Confession # 103: Invest in a Girl
Before moving to Haiti Hunter and I co-led a team of college students to Cap Haitien every summer. Phil Kinzer, our friend/minister/college professor/Nashville father accompanied us. And every year as we prepared for our trip he would repeat one piece of wisdom with us eager-to-change-the-world young people:
Do short-term work that will have a long-term impact.
At first, I will admit, I didn’t want to believe the truth behind his words. Short-term work with short-term results was honestly more rewarding to me in my early 20’s. I wanted the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of my labor in one week’s time. I wanted to witness the smiles on the people’s faces when I gave them a hand out. I wanted to measure my success in numbers: I taught 100 women in churches, I distributed 300 bags of rice, I dewormed 500 children.
I understood the value of making a long-term impact. But let me honest, it didn’t sound near as appealing. Investing long-term in a person, project, or ministry meant that I may not witness the results with my own eyes. Rather, it meant that I needed to have faith that God would supply the change whether I was present or not. And so going to do short-term work that would produce a long-term impact was difficult for me. Until I moved here that is, until I saw the daily need for long-term investment in this country, until my faith grew.
Now, with God’s grace, I try to focus my every day on the long-term. How will my decision affect another person’s future? Will I only be supplying daily bread, and if so, is there a way to help them provide their own bread for a long time? How will this impact the kingdom of God? What are the possible positive or negative ripple affects of my giving?
All these questions and more now constantly run through my head, especially at Emmaus House.
We have chosen to devote ourselves to 17 teenagers. We don’t do this in order to help them with their short-term needs of shelter and food (although we do that) but to invest in their futures so that they can, in return, invest in Haiti.
We are investing in their education so that they can rise above the poverty statistics in their country.
We are investing in their spiritual lives so they can be the light in their communities.
We are investing in their relationships so we can empower, encourage, and instruct them as friends.
Investment. Long-term. That is what I am learning can make a difference. Helping to change the life of one so they can change the lives of many. It can take a long time and a lot of work, but the end result can be bigger than any short-term assist could ever provide.
I have particularly been drawn to investing in our girls at Emmaus House. Call it my inner love for “girl power” if you want, but I have seen the value of strong, educated, women leaders in the world. Books and documentaries like Half the Sky are validating my perspective.
Over and over I tell my girls at Emmaus House how blessed they are: Blessed to live in a country that allows them to go to school even though they are girls. Blessed because, although child slavery is a tragic issue in Haiti, they do not have to fear being sold into the sex-slave industry as they walk up and down the streets. Blessed because they have people in their lives who love them and who want to assist them with opportunities. Blessed because they live in a country where they can use their gifts if they desire.
Lawrence Summers, the previous chief economist for the World Bank once said, “Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest- return investment available in the developing world.”
I completely agree with Summers.
I see hope for a better future in our girls. I see strong leaders, brave mamas, hard workers, and compassionate servants. I see beyond the short-term and can envision the long-term with them. I can already see the returns in our investments. Our girls- they are the future of Haiti!
But our girls can’t do it alone. They need our support, our guidance, and our prayers. Currently, we have seven girls at Emmaus House and four of them still need monthly support to aid them in their education. A few of them will be able to graduate from secondary school in the next few years and, Lord willing, advance onto university. And some of them will choose careers that require 1-2 year professional school training. Either way, they all need to continue their education in order to expand their future opportunities.
Can you invest in one of our girls? Can you assist in sending one of them to school this year? I know that is a long-term commitment and the results may take a while to see, but it will be worth it. I promise.
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Here are the four girls who are still in need of education support. For more information, or to begin sponsoring the education for one of these girls, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.