Two Girls, a World Apart: Our Vision Trip to Haiti
by Susannah McQuitty
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Honestly, there aren’t words to describe the time we spent on our 1040.com vision trip with Healing Waters International in Haiti last week. I’ve been sitting at my desk for a day and a half, Microsoft Word open on my computer, fidgeting with the keyboard, and — nothing.
That is insane.
It’s insane because I could write for days, but one blog post? Impossible.
So let’s make a deal. Over the next few months, I’m going to share with you what we’ve encountered. I’ll get it all out, and you won’t get hit with a 500-page novel all at one time.
I want to start with the two girls on the first day.
The girl in pink
I was glad the van windows were tinted. I don’t know how well she could see in, but I could see her clear as day. Her palm was up, her jaw slack, her eyes on the front passenger seat, but she was nearest to me. We lurched forward about a foot in the thick Haitian traffic, and she limped. It was a half-hearted wobble, but she stayed by me.
Her shirt was pink. That color and the way she held her hand out stuck with me for days. What was her story? What had brought this girl, looking barely 12, to the side of our van?
The traffic picked up, we turned down a new street, and she was gone.
The girl in brown
Later, our group walked along the outskirts of Cite Soleil, a densely populated commune in Port-au-Prince, and filed into what looked like an old stable. We could hear, even before we went in, the children shouting their lessons and singing. As the pastor led us through the building, he opened the doors to show 20 or so children, packed tight into each stall.
Every head turned, and the children began to laugh and call to us in creole. Once in a while we even heard a sweet voice or two shout “Good morning!” or “How are you?” in English.
That’s where I saw the other little girl. She was maybe 7 or 8, wedged between her classmates, and she wore a brown school uniform.
She grinned, shoved her open palm at me, and wiggled her fingers hello.
The power of perspective
The condition of the classrooms we walked through—the dirt floors, the chalkboard hung from the open-air rafters—broke my heart, but it also filled me with indescribable joy.
The children we met, including the girl in brown, were receiving an education. They wore neat uniforms, they were smiling, and they were not on the street.
The heartbreaking reality is that not all children receive that opportunity, but in the middle of that reality, there is good. Good, because even when the teachers are paid only once every five or six months, they keep teaching. Good, because leaders like the pastor at the school are moving in their communities. Good, because the story doesn’t end with heartbreak.
Taxes is what we do, what we love, and what we’re good at. We believe that every person, no matter what they do or where they come from, has a responsibility to look for ways to better the world, and we’ve found that opportunity as a company through working with Healing Waters International.
Because of Healing Waters International’s filtration system, the children in the school I told you about have free, clean water. Their community has access to the water as well, and the quality of life has grown through Healing Waters’ initiative.
When you file with 1040.com, we donate $2 — the equivalent of two months of clean water — just because you filed. That means that if you file for free, we still donate. It’s our way of not only using our own work to better the world, but to invite you to be a part of something bigger, even with filing your taxes.
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