I’ve seen poverty in three developing countries because I feel driven to be there—driven to look it in the face. I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. I often have this wild thought that I must tell the story of these places. I’ve come to accept this feeling as my calling—to speak for those who have no voice. Two years ago, I stepped into my job-dream come true. I work as a staff writer for Children of the Nations (COTN). In this job I see the naked reality of the brokenness that was, and the unaccountable, transformative power of the Great Love who is doing a great, great work in the lives of so many.
Most of the time I write accounts of these miracle stories from my home office. It’s clean, quiet, soft white and driftwood brown, one window facing to the sky. Here I let my mind to take me to the countries where our children live. Uganda. Sierra Leone. Malawi. Dominican Republic. Haiti. But each year, for a week or two I don’t have to imagine those places, I get to go. In May 2013, I went to the Dominican Republic.
We work with the outcasts there—migrant Haitian worker families who crossed the border years ago to harvest sugar cane. Now, generations later, they aren’t needed in the fields so much. Work is very hard to find. They have no rights as citizens. No access to public education or health care. They live in shanty towns. The poverty is raw boned. But here is better than where they came from, Haiti. And it’s home now, sort of, so they stay.
Here—where children hopped and skipped alongside me, pushing and shoving to grab even just one of my fingers—I see a beautiful future embedded in the dirt roads.
The beauty is only possible because I have seen what COTN is doing here, loving and caring for so many children. Otherwise, without this hope, the little fingers grabbing for my attention would break me. But here, one child at a time, hearts, minds, bodies, futures, families are being made whole again—the way God always wanted it to be. This is only possible because thousands of hands and hearts have come together to work with COTN.
Here in our Florida COTN office, we’re asking for 800 more helping hands. We recognize that education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty. And school supplies are a critical, basic necessity. COTN meets this need through SmilePacks—individualized packages of school supplies.
We’ve called our goal, If You Give a Child a Pencil. There’s a simple yet profound progression from a pencil to a good education to a job to a child now grown able to provide for their family. These SmilePacks put real hands and feet on hope. COTN isn’t a hand out, it’s a hand up. This isn’t my typical blog, as you know, but I blog where my heart is, and here lies my heart. If you have any questions, send me a message! Thank you for reading!