Malnutrition at its worst

 

Its God’s pure goodness that He somehow found it fit to let me do this work, because I’m most definitely not worthy of doing it.  But this is not a story about me; it has nothing to do with me. It’s a little boy named D’s story. It’s his mamma’s story, and it’s the countless hundreds of thousands of mother’s stories that the world never hears about.

12714294_1118325941513874_729145700_nThis is malnutrition at its worst. You probably see this picture and think it was taken in the bush of Africa or in a country so far away you can’t pronounce the name, but its not. This little boy lives 1 ½ hours away from Florida. 1 ½  hours away from wealth and comfort. Well, not lives… lived.  This 15 month old baby boy died yesterday. I met him yesterday, and he died yesterday. No birth certificate, and no death certificate. He died, and moments later he was buried out back of someone’s home. I only knew him for one hour, I thought about him for the next 30, but there were people who loved him for all 15 months of his life. He wasn’t unloved, although some may have thought that since his mom refused to let him stay and get medical care. He didn’t have some big, untreatable disease. He was just malnourished. 15 months old… Cause of death: Poverty and lack of education. It was malnutrition that eventually took his life, but it was poverty that caused the malnutrition, and it was lack of education that caused the mother not to trust in medical care.

Losing a child hurts. Seeing innocent children die on a regular basis hurts deep down to the core. You bury one baby, and it changes you. You bury 10, and you’ll never stop fighting for these kids.

Please don’t say I’m a good person. Trust me, I’m not that great. Please don’t say you couldn’t do what we do, because you would do the exact same thing if it were right in front of you. Please just help. Just help us feed these kids, help us buy their medication, help us pay our nurses, help us to continue doing what we do. Pray for us, give financially, or spread the word. Just do something…anything. You can help. You can make a difference. We need you. These kids need you.  This was just ONE child… I keep asking myself, how many more are still out there?

DANITA’S CHILDREN Malnutrition Center

www.danitaschildren.org 

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Leaving Belle Anse has not been easy. I don’t even need to tell you how hard it has been because I think you all know how much I loved that place and how much I loved the work we got to do there. And even though all the kids from our Center are healthy enough to go back home, I worried about all the future kids in that area that would suffer from malnutrition. It killed me to know there would be some that will suffer and I wont be there to help.

But the sad truth is that malnutrition is everywhere in Haiti. It is in every city and on every street corner. The sad truth is there are kids dying every single day in every single village in this country. That truth is huge, and it can be overwhelming. But I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I am not a savior and I cannot save them all. That is a humbling and relieving fact. I can’t do it all, but what I can do is help wherever I’m at, and pray that God uses me to touch the lives of the people I love here.

The first week I got to Ouanaminthe I was having a hard time wrestling with the fact that I left an area with so much malnutrition. I needed confirmation that I was supposed to be here, and that I would be ok here. That same week two babies who were suffering from severe malnutrition came for help. They had been everywhere, but there was no where that could help them. After searching the entire North East, it was too late for both of these kids. Both of them died last week.

 

In addition to the Baby Rescue Program, Danita’s Children is opening an In-Patient Malnutrition Center in September. When these kids come, we will be ready. I am so excited for the opportunity to direct this Center, and to work with the same medical team who worked with me in Belle Anse. Being under the covering of Danita’s Children means we will have an opportunity to reach even more children from all over the country. There is a road that connects this town to other major cities, and there is an airstrip in town for kids to eventually be flown in to us. The possibility is huge. The scope of our reach just got much, much bigger.

We are spending the rest of the month preparing the Malnutrition Center and getting ready to take in children. We need to buy beds, put electricity in the house, hire extra staff, and stock the pharmacy. If you would like to help, you can make a tax-deductible donation at www.danitaschildren.org and write Malnutrition Center in the comments.

Thanks for continuing to follow me on this journey, and for believing in our work. This is the work I was meant to do, and I couldn’t do it without all of you.

