I met Marantha two summers ago. At the time I didn’t know her name, but I looked forward to seeing her everyday.
In Haiti, white people stick out like a sore thumb. We would be the true definition of a minor in this land full of beautifully colored black people. It is not uncommon to travel down the road and have children yell out “blan” (white) as you pass by.
This was the way I met Marantha. I passed by her house, on the edge of the village everyday, and her and two other girls would always be waiting expectantly to yell out “blan, blan, blan” as I passed. It seemed to be their moment to shout and play as the foreign white girl drove past. It seemed to be their moment to cry for joy and forget about the pain they were living in.
My returning trip, I felt like something was missing. I soon realized it was the little girls on the hilltop that I hadn’t seen. I did some investigation and found out they had moved further up the hill and were living in a shack made of tarp and tin remnants. The three girls turned out to be sisters in a family of nine. I learned their names were Sonia, Velanda and Marantha. That was this past December.
Fast forward to this past month, specifically to my third day in Haiti. I was visiting with Esther at the Tytoo clinic and she told me about a mother, who was pregnant with her 10th child, she had been working with. She was 40-years-old and showed symptoms of having experienced a stroke. She told me her concerns for the high-risk pregnancy. She asked me if I would go visit the mother with her.
We headed to the courtyard, and sitting under the big, shady tree I recognized Marantha’s mom. I instantly told Esther, “no way is this the woman, I know her! She is Marantha’s mom.”
We assessed Desir and told her we need her to have a sonogram done, because we needed to know how far along she is. The next day, I walked up the hill to their house and found their condition to be much worse than it was in December, and much worse than what I had expected having seen the mother the day before.
The three oldest children are over the age of 20 and do not live at home anymore. The father is never around, he seems only to show up when of convenience to him. Never taking responsibility for his children.
Elson, 15-years-old, takes responsibility and is a very hard worker. This past month, though, he has been fighting an infection and has pain in his lower abdomen, always having trouble peeing. He never sleeps well, the last time I visited their house he was resting inside, laying on the dirt floor of their house on a sheet. Marcus, 13-years-old, is quiet and seems very reserved. Not being able to act like kids, they become the “men of the household.”
Sonia, 9-years-old, appears to be her mom’s biggest helper. I always see her carrying water jugs up the hillside to their home. She is always helping with laundry and cooking, too.
Velanda and Marantha, 8 and 4-years-old, are the only two in school. In December, I took pictures of all the kids, with hopes they would start school. The mother needed the older kids to stay home to help with work, so Velanda and Marantha are the only two in our school. You will always see they side-by-side. They are each other’s best friend. They always welcome me with a big smile, and will run up the hill, leading the way, as I walk up the path to their house.
Nachka, the 2-year-old, is slow to trust. She wasn’t sure about the white girl taking her picture at first and is for sure a momma’s girl. With a head of orange-tinted hair (a sign of severe malnutrition) and with a runny nose, I’m most worried about her. This past week she had an ear infection so badly that flies were literally settling in her ear. I was sick to my stomach as her mom turned her head for me to look in her ear. We treated her with an antibiotic, but I wonder how will the infections ever truly go away? Her body is so malnourished, it is already fighting for its life. She is sleeping on a dirt floor, full of germs, infections and diseases.
This family has been burning on my heart for the past month. I’ve been praying for a way to help this family. I want to help them in a way that will truly change their life. Giving them ManaPacks (rice and soy) only fill their bellies for a night. Blessing them with clothes will help, but it won’t change their life.
As the faces of these children were burning on my heart, I asked God to show me a better way to help this family. He reminded me of all the amazing support I have already had in the past month, of the 100’s of views each blog post has been getting. He showed me that this blog is a tool. A tool to tell loved ones and supporters in the states the stories of the hurting in Haiti. How I can tell the people far away about His hurting children who are hungry, thirsty and in need.
So, here I am typing away and there is something burning on my heart. When it rains, I think of this family huddling in their shack as their floor turns to mud. When the sun shines, I think of this family hoping they stay hydrated as they walk up the path to their house with no shade. When my belly is full at night, I think of this family praying they found food for the day. As I lay in my big, soft bed at night, I think about this family hoping the Lord covers them with His peace and comfort to get them through another night.
I’m writing to you and I’m thinking how amazing it would be to come together, as Jesus’s followers, and change the life of this family. To give them a concrete foundation, four walls, running water and beds. By giving them this, we will eliminate the infections and give them rest at night. By giving them running water, we will allow the children to be children and not spend their days fetching water. We will give them a chance to attend school. We will welcome a newborn child into this world who will never know what sleeping on a dirt floor felt like. I want this child to never know the pains of hunger, either.
$3,000 US dollars will change the life and give hope to a family.
Allow these faces to burn on your heart like they do to me.
$3,000 US dollars. Plain and simple. To build them a new house.
You can send donations to Touch of Hope Haiti at 205 Old Mill Lane, Rock Rapids, IA 51246
(make a note that the donation is for Marantha)