Tuesday, July 20, 2010

31 Dollars

Today was super busy, but also super fulfilling.

This morning Mike and I were running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Financial stuff to check, people to meet with (LOTS of people to meet with,) and groups to assign and contact. Whew! Then we ate some lunch and went to go buy Robenson some new sandals as his were VERY worn out.

We did a few other things today, too - went to two car places to check on three different vehicles (two new ones, one getting repaired) and came back in enough time to do what was, to one family, a small miracle.

So right after lunch, when we were going to buy Robenson's shoes he told us that he got kicked out of school today. Mike and I had noticed that he had been around in the morning when usually he was at school. Mike asked him why and he explained that his mother was behind 4 months in school payments. Because they couldn't pay - they sent him home.

Now, this is tragic for any child. It really stinks knowing that simply because you cannot afford school, you can no longer receive an education. However, this was particularly tragic for Robenson because he was just weeks away from taking the government exam which (if he passed) would state that he graduated primary school. Without school, though, he cannot take the exam. Absolutely tragic - especially for such an intelligent 11 year old like Robenson.

So, me, heartbroken over it, asked Mike how much his school costs. We found out it cots 300 gourdes per month, so his tab was up to 1200 gourdes - 31 US dollars. At that point it was obvious, we had to do something.

We had to be smart about it, though. We couldn't just hand him the money or just hand his mother the money and not expect others to ask us for money for school as well. So, we found Robenson's mother when we came back from the car places and asked her about the situation. She told us that yes, Robenseon had been sent home because she could not pay his school fees. She told us that her husband, who ran a small store on the street (their only income) died in the earthquake. They also lost their house in the earthquake. Now, she has no income, no house, and no place to go. Therefore, a $31 fee is a difficult price to pay. Robenson is also her only child in school - she hasn't even started Peter in school because she cannot afford it.

So Mike, Oge, and I pulled her into a more secluded space and gave her the 1200 gourdes needed for Robenson to continue school and take his final exams on the 4th and 5th of August. She was on the verge of tears. We were, too, recognizing the profound impact that simple $31 had on this family. She thanked us over and over again and Mike responded with a, "Well, we're just happy to give you a small blessing today." So true - but it blessed us as well.

After that encounter it was obvious to us that we needed to more actively pursue funding for school scholarships here. Mike said that he would be contacting his organization - the Haiti Partnership - to see what funds might be available for that. Hopefully we'll be able to sponsor more kids and help more families through this financially (among other things) unstable time.

I should also note that today I met Davidson's mother. Davidson, if you remember, lives with Ablamy and Donette because his mother cannot afford to care for him. She was here today, however, because Donette and Ablamy will soon be moving Davidson to an orphanage/boys home right before they move out of Petionville. She was here to see him, talk with Donette and Ablamy, and make plans to attend Davidson's baptism on Sunday. I'm totally bummed that I'll miss that - but I'll be there in spirit.

But yes, Davidson will soon be moved off this campus. That's a very sad reality for everyone, but for him especially. He's become extra clingy since then. He's always enjoyed giving me big hugs and kisses on the cheek, but now he does it several times in one encounter and holds on a lot longer. Tonight I was helping him with learning the alphabet and at one point he just came over, sat in my lap, and just wanted to be rocked for a little while. He's 8 years old, but with how crazy his life has been - he's obviously very sad to leave stability and people who love him. Luckily, though, Donette says that Mike and I will be allowed to visit Davidson at the orphanage whenever we want to. We're also working on Mike getting permission to take Davidson out of the orphanage for a weekend. With that, he can either come stay with us at the Guest House for a weekend of fun, or if there's a hurricane (as the boys of this orphanage are sleeping in tents) then we can pick him up and keep him here for a little while so he's safe. As Mike worded it, "I could not live with myself if he died in a way I could have prevented." Agreed.

So yeah, crazy day, heart warming day, one of those days where you recognize that the ministry you're doing is vital, important, positive, and life-changing. It feels good, but it also makes me want to work harder, to go further, and to more bodly be Christ's hands and feet.

And with that, I'll end with a simple, "Amen."


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