Wednesday, January 20, 2010

103 Cranes and A Child's Hope in Haiti

This is a story of a bubble gum machine, a man who saw a need and did something about it, and a place of hope in Haiti.

The bubble gum machine was in an auto shop, as was I. I'd read the shop's Sports Illustrateds (I subscribe) and I'm just not interested in gossip magazines--so I read the bubble gum machine. The machine informed me that its quarters would benefit "A Child's Hope Foundation."

I remembered this information, somehow, and months later I googled "a child's hope." My eyes got round (figuratively--I'm Asian) when I realized that the foundation's office was located 5 minutes literally down the street from my home. The website said "visit for more information," so I drove down the street, walked through a door, knocked on a door, spoke to a nice (and very tall) guy and asked if he could come to my club's breakfast to tell us more about "A Child's Hope."

He came, spoke, and I have just returned from said breakfast full of french toast and inspiring thoughts. I'd like to share a few of them.

A Child's Hope Foundation germinated when a need was brought to the attention of a man with means to meet the need. A friend invited Paul Cook to visit a Haitian orphanage, to which Mr. Cook had previously made a monetary donation. When Mr. Cook saw the 800 sq. ft. orphanage, literally "stuffed" with vulnerable children, with no electricity or running water--he knew he had to act.

Mr. Cook started A Child's Hope Foundation and built, with volunteer labor, a 14,000 sq. ft. adoption orphanage in Haiti. I am pleased to report that the facility, children and staff are all "fine" after the quake, though the orphanage is outside of Port-au-Prince. They providently had reserves of food at the facility; they have a week of food left; and A Child's Hope is partnering with the Phoenix Suns (basketball team) to airlift supplies to Haiti as soon as possible.

That is what's right. I learned much else about Haiti that highlights why we, the better off, must be mindful of its children. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Its life expectancy is below 50 years. Its literacy rate is below 50%. Its government, after the quake, is no more--it is literally no longer in existence.

Children are already vulnerable--but when adult caregivers die at such a rate; when parents can literally not afford to feed their children; when official protections and recourses do not exist--then you have infants left to die on the floor of hospital hallways (real story); children sun-baking real mud pies (made of wet dirt, not chocolate) to eat; and the risk of trafficking, exploitation, slavery, prostitution and human rights violations almost unimaginable to our sheltered, civilized minds.

There are populations that cannot help themselves, that require outside intervention to provide basic needs and human dignity. I'm going to try really hard, after the earthquake coverage dies down, to remember that need isn't suddenly born in a disaster and doesn't fade out with the coverage. A need persists until good people see it, take action and persist themselves, to meet it.

A Child's Hope Foundation has been expanding its coverage into other countries across the world. As their resources grow they will be able to meet even more real, present needs--needs that aren't
going to just disappear without conscious needbusters. We're all in different places in our lives, but it would probably be well to stay informed of real needs and real efforts. I signed up for the A Child's Hope newsletter. I think it's a good way to be remember and be mindful.

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