One year ago (yesterday) I was hosting a fundraiser in my grandparent’s backyard with some friends and family. The fundraiser was for Operation Shield. April of this year I was able to personally make a visit with this organization and I would like to publicly thank everyone who supported me in this with their time, energy, funds, and/or other resources. I saw endless smiles light up the sky during my short time in Haiti. And that was because of you! I can’t say it enough, I believe I can speak on their behalf too when I say, thank you.

I’ve heard people say that service trips like this do more damage than good because they promote dependency or that one week isn’t long enough to make a difference but it is long enough to get a child attached to you just to watch you leave. I recognize that many trips might sadly fit into this category. I am praying that mine did not. I recognize that we need to take into consideration ways that we can promote a long lasting impact. I plan to continuously seek for ways to do this. I recognize that these trips are about the people, not about me. Yet I was still inevitably changed.

I believe that even one smile is worth all the time and energy put into this type of thing. I do not believe a smile, even though temporary, is a waste.

Here’s a little bit more about my experience…

I was reading a nonfiction book about turning oppression into opportunity (“Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn) when a sentence jumped out at me. “I’d rather have someone come here and see what’s going on than write a check for one or two thousand dollars, because that visit is going to change their life.” I knew at that moment that I would be leaving the country soon.

I love children and families and I seek to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. I found Operation Shield through a community club I volunteer with and could tell that it was a cause that I wanted to get behind.

Operation Shield has a mission to help trafficked victims find life after they’ve been liberated from captivation. It is an organization that funds therapists in Haiti providing them with jobs and training to offer trafficked victims specialized therapy. In addition, average people like you and I can go to Haiti to get involved in a numerous amount of service opportunities. During the short time I was in Haiti, our team was able to provide material to build a couple chicken coops and aid them in the construction (it was so fun to teach some of the teenagers how to do this- we could not communicate through words very clearly but they learned through observation very quickly and were very smart!), assist in the laying of a foundation for a church building that when finished will be able to hold feeding programs that will feed neighborhood children one meal a day (when parents feel as though they are taking care of their child, they are less likely to sell their child), teach young women about menstrual cycles and deliver reusable feminine hygiene kits(there were many older women I met who prior to this encounter believed that something was wrong with them and they were thrilled to learn that this is natural and healthy), teach people how to crochet (there was this one lady who learned so fast that she surpassed the teachers almost instantly), and so much more. All things that I personally believe have a lasting impact. And most importantly, we got to know each other. We got to learn from one another, and change our mindsets about how we view who we are as people. Connecting with others and learning about their motives and desires is one of my favorite things to do. Upon arrival in Haiti, I was greeted with kindness. I knew instantly that these are our brothers and sisters and I was grateful that I got to be there to connect with them.


In preparation for our service trip, I held a fundraiser to help fund the trip. I use to think that my financial situation as a “poor college student” would hold me back from such opportunities, but this was important to me and I was determined to make it happen. Honestly, the fundraiser was half of the fun! I was able to spread awareness of human trafficking, educate, and provide many people the opportunity to get involved. Not everyone is in a place where they can  “come here and see what’s going on”, so it was great to see so many people come together for a common cause that I had found passion in.

Upon Arrival

When I arrived to Haiti, all the time and preparation was instantly worth it. Over the course of the time that I had prepared for this service trip, I had grown to love the people there. This made it natural to love them even after brief encounters. So, when I actually arrived and was able to meet so many amazing people, my heart was full. And the feeling hasn’t left. The quote became my truth. My life was undoubtedly changed.

I saw so many people who were humble, grateful, and loving. I saw people who were happy, no matter their circumstance. Their energy was amazing, and it was very fulfilling to be able to add to it whatever I could. No matter what it was, big or small, their gratitude was nearly tangible. I learned so much from them and I will forever be grateful for the lifelong friendships that I was able to gain this summer. I will forever be grateful for the service I was able to do alongside such great people from all over the world. I am grateful for my renewed appreciation for life. I pray that the friendships I made will continue and that our efforts last. I will actively seek to remain involved and I encourage you to get involved in the service of those around you, near or far, however you personally see fit. Service makes me happy. People are my passion. I do not believe that any effort goes wasted as long as the intention is to help another person feel the truthfulness that they are loved.

Proxy Thank You

Again, I cannot thank you enough. From both them and myself, I appreciate you.