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“You can be anything you want to be if you work hard enough…”
How many times did I hear that as a child? How many times was that drilled into my head? I grew up knowing without a doubt that I had the potential to be an astronaut, a scientist, president… anything.
And for many young American children, it’s actually true. With a quality public school system, academic scholarships and hundreds of extracurricular activities, kids in our country today have the chance to pursue any dream or talent that they want.
It’s the essence of The American Dream…
Unfortunately, this does not hold true in many parts of the world. World-class scientists, engineers, artists and musicians are living and dying in obscurity every single day. In environments of pervasive poverty, geniuses are being lost, simply because they do not have enough money to get an education…
A Place of Poverty
The other day I spent some time with my interpreter, Jean, in the village of Chambrun. We didn’t really have an agenda other than to have some kids take us around and introduce us to their parents. As always, I was looking to answer my two big questions: “What is life really like here?” and “What is God doing?”
As the kids took us from one side of the village to the other, I met a family who is now living in their kitchen because the earthquake had destroyed their home. I saw women carrying sticks on their head from miles away to use as firewood. And I saw many hungry children that hadn’t eaten in days.
As I had expected, it was a scene all too common here in Haiti. Very poor people made even poorer by the earthquake.
But at one point, as I was sitting on a rusty metal chair in front of one family’s hut, something caught my attention in the yard of the home next door. There, watching us from a distance, was a boy holding a four-foot long toy helicopter made entirely from junk.
Normally, this wouldn’t have come as much as a surprise. Haitian children are extremely inventive with their toys. But this helicopter was like nothing I have ever seen here. This toy helicopter had working rotors.
I beckoned him over for a better look at his invention. Sure enough, he had used old tomato cans, scrap tin and wire to build the body of the machine and had rigged up a battery and two small motors to run the main and tail rotors.
Now, it wasn’t powerful enough to actually fly, but this little toy took some real know-how to construct!
I wanted to find out more about him, so I began asking him some questions.
His name is Bebeto (pronounced bee-bee-toe) and he’s 13 years old. He loves to build things and has a new-found passion in circuits and electric currents. Based on the admiring gazes of the other children, it is clear that Bebeto is something special. This kid is smart!
As I asked him questions about his invention, the other kids got excited, talking over each other to tell me about the other things he had built. Bebeto, on the other hand, was unbelievably modest… Most of his answers were short, followed by a bashful grin.
With the right schooling and a university education, Bebeto could very well go on to become a scientist, engineer or aircraft designer. He could rise up out of poverty and come back to help in the rebuilding of this nation.
Unfortunately, the earthquake has affected his life in some major ways. For example, while he does go to school, he must wait an indefinite time until schools here re-open (something that could very well take months or even years). Like everyone else, his family is currently struggling to find food to eat.
Additionally, during the quake, Bebeto lost his sister, who was living in Port-au-Prince when the disaster struck. Now, her two children (ages 4 and 6) must be cared for by their grandmother, Bebeto’s mom. Their already thin family budget must be stretched even further.
If the standard story of poverty here plays out, Bebeto will drop out of school, get a low-paying job and attempt to take care of his family. Some day he might marry a girl from the village and struggle to feed his own wife and children.
His dreams of becoming an engineer will fade as he faces the cruel realities of poverty.
An Advocate Steps In
But there is hope for the children of Chambrun. Kids like Bebeto no longer need to slide into obscurity as so many have before.
Through the Nehemiah Vision Ministries school in Chambrun, 380 kids now have a chance to learn… to discover their true potential. Through the school’s daily lunch program, these children have a chance to eat nutritious food every day.
But NVM cannot support these children alone. They need the help of financial sponsors from all around the world. Sponsors like you and me.
For just $40 a month, you can sponsor one of these incredible children. Your money will help pay for school supplies, uniforms and food. But more importantly, your sponsorship will build into the lives of children that badly need encouragement in this difficult place.
These kids, who have been told by the world countless times that they can’t, will finally have an advocate that says they can.
And while not every child in Chambrun will go on to become a world-famous scientist or musician, at least now it’s a possibility.
All they need is you…
The Next Project Begins
As Jean and I got ready to leave Chambrun, Bebeto brought up a book to show me. The title, in English and French, was Circuits.
He opened the book to a page full of elaborate diagrams and pulled out a sheet of graph paper. On the paper, Bebeto had sketched the design for his next project… A C130 cargo plane.
I don’t know how he’s going to make it work, but I have a feeling he’ll find a way…
- Children like Bebeto need your help to have a future. Consider sponsoring a child through NVM today... (click here for more info)
- Consider taking a short term trip to Haiti to meet children like Bebeto for yourself! (click here for more info)
- Pray for the children of Haiti who are so often left helpless in the wake of extreme poverty. Pray that they would be able to discover their true potential.
About the Author: Barry is the founder and director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.