One of the things I love about Haiti is their proverbs. They have many:
- A leaky house can fool the sun, but it can’t fool the rain.
- If work were a good thing, the rich would have grabbed it a long time ago.
- People talk and don’t act. God acts and doesn’t talk.
- A little dog is really brave in front of his master’s house.
- Many hands make the load lighter.
The proverb I use most often in my own life is Piti piti wazo fe nich li – Little by little the bird builds its nest. It is a phrase that my wife cross-stitched into a picture and that I have in my office. It’s been the theme proverb for building a school in Haiti.
Our organization, LaGonave Alive, has supported 25-30 students a year with school scholarships. We came to the point where, somewhat naively, we decided we could build a school. The thought was that over a few years, we could chip away at the building and open the school whenever it was completed.
One night the doctor our organization has supported called me and said, “I think we should name this school the Rob Marchand Education Center.” Rob was my best friend who died of cancer about three years ago. It blew me away because we don’t think he ever met Rob, but obviously knew how important Rob was to me.
After conversation with the family, we announced the name of our school and sent a team to help dig the foundation. We brought along pictures and notes from the family that were inserted into the first block laid for the school. About one year after starting the school, we announced that we had the funds to finish the school.
The amazing thing about the donations that came in, there were few large gifts. There were many, many, many small sticks that piled up to build this nest, this school.
I was asked by a local church to talk about our ministry in Haiti. Rob’s son was also invited to talk about his dad. It was a great, emotional Sunday and the best part was all of Rob’s family was in attendance. The sermon series was the Beatitudes and the theme of my Sunday was – Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
It really hit me how Jesus understood the difficulty in mourning. We want the world to stop, but the world keeps turning. We want others to feel our pain, but people move on. We don’t know how to care for the family, what to say, or how to adequately express our sorrow. Grief is hard and takes time and we need to be comforted and offer comfort.
Well, this school kept my memories alive and has helped me to mourn. I think it has helped the family to mourn. But it has become abundantly obvious to me that many others needed to respond. Many others, who didn’t always have adequate words, could demonstrate their love through a gift in Rob’s name. Many told me how appropriate and how excited they were for the school to bear his name. Many others couldn’t build the entire nest, but they could add a stick or two. Little by little this project has inched closer to completion and soon the Rob Marchand Education Center will bring hope and light and learning to deserving children.
Piti piti wazo fe nich li.