No. I didn't forget how to spell our granddaughter's name.
Yesterday on Facebook there was a plea from Compassion International about the plight of children in Haiti and how they sorely need sponsors for that country. The Corail Child Development Center in Haiti has an urgent need for child sponsors because of the large number of unsponsored children in this project. Their hope is to find sponsors for 50 children in this project.
I already sponsor two children, one in Brasil and one in India and I had decided months ago that two was my financial limit. I also am a correspondence sponsor for Fred in the Philippines, because his financial sponsor doesn't write to him and contact with a sponsor seems to be so important to these children.
But I decided to look at the children in Haiti who need sponsors and of course they all tug at your heart strings. I thought I'd see if there was any one of them who called out to me.
There were three pages of children, in ages ranging from 3 to 7 and while I ached to help each and every one of them, none of them leaped off the page and into my heart. Until I came to page 3.
Briana Luma is 7 years old and lives with her parents and 3 siblings. That's all I really know about her right now. All the descriptions for all of the children are pretty generic.
"In her home, Briana helps by washing clothes and cleaning. She lives with her father and her mother. Her father is sometimes employed as a laborer and her mother is sometimes employed as a seller in the market. There are 3 children in the family.
As part of Compassion's ministry, Briana participates in church activities. She is also in primary school where her performance is average. Playing with dolls and playing group games are her favorite activities."
But look at that face. She has been waiting more than six months for a sponsor and ... her name is Briana of all things. Of course I had to sponsor her.
Briana lives in the community of Petite-Anse (Cap-Haitien), home to approximately 85,000 residents. Typical houses are constructed of cement floors, brick walls and tin roofs. The regional diet consists of maize, beans, chicken, fish, cassava, rice, goat and vegetables.
Common health problems in this area include fevers, flu and diarrhea. Most adults are unemployed but some work as market traders and earn the equivalent of $67 per month. This community needs more schools, training for teachers, feeding programs and employment opportunities.
Compassion is working to fight the "restavèk curse" in Haiti.
Restavèk is a Creole word for a Haitian child who stays with and works for another family. A restavèk child can be a boy or a girl who is given away by a poor family in order to survive. Frequently, the restavèk’s most basic rights to health and education are denied.
Of these children, 65 percent are girls between age 6 and 14. They are forced to work long hours under harsh conditions, and are subject to mistreatment, including sexual abuse.
The restavèk child is the first person to wake up in the morning and the last one to go to bed, sometimes after 14 hours of work that consists of, among other chores, carrying water, washing clothes, taking the owner’s children to school, doing errands, and cleaning the home.
The restavèk child is often beaten for the simplest mistakes. Laws against child abuse exist in Haiti, but unfortunately they are seldom enforced as children’s rights don’t have a high a priority.
The number of restavèk children reported nationally is between 250,000 and 300,000, and this domestic phenomenon is due to several reasons.
The main reason is parents’ low income. A lack of economic resources forces parents from remote areas to place their children with families in urban areas with the hope that the child will have a better future.
If the restavèk doesn’t find a better future by age 17, the child often takes his or her independence from the owner to join a street gang or to become a prostitute. The owner will then look for a younger child, and the infernal circle continues.
I often find myself look at things on the Internet -- electronic gizmos, books, videos, other frivolous things that it would be fun to have. When I look at these kids who have so very little and who wait for so long for someone to take an interest in them, it makes me realize that supporting one of these little ones is so much more important than some new do-dad that might sit unused on my desk for months because it wasn't what I thought it was going to be, or because the novelty wears off so quickly.Very few of us will ever make sweeping changes in the world, but each of us has the ability to make life better for one other person. I'm looking forward to getting to know Briana as she grows up.