From the outset, I really had no preconceived notions of what I would or could accomplish on this mission. I didn’t elect to accompany the April PFH team without serious consideration and prayer. But did I really think that my small altruistic contribution was going to change the world? No. Did I think I was going to make a difference? Maybe. And perhaps … I came to Haiti because people told me, “It will change YOUR life.”
But seeing the people of Haiti who are only victims of their circumstances I was overwhelmed with sadness and despair of their perpetual state of poverty, and my inability and inadequacy to effectuate any positive change. I was engulfed in a spirit of regret and self-doubt that I had made the right decision to come as I realized that any effort on MY part, no matter how earnestly rendered, could not make any significant difference in helping the people of Haiti attain self sufficiency, and individual sustainability.
And I was engulfed in feelings of guilt and shame. When the primary purpose of volunteering is to satiate our own desire for self-fulfillment, the spirit of humanitarianism is undermined and the manifestations of any “do-gooder” effort is antithetical to any effort toward effectuating positive change. It would be hypocritical of me to tell you “MY life will never be the same”. In fact, in the two days since returning home I have wrestled with guilt at what little I accomplished. And then, the revelation came ….
Matthew 25:31-40 (King James Version)
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee and hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
The effectiveness of my small contribution cannot be measured by how many hungry “I” fed; how many naked “I” clothed; or how many sick “I” visited. It is determined by earnest desire and my willingness to do, “to the least of these….”.
Just as there is no “i” in “team”, there are two “i”s in mission. Two “i”s as in me and you… or “WE”. Thank you, People for Haiti for allowing me to be part of the “WE” (the “team”), and for the opportunity to feed, cloth, visit and to share in your mission.
If you are reading this testimonial if may be because you are thinking about traveling with the PFH team on a future mission. Or maybe you are contemplating supporting the organization with a monetary gift.
PFH cannot complete their mission without your help. Please take the time to view the pictures on the PFH website. They will move you. Then act on this emotion by supporting People for Haiti. As a witness to the wonderful efforts of PFH I can testify that your contribution, no matter how great or small, will be used effectively as PFH continues to build relationships, support the local communities, and clothe, feed, heal and advocate for the people of Haiti.
Lastly, I would like to thank each team member that participated in the April 2011 mission. Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get; We make a life by what we give.” You gave not only financially, but emotionally and physically. What sacrifices you made to accompany this team were tremendous and I am honored to call you friend.
And to Guiga. I hesitate to use your name because I know you seek no personal glory or gain from what you do. Your heart is as big as it gets. You are the MOST selfless, humblest, giving (not to mention one of the most organized and unpretentious) person I have ever met. There is no doubt you are favored by the Master and will be one of the sheep sitting on the right hand of the King. I thank you and your husband for carrying this torch and sharing your passion, your dreams, and your stories so that those in Haiti affected by disaster and poverty are not forgotten. And again, I am honored to call you friend.
Connie Coleman, LPN, CPC, CHC, ACA