Jumping In

Posted Apr 01, 2011 by 8 Comments

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to meet the child I have begun sponsoring through Nehemiah Vision Ministries. Standing in the heat and the dust of Chambrun, it looked like I was giving a child a fun new toy.  But what was going on underneath the surface was far more significant…

It was an absolutely unforgettable experience!

Stuck in the Cycle

Six year old Chené lives in the impoverished village of Chambrun.  He is the fourth of five kids being raised by their mother (Chené’s father passed away when he was still a toddler).

Like most children in his village, Chené struggles daily with malnutrition, illness and pervasive poverty.  His mother, who sells charcoal in the city, makes around a dollar a day, hardly enough to care for five kids.

If left to fend for themselves, Chené and his sisters would undoubtedly grow up without an education, landing only occasional, low paying jobs and someday raising families faced with the exact same problems they dealt with as children.

Chené with his mother Miltha and four sisters Guilene, Guilanda, Guilandia and Landia.

However, because of NVM’s child sponsorship program, Chené’s three older sisters have all begun their education.  In the fall, Chené will as well.  For Chené and his family, the cycle of poverty is beginning to break!

Bearing Gifts

Because he was my new sponsored child, I decided to give Chené a small gift when I met him.  I was also carrying a second gift from my sister because, as it turns out, Chené’s best friend Kiki is the child that my sister Lucy sponsors!  How cool is that?

I went to Chambrun with Clerice, one of NVM’s administrators and Kacie, one of the clinic’s full-time nurses.

We arrived at the village in the blazing heat of early afternoon, but Kiki and Chené were nowhere to be found.  They were out playing somewhere.  Clerice, Kacie and I chatted with the neighbors as one of their children went tearing off in search of the boys.

After a few minutes, Chené and Kiki arrived, but they were covered in dust from playing.  Their moms quickly whisked them away for baths.  They wanted their boys to look presentable for their guests!


When the boys were finally ready, dripping wet and wearing clean shirts, a small crowd had gathered.  I asked Clerice to translate as I began my little speech.

“Um, ok. Kiki.  Do you remember a blan [white person] named Lucy that was here before?  She is your sponsor.  She helps out so that you can go to school. Do you remember her?”

Chené receiving his brand new Tonka truck. He was speechless! So adorable…

Kiki nodded, a bit terrified that this random blan was singling him out in front of a crowd.

“Ok, well she is my sister.” I said.

He didn’t respond.

“Um, anyway, she wanted you to have a gift to let you know that she’s thinking of you.”

I walked over to my bag and pulled out a wrapped package.  I handed it to Kiki who looked around wondering what he was supposed to do with it.

“Go ahead! Open it.  It’s yours!”  I said, smiling.

As Kiki began to rip off the wrapping paper the other kids crowded around to see what it was.  When they finally saw the gift, a shiny yellow Tonka truck, all the kids oohed and aahed.   Kiki held the dump truck, speechless, while everyone else reached in to try out the button on top that made noises.

Next, I brought Chené front and center to give him his gift.  After seeing what Kiki had received, Chené was almost shaking with anticipation.

“Chené, you know how my sister Lucy is Kiki’s sponsor?” I began.

Chené (left) and Kiki with their new toys.

Chené nodded, nervously looking over to his friend Kiki for support.

“Well, I am now your sponsor.  In the fall you will get to start school!  And here is a small gift for you.”

I handed Chené another wrapped gift.  It took him no time at all to leave the wrapping paper in shreds on the ground.  In his hands was a bright yellow backhoe, a perfect counterpart to his best friend Kiki’s dump truck.

To say thank you, Chené ran over and gave me a hug.  He had a big smile on his face.


It was a beautiful moment for me, and not just because I’ve never given a gift to a more grateful recipient.  It was beautiful because I knew what the gift symbolized.

At that moment, I had joined my disconnected suburban life with the life of a child in need.  I had given a small portion of my relative abundance to provide a lifetime of opportunities for a young Haitian boy.

Right now I’m out $40 a month.  I may have to forgo a latte here and there.  Maybe choose to eat a sandwich instead of eating out once or twice.  But Chené?  His life will never be the same.  Chené will receive an education.  He will have access to quality medical care.  He will eat a hot, healthy meal for lunch every day for years.

