Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – Rice and Beans can change lives

Name: Madison Brower
From: Slc, Utah
Grade: 12
School: Cottonwood High School
Votes: 0

I awoke from my sleep to find my shirt clinging to my body. The heat
hadn’t ceased all night, and neither had the 80 percent humidity.
Everyone continually told me “The first night is the most
difficult”, and as the time progressed I eventually realized why.
That night I struggled to control my teenage angst toward those
around me as I laid on the cool tile floor day dreaming about the
air-conditioned home, or Walmart, I would much rather have been in.
Questions fluttered through my mind all night. I wondered why I had
chosen to come to Haiti in the first place and why I was trying to
convince myself to stay the rest of the week. I struggled with those
few thoughts that came to mind as my experience continued.

The next day began with an even more intense heat. It was only 8 in the morning
but felt as if it was mid-day. I struggled to pull myself away from
the small battery powered fan that was by my bed side. As a group of
12 we piled into the turquoise military truck. Our first stop of the
day was in a small boy’s orphanage. As we pulled up to the small
clay house a flood of boys stormed the bus. They all ranged from 2
years of age up to 18. Stepping off the bus I realized that both of
my hands were being held by little boys. As I looked down to see
their faces I realized they weren’t smiling or overly ecstatic,
they looked more pleased to finally have someone to hang on to. The
two boys hanging on to me were my constant companions for the rest of
the afternoon. Both were very impressed by my pale skin and I had
caught them many times rubbing it, as to see if it were not
permanent. As we continued our time at the orphanage I still
struggled with the heat and the occasional doubt that came to mind,
but the constant compassion that the two young boys showed to me had
distracted me from focusing on the temperature.

After eating boiled hotdogs laced with Haitian spices we set off to our last stop
of the day. It was a boy’s detention center. At first thought I
began to become apprehensive about going. The fear of possibly
getting hurt or attacked by one who presided in the compound beat
down on me like the heat of the overwhelmingly bright sun in the
Haitian sky. When we pulled up to the compound a large metal gate was
pulled open by some of the boys. It was nothing like I expected. It
wasn’t a prison. It wasn’t an institution. It was a run-down
orphanage filled with hundreds of boys running at the van. We stepped
out very cautiously to give what candy we could provide to them. They
attacked us for gumballs like ravenous dogs would for a piece of
meat. My worst fears came alive as I was mobbed by boys. After the
candy had gone I saw a young boy laying on the ground. He couldn’t
have been more than five years old. He was rocking back and forth in
a fit of hunger. His rib cage was exposed and his spine was
prevalently poking out from his dark skin. I quickly grabbed an older
boy to ask why he was so hungry and was promptly told that they
hadn’t eaten for five days.

My heart sunk as I knelt to the ground to comfort the young boy. I
began searching backpacks frantically to find some source of
sustenance to give to the boy. The others in the group had begun to
grasp the urgency of the situation, and that these boys couldn’t go
another day without something to tide them over. We got back in the
van determined to buy food so they could eat. We put every bit of
cash we had together and realized that we had over $400 to spend. We
bought every bag of rice and beans in the market place and rushed to
take them back to the detention center. I will never forget watching
young boys crying tears of appreciation and joy. Something as simple
as rice and beans changed both my life and theirs that day.

After the first day, everything seemed easier. The sun wasn’t as
hot. The humidity wasn’t as sticky. We continued working in
orphanage’s the rest of the week, and when our time was up it was
hard to say goodbye to the small third world country. I gained from
this experience that even in the worst of circumstances you can make
a change, even if it is just as simple a giving rice and beans.

After this experience, I was able to organize a drive for hygiene
kits. I spent over 72 hours organizing, collecting materials, and
assembling the kits to take back to the orphanages in Haiti. I will
be traveling back to Haiti this spring to deliver the kits to the
children and those in need. I hope that through this service that I
can better the lives of the children and set an example that anything
can be accomplished through kindness and hard work.

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