Hope in Haiti!!
At first glance Vickie Nusz may seem like your average quiet, easy going, no-fuss girl and truly she is but there is much more beyond the quiet exterior. Beneath the surface is a fierce woman on a mission. Her mission-to make a difference in the lives of the thousands of orphans living in Haiti. For the past several years Vickie has flown to this tropical paradise, known more for its poverty than its beauty, during the Christmas season to love on some kids who might otherwise seem forgotten. Her message: I love you and though I can’t stay here always you are loved, known, and acknowledged by God and He will never leave you. This message of hope and love are what she hopes stays with these children long after she has left their island.
Vickie first experience with Haiti was a family affair during her freshman year of college. Her father had been there several times on missions trips already and believed it would be beneficial for his entire family to go along and see what life was like in another part of the world while giving back. She fell in love with the people and beauty of Haiti and she has been back two more times with plans to go back again this December.
|Vickie's Local Team|
|One of the Christmas Parties in Haiti|
While in Haiti around the Christmas season, Vickie and her fellow teammates set up massive Christmas parties for the vast number of Haitian orphans around the island. Each of these parties range in attendance from 1,000-5,000 children. In fact, last Christmas her team ministered to approximately 17,000 children in 6 days! The children are treated to gifts from the team, a hot meal, and puppet show presentation as well as a message of love and hope by one of the visiting team members. Putting on these parties is a process of several hours and many times the team travels several hours just to reach where the party is to be held. It’s definitely a labor of love but Vickie has found the reception of the children and the light in their eyes is worth it and so much more.
Life in Haiti is much different than what we know in the US. Water is a precious commodity and it is scarce. Education is a privilege not a given. Malnutrition is rampant. Poverty is evident everywhere. When visiting this country, Vickie and her team stay at a nearby unfinished hospital which is used more as a dorm for visiting aid workers than hospital. It does, however, have a clinic and is run by a family who oversee several orphanages in the area. Vickie says the one comfort of home she misses most when in this otherwise tropical paradise is a real shower. Since water is so precious in Haiti you have to be in and out in seconds and the water is only on for rinsing. For showers, rain water that has collected on the roof of the home comes down a small pipe about the size of a water hose via gravity. Electricity is also hit or miss. December days in Haiti stay within the 90 range and there is no air conditioning. Fans are placed inside to keep an area cool but of course when the electricity goes so do the fans. Staying hydrated on hot days is a must.
The orphans of Haiti have many stories. Some have no family at all while others were born into families that could not afford them and have been surrendered to the orphanages for care. An education in Haiti is quite advanced, however, it is not a given and only those who can pay for the privilege may attend school. Only those orphans who have sponsors from another country can attend school and they fall within the minority. Some of the children in the orphanages may have a roof over their heads but, since there are no government social services, daily food is not guaranteed. Many children wear clothes much too small because they have outgrown them but have no replacement. These children are also in desperate need of love and attention and with no system whatsoever along with a mass sea of an ever growing population it seems an impossible, daunting task to care for them all.
But Vickie does feel she and her team are making a difference! She says not speaking the language is hard [the languages of Haiti are Creole and French] but she trusts God to lead her to the right place and speak for her. The words aren’t really necessary because love translates. She loves mingling with the children at the parties and playing games with them and showing them attention and affection. She tells many stories where these attention, love starved children are shown just the smallest amount of affection light up. Her heart breaks for them and she wishes she could bring every single one of them home with her (her words!)
Vickie shares that not all the scenes in Haiti are those of poverty and starvation. There is a hope in the eyes of these tenacious people! She tells that just by looking at many of these people you can see who has the joy of the Lord. Even though they have next to nothing, they have hope! This is the message her group shares while they also meet the physical needs of the children of Haiti. She wants the children to know that even though she can’t stay, there is a God who will never leave or forsake them. Vickie says she wants them to know “they are beautiful and strong and God loves them.” This is what drives her to go back year after year. She wants to leave them with more than their physical needs met--she wants to leave them with a love and hope that will outstay her brief visits.
How can you help? The volunteers who go on these trips are responsible to pay their own way. You can help by donating to the cost of Vickie’s trips. Your donation is tax deductable and you can be put on a mailing list for information regarding Vickie’s upcoming trips. Just email your mailing and email information to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be sure Vickie gets it! If you are unable to donate your money, Vickie and her team would appreciate your prayers and encouragement! Feel free to leave comments below!!