The young adults of HaitiRich Stigall
By Stephanie, GO’s Trip Manager
Sometimes I wake to screeching through my bathroom wall. Nope, not roosters, more human….it sounds like a plethora of teen girls, but in reality, I have lived next door to the Pathways boys for six months. When they argue over whose turn it is to use the shower, it sounds like a teen girl-cat fight through the wall. It makes me laugh,and gives me a great source of material to tease them about.
But don’t let arguments over showers sway your opinion of these young adults, because they are a phenomenal group of young people being empowered with skills to lead a life of sustainability in Haiti.
The Global Orphan Project has a new discipleship initiative that brings 18-21 year olds into a program to teach them life and trade skills called Pathways. One of the things I love most is the students are physically learning with their hands. Most schools for older kids in Haiti are mainly classroom work and teacher led. Too little is hands on learning. The Pathways instructors are physically in the field instructing the students. The sewing teacher is sewing with the girls. The decorating teacher is making bows with them as well. The boys are physically working with chickens at the chicken farm. They are gaining experience in everything they are being taught.
The other thing I love is the students are being discipled by Haitians who are passionate about teaching others what they know and passing on their knowledge, which includes what they know about Jesus, the Bible and how to lead others in the faith. When the Pathways students start praying, watch out because heaven and earth will move! And their worship through song – love for their Savior flows from these young adults in mesmerizing ways!
On a recent Friday night, I passed one of the boys in the corridor and said, “Bon swa! How are you?” The response I got in Creole accompanied by a massive smile was, “Good! I wait for Sunday!” I stopped, thinking I translated it wrong in my head, and yelled after him in Creole, “Did you say you wait for Sunday? Today is Friday, tomorrow is Saturday.”
He responded, “Yes, but I am waiting for Sunday. I love Sunday. I love Pastor Claude. I love church.”
From my work in youth ministry, I know a LOT of teenagers who love church. I know a lot of teenagers that love Jesus, but I doubt any of them would tell me on a Friday night that they are waiting for Sunday. But here in Haiti, this is the devotion these young adults have for their Savior and the love they have for communally worshiping through prayer, song and the Bible.
One of the girls I love to laugh with was walking with me last weekend. As we both went to our separate rooms, she grabbed my hands and said, “I will pray that Jesus will bless your dreams tonight!” The spirit of joy and love for Jesus in this young woman is a constant source of inspiration for me. She is constantly making us laugh and is a huge fan of inside jokes. I truly think it is a longing to be known by others that connects us to her, as well as fuels her love for Jesus.
Last weekend the boys moved out into the new Pathways building that will give them space to grow. The energy was electric around here last Saturday as they moved. It is an exciting time, not only for the current students, but to see how God will continue to give opportunities for so many more kids who age out of villages, but who did not qualify for university.
A new first year joined us a night early. We found out he was from a village one of the second year students was from. Yelling to him as he played basketball, ‘What village are you from?’ He responded by thrusting his arms into the air with his hands formed into fists while flexing his muscles, and then yelled back in English at the top of his lungs, ‘Biggarouse!!! I am from Big House!!!’
The pride and confidence in these students is palpable. They own their place in this world, and it is amazing to see them embrace their story. Their story is a victorious one. They had some place to go when they had to leave the village, and within that place, they are embracing who God has created them to be.
That first weekend, we also got to see their confidence as the second years absolutely acted like ‘older’ kids when the first years arrived. Perhaps a bit much, but it was great to see their confidence in the path of learning they are on, what they have learned over the last year and their excitement for what they will be learning in their last year of the program.
As one of our organization leaders says, you cannot care about orphan care without caring about orphan prevention.
God calls us to defend the orphan, and care for the fatherless. A large part of that defense is providing jobs to keep potential economic orphans with their families. God’s heart is not in the ‘business’ of orphans, but it is in preserving the dignity of the parent who is able to provide for their family.