In the fall of 2008 I was asked to be on the board for Health Ministries for Haiti. I was excited to join the board and was assured that I would not have to go to Haiti. Shortly after joining the board, I attended a fundraiser for Health Ministries for Haiti. Pictures of children from an orphanage that needed sponsors were on display and my family and I selected a little girl named Olivia to sponsor. I took her picture home and put it on the baker’s rack in my kitchen. Throughout the day whenever I noticed Olivia’s picture I would say a prayer for her. I was continually drawn to her photo which displayed extremely skinny arms and legs and big sad eyes. I had this overwhelming feeling that I had to meet this little girl and let her know that I cared for her and was praying for her. I did not want to go to Haiti but I just had to meet Olivia so with the support of my family and friends I made the preparations to go on the next mission trip to Haiti with Health Ministries for Haiti.
We arrived in Haiti on Sunday, January 10, 2010. “What was I doing here?” This question kept running through my head. The poverty was everywhere and I had never seen or experienced anything like it. On Monday we went to the orphanage and I met Olivia. It was an amazing event that I will never forget. What I will also never forget is the conditions of the children and the environment in which they were living. There were not enough beds so many of the children were sleeping on hard concrete floors. The latrine was full so children were toileting into a bucket. A new latrine was in the process of being built but due to lack of funds it had turned into a large hole filled with green, slimy liquid. The lethargic children were skinny with distended bellies and orange hair due to malnutrition. The day was spent meeting each child and taking their picture in hopes of attaining more sponsors. On Tuesday we worked in a remote medical clinic. I spent the day weighing patients and playing with children and consequently fell in love with the Haitian people. They had nothing, but radiated a joy from within and were extremely gracious. I was amazed at their resiliency. Later that day, I, along with my new Haitian brothers and sisters, experienced a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The next few days were a blur of horrific events which follow a natural disaster. When Eddy dropped us off at the US Embassy to come home I made a vow to him that I would do whatever I could to help those children in the orphanage.
I have been back to Haiti every year since. I was petrified to return the year after the earthquake but I wanted the Haitian people, and especially the children in the orphanage, to know that I understood how scary the earthquake was, but I was back and I had not forgotten them. The House of Jesus’ Children Orphanage has become my passion. Jesus states in Matthew 25:40 that what you do for the least of these, you do it to me. Being obedient to this scripture motivates me to work tirelessly on the sponsorship program. The positive changes I have seen are proof that we are making a difference in these children’s lives. Children live in dorms, sleep in beds, receive an education and medical care, drink clean water and eat nutritious meals. In all ways they are healthier and happier. I continue to be awed and humbled in the ways God has used me and put people in my path with the same goal, to better the lives of children in a third world country.
Mary Perry is an interior designer and the owner/operator of Designs by Mary Parry. Mary resides in Beloit, Wisconsin, with her family. “I am in awe of the resilience and graciousness of the people in Haiti. As it says in Matthew 25:40, ‘The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”’ That verse always comes to mind when I’m working on sponsorship activities for the orphanage: God wants me to be his vessel for those children.”