Just the Beginning…

We got 3 new children last week, all came from the mountains, all suffering with severe malnutrition. 4 more kids are coming tomorrow, they are all in bad shape. One little boy is nothing but bones, something you would see in an old Holocaust picture. He doesn’t even look human any more. His eyes are much too big for his little face and his skin pulls tight against his ribs each time he takes a breath. I want to hold him, but he cries when I touch him. Everything hurts. He is so far gone that he can’t even swallow, and anything he does get down comes right back up. Right now we have 16 just like him. 50 have already come and gone. They came in like skeletons but left like children. They came in lethargic, unable to walk or sit up on their own, but they left playing soccer and causing trouble. I believe this little boy will leave the same way.

I recently found my journal from 4 years ago. It was full of prayers that I used to pray so hard that it hurt…

It was just the beginning. It still is.

Lord, thank you for hearing my prayers. Thank You for trusting me with this. Thank You for the many lives that will be touched because of what You have started here. Bring them in; bring in every single child that is silently suffering in their homes so far into the mountains that motorcycles and donkeys can’t even reach them. But You can. Use this place to save them and to show them Your love. Not for anyone else’s glory but Yours. I am forever grateful and forever humbled…

In God’s Hands

“This girl’s life is in God’s hands tonight.” I said many times last night, as if there is ever a second when its not in His hands. But last night we were doing everything possible for a little girl whose life was hanging in the balance, and there was literally nothing left on this side of heaven that anyone could do for her.

Malnutrition comes with all sorts of complications. The two most immediately dangerous and life-threatening complications are hypoglycemia and hypothermia. Their bodies have begun shutting down and they simply cannot regulate their blood sugar levels or their body temperature anymore. If their blood sugar gets too high or too low, they die; their temperature too high or too low, they die. The first week after a child is admitted into our Malnutrition Center is very touch and go and the risk of death is high.

Last night our newest little girl, Wishina, who was admitted two days prior was on the brink of death. Earlier in the day her glucose levels were going from way too low to way too high in a manner of hours. She was sleeping a lot and complaining that her body hurt all over. At 6pm her temperature was 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit. We quickly got her wrapped up in blankets from head to toe as her grandmother held her and tried to warm her up. 10 minutes later her temperature jumped to 102. This type of spiking and descending is common with kids who are at the end stages of life. The organs are finally giving up their long fight with malnutrition.

Our doctor and two nurses were monitoring Wishina when the doctor started playfully asking her questions, checking how alert she was. “Wishina, are you going to pray for your doctor?” Wishina, without hesitating, put her hand on the doctor’s arm, closed her eyes tightly, and said “Dear Father God in Heaven, please bless this nurse. Amen.”

Pure, innocent, selfless faith of a child.

Wishina’s temperature soon became stable, as did her blood sugar. This morning she almost looked like a different child. She made it through the night, and today there were signs of life in her little body.

Please pray with us for this sweet and spunky little girl to make it through the rest of this very critical week. The world is definitely better off with a girl like Wishina in it.

Wesnerson’s Story

(I’m going through my old blog from when I was a missionary in Ouanaminthe and found this story. I wrote this in 2010. This is the very baby that sparked my desire to help children with malnutrition. He is one of the main reasons Reimagine Haiti has a Malnutrition Center today)

Life is different here. Death is different. Its everywhere, its unnecessary, and the worst part is that its almost always preventable. I woke up early yesterday morning to set aside more time to pray and be with God. I knew He was going to teach me something that day. I asked him to show me his heart… and He showed me His hurt.

Yesterday Karris called me. She said our friend’s baby was the property and was really really sick. I had seen him last week, I knew he was sick, but she put the phone up to his mouth so I could hear his labored breathing; he had never been that sick before. She said it was serious. Mya was taking care of him as I got there. She was praying over him as he laid lifeless a few steps away from the construction of our clinic. “I think this baby just died” she said. We decided to rush him to the hospital to see if he could be saved. I took the baby in my arms and got on the back of a motorcycle taxi. He was lifeless, but his eyes were partly open. I hoped that meant he was still hanging on. As the taxi driver raced down the road I prayed and screamed for life to come back into this sweet little baby. His head still hung heavy in my arms as I ran through the clinic, kicking in the doors of the doctor’s offices yelling for someone to help. There were no doctors. I ran to the nurses office, yelled for help, said that I didn’t know if the baby was dead or alive. A lady slowly looked up at me, said to wait in the next room over. She listened for a heartbeat and felt the boy’s limp body. “He’s already cold” she said. “He’s dead”

