By Lisa Hendrick
Do you know the expression, “it fell into my lap?” It was an expression I used the other day describing the exciting new project I am involved with as I was explaining it to my Haitian student. Of course it didn’t make any sense to him, but we explained that it meant that you receive something (good!) that you did not necessarily seek.
The genesis of this project reaches back several years. I am active with an internet gardening group (Gardenweb) that has participants from all over the world. I also volunteer with a group, Hope For Haiti’s Children Ministries, that sponsors about 80 orphans in Haiti and about 1,300 children overall for education. I have worked with Hope for Haiti’s Children for quite a few years. My congregation sponsors Joy Boxes for the Cazeau Orphanage in Port au Prince. I also help coordinate items for the medical team that goes every January to check on each sponsored child in the program. After the earthquake I became much more involved in my Haiti efforts because I helped sponsor a young man to come to the U.S. to get his engineering degree. His story is another “it fell into my lap” to be told another day! My involvement with him stepped up my focus and projects to help Haiti.
I have always been drawn to projects! Even when I first became involved with Hope For Haiti’s Children, I asked to sponsor a project, not a child. There was fear behind that. I didn’t want to disappoint a child if I could not keep up the sponsorship. A “project” seemed less emotional. Oh my, now I have multiple projects AND a Haitian student! My original project was a sewing class at the Cazeau Orphanage. My sponsorship helped provide a teacher and materials to the class. That project has come and gone, but many, many projects have followed!!
A few years ago my two interests came together. For many years I had wanted to provide an opportunity for a garden for the children, both as an educational project and as provision for fresh vegetables to enrich their diets. Providing healthy nutrition for 70 children is expensive! An opportunity presented itself in the form of a young man who had graduated from a hands-on agricultural program and was also interested in the project.
Long story short, I started talking about the project in my gardening group. I was trying to determine what would be the best seeds to send for the project, how many, etc. In the midst of this, I started running across several other people across the world who were also involved with projects in Haiti. (http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/okgard/msg0511543330679.html) One of them was Marie! (Marie normally writes this blog) I had followed her gardening adventures and beautiful flowers for a while. I am quite jealous of her gardens! We chit chatted across the internet off and on for a while. Marie wanted to follow my progress with the gardening projects I was working with. I don’t even remember now how it came up in conversation, but Marie must have told me about her son’s work in Haiti. He was working with the One Laptop Per Child organization in Haiti. I had followed the work the organization was doing and had always hoped (you know, the it’ll-never-happen kind of hope) that one day HFHC could be involved. I had no way of making that happen, so it was just a nebulous thought. As our conversations followed though, I was interested in Adam’s work in Haiti and asked about it.
This last summer I was working on another project…libraries for both orphanages…when I ran across a post Marie had made on Educavision’s Facebook page. I recognized the nom de plume she uses and thought, “hey, I know her!!!” I shot her an email asking about it. It sort of blew my mind that our paths kept following in tandem. Two people who have never met, separated by thousands of miles, yet both working on the same goals. We chatted about how hard it was to find books in Creole, how passionate we were about teaching kids to love reading in their own language and somewhere in the conversation we talked about ebooks and how that technology could truly make a difference both in cost and ease of distribution. I also asked how Adam’s work was going. Marie told me, “you need to talk to my son.” What? Really? And in true Lisa fashion, I shot off an awkward email to a complete stranger, “Uh, my name is Lisa, and your mom said I should contact you.” I wasn’t really even sure of the path I was opening the door to at this point. However, I had followed his progress on the blog, and I knew he was doing some exciting projects with the XO computers in Haiti.
To my surprise, he answered back! I explained my vision for the project and Adam was interested. That set us on a course to setting up a computer club for the Cazeau Elementary School/Orphanage. As all projects go, there have been many conference/Skype calls, trying to coordinate everyone from all over the world: Boston, Cincinnati, Virginia, Virgin Islands!, Oklahoma. The amazing Sora went to the orphanage in December to check out the electricity and physical situation. Sora is still in high school, but she has already spent at least one summer in Haiti working with Adam’s organization, Unleash Kids!, working in a very rural situation without even electricity. The computers are charged using solar pads. (http://projectrive.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/my-christmas-list/)
We hope to have a new computer club up and running by the end of January! I can’t be there, but I am looking forward to all the blog entries and pictures that will be posted. (Hint, hint!)
Many thanks for this contribution by Lisa Hendrick.
Stay tuned for write ups of the Unleash Kids! trip to Haiti later this month!