Almost everyone knows what our vision is here at Be Like Brit, we are raising the next generation of leaders in Haiti. We believe with the proper care, education, love, and understanding, our children will grow up to making a lasting change in Haiti. What most people don’t know is we have over 100 staff members currently working at Brit’s Home every single day who are literally raising our children. From our caregivers to our teachers, our administrators, and our social workers, our groundskeepers, and our kitchen staff, everyone supports our children and plays a part in raising them. It is no easy task, and after spending last week in Haiti I have a new appreciation for the dedication and love they put into Brit’s Home every day.
I’ve only ever visited Brit’s Home when there are Britsionary teams scheduled, and even when I’m there I’m either on the worksite, going on excursions, or catching up on e-mails during my free time. To stay at Brit’s Home with no other visitors and witness the day to day routine was a bit of a shock. I know the children get ready for school in the morning and leave around 7:00am, but I had no idea our caregivers are up at 5:00am to grab their children’s uniforms, or that our kitchen staff is already preparing breakfast by that time. I also know we have 8 children in our BLB academy, but I’ve never noticed how hard the teachers work at creating their lesson plans and how much energy is put into making each of our children feel appreciated in the classroom. I’ve seen our social workers go in and out of meetings each day, but I was blown away to learn how detailed our children’s Individual Life Plans are and how many of our staff members are invested in those plans.
There is an expression we tell all Britsionarys who come to Brit’s Home, “It’s Haiti!”, meaning expect the unexpected and try to go with the flow. One evening before dinner I was sitting upstairs in the Britsionary area and saw some clouds rolling in. I looked up a few minutes later and noticed the clouds had turned into a heavy gray fog that settled over all of Grand-Goâve and you could hardly see past our gate. Then the wind started howling and you could hear thunder rumbling nearby. At this point a few of our younger children were a little uneasy (while the older children wanted to run and play outside) and the staff tried to keep everyone on schedule for dinner. In typical “It’s Haiti” fashion, the skies opened up with a downpour of rain, coming sideways because of the wind. The storm was so powerful it ripped pictures off the walls and flooded the hallways. Mix this with thunder cracking and lighting striking right above you, and our children went into a bit of a panic. Without hesitating, our caregivers and teachers rounded up the children and everyone ran into the media room on the second floor.
Once inside the room a few of the children started crying and a few started complaining that they were hungry, but it wasn’t safe to leave the room or even walk through the hallways. So what happens now that you have 66 children and 20 staff members all in one room? You improvise. Our music teacher Woncico grabbed his guitar and started playing, our caregiver Carlene started singing, our computer teacher Baptiste got one monitor working to showing a movie, and within a few minutes everyone was laughing and having a good time. You almost couldn’t hear the thunder over the singing and giggling. After another 10 minutes the rain let up and the children went back downstairs, and I watched our staff high five each other before they left.
That moment has been stuck in my mind for over a week now. I can’t stop seeing the smile on Devidsons face when Medlens jumped up out of his chair to dance, and the laughter coming from Horlinne as she watched a cartoon. The way our staff members worked together to make our children feel so comfortable and safe gave me an incredible appreciation for their work. Each of them has their own lives, their own families, their own struggles, yet they give one hundred percent of their energy into raising our children at Brit’s Home. They sit with our children while they do their homework, they run around the soccer field playing games, they read stories and tell jokes before bed, and they participate in every show or event the children host.
I’ve watched our staff console, guide, nurture, respect, praise, and love our children like they were their own. I truly believe our children will become the next generation of leaders in Haiti because of the road our staff members are paving for them. They are setting examples of how to give back to the community, how to handle unexpected situations, how to treat others with kindness, and how to be incredible leaders. I hope everyone reading this has the opportunity to come to Brit’s Home and meet our staff in Haiti, because they are the ones bringing our vision to life.