During spring break, the majority of college students plan vacations to relax and have fun. However, this was not the case for 13 UMHB students. They decided to use their time off from school to reach out to the people of Haiti. The students teamed up with Assistant Director of Campus Activities Jeff Sutton, Hope for the Hungry Director Jen Sutton and Founder Dan Kirkley.
Junior double major theology philosophy/ psychology Brittany Beltran said the organization plans a spring break trip every year.
“Hope for the Hungry invites people to come,” she said. “They accept applications and form a team.”
Beltran said her original plan for the spring was to go on the Baptist Student
Ministry England Mission trip in May.
“The Lord kept putting Haiti on my heart,” she said. “On the day that I was having the worst doubts was the day that the earthquake happened. It was a
confirmation for me that Haiti was where I was supposed to go.”
Sophomore social work major Bethany Franz said the group worked in Guibert, Haiti.
“Hope for the Hungry has two orphanages in Haiti,” she said. “We worked with the boys’ orphanage, and the girls are located in Ferrier, Haiti.”
Franz said there are more than 60 children in the two orphanages.
“Our location was very close to Port Au Prince, where the earthquake was really bad,” she said. “Fifty-eight percent of homes were destroyed there.”
The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that shook Haiti’s capital Jan. 12 damaged the school and church near the Guibert orphanage.
“Only kindergarten and first grade level students were able to attend school under a few 10 x 10 tents,” Franz said. “We built 10 temporary classrooms out of boards and plywood walls to make the building and attached a tin roof.”
Beltran said the rooms were built on local basketball courts.
“We became attached to the people that we met,” she said. “The people there have huge hearts. They had practically nothing and would invite us into their home and want to give us what they had.”
The team also repaired 11 rafters in the church.
“The Sunday after we left, the church was able to hold a service, and the Monday after we left, more than 300 students were able to go back to school,” Franz said.
Sophomore Christian studies major Jonathan Dean said the people in Haiti
are so hopeful for their future and are grateful for what they still have.
“It shocked me emotionally,” he said. “I anticipated hurt and broken people,
but they were so thankful. Even for the little piece of cloth they had for a roof and hut made out of pipe, tree posts and branches.”
Dean said the people have little privacy.
“They are living with each other shoulder to shoulder,” he said. “If it rains, everything they have gets wet. They have to live like that until they can get a new house, which in most cases will be a long time.”
The group also handed out tents to families in unstable living conditions.
“I will never forget the face of one woman in particular,” Franz said. “Her face lit up with joy when we gave her the tent, and she immediately began to tear down her tin hut because she was so happy.”
Beltran said she got to see the divine in the people.
“The God who is working in our lives here in America, is working in the lives of our Haitian brothers and sisters,” she said.
Franz said the Lord is very evident in Haiti.
“The people had absolutely nothing and found joy in God, not in possessions,” she said. “I learned what true humility looked like. Those
people had nothing and were still joyful.”