It’s hard to put into words all that I experienced over my two month internship with Jasper House Haiti- but, I will certainly try and explain it to the best of my ability.
To start off, I would like you to read a quote by one of my favorite authors, Jen Hatmaker, in one of her more recent books, Seven:
“Teaching by example, radical obedience, justice, mercy, activism, and sacrifice wholly inspire me.
I’m at a place where “well done” trumps “well said.”
When I see kingdom work in the middle of brokenness, when mission transitions from academic soil of the mind into sacrificial work of someone’s hands, I am utterly affected.”
This completely ties into my time at Jasper House. I met a woman who left her country, her homeland, her culture… everything… to work with women in Haiti, who most of the world could care less about.
I saw the “well done” aspect. Fully and wholeheartedly.
I had been to Haiti a few times prior to this internship- but none were quite like this. I got the full immersion in the culture. Something I have always longed to do. Take myself out of my American mindset – and put into the shoes (or feet in some cases) of others living in drastically different conditions than my own.
I learned what true community, reliance on others, and powerful prayer look like.
I learned to rely on God more heavily than ever before. I would wake up in the mornings and have quiet time (something I struggle with living here in the States) and remember why it is God made us to rest.
I learned more about myself in this experience, than I ever have before. I learned what it was like to be completely alone, and rely fully on God, for my every move. And it was wonderful. So wonderful. I was in love with the adventures, the food, the culture, and most especially the people.
Jasper House Haiti is a safe haven for women who are coming out of painful, sometimes life-threatening, or even shameful situations. Some are women who feel as though they have no other choice than to live a life of prostitution, just to provide for their families. All of these women are in need of a loving, safe, nurturing environment. Where they can learn that God is the one who provides.
It was an honor to live amongst them. To experience life in a different part of the world- where so many people live day to day.
The girls taught me about love, and acceptance. Even though I was interning for Jasper House, they were taking care of me.
When I was sick- they asked me how I was, gave me things to eat or drink, and even medicine to help. When I was hungry, they made sure I had food, and even when I wasn’t, they would say, “Ou grangou?” (You hungry?) with insistence that I didn’t eat enough and should be eating more.
They loved me as their own. And welcomed me into their country. And for that, I am forever thankful. I will always think of Jasper House Haiti as a home and a place of love where I can see my sweet friends again.
The way they run their programs is unique and non-harmful to the culture and beauty that is already established in Haiti. You will be fully immersed in the Haitian way of life- complete with Haitian meals, Rides in tap-taps or on motos, going to the market, Learning to speak the language, and even the occasional trip to the magnificent ocean. (It is a beach town, after all.)
You will learn how to enter into a new place, and not disrupt the living that is already going on. And that was one of my favorite things about Jasper House.
You get to be a part of the culture itself- learning more about others and the way they live. Not the “touristy” way of doing things. But truly, deeply finding out how so much of the rest of the world lives.
Over the course of my two months, I was able to help with the sewing initiative, jewelry start up program, and other daily needs. I saw the girls’ lives change right in front of my eyes.
I saw new girls who had entered the program the first month, softening and finding more joy in the relationships they were building.
I saw them taking advantage of the different programs, learning with detail the ins and outs of sewing, or making of the bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.
Even though I am not fluent in Kreyol, I was able to communicate them so easily just through our love for one another. They became like sisters to me, and I cherished the nights we spent together laughing and playing games in the dark, or watching Haitian movies and eating cookies.
I miss hanging out on the roof watching the sunset, or doing my laundry and all of them laughing at me for failing epically (at least by Haitian standards).
If you have the opportunity to come visit, volunteer or serve with Jasper House Haiti, take it. You will learn more about yourself and a new culture than you could ever imagine.
You will have the time of your life, and all the adventures you could ever dream of. I know I did.
And I will forever remember my time with them as life changing, thought provoking, and soul refreshing.
Written by: Kristina Graham, former Jasper House Haiti intern. Read more of her musings and passion for Haiti on her blog, A Michigan Girl with a Heart for Haiti.