When you start to embark on the great journey that life has in store for you, never forget the beginning. The passion that once sparked the fire within you can carry you through the dry & difficult seasons. It will be a long journey ahead, but never forget the love that started it all.
. . .
It started in June 2009, the summer of my sophomore year at the University of California, Los Angeles. I joined a mission team from Chi Alpha, a campus ministry at UCLA to go to Haiti for the first time. After a long sleepless journey from LAX to MIA and spending the night on the MIA airport floor, we finally landed in Port-au-Prince. At that time, we managed the traditional way of carrying our luggage down the steep stairs from the airplane to the ground, beginning our journey under the heat and humidity of Haiti.
We each had with us two 50lb suitcases, one carry-on, and a backpack mostly filled with donations of food, medicine, clothes, shoes, and many other necessities they lack in Haiti. Once we managed to pack over 20 people and over 50 suitcases into one small, rundown, no air-conditioning ‘tap-tap’ (the Haitian Taxi), we began our bumpy and sweaty ride 50 miles west of Port-au-Prince. We drove pass Petit Goave to a small village called Fond Doux.
The tap-tap slows down at the small sign painted ‘#55’ and turns into a dirt path where we struggle to climb to the top of the steep hill. After 24 hours, we finally reached our orphanage in the middle of nowhere. Yet in this unknown town not yet on the map, people young and old are jumping, cheering, laughing, and dancing for our arrival. Hope has arrived! And all our tiredness was out the window at this moment of embrace, a large family reunion.
Here the love story begins.
It was here that I met Marie-Ange Noel, a girl around my age with the most beautiful singing voice I have ever heard. It was here I found the little girls Marie-enise, Melissa, Lude & Baby, who I would tuck into bed, sing to sleep, pray over and kiss goodnight for many years to come. It was here that I found a place of true community, family, and sacrifice – it took a small village called Fond Doux to teach me true love. Here is where I found a new capacity inside of me to love, with God’s love.
On November 24th, 2011, the phone rang and I received the news that my dear friend, Marie-Ange Noel passed away. She died after three months of being ill, medical exam report un-returned, the cause of death unknown. She was only 25 with so many dreams and visions inside of her. All I could think about was, “how could I have prevented this?”
Two weeks after Marie-Ange passed, I went on my 7th trip to Haiti over my winter break. The team was met with much tears & sadness for this great loss in the community. We once again brought them hope in the midst of darkness. But I came back knowing there was more to be done. What about all the other children? They are all at risk simply because they are born in Haiti. This is so unfair.
Yet God can turn beauty from ashes. I came back from that Haiti trip at the end of December 2011 and found my calling to use my life to bring lasting change to developing communities around the world.
I realized the problems in Haiti, including the rising number of orphans, poor medical care, and abject poverty stem from economic instability. And the long-term solution is job creation.
. . .
As an old proverb says,
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day;
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
. . .
I still had a year and a half left of school and I could barely sit still in the classroom. I used the remainder of that time to research and learn as much as I could. I took my first business trip in July 2012 and met 10 artisan groups! I even visited a coffee farm (the award-winning EcoCafe coffee) in the northern part of Haiti the summer after. I felt like I found so many hidden treasures that the world has yet to know about! In my life, I have learned that there is beauty even in the desert places, where life seems hopeless. And I wanted to share with the world, the hidden beauty found in desperate places like Haiti.
Six months after my graduation, Elisha C. was launched, a social enterprise with a vision of
a poverty-free world.
Our mission is to
end poverty through job creation, education, and empowerment.
It's time to put “Haiti in the hands of Haitians.”
We've hosted Haiti EXPO, a traveling exhibition to share the beauty of Haiti across Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and all around the United States.
Since the launch, we have received support from all around the world. There is still a long journey ahead, but I am looking forward to what the future holds and ultimately, seeing the lasting impact we can make for developing communities all around the world.