This summer is flying by!! That means the first day of school is quickly approaching for students around the globe. Sadly, a large majority will not have the proper tools to learn to read and write.
With this in mind, I recently decided to head to Port au Prince and La Gonave with Haiti Lumiere de Demain (HLD), a non-profit dedicated to providing Haiti’s rural communities with necessary educational tools. It was just…wow. Honestly I’m still trying to sort out all my feelings on what I saw and experienced.
To begin, it’s a beautiful country with some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen – inside and out. Their smiles cannot be described in words. I found Haiti incredible. It was stunning, sad, hopeful, broken, energetic, and lost. It was incredibly warm both in temperature and feeling. The country itself tends to feel forgotten about, even though talk and fundraising have increased post the 2010 earthquake, making it clear that we have never given enough attention to this beautiful country, a country that is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.
I went with Louis Elneus, who founded HLD in ’98 and also happened to be my soccer coach for years. HLD not only helps educate children but they also have created programs for the teachers and parents so the entire community is able to learn and thrive. And we’re talking middle of nowhere, in the woods, buggy, jungle communities.
During my time there, we completed a variety of projects but our main objective was to distribute textbooks. We drove in beat-up pickups on what can’t really be called roads (16 miles = 3 hr drive – covering both rocky terrain and sinking sand). We delivered reading and writing materials to students who without HLD would never have had access to these basic tools. You should have seen their faces when we arrived! Pure. Joy. We also brought along solar flashlights as they lack electricity as well as seeds to begin growing a school garden.
You can get involved with HLD by clicking this link, and of course, as you plan your next trip or vacation, why not find a way to make a massive difference as you travel? You can check out http://www.voluntourism.org/ for more ideas on how to travel for change too.