“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question put to any child old enough to string a sentence together. “You can be whatever you want to be” is the prompt and proper ensuing validation. As time continues, the child learns that life doesn’t hand him his dreams gift-wrapped on a silver platter. Yet the idea of the “American Dream” has been firmly planted. And what is the American Dream in its truest form but the ability to think up any number of grand aspirations and the opportunity to chase after them. In short, the beauty of the American Dream is not the dream itself but the freedom each man has to pursue their dream. This begs the question, is the American Dream limited to American soil?
A Budding Hope
In Maliarette, Haiti, a group of women and children gather under an open-air shelter each weekday for the noon meal. As participants in the First Thousand Days Program, MH4H staff has gotten to know these unique families and some of their hopes for the future. In many ways, the desires of the Haitian moms mirror those most American parents harbor for their own kids. Some suggest specific career paths they would like to see their kids follow while most simply want their children to be strong and healthy, to trust in God, and to be productive members of society with an opportunity to chase what makes them happy. Like a small photograph held close to their hearts, these women share a picture of their most precious hopes.
GELENE wants her daughter to grow up to be happy and healthy and to follow after God.
Establishing the Roots
After sharing their dreams for their children, each woman identified three root factors which hold the greatest influence in a child’s development. God, family, and education. When a firm foundation is set within each of these areas, the child feels loved and secure. This empowers the child to grow up maturely defining who he is as an individual, how he relates to his Creator, and what his role is within society.
“The most important thing in a child’s life is for him to know and follow God.” – Elanie
“It’s important for kids to go to church with their parents because there they will learn how to be in good relationship with God and with other members of society.” – Gelene
“For a child to be a respectable person in society, he needs formation in the family, in the Church, and in school…Education is important because it allows kids to have respect for others and for themselves.” – Dieula
Fertilizing the Environment
At MH4H, we agree with these ladies’ assessments. On the Maliarette campus we strive to create an environment where mother and child feel safe, are nurtured, and can grow. Children receive vital nourishment through vitamins and a five meals a week. They practice motor skills and social skills while hearing how much they are loved by God, their families, and their community. Parents attend practical and Biblical formation while frequenting an environment that supports their social, emotional, and spiritual needs. The First Thousand Days isn’t just a program – it’s a community.
"This is a beautiful program. While the moms are praying, singing, and learning, the kids are listening and learning too. Here they learn to live well together and play together."
"There is community in the program. The moms are learning to support each other"
Gelene – Program Assistant
Since the MH4H Maliarette campus’ opening in January 2019, the staff has noticed an improvement in the kids’ general heath and an increase of a sense of community among the moms. Parents and grandparents are doing the hard work of pursuing their hopes for their kids’ future. Their faithfulness in attending the First Thousand Days program highlights their determination to make these dreams a reality. No one is made to walk alone; every family in the program finds themselves surrounded by a community ready to cheer them on!
From its founding, the U.S.A. has given credence to the meaning and practice of the American Dream. It sets the example of picturing a better tomorrow and working to realize that hope. By this definition, it is clear that the American Dream isn’t solely American in nature. It is the result of one equipped and emboldened to chase something greater, regardless of their living address. Many Hands for Haiti is proud to stand by the families of Maliarette as they set the example for the next generation of Haitian doctors, pastors, parents, leaders, and visionaries. These aren’t vague aspirations; they are God-given callings placed on these families’ lives. Fearless and Faithful – these are the Dreamers of Tomorrow!
"It costs nothing to dream"
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The Declaration of Independence of the USA