I asked for a sheet. They left me alone with the baby for a while, came back a few minutes later to wrap him up, put 2 peices of tape around him, and then left. What do you do with a dead baby? There’s no hospital morgue, no ambulance, no parents; just me and a room full of curious people who I’m sure have seen this same scene way too many times before. I took the dead baby in my arms, still as careful with his body as I would be if he was alive. I couldn’t even remember his name. Shame on me; I’d been helping this family for months. They came every 15 days to get money and food. The father, lost his wife in the earthquake, and was taking care of his 2 children on his own. He lost everything in the earthquake, got on a bus not knowing where it was going, and got off at the last stop, which was our town. He wandered the streets until a loving Haitian woman took him and his children in.

I’ll never get used to seeing grown men collapse to the ground as they find out their child has died. And I will never get used to babies dying from something as curable as diarrhea. Sweet little Wes, another face the world will never know. As he was dead in my arms I believe he was alive in our Savior’s.

I ask God everyday to show me who he is. Its a dangerous request if you aren’t ready for it. Because God is joy and love and all those good things, but to really know God is to know Him in His pain too. God loses a child everyday. He sees things we don’t see. You can change the channel when you see a starving child commercial, and I can pass by their house everyday, but God knows that child intimately… they are His. A father who, everyday, has to watch his children die all alone, in a little mud hut with no one to even cry over them. My friend Karris has been here 8 years and she always gives a better perspective on the suffering we see here. She reminded me that God didn’t let this baby die alone. He died with all of us fighting for Him. He died in the arms of one of our missionaries, he died right in front of the clinic Danita is building for this very reason… so we can stop having to say “I’m sorry” to 15 pound corpses. Yesterday I got a small glimpse of His hurt. We don’t usually think of God as having feelings, or pain, but I believe His heart breaks far more easily than ours does. My prayer is to know God’s heart; both in His joy and in His pain.

Day 24

(A story written in 2011 while I was a missionary with Danita’s Children in Ouanaminthe, Haiti)

Imagine for a moment, that you were in this mother’s shoes… You grew up poor, with almost nothing to your name. Your dad died when you were young and your mother had 7 other kids to raise. Your family lived in a one room, wooden home, and each and every night that you laid your head on the concrete floor to go to sleep, you were hungry. Now you are 33 years old, and have 6 kids of your own. Your mom couldn’t afford to put you in school, so you can’t read or write and its difficult to find work in this country. You sell a few things here and there, but you’d be lucky to make a dollar a day. And just like your mom, you can’t afford to send your kids to school either. You know its their only way out of this life, but its impossible.

One day, like most days, your kids are hungry; they are crying, saying “mamma, mamma we need to eat! We haven’t eaten since yesterday. Mom feed us!” You haven’t eaten for the last two days either; you went without food yesterday so the kids could eat. Frustrated, you sigh to yourself. It seems there’s never a way to make ends meet. You put some rice in the boiling water above charcoal fire, and take the few cents you have to go to the market to buy some beans for your children to eat with their rice. The bag of beans in hand, you make your way home, knowing you just spent the last cent you have. Worry starts to fill your mind, “How will I feed all these kids tomorrow?” you ask yourself. “I don’t have anything left.” Your faith quickly kicks in and overrides your thoughts, “Don’t worry, God will provide.” As you near your home you see neighbors screaming, saying something about your child being badly hurt. Something about the boiling water and fire. The beans drop to the floor as you run to find your baby. Your nightmare is confirmed when you see her laying on the floor screaming, the pot of boiling rice spilled out around her. You go to pick her up but some of her skin comes off in your hands. She’s burned badly. Her entire backside and feet are bleeding and open; her insides are showing, and her dark skin now looks white. Your baby is screaming. She won’t stop. “Don’t cry honey, Mommy’s here. You’re going to be ok” you try to comfort her, but her screams only get louder. A crowd gathers around you, as your baby’s blood is all over your shirt and arms. Soon hundreds of people are coming to see what happened. “Jesus!” some are yelling. “Jesus help us!”

