(Sorry for being so late on this post. I started this a week or so ago, but then I got sick and didn’t get a chance to finish it. Better late than never!)
The other day, I was sitting and observing the first graders. This is the oldest class that we have at ADECA (Academie des Enfants et Centre d’Apprentisage/Children’s Academy and Center for Learning). They have been classmates together for three years so these 30 or so kids know each other very well. It amazes me how caring and generous they are with each other without hesitation. Once their lesson finished, it was time for snack. Everyone rushed over to the cabinets to grab their lunch boxes, which is a very chaotic event because they are all hungry by this point in the day. It was such a joyful time because minutes before, one little boy came over to me and was telling me how hungry he was. That little boy in particular does not have very responsible parents. It was a fight to get him to come to school in the first place because his mother was hesitant to send him, as were many Haitian parents at the beginning of the school year. Now that he is present everyday, he is often late to school or hangs around after school for hours waiting for his parents to come get him. I also noticed how he sometimes doesn’t have any snack with him at school. I am not sure if it is a punishment sometimes for forgetting his lunch box or for something else, but it could be that his mother couldn’t afford a snack for him. In my position, not knowing these families personally, I do not want to jump to any conclusions about anyone and judge them unfairly. I just make observations.
This day in particular, as I was observing these amazing kids, tears started welling up in my eyes. I sat there for a moment in a chair that was three sizes too small, thinking that the tears would pass and not end up escaping my eyes. But then I saw a little girl named Farah (8) sharing her snack with one of the younger girls in the class Evena (5). Farah was sitting and chatting with some kids, because she is a very talkative young lady, while using her spoon to put cereal and milk in Evena’s little mouth at the same time. And watching the little boy who was just telling me how hungry he was eat his bread and peanut butter so happily. Then, a bunch of the kids grouped together on the opposite side of the table as me, whispering, trying to come up with a decision. They came to an agreement and simultaneously ten little hands extended towards me all holding food to share with me. I said no thank you, but it was so sweet that they all noticed that I didn’t have a snack of my own and felt bad. Even though food is so precious to them, they still were willing to give some of theirs so that my stomach wouldn’t be empty. This action of pure generosity threw me over the edge. I had to quickly leave the room because I could no longer keep the tears in my eyes. I couldn’t allow them to see my tears because then I would have 30 little kids hugging me and asking me in Creole that I struggle to understand, “What’s wrong, Hannah?!” As sweet as that would be, I didn’t want to make a spectacle and turn their joy into worry. I stood outside on the balcony, overlooking the whole city until I could pull myself together. I cried and prayed for these children.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Please nourish their little bodies with this food. Thank you that they have something to eat today and thank you for the goodness in their hearts. I am amazed that with so little, they are still willing to give so much. I also pray that they will be shown love and compassion when they go home to their families today and everyday. Or that they will have the courage to show their parents the love and goodness in their hearts. Soften the hearts of their parents, please God. I want them to see how sweet and precious their children are and how important it is to love on them.
These were happy tears, happy that the food brought them so much joy and brought them together. Happy that they had full bellies. But they were also tears of surrender. It would be so easy for me to worry about each of these kids after hearing about the families that they go home to everyday. And I do worry about them. A lot. But I know that my worrying is not going to solve anything. I surrendered them to the Lord in that moment. He is the only one who knows exactly what is in the hearts of the parents and the children. I cannot judge what those parents are going through nor can I imagine what they are going through. I have to trust Jesus that these children will be protected and that they will feel loved by their Father in Heaven.
-Photo on the day that the kids made me cry. They decided to squeeze onto a few chairs together just to joke around with the teachers.
-One of the sweetest little boys eating his popcorn after school.