This Little Light of Mine

"To whom much is given, much is required"


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Reality in Haiti

Wissel Joseph in Haiti

Guest Post by Wissel Joseph, President of “Children for a New Haiti”

“Children and adults scavenge for recyclables and other usable items around a garbage truck at a dump on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.” That is a label of a picture below an article from NBC News titled “The poorest countries in the world.”

It was with sadness that I read the following statistics: “Poverty rate: 77% – Population: 10,123,787 – GDP: $7.35 billion (66th lowest) – GDP per capita: $726 (2nd lowest).  The World Bank notes that half of Haiti’s population lives on less than $1 a day. 80% lives on less than $2 a day. 40.6% are unemployed based on an estimate in 2010.”

Haiti is among the countries where health and healthy decisions are ignored. The average resident will not live to see 50. Less than half of the eligible children were enrolled in primary education (the equivalent of elementary and middle school).

We, at the “Children for a New Haiti” are trying to bring a  lifetime change especially in the remote area in Haiti. With a good staff, support from people like you and others, we are committed to making a difference where it matters.

This week, I was listening to an online radio station broadcasting from Haiti, two journalists comment how some children will stay inside their houses when school starts on October 1, for they do not want to see their friends next door going to school while they cannot. That broke my heart for I know that is the reality for I have seen it first hand. I have talked to parents of these little children and it is not easy to deal with their disappointment.

While I was growing up in Gonaives, I still remember how my mother would stay up late the night before the first day of school to sew my uniform. She could not get it ready earlier because she did not have the money to buy it. I have seen miracles happen where she would received a gift from people unexpectedly so that she could get us ready for the start of school.

Looking at it now, I feel blessed to be where I am, and I want to thank my mother, and those who helped her.  I am pleased to see my children growing up and especially for them to understand the concept of sharing and giving. I have seen them willingly give up their clothes and shoes for “the children in Haiti”.

Together we can make a difference, do not think too hard, get on board, call a friend or a family.  A little goes farther than you can imagine!


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Response to “Serving with Purpose”

Wissel Joseph, President and Founder “Children for a New Haiti”

Guest Post by Wissel Joseph “Children for a New Haiti”

Pat, thank you for a thoughtful article on serving with a purpose.

I think no matter where we are in life, either working on a college degree, dreaming of having a family and or purchasing a new home, we all need to slow down and ponder a bit more about our purpose in life and how little taken from our life will make such a tremendous difference in those living in poverty.

I was born and raised in Haiti and I was blessed with a dedicated mother who has made a lot of sacrifices for me and my siblings to get an education. Now, having a family of my own, I make sure that my children get a good education. But sometimes, as all of us, we get caught up in what surround us and forget the true meaning of life for others less fortunate.

I feel blessed to be a part of “Children for a New Haiti”. This nonprofit organization has allowed me to think through my life and to realize how fortunate and blessed we are to live in a country where things seem easy while other good innocent people and especially children cannot even taste nor comprehend what we take for granted.

Our October trip will be another experience of love and dedication. It is because of all our loving sponsors that have trusted and believe in what we are doing for the children of Haiti that we take seriously our trip to see that our children are in school beginning October 1. We want to make sure that your donations are being well spent.

Thank you so much for your loving caring for the children in Haiti. Your decision to make a life changing difference does indeed bring hope and a better life for those little ones we serve.


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Serving with Purpose

Education is like opening a present.. . so much potential resides within and with a little help it can turn into greatness.

They say hindsight is 20/20. And if I know anything now, it’s this: At age 25, I was clueless about life.

Coming straight out of college and into our first job was so exciting. Starting a family soon followed, even though we were but kids ourselves. Our young family all grew up together. Even though Joe and I felt we were living our own lives, we saw how similar our lives were to our parents before us– as was expected by the community we lived in.

Although I would not go back and change anything from those early days with my family, if I were offered the chance, I wonder what choices I would have made with the experience and knowledge I now have. I can think of only one thing; how I could have served others with purpose.

