him clean water; the young girl know understands what germs are for the first time. Even more than germs and clean water, these kids know they are loved and known by us. After all, we greet them by name, too.