I will be returning to Haiti to do volunteer work, for my fifth consecutive summer, on June 8th. Before I ask you for a contribution to help support my efforts to affect change in a small community in the poorest country in our hemisphere, I would like to share several thoughts that have been percolating in my brain since my last trip there.
I first went to Haiti the summer after the devastating earthquake of 2010. Before I went, I recall some well-meaning but grandiose thoughts about the potential impact I could have. Riding in the back of a pickup through Port-au-Prince my first day was a lesson in instant humility. I witnessed a teeming hell of desperation, squalor, and utter hopelessness. I was daunted: How can one person make a dent let alone a difference?
For the last two years, many of you supported that desire and forged, what I call, The Power of Us. That power is embodied in this letter. It is personal; as personal as is my connection to each and every one of you. I want the work I do in Haiti to touch you as an act of good faith and your response to that act doesn’t need social media, bureaucracy, or a well-endowed foundation to validate its necessity. It requires a community response, and you are my community. Our power comes from that time-honored impulse to help a neighbor raise a barn. In this case, the “barn” is a vocational education center in a place called Duchity in Haiti’s western mountains.
And so, I make the same request as last year: if you care to participate, please send a donation of $20, $50, or $100 . I also request that you share this letter with one other person in your life who feels compassion for the plight of the poor. As in years past, all your funds will go entirely into the project; all of my travel and related expenses are approved by my generous wife, Lucy, and paid by me. My hope is to raise enough money ($5,000-$7,000) to complete the main building this June, making it ready for the first classes by summer’s end. The school’s training in welding, furniture building, and auto repair, will result in self-supporting, lifelong job skills for local youth.
The work I’m asking you to support won’t move mountains; it will, however, express the power of personal action and the strength found in positive purpose. I no longer dream of grandiose change in Haiti; instead, I work in a small, determined fashion to raise a barn, build a school, and represent my community.
Yours for a better world,