What do you do? Where do you go? Do you call 911? No such thing. Call for an ambulance? There are none here. There’s a public hospital near by; maybe they can help. People start pulling out the change they have in their pocket and hand it to you, knowing the hospital wont see you until you pay first. Someone waves down a passing motorcycle taxi and tells them to take you the the hospital as fast as possible. You get on the motorcycle with your baby, still screaming, still bleeding. You’re afraid to touch her skin. It is so hot, and it feels like she is missing parts of her body.

As you pull up to the hospital you run inside for help. The woman behind the window stops you and tells you to wait in line; you have to pay 10 Haitian dollars first. “But my baby… she’s burned badly. Please help.” you plead with her. “Everyone needs to pay first ma’am.” she replies coldly. You wait, for what seems like hours as you try to comfort your suffering baby. Finally a doctor calls your name. As you meet the doctor you eagerly search his eyes for compassion; you find none. He works long hours with little pay, and he is exhausted as well. Years of trying to treat patients with the little resources available to him, his heart is harder than it used to be. He cleans the wounds routinely with soap and water. You can hardly watch as he scrapes your child’s skin off her body. She screams in pain, not breathing for tens of seconds between each cry. Suddenly you feel sick. You keep your hands on the baby so she doesn’t fall off the table, but turn your head to throw up on the floor. You haven’t eaten in days, so there’s not much to come up. Your body feels as if it is the one that had been burned. “Hold the baby still so the doctor can clean it!” the attending nurse yells, frustrated that the baby wont stop screaming and moving. He cleans the burns, but there’s no burn cream to put on it. He wraps the baby’s lower half in a bandage and tells you to take it off in a few days to let it dry. “That’s it. You can go” he says.

Pain medication? Not here. IV fluids and antibiotics to prevent infection? Not enough money. With nothing left in your pocket to pay a taxi, you begin to walk home with your baby. Tears roll down your cheeks as you wish there was more you could do. You try to think of every option, but you know none of them are possible.

Day 15. Your baby’s burns have gotten worse. They are turning black, and she has been having fevers a lot lately. She still can’t sleep, and she screams in pain throughout the night. Sometimes, as you are breastfeeding, she bites you. She’s trying to relieve her pain by biting something. You return to the hospital, only to have the same scenario happen again. You pay, you see a doctor, they dress the wounds, and they tell you to leave. Each day the burns seem to get worse.

Day 24 the wounds have gotten even worse. Now there is a horrible odor to her skin, and she is feverish with frequent diarrhea. One foot has swelled up so much it looks like its going to pop, and the burns have eaten away the other foot. You decide to try to go across the border into the Dominican Republic to get medical attention. It’s illegal, but you have to try. Its market day, so Haitians are allowed to cross partly into the Dominican to buy and sell. You get over the bridge and sneak across the street to the local hospital. There you are met with eyes full of horror. “This child needs help or she is going to die. What were you doing waiting this long to get help? Why did you leave your child alone? What kind of mother are you?” They don’t understand you’ve been searching the entire city for help. You don’t say anything, you just let them judge you. You’re used to it by now.

Where can you go? The government wont let you go 3 hours away to Santiago because you don’t have a passport. Even if you wanted to pay your way illegally, you don’t have enough money. The Dominican hospital changes the dressings, once again, and sends you on your way.

Feeling defeated, you make your way home again. You look in your baby’s eyes, wet with tears. “I’m sorry baby” you whisper, tears rolling down your face, “I’m so sorry.” She blinks at you, as if to tell you that she understands.

