When my mom first texted me and asked if I wanted to go to Haiti for a week in the summer, I had no clue what my simple response of “sure” would entail. Leading up to the trip, everyone asked me if I was excited and what I was going to do. My response soon become as second nature as when something as simple as my major was asked. “I don’t know what to expect, but I’m really excited! I’ll be helping to train teachers and hopefully also help in the clinic.” When I returned from my week away, a new, but consistent, question kept rolling in. “How was your trip?” Again, I constructed a response that worked every time and kept the conversation going. “It was really great, like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.” While it was never a lie, my practiced response never gave the whole truth.
What I didn’t tell people is that for a week, I have never felt more selfish. When I arrived at the top of the mountain that Friday afternoon, I entered a clinic where I was immediately given a clean bed to sleep in and freshly prepared meals twice a day. Everyone gave all that they had to ensure our comfort.
The next morning I woke up to a crowd of people waiting outside the clinic. Their length of travel, I’ll never actually know, but I do know it was farther than I’ve ever had to walk to get help or care in my life. I walked past the people in the clinic, and I didn’t know what to do. I don’t have any actual background in medicine or care, and even if I did, there was a clear language barrier. All I wanted to do was help, but I didn’t know how. Again I felt selfish for using up their resources without doing anything in return. But then, I felt someone take my hand, and I looked down to see the biggest and brightest smile I had ever seen. “Bonswa!” exclaimed a little boy standing at my side, and just like that, I realized that I wasn’t in Grand Bois to change the world, better myself, or even pump up my resume a little bit. If nothing else, I was there to smile back at that little boy and keep holding his hand.
I know now that going on the service trip to Haiti overall was not selfish of me. However, if I came back and never did anything more with it, it would be. If I came back knowing more than I did before I left but didn’t tell a single soul, the trip would be worthless. If I continue to tell people that my week was simply “an amazing experience,” nothing would ever change for all the beautiful faces I left there. Ever since I left Haiti, I am no longer simply responsible for myself. I am responsible for making sure that the hardships the people in Grand Bois endure every day are not just known, or simply acknowledged, but responded to.
Plans for a trip to Grand Bois in June, 2018 are now underway. If you’d like the opportunity to travel to Grand Bois, please contact Tara Greufe at email@example.com or Don Blough at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please give generously to the additional collection on the 1st Sunday of every month. Half of the proceeds go towards helping our sister parish in Haiti, St. Francis.