|This shack is a typical home in Phaeton, Haiti. Behind it stands a new home provided as part of the Village of Joy project.|
Gratitude can be difficult for many. On a daily basis, we see people with so much more than we have ourselves, and we wonder how they got so lucky, or what they have done to be blessed with such riches. We tend to believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, and we want what we don’t have. It’s not uncommon for jealousy to arise and for us to covet what someone else has. I have been guilty of this, which is why my recent trip to Haiti was so eye opening and rewarding.
The Village of Joy in Phaeton, Haiti is an incredibly poor community. Most families live in homes built with sticks and mud. Their roofs leak, and, as the mud washes away over time, people can see into their homes. There is no way to keep out pests or the weather. The lucky families—the twenty-three families who have received homes so far—live in 12’ x 24’ concrete block houses that are smaller than the typical two car garage in the US. They have little in the way of possessions.
|We were greeted warmly on the day we inaugurated the Village of Joy.|
When my group arrived on June 14th for the official inauguration of the village, hundreds of people greeted us in the road outside of the village. They had decorated the road leading to the center of their village with used plastic pop bottles in various colors, strung up across the road like strings of lights. They had posted hand-painted signs everywhere, many spelled incorrectly since they don’t speak English. They used anything they could get their hands on. For example, they used toilet paper as streamers. Haitians are a very resourceful people.
When we got out of the van, they placed straw hats on our heads. As we walked toward the center of the village, Haitians, young and old, reached out and touched us. It was as though we were royalty. They chanted their thanks for helping their village. They had a small marching band of about 10 people who played extremely used instruments. As the band led the processional to the village center, they played our national anthem, which they learned by ear. (They learn all music by ear because they cannot afford sheet music.)
Once we arrived at the village center, we were seated under a tent to protect us from the hot sun. Our seats faced a small wooden stage that had been decorated for the occasion. Community members had prepared an inauguration ceremony that included songs and dances written and choreographed for the occasion. It was the most overwhelming experience of my life. We were there the afternoon before until dark. The stage wasn’t there. The tent wasn’t there. None of the decorations were there. Sometime between the sun going down, a torrential downpour, and 9am, this village had come together and decorated everything.
Everyone exhibited gratitude. Those who had received homes were incredibly thankful to have a place to live that was safe from the elements and could collect rainwater, so their family would have safe drinking water. Those who were not fortunate enough to receive a home were grateful that someone they knew was getting help and for the possibility to sleep on a neighbor’s floor during a rainstorm. All were thankful that someone was coming to their community to help. It gave them hope that the future might be better for all, particularly as we move to the sustainment portion of the project.
The people living in the Village of Joy have so much less than we do, but they are so thankful for all that they do have. The next time I see someone driving that Tesla or going on amazing vacations, instead of thinking their life must be so awesome and wishing I could be that lucky, I will think about the millions of people around the world who would love to have a fraction of what I have.
Please join us in helping to make the second half of the project a reality. It is hard to describe the difference you will be making in the lives of the poorest of the poor!
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