I’ve been fortunate to travel to many places around the world whether it be for vacations, to study abroad, visit friends, conduct business, or anything in between. Every trip for me is absolute bliss. I love packing up a little bag and setting out to explore somewhere new, expand my horizons, and put myself out of my comfort zone. Don’t speak the native tongue? Start making up sign language. Can’t read a menu? Point blindly at something and keep the fingers crossed. Get a little lost? Find yourself! All these things have made up who I’ve become. Yet we are not simply made up of the positives, as the negatives we have endured define us on an entirely different level. Throughout my travels I have come across several places that will forever remain in my mind for reasons that words simply cannot describe. And as predicted, another one has been added to the few. Starting with the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in northern Berlin, Germany, to the Underpass Street Sale of Medellin, Columbia, and followed by the Slum Markets in the Longhua District of Shenzhen, China, I’ve added one more to my list and it's possibly the most impactful: the Little Children of Jesus ministry for orphaned and handicapped children.
It’s been almost three weeks since returning from Haiti, but I believe an extended amount of time to decompress after such a trip was completely necessary. Numerous times I’ve sat down to write this post and after jotting down several words and staring blankly at the screen, my mind starts racing through details of the trip - where we went, what we did, what we saw. How can such a short trip yield so many incredible experiences, and futhermore, how am I supposed to transcribe that to a short writing?
I told my friends, “I may be a bit different when I come back from Haiti so be prepared. You know, cut out all the extra unnecessary luxuries in my life, stop eating big meals, or spend my time a little differently. This sort of trip can do that to you.”
Now that I’m back and have returned to my day to day routines, am I any different?
What are luxuries anyways? Defined as material objects, services, etc., conducive to sumptuous living, usually a delicacy, elegance, or refinement of living rather than necessity. So basically fancy cars, big houses, expensive jewelry, etc., right? Not in Haiti. Let’s revise that list a little and add things such as clean water, constant electricity, shoes that fit, green grass, or a new soccer ball to play with. Those are their luxuries. Things that we take for granted not every day, but every single minute of our lives. We have grown accustomed to replacing the broken with new, the older models with the more up to date, and so on and so forth. We have all purchased new things that have been victim to planned obsolescence, where companies have created products to need replacements after such a time. Down in Haiti things are different.
However, I don’t want to focus on the levels of poverty or misfortune that the Haitians endure on a day to day basis. Everyone knows that story, and it’s what Be Robin Hood is taking steps to fix every single day. But instead, I’ve come to look at this trip from the perspective of the over enthusiastic optimist that I am. We worked at schools and health clinics down in Haiti east of Port-au-Prince with children and young adults. The trip went amazing. No issues came up, we improved a lot of the buildings in more ways than I can describe, started and finished a lot of projects, played a lot of soccer and (most importantly in my eyes) brought countless smiles to the kids faces. They were happy..so incredibly happy!
The orphanage was tough, it really pulled on your heart strings. But if you can dig deep and move past the misfortune, you can witness something spectacular. You see how running around pushing one of them in a wheelchair, or putting a hat and pair of sunglasses on them, or just holding their hand brings forth sheer, unadulterated, and absolutely inconceivable bliss. There’s nothing in this world like walking by them as they reach out to grab your hand almost with reverent awe. Their faces light up, their eyes twinkle, their laugh ricochets through the halls, and their smiles could change the world. Perhaps this is why Be Robin Hood was created - to help bring forth smiles to those who need it most.
And then there were the children at the schools. One morning while working, we heard singing and a group of us wandered in the direction until we found the source. In a very plain open aired space, benches and a couple chalkboards were set up with a beautiful backdrop of vast greens and mountains. Music was played and verse by verse songs were sung as they learned the new song. Then as if scripted like a flashback scene of a movie, I closed my eyes and was taken back to my very childhood singing in a choir in elementary school and realized how incredibly different our lives were, yet in a strange way, remarkably the same. This was an experience I've never been through that nearly brought tears to my eyes. The singing was beautiful and the kids were so happy.
It was an incredible opportunity to be able venture into a world deprived of the day to day amenities we have in our modern day society. Yet is it such a bad thing to eradicate the unnecessary raucous and distractions that our safe but arguably faux environment puts forth?
So back to my original question…have I returned any differently? I still drive my car, cook big meals, and (usually) change my socks daily. I still want to change the world but now more than ever, I have even more of an inspiration to do so. I close my eyes and see the streets of Haiti, the daily tasks by the locals, the smiles on those kids faces, and it pushes me to an entirely new level. I’m determined to see BRH succeed and I truly believe it has the potential to do great things. I’ll do anything to reach my goal, and I hope you will join me. Share my message, my vision, my goals - and remember, together as one, we can Be Robin Hood.