This is a series based off of things we teach Compassion Corp Intensive Training (CIT) students. We think this is good enough for anyone to learn, so thought the blog would be a great resource to share! If anyone is interested in diving deeper than a week or knows a student that would thrive learning material like this, CIT 2018 applications are being accepted NOW and can be found at breathepartners.com/compassioncorp. CIT 2018 is in Bercy, Haiti and is June 7, 2018 – July 15, 2018.
Students arrive and they are given roles to live out as well as goals to accomplish. They start walking around the community and the daydreaming begins – what to bring, how to create, who to give out to. What message to attach to it and when to pass out treats.
And we love the ideas – they are really good, actually. We just ask them to wait. First, go out. Then come back and we will talk.
So they go out. And they come back, talking excitedly about their plans and how they will work. So we ask them to go out again. We coach them – we ask them to open their eyes. We explain what a business looks like here (not so much a store or official business as much as a table outside of a neighbor’s home, not an enterprise as much as a painted sign that could be mistaken for random words as opposed to a menu or list of what is for sale).
And then the students come back talking nonstop: Dreaming 2.0. Same goals, same people, same dreams – new resources they never realized were right under their nose.
Our Community’s Resources
Right outside the gate? Sodas, water, cookies, and the occasional thrift store bag of clothes that was packaged and sent to the Caribbean to be sold into the hands of our neighbor, a friend and mother who is finding what fits you or your family best in order to support her own children.
Down the street the sweet family we wish we could do everything for is busy doing things on their own. In the right season, you will see what you thought were random sticks leaning against the house, they are actually sticks of sugarcane. Thick as a moringa tree trunk (so not too thick – but not a twig!), the sugarcane just looked like some spare lumber before it was cut up with a machete for chewing.
Those are not just random pans haphazardly stacked outside of the home three streets over – in the morning (better get there before school starts – that is when all of her customers are passing by!) she is sitting over charcoal with coffee, loaded with sugar from grounds to cup. You can sit and stay awhile with a piece of bread for dipping or you can take a thermos for the road.
Cookies for a kid’s club? We have a neighbor who sells cookies, crackers, and hard candies. The most expensive treat is lollipops – but even those are five gourde. You could get all the treats needed and save luggage space for the fan batteries you needed on the fourth night!
Around the holidays you can see “seasonal items” – the same mothers who lay out tomato paste, oil, and chicken bouillon cubes on small wooden tables in their yard are now adding dolls, yoyos, cars, and other fun toys that parents pick through as they dream about what they can do for their family when they know their kid will come running home talking about the holiday they learned about in school. These mothers sell these toys in hopes of being able to provide their own children with a treat in the busy season, although they may quickly instead give the money to a relative that unexpectedly ends up in the hospital with a bill needing paid before they will be helped.
Another Look, But Differently
And as our students begin to compile a list – they cannot keep up. And sometimes it is the very families they were praying with wisdom for – “God, how do I help? How can we ever make a difference?”…those mommas are selling eggs and looking for customers! The student just did not have eyes to see yet, the pile of cartons was considered trash or another item resembling a prop as it made up the picture of a home that is so foreign to what the word home used to conjure up in our western minds before moving here.
Like the very friends we make and the churches we get to serve with, there are unseen riches laying here already. We just have to slow down and start to look for them. We need to ask our neighbors for direction – what is here? We need to come here with an assuming faith. God is for those around us and he has created all with purpose…which means He is not absent and no one here is starting at ground zero. So what is here?
And the more we ask, the deeper we get not only in the resources of the community – but the deep riches inside of our friends and neighbors as people themselves.