How to help
To donate for Haiti relief through Haitian Christian Outreach, visit its website.
Amy Myers, a second-grade teacher at Gum Springs Elementary School in Jackson County and member of Pine Crest Baptist Church, recently accompanied members Bishop Baptist Church, Antioch Baptist Church and others on a mission trip to aid refugees in Haiti struggling fromthe effects of the January earthquake.
On our first night in Peredo, Haiti, we 20 Baptists from North Georgia had already eaten dinner. We were organizing our medical and other supplies for the week ahead when one of us noticed that our trash bags from supper were gone. We had tossed them over the gate into the courtyard.
It turns out the bags had been dragged into a vacant lot by a mother with two children, who was rummaging through them.
Suddenly, a dog ran up, grabbed a can from one of the bags and ran off. The mother chased down the dog and got the can back; her children ate what little was left in it.
Like most of us, I think I'm hungry if I miss one meal. If I skip several meals to get ready for a medical procedure, I feel weak, famished. But I don't know hunger. That woman in Haiti going through our garbage knows hunger; so do her children. What spunk, love, determination and desperation that was on her part, chasing that dog to get a few bites for her children.
The incident with the garbage captured much of what we 20 Baptists from Antioch, Bishop and Pine Crest Baptist churches experienced in Haiti: the grit and spirit of the people who live there, the hunger and suffering of far too many of them, and how their hunger and other needs far outstrip the food and other resources available to them.
This also stood out: In the midst of all the devastation and suffering, Haitians poured out love to one another and to those blessed to serve them. After a week with them, I felt blessed, indeed.
In Haiti back in October, we worked with Haitian Christian Outreach, whose U.S. headquarters is in Illinois, and which has a full-time presence in Haiti staffed by native Haitians.
Working with Haitian Christian Outreach allowed our group to make far better use of our time and our resources while we were in Haiti.
We carried medical supplies with us. With the help of a Haitian pharmacist, two Haitian doctors and two Haitian nurse practitioners, we were able to help more than 1,200 people during our week there.
Some in our group also built desks and bench combos so the children would have a place to work during class. Each day, street children would come out of the woodwork to watch the men working. Eventually, the men allowed the boys to help; the boys' smiles and the sense of accomplishment they displayed were a gift for us to remember this Christmas.
Being a teacher, I chose to work with children. We were in awe each day of the children's eagerness to learn. The school consisted of two buildings. The first housed about 65 students ages 3, 4 and 5 in one room; the second, about 50 students ages 6, 7 and 8.
Their gratitude for our presence and for small presents was overwhelming.
Oconee County Recreation Department donated about 100 jerseys of every color you could think of, and when we gave them to the students, you could see a look of shock in their eyes. They did not understand why we would come to where they live and give them things.
McDonald's gave us a large suitcase full of Matchbox cars and Barbie compact cases. Again, when we handed out these trinkets to the children, they smiled and played as though we had left them an abundance of toys under a Christmas tree.
Christ commands us to love one another, to love our neighbors as ourselves. My week in Haiti taught me how much more of Christ's love we need to be pouring out on our neighbors there, the vast amount of direct help they need from us in food, medicine and education, and in carrying the love and word of Christ to them.
I go back to that woman who chased that dog to get a few bites for her children. May God bless her and them wherever they are right now, and help us to help her and others like her. She is a precious child God in need of our love. So are her children and all the suffering, those in want of food, housing, medical care and the comfort of spiritual assistance.
Here at Christmas, we need to help the hungry as we can, those here at home and those in Haiti and elsewhere. Those of us who will enjoy an excess of holiday food especially need to take from our plenty to share with others.
Small donations add up to major help, here and in Haiti.