Meet Billy

I put up 47 quarts of peas this summer. FORTY-SEVEN FOLKS!

So, you can only imagine what came tumbling out of the freezer when Jared opened the freezer this morning to get ice for his sweet tea.

Yep, rock hard, toe crushing peas.

As he was fussing and dodging killer peas (and I was *trying* to be sympathetic to his plight) I was reminded, and reminded him as all good (smart-mouthed) wives do, that some people weren’t so fortunate to have a full freezer.

My grandmother used to cook the biggest meals and when we’d leave a little on our plate she would always tell us to finish because there were starving kids in Africa or China… whatever underdeveloped or developing country had been on the news that week. I would always moan and, being the smart aleck I was/am, would remark something about mailing the food to them or taking it to them. (Yes, I was probably due one or two more whoopings than I actually received!)

It wasn’t until I saw what true hunger looks like that I started to focus less on the sarcastic or witty remarks and more on the faces that I had met, the people I had embraced and souls that I prayed over through tears.

Let me introduce you to Billy:

Billy is on the left, Louvinsky is on the right.

Billy is on the left, Louvinsky is on the right.

When we met Billy, he looked pitiful. Chickungunya fever had the best of him but he still hung around the mission house lending a hand as we would let him, but bless his heart you could tell his was miserable.

He recovered quickly after receiving medical care at the clinic across the road and was at the mission house first thing every morning. He did EVERYTHING from carrying  50+ pound bags of rice to helping us sort clothing and shoes. He did not speak English but was very bright and figured out what exactly what we needed and was great about communicating with the Haitian community that we worked in. He was very observant and just had a way of understanding what needed to be done… he had more common sense than most adults.

Billy said he was 11 but he didn’t actually know his own birthday. He looked more like 7 than 11. He was very, very small and shy. As we endeavored to find out more about Billy, we were stunned by the life he had lived already. He was 1 of 7 kids. He had run away from home choosing instead to sleep in mango trees. He waited until the fruit fell from the tree and ate the over-ripened mangoes and he had not had “real” food in many days before the mission teams came. He was taking care of himself at age 7.

Billy’s story broke our hearts but his situation is not unique in Haiti. According to the World Food Program, chronic malnutrition affects 40% of children under 5 years old in poor towns across the country. Hunger is often caused by lack of access to food via poverty, poor agriculture production and the inability to travel to where food and safe drinking water are available. While the government is improving and Haiti has many aid organizations in the country there are still many children who are falling through the cracks. They lack the opportunity to an education which would help them out of poverty and they lack skills training which could help them be more competitive when searching for a job.

The good news is that Billy’s story does not end there. Fortunately he has been sponsored by a donor in the states who is paying his school tuition. While this doesn’t solve the problem of homelessness, it does guarantee him at least one good meal a day and hope for the future. There are many more children like Billy who need help. Visit Give Us Hope Mission to change a life today!

 

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