I had heard about LiveBeyond through different organizations at Texas A&M University and had the opportunity to go for the first time in August 2015. I just recently got back from my second trip earlier this month, and once again blown completely away by God’s goodness and faithfulness in Haiti.
There are so many different programs going on at the LiveBeyond base, but the one that always tugs at my heart is the Johnny’s Kids program. The children at Johnny’s Kids have disabilities whether that is physical or mental, who come to LiveBeyond for physical therapy, education, meals, and play therapy with the staff. The culture within Haiti sees those with disabilities as an outcast and they are often bullied by people within their community.
I can’t imagine growing up in a place where I didn’t feel loved, didn’t feel like anyone wanted me, or didn’t have any friends to play with. Can you imagine how lonely that must feel? It is difficult to understand how a community could not love and embrace these children. They instantly steal your heart upon meeting them. Every time I have the opportunity to hold one of these kids I just want to remind them over and over how loved, and how cherished they are by God—that the same God that love me so extravagantly loves these children equally. The God that hung the moon and stars made you exactly how he wanted you, regardless of if they feel that at home or in their community.
There is a picture J’Lyn has posted to LiveBeyond's Facebook page of Chinyelo, before he was in the Johnny’s Kids program, and now that he is in the program, and MAN what a difference! It is a perfect example of what Jesus is doing in the lives and hearts of all these wonderful people in Haiti. He is taking people from a place of darkness and despair and ushering them to a place of joy and light. Some of these children were going to go their whole lives never leaving their house because of their disability, but by the grace of God and LiveBeyond, they now get to eat every day, have friends who play with them, and are constantly surrounded by God’s love.
From my first trip to Haiti in 2015 to one year later there has been a remarkable change in the way the kids in the Kè Pou Timoun program now react to the children in Johnny’s. During my first trip the interaction between the children was minimal at best, the Johnny’s Kids kept to themselves assuming their roles as set by their culture. This year the children from Kè Pou Timoun program were helping feed some of the Johnny’s Kids, they were playing with them, helping them color, and talking with them. I just kept thinking, “Hallelujah, we are breaking the chains." You can now see a light in these kids, they no longer look self-conscious, or scared to talk rather they are laughing, and engaging with everyone around them.
I encourage everyone to go to Haiti and meet these children first hand, to see the poverty that is only two hours from the United States, and to let the people of Thomazeau completely capture your heart. We could be the generation that breaks the chains. We could be the generation that tears down every Voodoo peristyle and makes sure every child in Haiti has a good education. We could be the generation that shows God's love to the poor and needy. God is moving and working in Haiti, don’t miss out on being a part of His story.
Windsor Stamey is 24 years old and lives in Nederland, Texas. She recently accepted a teacher's position at an elementary school. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Communications.