Yesterday I asked Chené what he wants to be when he grows up.  His answer?  “A doctor in Chambrun.”

Will he go on to be a doctor?  Who knows?  But the fact is, he could.  It’s actually a possibility now.  Chené’s mother finished the second grade.  Chené could finish college.

Small Sacrifice

So why am I telling you all of this?  Am I trying to toot my own horn or to convince you that I’m a good person?  No.  I’m telling you this to get one simple fact across:  If I can change the life of a child, anyone can.

I wonder if Chené will ever know how much he changed my life?

This is my encouragement to you today.  Will you consider making a small sacrifice of money to give a huge opportunity to a child here in Chambrun?

Maybe $40 a month isn’t possible for you right now.  But what if you split it six ways with a group of your coworkers?  What if your church small group decided to sponsor a child together?  Maybe one of your own children would be interested in giving a few dollars from their allowance each week…

The fact is; you and I have the potential to radically alter the course of an entire generation of children here.  Our partnership with NVM could actually help bring a village out of poverty.  And I am not exaggerating.

So take a look at NVM’s website.  Read through the Next Steps at the bottom of this article.  Talk to your friends and family.  And decide… are you ready to jump in with what God is doing in Haiti?

Who knows?  Maybe someday you too will find yourself in Chambrun, giving a gift to a grateful child…


Sponsor a child today!

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Next Steps
    • Consider sponsoring a child through Nehemiah Vision Ministries. Check out their website for more information!
    • If you can’t do the sponsorship yourself, think of ways you could get others involved. Would your small group like to sponsor a child? Your co-workers? Get creative!
    • Pray that we are able to reach (and exceed!) our goal of 25 new sponsors for NVM!
    Next Steps

About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive 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.

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  1. Denise said... 


    April 1st, 2011 at 9:50 am  

    :) so true…

  2. Lesley Haflich said... 


    April 1st, 2011 at 2:01 pm  

    Hi Barry, I enjoyed reading your story about Chene. We are sponsoring a little boy named Killy Joseph. If you come across him, please give him a hug from the Haflich family!!
    Byron, Lesley, Holly, Brooke & Kyle

  3. Gwen Jackson said... 


    April 1st, 2011 at 5:16 pm  

    Dear Barry,
    Nate (Sanchez) and I were so moved by your wonderful and inspiring letter. We could think of absolutely no reason for not responding. :) We are now the very blessed sponsors of 8 year old SHELDA PIERRE. Will we receive updates about her? Can we write to her and send her things? Have you ever met her? In case you do, please give her our love and a bear hug from Nate!
    God bless!

  4. Jim.M said... 


    April 2nd, 2011 at 12:13 am  

    Barry what a wonderful trip this has been. WND has captured our hearts from many places around the globe.

    This time your encouragement to act, and your lead by example has crossed a new threshold. What a blessing for these young lives this has been.

    I have one more reason to get to Haiti,… now look what you’ve done. Next thing you know I will be eating large spiders.

    If you see 7 year old “Renata” I would love to know what he is like. He looks like he tries hard. From the one picture that is on the gallery…when someone said “smile” he gave it quite an effort. He looks adorable. I can’t wait to know more about him.

    Thank you for writing this series.

  5. Jim.M said... 


    April 2nd, 2011 at 12:35 am  

    “Renato”…I should have read my post before I hit the submit button.

  6. Amy Sorrells said... 


    April 3rd, 2011 at 8:47 pm  

    Wow and backwards wow. Not much gets to me more than a couple of boys with new trucks, but this tops them all! Especially love that those precious kiddos are sponsored by you and Lucy. In addition to being Awesome, God is juist so cool!!!!

  7. Barry Rodriguez said... 


    April 4th, 2011 at 11:03 am  

    Gwen, yep! You’ll be getting a packet with plenty of info about Shelda, NVM and Haiti in general. Along with that you’ll get info on how you can stay in touch with her through letters, gifts, and who knows? Visits in person?!? :)

  8. Erika said... 


    April 19th, 2011 at 4:28 pm  

    The girls at Jireh Sports will be picking out our child for sponsorship tonight! I will contact Kevin Emerson via NVM website once we have all decided. :) Woot! Kids in the inner city making a difference in the life of another. What’s not to love about that?!?!

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