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ila joi is a faith-based, hand-crafted jewelry and accessories brand that is committed to empowering Haitian women to realize their God given talents in order to earn a sustainable income to provide for their families. Created by Hope. Powered by Prayer.

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Welcome to our blog! Read about the lovely artisans who make our jewelry! 

 

First Day Impressions by Claire Roney

Chances for Children

 Kenscoff, Haiti

Kenscoff, Haiti

t’s been almost a week since I returned from Haiti to sunny California, and I’ve struggled repeatedly to write about the trip because there were so many wonderful impressions it left with me. 

Before the trip, I thought I would use these blog posts to bring awareness to Haiti and the Ila Joi program. I still plan to do that, but I also want to call attention to the other programs Chances for Children implements, and what those meant to me. 

I want to take time to talk about the things that broke my heart on this trip, as well as the things that mended and lifted it. 

Which brings me to my first story about the crêche.

It was our first day in Haiti and we had just arrived in Kenskoff after two flights and an arduous two-hour drive up into the mountains. We dropped our bags onto the guesthouse floor, and were told we had time to play with the crêche kids before dinner. 

The crêche run by Chances for Children is not an orphanage per se, but it is home to about 40 children in various stages of the adoption process, which unfortunately includes some orphans.
I had never been to an orphanage or an establishment like this before, but I felt happy to meet more people and excited to play with the kids. When we got to the crêche and saw the children, everyone drifted over to them seamlessly asking things in Creole like, “Kijan ou ye,” or saying, “Hello,” with a simple wave of the hand. I went with a small group of people upstairs to visit the babies. 

About six infants slept or sat quietly in their cribs. I watched my team members unabashedly go up to the children, pick them up and hold them all while I stood frozen in my place. 

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to hold these babies, or that I didn’t want to give them my love and attention. I wanted to do just that. I wanted to make them smile and laugh, and to hold them. But, it felt wrong to me. I didn’t feel okay picking up one of these children knowing that I was going to have to put him or her back down. I didn’t want to give my love and comfort, only to have to take it away. And I didn’t want the children to watch me leave.

So as I glanced around the room observing my teammates interact with these infants, I saw a baby girl staring at me.

L (for short) is little more than one year old, and at the time she had a cold. She was on a lower crib, so I bent down to hold her hand. It was so small in my hand, but much warmer than mine. 

After a few moments, I felt overwhelmed by a sadness I couldn’t understand and instinctively stood to leave, but as I straightened L tried to stand in her crib and reached for me. 

I panicked and picked her up afraid she would fall, but then immediately gave her to someone else to hold and left the room. 

Since that moment, I’ve regretted not being able to set aside my sadness to give L the love and attention she wanted from me. I can’t take that back, but I have researched other ways I can help her, like sponsoring her. 

Chances for Children has an orphan care sponsorship program. Sponsoring a child will give him or her two hot meals a day and clean water, a home, a bed to sleep in, medical care, education and clothing. Another way of putting it, for $1 a day I can be ‘present’ in L’s life and keep her healthy and happy. 

There are ways to help the children indirectly, like sponsoring one of the nonprofit’s other programs: the medical clinic, feeding program or women’s empowerment program. You can also organize your own trip to Haiti through the nonprofit and bring donations with you. Or, send items to the nonprofit to send safely to Haiti.

Whatever the method and however much, everything helps. There is no shortage of love or gratitude in Haiti. These programs are in place because they are entirely necessary, and I hope that the more I write about this trip the more you feel compelled to take part in lifting this vibrant  place and its beautiful people up.

 Danny and little L at the crêche.

Danny and little L at the crêche.