The Brand family and the Sorheim family are the first team back in Haiti since the COVID-19 Pandemic began. Read a blog entry below from Kaleb Brand on his experiences so far in Haiti.
My time in Haiti so far has been a great experience and impactful for both myself and others. I am extremely glad I decided to come on this trip. In all honesty, I did have a few second thoughts about coming. I am a 19-year-old who just finished my freshman year of college. Why would I want to give up a full week of my summer? Why would I want to chip in a decent chunk of money to go to Haiti when I have tuition to pay at a private college? Now that I am here I feel ashamed for even considering these second thoughts. There is no place I would rather be than right here in Haiti because I know for a fact that God wants me here and called me here for a reason. I have seen, learned, and experienced so much more than I expected in the quick 5 days since I arrived in Haiti.
I visited a rum factory my second day in Haiti and this was when reality hit me pretty hard. The main reason our group went to a rum factory was to learn about the process and history of the alcohol industry and influence on Haitian society. However, the only thing I could pay attention to was the workers. Three of the boys working there were my age or maybe even younger. The only thing they had on was a pair of shorts and their hands were stained. What’s worse is the dangerous work environment and manual labor they did day and night, year-round, for little to no pay. Words cannot describe the things I saw, or truly how much pain I felt for these boys who will most-likely be working a job like this until their bodies can’t handle the physical labor.
One thing I’ve observed and learned more about is that opportunity in Haiti is very, very limited. Education and having the opportunity to go to college in America is a privilege that I have taken for granted. Throughout this trip, our group has been accompanied by a plethora of Haitian cultural guides, many of them just older than myself. I’ve asked almost all of them what they plan or hope to do after they finish their last year of school in Haiti. Although smart and hard-working, none of them seemed to know. Their hopes and prayers were that they could attend a University. However, this aspiration seems to be out-of-reach for 99% of Haitians unless they are sponsored an American. I vividly remember one of them saying “I put my trust in God and just pray that he will provide me the opportunity”.
“How do you comfort and give hope to the desperate and despaired? … The one and only way is through God.”
From my observations, one of the things the Many Hands for Haiti organizations does is provide opportunity at a better life. In Haiti, a place with little technology, education, and basic needs, this is an exceedingly difficult concept. How do you connect with people from a completely different language who speak another language? How do you begin to end generational poverty? How do you comfort and give hope to the desperate and despaired? How do you build genuine relationships with people on opposite sides of the perceived social ladder? How do you transform a community?
The one and only way is through God. Tim, the staff, and the Many Hands organization planted a seed in Haiti with a goal to achieve all of these things and more. In the 5-year-old campus I am staying at in Sylvain, it is evident to me that the seed has begun to grow. While playing with the schoolkids, serving at the First 1000 Days’ program, putting in 1 of the 985 cement floors, literally planting a variety of seeds, worshipping with the staff members, delivering supplies, and interacting with Haitians around the Many Hands campus, I have firsthand seen and been a part of change for the better in country that needs help.