After hearing the news on Tuesday, I asked for permission to do a presentation at my children's school on Wednesday afternoon to suggest a community service project for the children. As always, they welcomed me into the class during their community meeting at the end of the school day.
You see, I was already Haiti-bound prior to the earthquake. Plans had been made and tickets had been purchased for me to accompany Kathy on the next ESL trip Jan 30 - Feb 5. We were organizing a supply collection of items that are expensive to purchase in Haiti to take along for the orphanage. I was tasked with 2T and 3T toddler pull-ups as well as children's chewable vitamins. Following the news of the earthquake, it seemed like it was even more important that we gather as much as American Airlines will allow us to carry in our suitcases!
So, I met with the kids. We sat in the small ampi-theater and they listened to me tell about my involvement with The Red Thread. We discussed the earthquake, the Richter magnitude scale, the island of Hispanola, the unemployment and poverty of Haiti, Rivers of Hope orphanage and Mountain Top Ministries. They asked thoughtful questions such as:
- Why is the unemployment level so high?
- Are there not enough jobs?
- Do people not want the jobs?
- How can people live on so little?
- How many people are hurt?
- Do you know how many died?
Then we talked about ways they could help. I told them about the pull-ups and the vitamins. But they wanted to know what else was on the list since it wasn't enough just to collect those items. Then one of them suggested doing a pizza fundraiser for the entire elementary school and everyone readily agreed. They even decided to write an article for the school newspaper and made fliers for the fundraiser (which were in the parent mailboxes today!).
As students were picked up by their parents, they told them excitedly about the items they "have to go buy". For them, helping wasn't something to think about doing—it was what they were going to do and they had already begun! When I left the classroom, my heart was ready to burst. These kids were on fire and so willing to help people that they will probably never meet.
We can learn something from these children. Even at 11, 12, 13 and 14 years old, we can join these young adults and be compassion in action. I can't wait to see what these kids accomplish. Regardless of the amount of money or supplies, it will be something to be remembered.