In the two recent stories on Haiti, I shared with you about their joy, faith, and beautiful culture. In this last post of the Haiti series, I’m here to share with you stories of two people we met that not only made an impact on us, but also are silent leaders in their communities…and they’re both children!
1. This is Joubert. (I’m calling him by his middle name, so as to be respectful to his privacy.) He’s 2 years old and I know his family wants us to share his story, because his short life has already served as a testimony within his community. His parents are willingly sharing this story, hoping that everyone who hears it can come to believe in the Lord.
Two years ago when Hurricane Matthew hit La Beyi, Haiti, their entire community was wiped away. Water flooded the plain on which their community was built and rose halfway up the mountain leaving their homes, livestock, and land completely destroyed. Joubert’s father is a member of the leadership council for La Beyi, so he was out in the community helping community members get to safety. I came to learn the leadership council made sure they helped anyone they could, even carrying many who couldn’t walk to shelter. That’s a testament to their collectivistic culture and a story for another day!
Meanwhile, Joubert’s mother was trying to help her children get to safety, running up the mountain. As they ran, her daughter got separated and became lost in the storm and Joubert’s mother kept running. The hurricane got so bad that she thought for certain her husband had died on the flooded plain trying to help others find shelter. As the wind rose, the tropical rain fell so hard she thought her baby had drowned in her arms…It was described as a very turmoil-filled event that caused her to feel a bit crazy, reacting in ways she might normally not have. Imagine an instance where you witness your home, livelihood, and possibly your family being wiped away in front of you and there’s nothing you can do. All of this turmoil caused Joubert’s mother to panic and truly believe her husband and baby were dead. So she left him. She laid her baby down in the trees on the mountain and ran to find safety.
Four days later, the storm had subsided and community members were searching for their loved ones among the rubble and trees. They believed Joubert to be dead; after all he had drowned in his mother’s arms. Yet, they found Joubert a good distance from where his mother had left him four days earlier! AND he was smiling! How can a baby survive four days in a hurricane without any food or water? Joubert’s family believes this only to be done through the Grace of God! While only being 2 years old, Joubert is now a living testimony for his community.
Whether you choose to believe God orchestrated this miracle or not, it’s remarkable that a baby could survive such dire circumstances and be found smiling 4 days later!
2. This brings us to Collins (again, changing his name to protect his privacy). Collins is 18 and was born in Figuier, Haiti with a disability. He was the first to greet us as we got off the bus and the last to say goodbye. What’s so remarkable about Collins is that he loves and hugs everyone! I was instantly drawn to him, as I watched him walk about the room and give hugs to everyone, continuously. He didn’t say anything, just gave hugs. As I sat down to meet our group’s sponsored children, Collins sat down next to me and lay across my lap. I found tears rolling down my face, as I was filled with complete bliss. You see, I have a brother with Down Syndrome and he does the same thing. He’s full of hugs and he loves and accepts everyone! I couldn’t help but have a small connection to Collins and I loved every second of it.
Anyone in the community takes care of Collins whenever they receive his friendly visit. Without them, I was told, he probably wouldn’t have survived in their sometimes harsh living conditions. I was also told kids used to make fun of Collins, but after seeing mission groups come through and how much they love him, the kids began to accept him too! My heart just wanted to take him home, but I know he lives a full life where his community loves and takes great care of him. He’s happy where he is.
These stories are a glimpse into the life of those in Haiti. I hope you enjoyed them! Perhaps there’s someone you know who might enjoy reading them too. If so, please share!