When a massive earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, I was heartbroken. I felt absolutely awful every time I saw story about the earthquake on the news or online. I helped with fundraisers at school to send aid to the victims, but I didn't feel like I was doing enough.
I started doing some online research and stumbled across an organization called World Vision. I was familiar with World Vision through a Christian conference called Revolve that I had attended. World Vision, among many other things, is an organization that connects people with sponsor children. For a certain amount of money per month, someone can sponsor a child in another country. Through these sponsorships, the child gets access to things like medical care, food and an education.
As I combed through the faces of children waiting to be sponsored, I realized that you could narrow your search based on age, gender, or country. I selected Haiti and was shocked at the number of children who appeared.
After a lot of convincing, I managed to get my parents to agree to let us sponsor a child. At the next Revolve conference I attended, my mom helped me carefully select my sponsor child Blandine, a girl from Haiti.
I could not have been more excited to start communicating with Blandine, who is a year younger than me. As we started to exchange letters, I learned more about her: her favorite color is pink, her best friend's name is Rosaline, and when she grows up she wants to be a nurse.
More importantly, however, was how I learned my sponsorship has impacted her and her community. I had helped pay for her school tuition, for her medical care, to start cattle and goat operations in her community, and to improve community water. She always sounds grateful and excited about all of the new opportunities that arise for her.
Recently, I received a letter from Blandine in the mail along with her yearly update report. The letter was a simple line, "I love you forever" with the words written in Creole below. I couldn't help but tear up at the letter and knowing I had had a direct impact on someone's life.
Her report card gave information about how she is doing in school, how her health is, and how her family is doing; I love seeing positive feedback about her progress. I often pray for Blandine, for her to keep up her goals and stay on the positive track that she is following.
Thinking back to middle school when that horrific earthquake hit Haiti, I had no idea of the true impact it had. All I knew was that it killed many people and left many homeless. I had no clue of the tremendous devastation it caused to Haiti, not only physically but also emotionally. These effects linger today as those affected still struggle to recover day to day.
Having first-hand interaction with someone who was faced directly with this tragedy has truly opened my eyes. The positive spirit of Blandine, a young girl who has been through so much, is admirable. I aspire to have the attitude of happiness and perseverance that she has.
As I grow up, I am faced more and more with the harsh reality of our world. From manmade tragedies to natural disasters, when bad things happen, there is always a way to help. Even if the method is not the most obvious, a bit of creativity can point you in the right direction as mine pointed me to Blandine.