I first noticed her as she ran from a house to the building we were about to visit. She wore a pink princess dress, white ribbons in her hair and shoes that didn’t fit.
The building we were visiting had been finished the previous week. Food for the Hungry (FH) had helped a church add this building to give the children of Lespinasse, Haiti, a place to have fun while learning about God and other life lessons.
It was an open-air building with a cement floor and metal roof. The windows were covered with bars instead of glass. I quickly realized that, in a hot and humid place like Haiti, an open- air building with a cross breeze was an oasis of relative comfort.
By this time, the girl I had noticed running toward the building was standing at a table applying glue and glitter to a paper mask. FH’s Coordinator for Children’s Ministries, Remy Calvaire, sat with the children – applying glue and glitter to his own project. Speaking in his native Creole, Remy told me what he teaches the 50 children who come to the afterschool program FH calls Kid’s Club.
Remy helps the children use songs to memorize Bible verses. He helps them with crafts, uses comedy skits to teach about cultural topics and allows the kids to play games like jump rope, cards and dominoes.
“We let the kids play what they want,” said Remy. “That’s one of the ways we teach them that they have value.”
I asked my interpreter to ask the girl in the princess dress how old she was. She was 6. I later learned that her birthday was the following day, so now she’s 7. I asked what she learned at Kid’s Club. She illustrated by shyly singing a familiar tune.
“She sang ‘friends are friends forever,’” said my interpreter.
Then I noticed Remy hanging a string by the bars on one window. Attached to the string were two pieces of bread. He called the children over and explained the rules of the game. Two boys squared off to see who could eat the bread the fastest – with Remy playfully pulling it out of their reach several times. You can view our video recording of that game below (you’ll briefly see the hands and ribbons of my 6-now-7-year-old princess friend bobb in and out in the foreground as she excitedly cheered on both boys).
“This is what children are supposed to be doing,” said Bekele Hankebo, FH’s Country Director in Haiti. “They shouldn’t have to be stressed all the time by how hard life can be in Haiti. They should have time to just be kids.”
And that’s the purpose of the Kid’s Club. Sponsored children and their friends come here to learn about things like love – for themselves, their parents, their friends, God and His creation. They get lessons on how to get through disasters – such as learning how to swim, not going into an area that’s likely to flood when it’s raining and not touching downed power lines. They learn about the importance of vegetable gardens and how to protect themselves from abuse.
This is one of the many benefits that child sponsorship brings to a community. If it sounds like something you’d like to take part in, you can sponsor a child here. You’ll be giving kids a place to enjoy their childhood and learn about God’s love and provision.