Trapeze

Haiti Column

Brendan Carew, Managing Editor

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once preached this message:  

 

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve…. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

 

I aspire to dedicate my life to serving others because I believe there is no greater calling.  I dream of becoming a leader for positive change, and I am open to all kinds of possibilities. I’ve thought of becoming a journalist because through the power of words I can play a role in encouraging people to be courageous and to commit to doing good.

I recognize the impact words can have, but I also love action; I feel most true to myself when I am engaged in direct service in a hands-on way. Whatever my career choice, I dream of becoming the person I feel I was born to be —  one who uses his time and energy to make the world a better place for others.

The cultivation of love, hope and joy does more good in the world than any other force, and I want my education to help me grow a heart “full of grace.” As Dr. King suggests, “great” things happen when people put love first.  Simple acts of kindness bring forth something sacred.  I felt it on a recent trip to Haiti when I made a “soccer ball” out of a garbage bag and a pair of socks and shared the love of play with a schoolyard full of children.

This was one of many of moments I felt my heart swell on my recent trip to Haiti. I’m so fortunate to have two parents on the board of a wonderful organization, Partners in Progress (PIP), that works alongside the people of Haiti. This organization looks to do with rather than to do for; collaboratively working with community organizations and groups—creating and learning together. Their work is focused on elevating education, growing food sovereignty, building an equitable community, and fostering global understanding.

The cultivation of love, hope and joy is impossible without the proper inspiration and motivation. It was on the very first day of the trip that I met someone with such an inspiring story I was overcome with the motivation to help others. Marie Blaise is spending her retirement years raising 20 children with various developmental disabilities and special needs.

While she was visiting a friend at the general hospital in Port-au-Prince, she came across a room where 11 children with developmental disabilities in need of long-term medical attention had been abandoned by their parents. When she saw how poorly the children were being cared for, she decided it was her duty to improve their lives.

Blaise went on to found the Maison des Enfants Handicapes in Port au Prince, a Haitian registered NGO that provides permanent shelter, care, education, therapy, and a loving environment for 20 children with moderate to severe developmental disabilities. Besides providing basic needs, MEH provides education programming five days a week. I spent an afternoon playing and singing with a few of the children of MEH and was amazed by their contagious happiness.

It’s people like Blaise who personify MLK’s message that anyone can serve. Before moving back to her homeland of Haiti, she lived and worked in New York City for many years as a school bus driver for special-needs children. Her selfless choices should inspire and motivate us all to cultivate goodness in the world. While we might not all be as heroic as Blaise, I believe the world needs the light that is inside of everyone. To offer a smile or a word of encouragement can, I have found, be the most powerful thing in the world.

There are many paths I could ultimately find myself on, but one thing is certain: I will lead a life guided by love, kindness and the cultivation of joy.

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Haiti Column