29 More Reasons to Hang On
As I type out these words, it is pouring rain all around me. I am sheltered from the rain and yet I breathe in the dampness and feel the thick air of humidiity that accompanies a downpour. Port Au Prince is 136 miles to the south of where I am sitting right now, and I am guessing that today, like me, they are feeling soggy. But the difference today is that one million of those people have nothing to keep them from the rain except – if they are lucky – a tent tarp. And if they are among the even more fortunate, they are with family and friends.Tragedy is somehow lessened when we are comforted by family, or at the very least, close friends. Knowing you are loved somehow helps to lessen the jagged cut that runs deep into our souls, our emotions, even our spirits when our world falls apart. But what happens when there is no way for you to know you are loved? No way for you to understand that your life matters, that you are not just a problem to take care of or a life to exploit? What is life like without the knowledge, the tangible evidence that you belong?Two weeks ago, when Cole got back to the orphanage compound in Port Au Prince, it was late. He was tired, hungry, overwhelmed. As he walked through the gates into the property, he was ready to get to his pail of clean water, wash up and crawl into the tent that he had set up earlier in the day to return to. But to his surprise and their mutual confusion, there were 30 new, dirty and scared little humans laying side by side on rough, woolen blankets on the dirt ground around his tent. Not exactly an encouraging welcome party! Asking around the compound, he learned that they had just arrived from a nearby tent town, each of them either orphaned, abandoned, or without hope of parental provision. All of them confused and scared, yet not a single one of them crying or making a fuss. Some of them were trying to sleep, and some just sat and stared straight ahead, too overwhelmed to yet process where they were.They were brought here because although there was scant resources available, at least they were safe, tucked away from child traffickers, sexual predators, and other street violence. They may be without basic necessities right now, but at least they are together and in a place where they are wanted and loved. In this home that LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) helps to support through Hero Holiday, hope still lives on. Though many days it may be fragile and precarious, it can still be felt and it can still be shared.In the middle of the crowd of new faces was a little boy, probably about 7 years old, holding on to a child-sized suitcase. As he opened it up, Cole couldn’t help but notice the contents inside: one pair of pants, one t-shirt, and a water botttle of milk. As the little boy pulled the precious bottle of milk out of the suitcase, he did the unexpected. He did what adults often fail to remember to do and children seem to never forget: he turned to the other little boys around him and willingly shared his treasure. This is not what he would have chosen as a family now, but nevertheless, it is the family he now finds himself in. And families are meant to share their resources, look after each other and stick together. And around that little boy were 29 more reasons to hang on and make it through to tomorrow.There have been many promises made to Haiti in the hopes of recovery, and time will tell if it will come to pass. But in LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute), we recognize that each of us can do what we can with what is in our own hands. We are hosting our first Hero Holiday to Haiti in May, with the hopes of many more to follow. Though the current trip is filled up, the need is great. If you would like to help us help them, please donate at www.livedifferent.com/donate and specify Haiti Hero Holiday.As well, this summer we still have openings left for our Dominican Republic and Mexico trips in July and August. To find our more, go to www.heroholiday.com. You belong here!”Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much a heart can hold.” ~ Zelda FitzgeraldAuthor’s Note: This week, as I wrote this 52, all I could see in the photos, the stories, and the voice that came through were they eyes of my daughter. She is Haitian and like these children, she had been orphaned. When you see life through the eyes of love, you are never the same, and when you realize that there are stories behind each face, you can’t turn away and forget. LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)’s best selling book, ONE: A FACE BEHIND THE NUMBERS is available on our website. It is an excellent resource for understanding how to not only look at the statistics of what is happening around us, but to hear the stories and see the faces that are making the difference. Check it out at www.one.livedifferent.com. It is available online and through chapters.ca and amazon.ca. All proceeds go to helping us help others.