by Ayana Wallace

IMG_6466During the summer of 2015, I traveled to the country of Haiti and its beautiful cities, with the Taratibu Youth Association (TYA). I’ve been a participant of this organization for four years and through my involvement have visited South Africa, Haiti, and St. Croix. Each country was a great experience in which I gained memories, knowledge, and lessons that I brought back home.

On an eight-hour trip through Haiti, we planned to feed up to 500 kids of the Haiti-Micah Project but during the drive we hit quite a few pitfalls. First, the road trip was only supposed to last four hours but was extended by another four, not to mention we were in a packed van with 22 passengers. Our luggage on top of the van was so heavy that we had to leave it on the side of the road to be picked up later and taken to the next hotel. Everyone was uncomfortable with the idea of not having our prized possessions with us but we had no choice. Despite leaving the luggage and riding in a packed van for eight hours, I was more than elated to do such a social service. Unfortunately, because of the time it took to arrive in Mirebalais, we were not able to feed the kids but instead served them in other ways. From toddler to adolescent, the children were ready to accept us with open arms.

Within minutes and before introducing ourselves, we were engaging with the children by taking pictures, talking, and sharing traditions. The kids had big smiles plastered on their faces. Even the rain did not get rid of their excitement. I have performed hundreds of times for all types of events but to perform for the Haiti Micah Project children meant something different to me. The children are not as fortunate as I because they don’t always have food to eat, nor do they have a positive influence, or even the security of a place to lay their head at night. They seemed grateful for what they had. I believe the youth gave us so much energy and we reciprocated because we knew it came from the heart.

After our performance, we had fun with a call and response. We didn’t want to leave when it was time. We had forgotten about the luggage and how long it was going to take to get to the next destination. Everyone felt humbled by the Haiti Micah experience because we realized that what we have is so much more valuable than the things we want. Being content with self is all we really need to satisfy ourselves, not iPads, the best mascara, or the newest Jordans. The Haiti Micah youth were happy. I think it was because they felt valued and worthy of our gift of performance, even though I know these kids had been worthy all along. This experience changed my outlook on how I live at home. No matter what I’m going through there is still a reason to smile throughout my day.

The Haiti Micah Project helps children by giving a source of shelter, food, spiritual and emotional well-being, education, healthcare, and more essentials that they may lack. TYA is similar to the Haiti Micah Project because we travel and perform to create social justice in communities far and near. Both organizations share a common goal to make the world a better place. With our partnership, our mission will be accomplished.

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