For a full week during their Christmas break, four Spring Hill College students joined a total of nine volunteers traveling with the Haiti and Africa Relief Team, or HART, to the Mother's Love Boys’ Home. The orphanage, located in the mountains less than an hour outside of Haiti’s capital of Port Au Prince, is a part of St. Jude Parish and serves as the home for eight boys ranging from five to 18 years old.
Before embarking on the journey, Molly Griffin, a senior, and sophomores Emily Booth, Clare Keegan and Noelle Gassen campaigned to family, friends and fellow students as they prepared to accomplish three goals: provide a one month’s supply of food to at least 300 Haitian families, provide a clean water system for the boys’ home and spread joy with a Christmas celebration.
The students had their fair share of work before they ever arrived in Haiti. Even with holiday activities gearing up on campus and the mounting pressure of final exams, the women collected a total of 10 70-pound military duffle bags filled with clothing, toys, shoes and toiletry items for St. Jude parishioners.
The group also raised $3,620, which was used in part to provide 600 meals to hundreds of St. Jude's families. In addition, volunteers distributed enough rice, beans and spaghetti to feed 1,200 families for two additional weeks. The group also purchased supplies to repair roofs on four homes and install a rain water tank on the boys’ home to enable clean drinking water for the residents.
According to Griffin, the biggest surprise to the residents they served was the donation from the Spring Hill College athletic teams. The volleyball teams donated beach tank tops and volleyballs while soccer supplied 23 balls.
Griffin had a difficult time trying to put into words what a mission trip of this caliber means to her and fellow volunteers. “Haiti is so devastatingly poor, yet the people are so rich in love – it’s really inspiring. Personally, it taught me how little we actually need in life and that anyone can find happiness in the worst of situations.” It was easy to see the joy in the students’ faces as they interacted with those they had chosen to serve. “We played with the boys at Mother’s Love and the village kids every day, developing relationships with each of them. It made leaving the hardest part. There is no doubt in my mind I'll be back to Haiti and hope to continue the work of service there!”