Every time i glanced behind me there she was. Her dirty Gap shirt and unkept hair couldn’t hide the huge but sheepish, gap toothed grin in response to my eye contact. Like she had never seen such a thing. Blonde hair is a comodity in Haiti, I have learned.
We were in the market. Work study day. Every Thursday the kids at Hope for Haiti give back to their community. A servalution, if you will. Whether delivering food to a family in the village or cleaning, they are in groups that rotate each week.
Today I was tagging along to the market to buy Some necessities for a women and her son (one of Danita’s students) who are both HIV positive and because of the poor immune system and bad living conditions, have both contracted tuberculosis. By being admitted into the hospital, the woman’s other children are left at home. With themselves. Brittany (one of the missionaries) stops by her home daily to ensure food is being prepared by the oldest and then crosses into Dajabone, Dominican Republic to update the woman on her children.
This in itself is a luxury.
The two girls who are with us are responsible for picking out the items on a budget and then delivering the gifts and visiting with the boy and his mom. As we walk, the street child isn’t far behind. When we stop, she’s just behind the closest hanging, playing “smile back and forth” with me.
After a moment I glanced over to play and a shop keeper began slapping the girl with a cloth of some sort. My heart in my stomach, I didn’t even know how to react, and the girl just turned her back to him with shame and embarrassment, stone cold expression on her face, taking it.
A million thoughts flying through my head, not know which one to respond to first, i just stood there. In my American nature I immediately began looking for her parents, thinking “this is ridiculous!”. No where. Then trying to figure out what to say that he would understand.
As he continued to hit her, my friend Brittany heard the commotion as she was making her purchase and started yelling, “hey! HEY!” and then embraced the girl by the shoulders to step in between her and the man and in Creole began yelling at him, “What is your problem? She’s just a kid, she didn’t do anything.” The man told her that she had been staring and stormed away.
Staring? Really? Brittany turned to the girl to console her and the little girl immediately broke. Se turned away from us and began to weep. Wiping her tears with her shirt, she didn’t want to expose her vulnerable heart in a world where she is desperate to survive. A tender heart is not an option.
No one had ever spoken up for her. She just knew to “take it”.
We are their voice. You and I. We are their option.
For about 100 kids, Danita became their option. Supporters like you and I became their option.
Brittany became the little girls option today. She filled the gap.
How many are there who have no voice? No option? Who just, take it?
For as much as we spend on lunch a day, we could give a child the chance at a choice. An option. An option to smile, to hope, to dream.
Whether they are poor, white, sick or hurting, they have the same little soul and innocent spirit as your child does. As you do. It’s our job to allow it to shine.
Brittany pulled the little girl over to us that afternoon and told her to pick out anything from the table of hygiene goods – soaps, perfume, lotion (not what your thinking.. you’re thinking Dillards.. think garage sale) – and she pointed to the back, to a single pair of girls panties. And smiled ear to ear as she ran away, with her first and only undergarment.