Not so long ago (four years to be exact) I was living in the countryside of Haiti, spending my nights rocking babies and writing blogs with hopes and dreams for the future.
Dreams of this crazy notion that maybe, just maybe, we could change even just one life, and give these children hope and a place where they could feel safe and loved.
At first, I had no clue what kind of responsibility I was taking on. Not only did I lack the funds to see this vision through, but I had never attempted to do ANYTHING of this magnitude ever before in my life. Despite all of the odds that were against me, and all of the obstacles that I knew would be ahead, there was a burning in my soul, something telling me that I needed to do this, and that if I simply walked away from these children, I would regret it for the rest of my life.
2012 began a journey that had no destination or end in sight. I knew that I was where I was meant to be at that moment in time, but I had no idea where we would end up or how things would play out. I didn't know how I would continue to care for these children that I had just committed to providing for. This was not what I had envisioned when I first came to Haiti. I never imagined myself doing this, I was never one who fantasized about starting a non-profit or a Children's Home, let alone in Haiti. This was not in my plans.
I was just someone who said 'yes'.
With that 'yes' have come many challenges and hardships along the way. I learned more lessons than I probably should have learned at the age of nineteen, but each lesson made me stronger and wiser. I was naive, but that quickly began to diminish overtime. Within the first few months I was exposed to corruption like I never could have imagined. I was taken advantage of more times than I can count, by both people in our community as well as government officials. It was discouraging and disheartening. There were so many nights when I cried myself to sleep telling myself that I was done, that I was going home, that I couldn't do this... but then each morning I would wake up to these beautiful smiling children who forced me to realize that I could not simply just give up on them. They depended on me now. How could I walk away from children who had already been let down so many times before? Not only by people close to them, but by their society and their government. How could I tell them that I wasn't strong enough to do this, when they were strong enough to survive through unimaginable struggles and trauma?... I couldn't. They had already won over my heart, and with every bone in my body, I knew I would fight to keep them together and to provide for them the best that I could.
Fast forward to four years later. We are no longer living in the countryside in a small tiny home with no electricity, appliances, or furniture. We have a nice large home in Port au Prince where we receive electricity occasionally, we have a fridge, stove, car, toy room, lots of bunk beds, furniture, our own desks, four bathrooms, an office, kitchen, table, and chairs! We no longer have just one nanny- we have multiple and we also have a nurse, cook, director, laundry ladies, janitor, security guard, social worker, etc. Our kids attend great schools and even go to dance class. Although we still struggle financially, and it is stressful trying to continuously fundraise, we make do with what we have. Sometimes you don't even realize how much has been accomplished until you step away, sit back and reflect on the years gone by. An overwhelming sensation just came over me thinking back to my first few months. I went to Haiti with $500 in the bank and with no clue how to run a non-profit, let alone a home full of children! I could not have made it through without the support of so many generous people around the world. So many people, people who I had never even met, contacted me on social media, donated money, sent words of encouragement, came to visit me and the kids, shared our story, and gave me reassurance that I could do this...YOU gave me the strength to keep going in my greatest moments of weakness. I am so fortunate and so blessed to know so many incredible people. I am forever grateful for each and every supporter that we have had over the years.
Now, also four years later, instead of being in Haiti and rocking one of the babies in our home to sleep, I am back in Canada in my own home, rocking my newborn son to sleep. These four years have been the best four years of my life. So much has happened, so much is still happening, and I can't wait to sit back and reflect in another four years from now. I can only hope that we can continue to improve the conditions in our home and continue to provide our children with more and more opportunities. They are the future of Haiti. They are going to "be the change".