Thursday, January 5, 2012

Read this today.

The highlight of my day was reading students' college essays.  True story.  It is one of my favorite parts of my job...especially when they write their essays about our trip to Nassau!  Here is one of the essays from an awesome senior named Abby, who has already sent it to colleges up and down the East Coast :)  I always learn so much about the Father's heart through my students' experiences...and I think you will, too!

“There are starving kids out there who would love to eat that,” was a familiar phrase as I stared at half eaten plates of food growing up. 

It’s different now. I know their names. 

Nakiesha, Wedeline, Kyria – and the list of impoverished children I now know goes on. 

Behind the paradise of Nassau, Bahamas lies a swarm of Haitian refugees. They fled the hell of Haiti for a better life in Nassau, yet found themselves still surrounded by poverty and the shame of being unwanted immigrants. With time, somehow their plans for a better life disappeared as they struggled to provide food and clean clothes for their families. Garbage piled up outside, cars settled like ghosts in their front yards with motors and spare parts lying everywhere. Old furniture and toys were left outside overnight and unstuffed by looters and animals. Over time, they became blind to the grime around them and allowed their toddlers to play in squalor among broken glass buried inches deep into their dirt roads.

In July of 2011, I am a volunteer at a Bible Camp near those very roads. As the Bahamian heat beats down, I thank God ten year old Kyria didn’t pierce her foot on a nearby shattered bottle. Yet as I look back down, I realize glass is everywhere and there is no way I can gather it all up. Kyria then begins to climb a pile of trash to pick fruit from a tall tree growing atop it. As I watch her, toddlers swarm around me with the question “I can go on ya back?” in their Creole accents. I pick up one each hip and begin to cry at the realization that their poverty is far from over. They are three year olds who are being taught ambivalence to their own squalor by parents who were raised the same way. I soon realize that the tropical trip I spent a year working to pay for would break my heart, as well as inspire me to spread the word about this injustice. On the trip I smelled poverty, held its hand, kissed its little faces, and cried as its youth told me stories of rape and abuse much too old for its age.
I was in no way naive to hard times upon entering the trip. As a child, my parent’s financial collapse and subsequent divorce led us to rentals and awkward social times in the wealthy Connecticut suburbs. I began working and saving money since my sophomore year in high school. This has left me with a strong work ethic and determination to take charge of my life and do what means most to me, which is helping other people. On my trip to Nassau, I realized true poverty incomparable to the Fairfield County poverty line my family occasionally fell below, real social class rejection, and the work it takes to change a community. While my sister receives a college scholarship because of her work, and I have opportunities despite my economic background, the children I came to love have little view of this future.  

I realized that the cycle of poverty takes generations to break and millions of volunteers willing to sacrifice their comfortable lives for 110 degree heat, tarantulas, piggy back rides, and the vision of a better life for children they don’t even know. As I returned home, I became conscious of the ambivalence of so many people to the things I had seen, and it caused me to want to become a voice for those who have none. I am now willing to seek out those in need, and help them in any way possible because I want to do good in the world.

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