Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Not Diamonds or Gold But an Education!

If you've been keeping up with my Haiti journey for the past 2 years or so, you've probably already picked up on my heart and passion for my beloved people. Through my eyes you have probably seen the children I've met and the women and men that continue to inspire me daily. This past journey was no different.

On every trip, I become acquainted with a number of new faces; men, women and children and I always take one with me. Not literally of course but the face, eyes and smile or sadness of one always stand out. And again this trip was no different.

He told me his name was Ary J. I was instantly drawn to him because he had the same name as my best friend's twin brother, who was right next to me when we met. We both looked at each other in disbelief realizing the coincidence that first and last name would be the same outside of the spelling. Ary was not a part of our activities for the week of camp but he showed up to the camp with a buddy of his. Ary began to tell us a little bit about his story, he's one of four children and out of the four his parents were only able to send two of them to school. He was very articulate, he shared with us snippets of all the courses he has taken over the years; French literature, Haitian literature, chemistry, biology etc...I was in awe by how smart this young man was. Ary is 20 years old and he's in the process of completing his comprehensive exams for what is considered the end of senior year in high school. In Haiti, these exams are a big deal, they pretty much determine your future. Much like the SATs but more intense especially for a country with limited opportunities like Haiti.

Towards the end of our conversation, there was sadness and frustration in Ary's voice. The sadness and frustration came from the reality that that’s where the road stopped for him. No really, this is where the road stops for him.

In Haiti without the sufficient financial resources, the highest level of education one can aspire to is 6 grade and if you’re truly lucky a high school degree. A university degree is out of the question for most. Ary was telling me a university degree in Haiti cost approximately $3,000 USD a year.

The other emotion I heard in Ary's voice was desperation. There was an urgency in his voice to tell his story hoping that someone would take him seriously and do something to meet his needs. As he talked to several of us in our group, he did not ask about food, clothes or money for his pockets but help to continue his education. He was not a hustler like his friend John who had a craft to make necklaces and bracelets and sell them. He was very new to this new lifestyle of having nothing to hope for. He was a novice at making life work in the midst of extreme poverty. I tried to exhort Ary by telling him to hold on and pray and I'm often good at inspiring people to hold on and lift their eyes to God but my message to Ary was not penetrating. His need for an education was too dire.

He came back to the camp two other times. When he realized that his dream of receiving help from these American saviors was not attainable, the stonewall look of hopelessness seemed to have covered him immediately. As he spoke still pleading his case, his hands shook and voice quivered. I’ve only seen this look only a handful of times and it breaks my heart every time. That was the look of true poverty; there was no fight for dignity left.

I tell you Ary’s story for two reasons: one is to try to alleviate my own guilt. Guilt for not being able to do something. And guilt for being afraid to do something wondering if that’s the best strategy to help this young man or if he was a fraud. Either way I did not help.

The other reason I tell you this story is in the hopes that you will become more aware of the millions of Ary’s out there and you will be inspired to join the mission and do something!

All week long we had been grappling with the question “what does God expect of us?” We were sitting with that question as if we didn’t know what God was calling us to: to loose the chains of injustice, set the oppressed free…to share our food with the hungry, to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-when you see the naked, to clothe them… Isaiah 58:6-7
Well Friends, our Mission is Clear!

1 comment:

  1. I get this on so many different levels. Thanks for sharing your heart and the need.