A special young man

I know I promised all blogs about food this month, and I have SO much I want to say and share, but this blog needs to be written and then I will get back on track.

For people worried about where their next meal will come from in countries with limited resources, food and education are critical for survival.  Food being your one and immediate need.  You live day in and day out trying to work and scrape by to make enough money to pull together to share a meal with your family.  Education serves as your only key to making a life outside of poverty, in the hopes of surviving.  Without an education, there is extremely limited opportunity for acquiring a skill that is marketable for obtaining a job and thus making money to live, have shelter and purchase food.

It is this vicious cycle that hinges on the ability to acquire money.  Money for housing, money for food, money for protection, money for clothes, money for school.  You need to be able to go to school to qualify for a job to make the money that you need to go to school to get the job.  Where does one break into this cycle if they have no funds to acquire the education needed to obtain the job for the funds?  And if you have limited funds, which do you choose?  Your meal for the day or a school payment?  And if you choose school, can you focus and actually get an education if your stomach is crying out for nourishment?  And if you always choose the food, how do you ever break out of the hopelessness that poverty brings?  Which would you choose?

I met Tijean 8 years ago.

He was selling candy in the streets to help bring income into his sisters home.  We would visit with this bright eyed boy at dinner where our dear friend Gertrude would give him a meal before heading home for the day.  We have been friends ever since that first trip to Haiti so many years ago.  Since that first trip, Tijean held a very special place in my parents heart.  They sponsored him immediately to attend school.  Tijean was 14 at the time and entered the 3rd grade.  Being older than the other kids, Tijean refused to test out of the class and move ahead.  He hungered for knowledge and didn't want to miss anything.  In the years following, a bright eyed young boy turned into a deeply respectful young man.  When you meet Tijean, you can see in eyes there is something special about him.  He is smart and soulful.  Four years ago he was baptized on Jan. 24 with my parents on a work trip in Port Au Prince. Two years ago, Tijean and I went into business together to try to help raise funds to support his family and friends.  Because of Tijean's kind heart and his connection with the American work trips, many people know they can count on Tijean to help them when they need it.  I loved the idea of having bracelets to sell when I travel the country speaking and approached Tijean to make the bracelts for me.  We found the perfect answer to allowing him to focus on his studies and make some extra money doing something simple with his friends to provide work.  He buys all supplies in country so it also supports the local economy, and we pay Tijean top dollar for the bracelets.  It has been a really great parntership.

Tijean is the one on the left.

Four months ago, against all odds, Tijean was granted a school visa to the states.  This has been a dream of my parents for some time.  They were hoping that if Tijean could get here to the states and study at an American school, he could improve his English and learn American culture.  This would allow so many more doors to be opened for Tijean for work when he returns to Haiti.  This would allow him to provide financially for himself, his family and provide some work opportunities for his friends.

Tijean has  been here in the states for a couple of months.  He is staying with my folks just outside Detroit MI.  Tijean took his entrance exam to Macomb Community College and missed the passing score for English by just a couple of  points.  In order to stay in the states, Tijean must remain in school.  For the success of his future, he must be studying to stay here.  My parents have enrolled him at Wayne State University for this semester so that he can study English and get his GED.  Once this is accomplished, he can transfer over to Macomb Community and finish out his college degree.

I have shared this story with you because my folks and Tijean need you.  This is a $10,000  education at Wayne State until Tijean can transfer to Macomb where it is significantly cheaper.  He has to stay in school in order to have the future that only a few can dream of in his situation.

So, even as I write this, I understand that there are thousands of stories like this, or worse or closer to your heart.  That you can turn on the TV or radio or computer and hear about desperate need here in the states and abroad.  I understand that money is tight for everyone.  That everyone wants their hand in your wallet.

BUT, as I prayed last night, if this story reaches a part of your heart in anyway, or if you feel any compassion towards this young man who has a chance to change his story, you can make a difference in his life.  You can make his dream come true and change the outcome of not just his life, but also that of his family and friends.  Your funds would change the future of a young man who dreams of taking his education back to Haiti and making a difference.

As I spoke to my father, I could hear the passion and dedication he and my mom have for seeing this through, however, this is an incredible amount of money to bear alone.  If you would like to support Tijean's journey, you can write a check out to Hope for Haiti and mail it to: 38861 Lakeshore Dr. Harrison Township, MI 48045.  This is my parents non-profit organization that was started to help those in need in Haiti.  When you write a check to Hope for Haiti, make sure to write in the memo that the funds are for Tijean's school.  This story is close to my heart, and I wish I had the right words to express the joy of knowing what this opportunity means to Tijean and his future.  Sharing in this financial opportunity is an investment in the future of Haiti.  It is his way of breaking out of the cycle of poverty and improving his life.   Please know that any donation is greatly appreciated and welcome.

Thank you for your time in listening and sharing this story with others.

If you are connected with me or the Haiti Mission Project and wonder why donations aren't accepted on our behalf, the HMP deals with funds going directly to Haitians in Haiti working for other Haitians.  This need falls outside of boundaries.  Boundaries that were created to protect the funds we receive.  Hope for Haiti is a wonderful organization doing amazing work in Haiti and one we fully support.