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Bringing Haiti close to home to learn why you should care

Have you ever wondered why you were so fortunate to be born in the United States instead of a country like Haiti?

The people of Haiti have every right to feel that life is not fair. They have every right to be bitter, especially following the earthquakes that hit them last year. But, according to the missionaries I have interviewed over the last three years, most of the people in Haiti are grateful for what little they have.

In contrast, most of us in the United States have everything we need, and yet it is never enough.

Last Sunday, I went to a music concert at First United Methodist Church in Austin to support the efforts of a college student, Jillian Flink, who will soon be taking a second mission trip to Haiti.

I applaud Jillian for taking time away from her full time job and college courses to go on a second mission trip like this.


Over the years, I have had the opportunity to interview people who have been missionaries to Haiti. It seems that for many, there is an unstoppable tug at their heart to return to Haiti again and again.

Some describe it as a life changing experience and I can see why.

One woman reflected on her first trip to the grocery store after returning from a mission trip to Haiti. She said the abundance of food we have seemed almost overwhelming.

Another woman explained how most of the children she had worked with ate one meal a day. One day when she offered half of her sandwich to a child, the child broke it into thirds and gave it to three other friends explaining that these three friends needed the food more than she did.

This is hard for us to imagine isn’t it? I don’t even like to think about it, especially when I am throwing away leftovers that nobody in my family wants to eat, including me.

I often wonder, "If I was a missionary, how would the experience affect me?"

Would I think twice before buying expensive dog food that keeps my dog’s teeth white, or would I continue to spend money to get my hair colored, or buy an expensive coffee maker every few years when the old one needs to be replaced?

Many of us, who have not been missionaries, feel helpless as we watch the news and catch a glimpse of how the Haitian people suffer. It all seems so far away, but is it really so far away?


Port-Au-Prince, Haiti is not as far away as we imagine. It is 710 miles from Miami, which is exactly two miles further than the distance between Miami and Durham, N.C. It is not on the other side of the world, and yet our lives are so different than the lives of the people in Haiti, that it might as well be a million miles away.

If it wasn’t for people like Jillian, it would be easy for most of us to ignore the people of Haiti.

Most of us probably feel we have enough of our own problems and responsibilities. We don’t want to hear about people who don’t have enough to eat, and we all have excuses of why we can’t support the problems in Haiti.

We worry that the money we send will end up in the hands of some corrupt government leaders, or that the food we help purchase won’t find its way to the people who need it.

I used to have those same worries, but I did some research and with the help of two local churches, I found some organizations that I trust.

I feel it is important to support teams like Jillian’s mission team because these are the people that bridge the gap between the lives most of us lead and our destitute neighbors in Haiti.

I know that if I lived in Haiti and my children didn’t get enough to eat every day, it would break my heart.

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