Guest blog post from local photographer Kristin Wardrick about her experiences traveling and sponsoring a child in Haiti.
On my first trip to Haiti in 2003, I fell in love with the people and the place. Even in complete poverty and dire situations, the people were so happy. My parents has been to Haiti twice before and had asked me if I would go with them. On this trip, we interviewed and measured 57 children to enter them into the sponsorship program that my parents were starting for the first time. No education in Haiti is free and with most of the population living on less then two dollars a day, for a lot of children education is only a dream. Education is also what saves a lot of them as children are entered into school at age 3 it provides a safe place for them to be while their parents are looking for work and most schools give them a meal which for most of them is the only thing they eat that day. Education also gives them a step up to actually go out and find work once they have completed school.
On my 3rd trip to Haiti I remember seeing this little girl screaming and clinging to her mother. Completely terrified of the "blancs" (french for white) wanting to take her picture. I remember my friend Tiffany struggling to try to capture her sweet face in hopes of getting someone to sponsor her so she could attend school. I think at best w e have a photo of the side profile of her face with tears streaming down and her clawing her laughing mother who was telling her "the blancs wont eat you." She was one of the many young children that we had photographed but by far one of the worst photos.
Something stirred inside me and I knew that finding a sponsor that would choose to sponsor a child with hardly a photo of her probably was not going to happen. I walked over to my mother who was interviewing the children and told her that I would sponsor the "screaming girl" whose name was Chama. As my trips to Haiti continued so did my relationship with Chama. She was a bit shy at first and then the shyness grew into excitement to see me. I would look forward to seeing her just as much. I would think of her all the time in my usual day-to-day busyness but never thought much about what she was thinking about. On my trips I would hear that she was not a big eater and how her mother would tell her she needed to eat or that I would be sad and crying. Or how she prayed for me and my family every night. I would receive letters every once in a while with all sorts of flowery language which is such a cultural thing wishing me Gods blessings and how much she thought of me. On my last trip Chama didn't know I was coming and her mom hid me in her house and went and got her to come home.
I remember standing in the back room of the cinderblock house with no electricity and sheets in the doorways blowing in the breeze with my heart beating out of my chest. I then reflected on where the relationship had started and how far it had come. From a horrible photo of a screaming child, to the girl who tells me her skin color is from her Haitian mother but her face looks like her "Mama blanc". When I finally popped out from behind the curtain, I remember the look on Chama's face of complete shock and then a koala bear hug with tears streaming down her face.
At times it’s still hard for me to grasp how big our relationship is with the separation that our lives have by distance and material things. It’s hard for me to grasp how such a small thing in my life in terms of the $50 twice a year for school sponsorship can grow into something so big. Even if it never did, it still is special to me to think that somewhere out there the life of a small child is changing drastically because you were willing to give something as important to them as the ability to go to school. You never know where giving is going to take you! I encourage you to see! The program has been running for 9 years now and has over 1500 children from 11 communities in Haiti. The program is all run by volunteers so 100% of the money you donate to the children goes to the children. None of it is used for overhead, expenses, or operational fees.
Sponsor a child at hishandsforhaiti.org at the "children in need" page or follow what is going on with the program on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HisHandsSupportMinistries. For more information, you can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Kirstin Wardrick
Hi! my name is Andrea and I'm a not-so-average Northern Virginia blogger, mom, and transplant from the Midwest. I host Girls Night Out events, meet ups, and write about events and my adventures in the DC area. I love to travel, brunch, and drink wine with my neighbors! I'm known to live on the wild side and order Venti iced double shots at 5pm.
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