When volunteers come to stay and contribute to the life of the Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes, their accomplishments are usually visible: a shelf is built, a storage room tidied, a craft produced, cake decorating learned, a computer lab set up. Less tangible but more important benefits happen within each person involved.
Volunteers many times discover a harsh reality – the challenging daily lives and limited futures of children in Haiti – but their hearts melt at the spontaneous curiosity, outreach, and affection the children are so quick to shower upon them. Volunteers often leave full of emotion, feeling they have contributed little but lived intensely with all their senses during those few days.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day”; we have to keep this in mind when planning a short service immersion trip. Goals have to be realistic, expectations of project progress defined within the context of local reality, and gains measured within the scope of long term involvement, which is a defining goal of Rendez-vous Haiti.
More importantly, for the children on site, their encounter with a total stranger brings another dimension of care, a few more skills acquired, a door opened to a brighter future as the children discover yet another ability they have within which might lead to a new prospect, a brighter tomorrow. Drawing, painting, computer savvy, cooking, baking, handiwork – these are steps in their development, growth (and isn’t that what youth is about?). One step at a time.