29 people volunteer their time and skills with Samaritan's Purse to help construct an orphanage and hand out Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.
Written by Leah Davidson
Published by The Record on Monday, March 26, 2012
On March 2, a group of 29 people, led by Paul McLean and Robert Pinkston, traded in their material comforts for an intense week of service in Haiti. Their mandate was to advance the construction of an orphanage for the Greta Home and Academy, which currently houses sixty school-aged children. According to McLean, the new building will provide improved water and sanitation facilities, increased space, and greater resistance against natural disasters.
Although McLean and Pinkston have taken several mission teams to Haiti since the 2010 earthquake, this was their first time partnering with Samaritan’s Purse. During their time abroad, the group had the privilege of handing out Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes with a local church and watching the children’s faces light up with joy as they opened their gifts.
This year, youth under the age of twenty-five made up half of the 29 participants. McLean commented, “The teens and young adults are hard workers and very enthusiastic. I think the trip was a great opportunity for them to serve others, see how most of the world lives, and go out of their comfort zone.”
Fifteen-year-old Galt student Kaily McLean affirmed that the trip changed her outlook on life. “Now that I’m back, I definitely am so much more grateful for what I have,” explained McLean. “I also really miss the people in Haiti, particularly the orphans. We all connected with specific children. They would recognize us every day.”
Although McLean cannot wait to go back to Haiti, she admitted that she initially had minimal interest in visiting the country. “Summer camp changed my mind. The camp played a song called ‘I Will Go,’ by Starfield, and I felt that God had put it on my heart to travel to Haiti.”
Like McLean, first-year Champlain student Rachael Plamondon enjoyed entertaining the orphans and experiencing the Haitian culture. Plamondon explained, “I always thought that the Haitians would be sad and that the kids would not want to play with us, but they are more content than any person I have met here in Canada. They have nothing and we have everything, but they genuinely embrace life.”
Before flying to Port-au-Prince, the mission team participated in fundraisers and assembled for meetings. Each person received information from Samaritan’s Purse, explaining what to pack and what to expect.
No one could truly prepare for the shock of landing in a Third World country, but by approaching the unknown with an open mind and a loving heart, the team transcended cultural barriers and made a meaningful difference in the lives of their new friends.