Day 24 is when we met her. She showed up at the door with the look of desperation on her face. She had traveled the city for help for 24 days, but there was no help to be found. It wasn’t her fault, she didn’t deserve this. She did everything you or I would have done in her situation. The harsh truth is that had she been born in America, her baby would not be suffering like it is. My heart broke instantly for this mother. She’d watched her child go through some of the most horrific pain known to man for 3 weeks without even a teaspoon of Tylenol to give her.

She was flown across the country to Port-au-Prince yesterday. One of the Danita’s Children staff members is accompanying her and her mother, and they are staying one of the nicer hospitals around. She is receiving IV fluids and antibiotics, as well as receiving a blood transfusion. Today she is going in for surgery to clean up the wounds, and a group of Doctors will be flying from the U.S. next weekend to do skin grafts and more extensive follow up care. I can’t imagine how she has survived, now 26 days, in that kind of pain, with infection flowing through her body, and fluid building up under her skin. All I can do is thank God we met her and continue to trust Him with her life.

If you put yourself in someone’s shoes for just a second, their suffering becomes more real to you. It hurts to feel their pain, but that is what God asks of us. He felt our pain, He spoke up on our behalf… will he ask anything less of us? While we hurt for this mother and her child, I am reminded so much of how our God must feel for us. If a stranger can hurt for another, how much more could the One who created us empathize and love us through our pain and suffering? Sometimes I feel God’s presence the strongest in the midst of hurting and suffering people. It is in the dark places that light can shine. It is there that we can feel His love, His redemption, and His power to relieve even the deepest of sufferings.

My heart is heavy today as I pray for this baby. I know it is ultimately in God’s hands, and it is our privilege to let Him use us to show her His love.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18

Bondye konnen

Miss Luna…. One of the world’s real heroes. My daughter was dying last month, and because of this woman, she is alive. No one knows of this woman’s sacrifice, or the fact that she put her reputation and her job on the line just to save a child she didn’t even know. But because of her, my baby girl is alive.

No one knows that she has gone 9 months without pay, or that she has her own baby to support. No one knows how smart she is, how much she cares about suffering children, and how hard she has fought to get to where she is in life. But she doesn’t need anyone to know. She just does it. Not for herself, but for the kids, and to make the world a better place.

She is Haitian. She loves her people. She is smart, strong and determined. And for her heart and work ethic, I am eternally grateful.

People like her are the real heroes.

A month ago my daughter was dying. She had malnutrition and a heart condition, and was fighting an illness that was too strong for her 6 pound body. It was killing her, and there wasn’t much we could do about it. She would die within a few weeks, I was told, and I knew it was true.

So my 6 year old daughter and I decided to love this baby until she died. Yes, it would rip my heart out, yes it was setting my child up for heartbreak, but it wasn’t about us, and even my 6 year old understood that. We would love her with ALL our hearts until she went to be with Jesus. We prayed she wouldn’t leave us, but if she did, we prayed she would leave this earth knowing she was loved and adored.

So we bought her the most expensive bouncy chair there was, just so she could die kicking her feet in her comfortable little chair. We fed her the best formula there is, just so she could die with a full belly. We kissed her 1000 times a day so she would die knowing she was loved. Whatever she needed, she would have.

I prepared my 6 year old daughter for her death. I sat her down and had a much too adult conversation with her about life, about death, and about love. I will never forget that moment.

“Your little sister is very sick. Doctors are trying to help her, but she is probably going to die. Do you know what that means honey? That means she will go to be with Jesus, and we won’t see her anymore. She will go somewhere where she is not suffering anymore. Do you understand that?”

Understand suffering?

Of course… More than you do, mom.

Then there were tears.

So many tears.

“But I love my sister.”

“I know, me too baby.”

Just because you understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t rip your heart out.

This is my strong 6 year old girl…. The same girl who has experienced more suffering than I can even comprehend; The same girl who went through a devastating earthquake when she was 2 years old, was pulled out from underneath her crumbled home, and managed to survive one of the greatest tragedies in world history ALL BY HERSELF. The same girl who knows how to love with all of her heart, but knows how to fight with just as much of it. There is no messing around. If someone is suffering, she will be there fighting for justice. Yes, she is 6 years old, and she’s just a baby, but in those moments it doesn’t matter.

