Thank you for your heart.
This is the conversation I had the other day with a friend of mine named Ann. She is a good person, well educated, with a law degree, two kids, a husband, 3 cars and a house without a mortgage. Ann comes from a first world country; images of hungry children bring tears to her eyes, and injustice saddens her. She supports us monthly, and is a Godparent to one of our kids. She has an older brother and two younger sisters, as well as a childhood dog, Boro. Both of her parents are alive and well, and she has a family lunch every Sunday and on all holidays. I am retelling our conversation with her blessing and permission.
“How much does your household cost you monthly?” Ann asked me. I said at ten thousand dollars. “Wow, that’s a lot of money! Wohoa guys, you spend a lot for such an impoverished country!” I looked at her and complimented her purse. She thanked me and said: “I payed a small fortune for it, and it was previously owned. But I couldn’t resist, I have matching shoes and all together it looks pretty neat. Also, Brian and I are going on vacation for our anniversary and that’s a good excuse. In the end, I work hard and I deserve it,” she giggled.
After that, Ann told me that her older daughter decided to eat only organic food so she needs to travel on the other side of town to buy groceries for her, and younger one has asthma and heavy allergies so she has to make two separate meals for their lunches. It’s hard to deprive your child from something they want if you are able to provide for them. I nodded along in agreement, but after a while I just couldn’t hold it anymore.
I said “Ann, did you know we have 45 children, three of whom have heavy cases of asthma and require a nebulizer twice per day? Did you know we have one autistic child, and another one came to us with syphilis from a sexual assault, and heavy behavioral and emotional issues? Did you know that all our kids are heavily traumatized, abandoned, and none of them experienced parental care or love, and they certainly have no knowledge of organic food or ‘diet by blood type’?
As a matter of fact two of our kids ate mud pies in front of the shack they called home before they arrived here. Mud pies, made of yellow mud, salt and vegetable leftovers, are a traditional palliative for hunger in Haiti. Did you know we had a big celebration when we got a water purifier? Clean, safe water here is more than a prayer; it is a miracle. Did you know that I have 18 employees who feed their families with the money they make here and their cumulative salaries barely equal the price of your new purse and shoes. And they work hard. They are honored members of their communities because they have jobs and are respected at work. Do you know that my teenagers do not complain when they have rice five times per week for a meal, and that they come to me when their shoes are torn and broken, not just because they don’t like them anymore? They don’t have phones, smartphones, computers, or tablets. They don’t have their own proper pediatrician who calls them by their name, gives them candy and makes private visits. They have the most affordable pediatrician who is afraid to come and visit us at home because in our neighborhood, she was almost kidnapped once, and robbed at a gunpoint multiple times. Do you know my kids keep their good clothes in a closet and many times they outgrow them before even wearing it, just because they want to have something theirs, that stays nice and new? Do you know that most of our funding goes toward paying security, raising the perimeter wall, installing barbwire, fixing broken pipes, paying doctor fees, and so on? Do you know that school tuition is very expensive for 43 children, not to mention uniforms, hair ribbons, special shoes, notebooks, textbooks, pencils and snacks? Do you know that my kids also have birthdays, Christmas and Easter and funny thing, they never expect presents because they are not used to it. But we still manage to buy/create presents, make a cake and somehow, somewhat celebrate their existence because they are a gift to us and to this world.”
You know my heart drops whenever people ask about my kids; they are full of pity and compassion, but they never think of them as future doctors, lawyers, artists, philosophers… future people. I want somebody to explain to me why a hungry kid is always just a hungry kid that needs to be fed and not a hungry kid that needs to be fed, loved, respected, educated…? It is not all about money; when you give, give with an open heart. Give out of conviction. Give because the less fortunate can be one day more fortunate, and reach out again to those in need… Just because YOU reached out once to them. And for them it is more than a monthly payment and a bowl of rice. It is a chance. A matter of heart more than a matter of wallet, a chance disguised in rice and a monthly check. Ann and I ended the conversation in tears, both of us with less of a burden on our back and more work ahead.
Thank you for your donations, but even more thank you for the heart that you invest every time you contribute.