This particular lesson has taken me a lifetime to understand and truly embrace. Of course I gave to charitable causes when asked by the church or school, and there was always a worthy project to work on. But I never really put any energy toward developing a well thought out plan of giving and then working the plan.

As my involvement in the “Children for a New Haiti” project grows, I am amazed at the stories I am reading about our sponsorship families who have developed a vision of not only sponsoring a child to attend the elementary school, but expanded that vision to include helping that child become a doctor, nurse or other needful vocation They are committed to that child and her/his dream, knowing full well that she/he will someday help others achieve their dreams in the Haitian community.

Further, I’ve been impressed with those who earmark their giving dollars at the beginning of the year and then make a commitment to spending those dollars where it will make biggest impact in someone’s life.

Personally, I see “Children for a New Haiti” as giving with purpose. Helping a child through school is wonderful because we all know that knowledge is power. But those who build beyond that beginning, to a further education plan are true visionaries.

All of this leads me here, inspired and excited about the next steps we – as a community of people, friends, and family – are all about to take. With our hearts full with dedication to serving with a purpose I ask myself “what next?” My first step is to feed, clothe and educate – but what then? How can I encourage – no, how can we all encourage growth and education beyond just the immediate needs?

I’m taking a stand right now, here, and encouraging you all to take this next step with me – of supporting my Haitian child – and children everywhere – to be the best at what they can be. The possibilities of serving our next generation and passing along to them a new purpose is worth any price to me. Is it to you?

Please check our website: childrenforanewhaiti.com

Also we would be honored to have you “like” us on facebook so you may have first hand knowledge of the activities of our organization listed on your facebook page.    “……and we do all this in Jesus’ name, Amen!”


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“. . . . in my Peruvian Hut”

 

Growing up in Pendleton, Oregon was like living in a punch bowl surrounded by dusty wheat fields. The summers were filled with hot, dry heat and dust devils whipping tumbleweeds across the road to be caught by the barbed wire fences.

No wonder I was captivated in the late 50’s with the grainy black and white film of the new mission launches carrying medical teams on the Amazon River. The launches were called Luzieros. Our world-wide church funded the project in the 30’s which was spearheaded by the Halliwells. The Luzieros are still in service.

Fixing lunch!

Little did I know that someday I would be working on those very same launches. After 2 tours of duty on the Brazilian Amazon, the mission team switched over to the Peruvian Amazon where we traveled between Pulculpa and Iquitos on rented ferry boats. Eventually a boat was purchased and upgraded to meet our needs.

We traveled from destination to destination mostly in the early evening and during the night while we slept and then docked for clinics during the day. Sitting on the bow of the boat headed to our next town, as the sun was setting, was beautiful beyond words. Along the banks were stilted houses with parents sitting on the steps watching children bath in the water. The wash was hung to dry and contentment reigned.

Joe and Pat

They had so little. No windows or doors, hammocks for beds and just the bare essentials. How could they be so contented? Finally, it sunk in. They were contented because they had the same as everyone else, there were no stores with glossy marketing campaigns to make them feel they had to have something new to feel good about themselves.

Sure, they had needs but still they were contented. I wanted that contentment!

Coming home to my nice house I realized how blessed I am but some were not blessings at all. It was work keeping up with the world. So I began a campaign to purchase less and to really think about things and decide if it was really a critical purchase.

My family has since heard me mutter to myself, “It doesn’t fit in my Peruvian Hut!” before putting things back on the shelf. It’s okay to admire and enjoy pretty things but not in my house.

Putting my saying into practice has opened up new monies that I have available for really important things. “Children for a New Haiti” is dear to my heart and I am so happy to do without the “newest and latest” upgrade of anything so that I can make a difference in a child’s life.

In a few weeks I will be able to look into the eyes of the children of Haiti and know that all of us have a very worthy mission. To see kids in school learning so that they can better their lives and someday pass along to other needy kids the gift of an education.

But more than that, I want to look into the eyes of the boys we support and know that I have done my best to make a difference for them. What greater gift is there?