In this moment she broke me. The person I told her that was safe to love was now about to be taken from her, and she was handling it with such grace and maturity.

There is a Haitian phrase… Bondye konnen, which means, God knows.

It used to bother me, and seemed like a cop out, but now I find myself saying it all the time.

My baby was supposed to die, but Bondye konnen.

She was almost another statistic, but Bondye konnen.

Thank God that God knows, because I sure don’t.

Thank God that He makes people like Miss Luna, who have the heart to fight for suffering children.

I am overwhelmed with thankfulness right now.

I’m thankful for my 2 beautiful girls.

Thankful that I get to see lives transformed every single day.

Thankful I get to learn from some of the strongest people on earth.

And thankful for people like this amazing nurse, working in a small, government-run hospital. The world doesn’t know her name, and no one gives her a pat on the back for her hard work. No one knows how much she gets paid, or if she gets paid at all.

But….

Bondye konnen.

His eyes give me hope

“His eyes are the only thing that give me hope. When I look at his tiny body and see just bones, I fear he is going to die. But then I look at his big eyes, and I am filled with hope again.”

I sat and listened to a mother describe the long road she has been on with her baby boy. “I already mourned him.” she said in Creole.

Haitian women are strong. They are resilient. I am convinced they are some of the strongest people in the entire world. They lose children, lose husbands, lose their only way to support themselves, and still, they figure out how to live. Still, they figure out how to feed their children while they go without. Still, they figure out how to make cookies made of mud so they can silence their stomaches in order to give their children the only food they have.

You know that saying “never judge a book by it’s cover”? Well these women have shown me the truth in that statement.

It’s easy to judge. It’s easy to look at a situation through our eyes, our experiences, and our realities and judge it like we are the ones with all the answers. But in reality that is the most naive thing we can do.

There is a beautiful, strong woman that I have recently had the pleasure of getting to know. She has had 5 children, all with the same man. They were happily married; he worked hard and supported the family with the little money he earned while she raised the children at home. They lost their first child at 14 months. They were devastated and grieving, but just like everyone around them, they had to go on living. She had 3 beautiful children shortly after who immediately became their pride and joy. While she was pregnant with her 5th child her husband suddenly got sick and passed away, leaving her with 3 small children and another one on the way. Baby Michael was born on February 24th, 2014 in a tiny little home in a tiny little town in Haiti. He never got the chance to know his father, but he knew he had a mother that would fight for him with everything she had.

That’s Carol.

Carol is strong. Carol is loving. Carol is a 5’9 mamma bear that will roar when her baby is threatened. Don’t let her seemingly quiet and humble nature fool you, she will take you all down if it means saving her son! She is full of beautiful and poetic words about her baby. She is full of gratitude and thanks to those who have helped her. But she is also full of fight when it comes to saving his life. That’s a mother for you.

Is he malnourished? Yes. Is he very, very sick? Yes. Does that, in any way, reflect her love for him? Absolutely not.

There is no other group of people on this earth that I admire more than mothers, especially Haitian mothers. I will never understand their struggle, and I will never be able to obtain their strength, but I hope I can learn from them. While I have much to share with the Haitian people, I believe they have so much more to share with me. As I teach what I know, and as I share my passions, I pray that I have the heart to learn and receive from these incredibly strong women.

And yet, as I respect these women with all my heart, I know they are only human. They are flawed, just like me, and they need help, just like me. It doesn’t matter where you were born, what situation you find yourself in, we are all the same, and we need Jesus.

Sometimes my mind tries to forget that. I try to rationalize and intellectualize God and life. But when it comes down to it, my heart knows I need Him, and that He is real. I can debate theology, and understand different perspectives and theories on religion and Jesus. I can doubt God and his existence so much that it would shock you. I doubt every single day. I question every single day. Yup, missionaries doubt, probably even more than the rest of them. But when all is said and done, and I find myself holding hands with a mother as we pray over her 5 pound baby in the middle of the night… I know its real. When we have sweat dripping down our faces because we have no fan, the only light in the house is the tiny flame from the gas lamp, and we are crying out to God together, in different languages, to save this child… I know its real. He is real. I may doubt it sometimes, I may question it every day, but I know its real.

