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CASEY HYNES

“It is hard for me to even write this paper because it comes nowhere near my enthusiasm and appreciation for this opportunity.”

YEAR AND SCHOOL: Senior at Glenwood Springs High School

TITLE: A New Perspective: Volunteering for a Haiti Orphanage

THE PROJECT:

        When you meet Casey, it’s immediately apparent that it would take a lot to get her out of her element; it seems that the more foreign the environment, the more she thrives. Pushing herself into new cultures, views, and surroundings, and feeding her desire to help those in need, she took her dream to Port-au-Prince to aid the Global Orphan (GO) project. Stepping off the plane with no idea what to expect, Casey embarked on a two-week journey that changed her life and perspectives on the world.

      “I do enjoy the things that come simply in life; however, I will work as hard as I can to see beautiful things unfold.”          

                             
       Working with the GO Project, which provides sustainable orphan care by pairing with local churches to form orphanages, Casey learned about the program and the people of Haiti for the initial week and then led trips in the second week for Americans that wished to be exposed to GO’s work. Introduced to the children, she immediately became attached. One child that she will always remember, named Junior, was thought to be slightly autistic and was often isolated from the others. Reaching out to him, she slowly put a smile on his face, and, eventually, he refused to let go of Casey at the end of the day. Torn by the thought of leaving him, on her last day, she returned to find that his mother had returned to take him home, as she could now afford to support raising him. Casey’s adventure was filled with these close relationships and attest to the connection that she formed with her Dream Project; at the end of her stay, she felt that “leaving didn’t even seem possible.”

        In addition, not only did she strive to serve the children to the best of her ability, but she also pushed herself to fully understand the perspectives of the Haitians and the context of her work. Taking Americans around, showing them Haiti and the program, Casey came to understand that while the conditions were horrible and many pitied the children, in reality the current level of conditions provides sustainable orphan care. In fact, she found that many NGO’s and non-profits create orphanages that do not match their surroundings and actually encourage families to drop off their children in hopes of giving them a better life. Casey also came to value the structure of the Global Orphan Project, as they only employ Haitians in order to create an empowered and sustainable community.     “I want to travel to Haiti to assist the people still suffering, and I learned about sustainable orphan care and how to deliver effective aid.”

        Completing her Dream Project, it was clear that Casey had learned much about herself and applied the 5 Point principles to their fullest. In the end, she discovered a passion for service and children, deciding, “orphan care will always be a part of my life.” Offered an internship, she plans on returning to Haiti after college.



 

EXCERPT FROM THE RECIPIENT:

        The kid who made the biggest impact on me was Junior. After being at the orphanage for a few days I noticed a boy who always sat alone in the same spot. He rarely interacted with the other kids. I went up to him, said “bonswa” and put out my hand. The kids greeted people by putting out their hands in a very gentle way. He shyly took it. The other kids, after seeing that I was with him, pulled me away.The next day I went up to him, “bonswa.” This time when he took my hand he held onto it. The other kids, once again, did not like this. They tried pulling him away. I went to the bench, sat down with him, and put my arm protectively around him. It was obvious that he had some form of disability. There is not much awareness for people with disabilities in Haiti, they are not understood and often shunned. I felt like I had to protect him. He started to cling to me. When he would see me he would smile wide, something he didn’t usually do. For the rest of the day he would be wrapped around my arm. Some of the kids would pinch him or tease him. He would look up at me with so much emotion in his eyes but do nothing to stop them. Luckily, there were a few boys who looked out for him as well.

        As the days started progressing I felt more and more connected to him. My heart ached for him. Even the teachers were impatient with him. I saw him get yelled at. Pushed. Bullied. He wasn’t being treated as he deserved. He wasn’t being understood. When I went to leave one day he wouldn’t let go of me. I had to get another boy to tell him in Creole that I had to go back. He shook his head with tears in his eyes. I turned around and started crying as well. I talked with the orphan director; he told me they thought he had Autism. They didn’t know for sure, he was new at the orphanage.

        I kept thinking about what was going to happen to him. On my last day at the orphanage I didn’t seem him in his normal spot. I asked the other kids where he was. He was with an older woman. She had no teeth, no shoes, and her clothes were dirty.  I went up to them “bonswa.” One of the older boys translated for me, the woman was his mom and she was coming to take him home. A few of the kids at the orphanage have a parent, but they can’t support them. She had come back for him. She grinned her toothless smile and Junior grinned his wide white smile. I had to hold back tears. I was so happy for him. As they walked out the gate he turned around waved at me, smiling his wide smile.