With two weeks left until my trip to Haiti, I had a couple of very important things to buy prior to taking off. One was a mosquito net. After doing some online searches, I found that I could purchase one at my local REI store. Sunday afternoon my daughter and I headed out in the balmy 100 degree weather of Arizona set out for REI. I consider myself a seasoned shopper; I can find anything on my own whether it be in Ann Taylor or Lowe’s. I rarely ask for help. I get some crazy sense of accomplishment when I can find anything in any store.
We walked in to REI, I think I made it about 10 feet inside the front door, and immediately froze. This was a foreign land. And there were a lot of people! People that looked like they belonged, you know the type. They were all so healthy and natural looking, like they eat granola for all 3 meals. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I decided I should pull out my critical thinking skills. If I were a mosquito net, where would I be? To the left I noticed a wall of sleeping bags. Literally, a WALL. Sleeping bags. Mosquito nets are used for sleeping…Aha! I began to weave my way through the throngs of Teva and Keen wearing camping types. After spending about 10 minutes (maybe it was an hour!) going up and down the aisles near the sleeping bags I didn’t see a single mosquito net. Realizing that I didn’t really know what a mosquito net looks like (Would it be in a box, bag, plastic? Would there be a big picture of a mosquito net on the front?) I wanted to make sure that I looked at everything, much to the dismay of my daughter who asked on more than one occasion “Why don’t you just ask someone?”. Silly girl.
Feeling a bit deflated I decided I would need to venture out into the heart of the store. I looked up and saw a sign suspended from the ceiling that read “Camping”. Like a beacon in a storm I knew I was headed in the right direction. After circling the full size tent erected in the “Camping” area for a few minutes I finally found the mosquito nets! Hallelujah! After spending the next 10 minutes agonizing over which one to buy, we made the decision and my confidence was restored. So much so that I decided I would find and purchase some super duper DEET product and afterbite. I decided on the 30% DEET, as I was afraid the 90% would repel humans as well, and made my way to the cash register. I proudly put my mosquito net, afterbite, and bug repellant on the counter feeling a rush of accomplishment. I left the store with my little bag of goodies, head held high,and with my new REI lifetime membership card tucked in my wallet.
It’s Fundraising Friday! We have 100 backpacks that we need to fill! (the suitcase is FULL of 70 backpacks!) A $10.00 donation will fill one backpack; please consider making a donation today and PLEASE share this on your Facebook timeline. There’s less than 2 weeks to make this happen. Thank you for helping us help children in Haiti!
We received our first shipment of 50 backpacks yesterday! I will be bringing them with me next month for the children that we’re helping in Cite Soleil. The Backpack Drive is still underway at Desert Mountain High School and we’re hoping to receive backpack donations this Saturday at the FUNdraising Carnival. While I don’t think we’ll make our original goal of 150, I am very happy with what we’ve accomplished thus far. The collecting will continue upon my return as we already have 2 schools lined up that would like our help.
We’ve had a little change of plans regarding the school supplies. I’m planning on purchasing the school supplies for the backpacks in Haiti. The original plan was to bring the filled backpacks with me. However, we have received SO MANY generous donations of clothing and shoes for the kiddos that I want to make sure to bring as many with me on this trip as possible. Unfilled backpacks are much lighter than filled ones and I am trying to keep my checked bags to a maximum of 3, so unfilled backpacks it is! Also, if I am able to purchase the supplies in country and not pay a premium, I like that we’ll be helping the local economy. Nothing about this venture is written in stone, so if it doesn’t work well this time we’ll go back to the drawing board for the next trip.
Not that I would have anyway, but my flight is booked, my reservation is made at Haiti Communitere, and I’m getting ready for my immunizations! It’s been over a year since I have been trying to get to Haiti and I’m now a little more than a month away from stepping foot on Haitian soil!
I spun my wheels for the better part of last year trying to find the right organization to travel with. While there are MANY organizations out there, I wanted to find the right one for me. So many have a religious affiliation, which is fine, but it’s not what I was looking for. Others are very expensive; they seem more like vacationing than volunteering I finally found one that I thought would be a good fit, they don’t have a religious affiliation, they are very reasonably priced, and they work with children in safe houses, but trying to get them to respond to my inquiries was like pulling teeth. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time “chasing” them when I should have made the decision to go alone a lot earlier. As soon as I made that decision, everything fell into place.
We’re working on our final push for donations prior to leaving on May 14. We have the Cyclovia Fountain Hills event on 4/13, our Children’s Carnival FUNdraiser on 4/20, our BackPack Drive is still going on at Desert Mountain High School, and clothing, shoe and backpack donations are still rolling in.
If you would like to help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was talking to someone recently at the Farmers Market about Be The Hope and the dire circumstances for many children in Haiti. We had a nice conversation and I felt like he was really listening to what I had to say. Toward the end, he made a comment about the fact that there are children in the United States that need help too. I don’t think he was trying to be mean; just making a point. And it was a valid point. However, I found that I had the perfect response. I told him that I have been a licensed foster parent for 3 years, so I am well aware of the need.
As a foster parent I am on the frontlines every day. I have heard horror stories in training about abuses that children have suffered that are unimaginable and inconceivable. I attend all of the court hearings, Foster Care Review Board meetings, and in some cases, the trials of the biological parents when the state is seeking to terminate parental rights. I have had a child in my home that suffered the worst of all abuses: sexual abuse. Nothing can prepare you for a 5 year old telling you what Mom’s boyfriend did to her. I have spent weeks in the hospital with two of my kiddos, been to cardiologists, ENT’s, counseling appointments, and spent an afternoon at Childhelp. I know the need.
I have opened my home to 6 beautiful little girls since I became licensed in 2010. Some have stayed for as little as 2 days (until a relative was identified that could take her in) to 16+ months and counting. While this has been a rewarding, frustrating, overwhelming, joyful, agonizing, amazing, heart wrenching and challenging experience, I still feel drawn to do more. That is why I decided to start Be The Hope.
I consider myself a champion of children. If I can give hope to just one child, whether that child is in the United States or Haiti, then it’s a good day.