We all know that education is power and that is more important than the useless things I could ever choose to purchase for my house. But more than that, when Christ comes, I want to be able to say that I have cared for the “least of these” and hear the words “well done”!


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My Empty Suitcase

My suitcase mocks me as I walk by it everyday.

Those who know me and my eagerness to pack for vacation kind of snicker and go on their way when they spot my suitcase open on the floor of my bedroom.  They realize that it’s part of that anticipation thing I have going on. Sometimes I think I enjoy the packing more than the trip….not really but there is enjoyment!

Tickets have been purchased for our trip to Haiti in October.  There lies my suitcase, open on the floor.  Nothing is in it!  That is indeed unusual for me.

Traveling to poverty stricken countries is nothing new for us.  Usually Joe and I take these trips as part of the working crew for a mission trip medical team.  Joe handles logistics and I prepare the food.  We wear work clothes and leave some behind for those we help.  We are not working continually with those that are being served so the needs are seen but at a distance.  Our work clothes are rather scrubby and what is acceptable we are happy to pass along to those in need.

This trip is different.  We are the mission team and will be actively engaged with the people of Haiti.  I anticipate that as we work with the children and their parents we will be all too happy to part with everything we have to help them.  I know that as a fact by one of my favorite memories.   On a previous trip one of the doctor laughed on the way home that he lost track and gave away all his underwear!

So what do I pack?  I find it rather interesting what goes through my mind as I process things.  “No, don’t take that, it’s your favorite dress with special memories!” or “I wonder what kind of trinkets I can find to take.”  As well as ” I think I will find some pretty plastic lace tablecloths to take for the ladies.”  I was on the wrong track and I knew it!

Today I finally broke through all that and realized that where I was going the people can hardly feed their families.  Clothes only come when absolutely necessary and discarded clothing at that.  The picture of a little boy named Maxo flashed before me.  He’s the one who is wearing a girls dress for his sponsorship picture because that is what is available.  

And then I knew!

I don’t know what you would pack but I, with abundant joy, packed my special dress, my new flowered sandals among other new and pretty clothes.   Now I have a happy heart knowing that someone in Haiti is going to cherish my newer clothes.

And me?  I will come home with just one scruffy outfit and I’ll be wearing it.  I don’t plan on leaving trinkets or cheap toys but instead I’m leaving a couple of 3rd world country irrigation kits for their gardens and yarn for the ladies to crochet things to sell so they can feed their families.

My suitcase is now looking pretty full, kinda like my heart!   Hmmm, I wonder if Haiti allows garden seeds through customs.  I bet I can find some place to squeeze them in.


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Let it Start With “Just One”


What is the first thing you think of as you look at this family from Haiti?  I first wondered if I could live like that.  Could I be grateful for what I have while living in those circumstances?  And then my mind is flooded with even more questions.

What would I be willing to part with to give them a hand up?  Maybe I wouldn’t have to part with anything at all except some donation money. But how much?  How far would the money I carelessly spend for Starbucks Coffee each week go to feed and clothe them?

But most important of all, what is my responsibility to help them?  If I follow Christ’s teaching “….to love thy neighbor as myself”, where do I begin?

Through the years I have been frustrated with the cardboard signs asking for handouts and stung by a homeless person tossing away a cheese sandwich because it didn’t have any ham in it.  What about the homeless person with an iPhone, even I don’t have one of those.   So where do I begin to really make a difference in someone’s life?

There are so many that need my help and so often I have used the excuse, I don’t know where to begin. And then it hits me, you begin by helping just one!  My gift will make a world of difference for that one person.

My first step was to sponsor a child for “Children for a New Haiti”.  What a blessing it has been to know there is a small little boy going to school because I cared.

The people pictured here are a part of the “Children for a New Haiti” family.  We know this family and many like them.  They feel fortunate if they can make $2 a day.  Can you imagine feeding your family on $2 a day wage?  Food is shipped in to the nation of Haiti with prices that rival US prices.  They desperately need your help.

So tell me this, if they stretched out their hand to you, what would you give?  Would you be willing to let them be your “just one”?