Going through life with these women reminds me of that, and for those reminders, I am forever thankful. My prayer is that as I fight for these children’s lives here on earth, that I never lose sight of my reason for living, and the greater hope that I have in Him.

A dream come true!

In September of 2010 I wrote a prayer to God in my journal. I asked him to send me hundreds and thousands of malnourished children from all over Haiti. Those children who were on death’s doorstep, those who had no hope left at all… I wanted to fight for them. I asked him to give me a place where I could house them, treat them, love them, and let them heal. I asked him first, that day, and I have asked every day since.

Its been almost 4 years since that prayer, and I am finally seeing my dream become a reality. If you know me well, you know what a big deal this is. This is my heart, my passion. This is what I think about when I close my eyes to fall asleep at night. This is what keeps me in Haiti, and what moved me to Belle Anse. This is what I believe I was born to do.

And it’s happening.

Right now.

I cannot even express to you how happy I am. Today as I was arranging the children’s rooms I just stood there and stared at all the beds and I couldn’t stop smiling. My dream is finally coming true! Those beds will soon be filled with sweet, innocent children who will go from death to life in just a matter of weeks. They will be filled with little miracles who will live to tell of a God that saved them when they were just moments away from death.

There are children suffering all over, unnoticed, unreported, and unknown to the rest of the world. There are children whose ribs can be counted and who go multiple days without eating. There are moms who will eat dirt cookies just so she can feed her child the little bit of food they have. Where a child is starving, a mother is too. Where a child is suffering, a family is too.

This is why I am so excited to work, not just with the malnourished child, but with the entire family. The roots in Reimagine Haiti’s logo were chosen because we want to go deep in everything we do. We want to go deep in our relationship with the community, with family, and with individuals.

To learn more about our Malnutrition Center, click HERE and if you are inclined to, please get involved with what we are doing! We need people like you to spread the word, support, give, and pray for us here.

Thank you for being on this journey with me…

 

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5 years later…

Today marks my 5 year anniversary of moving Haiti!!! 5 years ago I was 24 years old and fresh out of grad school with my MSW. I thought one year of volunteer work would give me a great experience and a nice looking resume. Little did I know I would never leave this island! Now, 5 years later I have a 6 year old Haitian daughter, I speak a completely different language everyday, I have  a community development organization that I co-founded with some great friends, and I am seeing my dreams come true with our inpatient malnutrition center! Life definitely doesn’t go as planned, but I’m glad it doesn’t! I love my life here and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Not that it is all easy… I still miss my family so much that it physically hurts. I hate watching my nieces and nephews grow up through Facebook and Skype. I hate missing my friends’ weddings, missing my little brother’s college graduation and my little sister’s entire pregnancy. Those are the parts I usually don’t post about on Facebook or write home to my family about, but they are just as real as all the good parts about being here. For every accomplishment in Haiti there is something I missed at home. For every baby’s life I help saved here, there is a new baby being born at home, a sister finding out she’s pregnant, a brother celebrating a year of sobriety, or a parent having a 60th birthday party. For every child that I help take their first steps in Haiti there is a niece or nephew at home taking theirs.

This is the reality of being a missionary. This is the reality of dreaming, and being crazy enough to follow those dreams.

Following your dreams and your calling doesn’t come without a cost, and I believe I am doing what God has called me to do. I’m so thankful that I have such a supportive family and group of friends that encourage me to follow my dreams and don’t hold it against me that I’m so far away. I’m so thankful they come and visit me often and that they love my daughter as much as I do. There’s no way I could be here doing what I am doing without the love of my family, and I miss them more than they will ever know.

To everyone who has supported me, prayed for me, given financially, cheered me on, and encouraged me through this journey… thank you. You will never know how much I needed each of your love and support at the exact time you gave it. I am a better person because of it, my daughter has a better life because of it, and hopefully hundreds and thousands of lives will be changed because of it.

Forever grateful…

Brittany Joy