After the earthquake in Haiti, I never imagined myself visiting. And, a medical mission trip was the furthest of my thoughts. In fact, like most Americans it was easier to turn the news off and look away. The conditions in Haiti never affected my day to day routine/life or thought process. After this trip, I can honestly say, there is not a day gone by I do not think of Haiti or the Haitian people.
From the moment we landed in Haiti, I was in shock. My mind could not process the reality of what I was seeing, smelling, or even touching. I found myself not able to formulate a sentence, simply because I did not know what to say. I sat in silence experiencing heart ache (like I had never felt before) as we drove to Cabaret Baptist Children’s home. Upon arrival at the home, my best friend touched me gently (he saw the pain in my eyes) and stated “the kids make the trip worth it”. This statement held true for my experience in Haiti.The kids of Cabaret greeted us with innocence, happiness, love and gleaming smiles!! Again, I was shocked, because my expectations were quite different. I expected sadness, darkness, crying babies, utter chaos, and emptiness. Instead the house was filled with love, kindness, respect, patience, understanding, caring, and laughter. I found myself more than excited to return “home” after long exhausting days of clinic…Home not meaning Florida, but meaning Cabaret. The simplicity of watching the kids interact, play, dance, sing and practice made Cabaret “home” for me. I learned the meaning of a family unit. I learned sharing truly must come from the heart and that love is entirely about being selfless.
The last night of our trip was the most memorable moment in my life. This evening we enjoyed dinner at a resort away from the orphanage. During dinner, I found myself feeling guilty. I couldn’t believe I was sitting at this resort, knowing the kids were at the orphanage miles away. I was simply missing the kids, while counting down the minutes until we went back. When we arrived back at the orphanage, I was overwhelmed with joy and was especially excited to see 8 yr old Mackinson (the only boy who has ever stolen my heart). Mackinson’s mother left him to live in the United States and his father is nowhere to be found. I had an indescribable bond with him, because of his gentle kindness. Upon arrival, Mackinson immediately found me in the group, while latching onto my hand. He kindly walked me to a circle of people, where we all joined hands. I wasn’t quite sure what was happening, but it didn’t take long to figure out. The house nanny began to sing “Amazing Grace” in French Creole with the kids joining, while swaying back and forth. I have heard “Amazing Grace” many times, but this time the song truly had meaning!!!! I thought about every single word in that song. The emotions I felt at this moment are completely unexplainable. I held Mackinson with love. A type of love I have never felt. I was crying, while holding him. Not crying from sadness, but from simple joy. Mackinson held me back and asked me “if I was crying for him”. In that moment, I realized Mackinson and the other Haitian kids know “true happiness” and appreciate the “finer things in life” we take for granted.
I am forever grateful to Mackinson and that Haitian kids for showing me the meaning of love.