This is the beginning of my story, God's story, and Haiti's story, and how the three are interwoven, inseparable:
A few weeks ago I got a random email forwarded to me about a Deaf community in Haiti. I got excited.
Wait, lets back up. For a long time, I have known Haitians are incredible people. I have taught a few Deaf Haitian-Americans in my current job, and have met some Haitians in the Dominican Republic when I was there for a week years ago. THEN I found out that they use American Sign Language (Most countries have a sign language that is unique to their country. Haiti is rare in that it uses America's signed language). The more I learned, the more my curiosity was peaked. Haiti is a country with a lot of American missionaries, yet still has some severe struggles. Here are/were my main questions:
-What are the stigmas related to Deaf people in Haiti?
-What are the struggles that Deaf people face in relation to access to
occupations, education, and communication in Haiti?
-How has The Church* been involved in
communicating with Deaf Haitians about the
-Are there rights guaranteed to Deaf people in Haiti?
-What are the wants and needs of the Haitian Deaf community?
As a result, for years, I have been praying for/ begging God to send me to Haiti, to see first hand what is happening there, to use any skills I have for His good there.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago: lots of emails, phone calls, and prayer. God is Good. I fell in love with and organization working in Haiti called 410 Bridge. Please check it out, (Haiti community link) but the main thing I liked was the emphasis on working with the community to use their own members to be leaders and develop a self-sufficient community. On the right panel of this blog, you can find a link to the Deaf Village Blog.
Last week, I found out that I am approved for the July 13th-19th open trip. In some ways I am late in the game. By the time I joined the trip, I had already missed some information and payment due dates. As of right now, I have 2 main needs: prayer and funds. (There is a "donate" button to the right)
God has given me many opportunities to grow as a educator of the Deaf, and a leader for Deaf and hard of hearing youth. I feel so lucky and blessed to have been able to learn from the Deaf community first hand for the last 8 years here in Saint Augustine, and my prayer is that God will use my experiences to positively impact what is happening in Haiti. However, I can guarantee that I will learn more from the people of Leveque than they will learn from me.
My goal is to write about my journey getting ready for this trip, the trip itself, and how we can all be involved in what God is doing in Haiti. In America we are RICH in resources for the Deaf in comparison to many other countries. I am hoping that I can help build a bridge for Deaf professionals in America and to share information and supports with the community in Leveque.
Stay tuned for more about the trip, prayer needs, and the people of Leveque. N a wè pi ta!!
*I use the term "The Church" in reference to the greater body of Christ, regardless of denomination.