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Beyond the Basics

I just returned from my semi-annual trip to Haiti. Every time I go, I learn ways we can improve the work of Emmaus House and I am always greatly encouraged by the impact that is being made as I see the growth in so many of our youth. Jhonny and Jackenson, who just moved into the house in January, are two young men who caught my attention right away. Their growth in leadership, maturity, and confidence in the last 6 months struck me almost immediately. They both continued to quietly impress me throughout the two week duration of my time in Haiti.

At Emmaus House, we work to go beyond meeting the basic needs of our youth. From the moment they arrive, we encourage them to dream big and reach their full potential. This takes a great deal of effort on their part. However, it also takes an immense amount of emotional and mental effort on the part of our leadership. It takes real leadership, thinking long term, looking deeper into the needs of the group as a whole, as well as our youth as individuals. As we continue to work to improve, our administration and house parents are continually taking on the challenge of seeking how we can improve on what we are already doing. The resources invested in Emmaus House are intended to go beyond the basics with regard to caring for our youth. We are looking into stronger bible teaching to help them grow spiritually, deeper therapy to help them heal emotionally, reliable internships to prepare for their futures, and the list goes on. If we are up for the challenge of raising strong leaders for Haiti, our resources, our leadership and our youth have to be willing to go beyond the basics!

A small example; Gerome, our Haitian administrator, planned to make sure our youth were making the most of their time this summer, so he encouraged them all to take a class pertaining to their future career goals. He let them choose from English, mechanics, public speaking, and several others. It was good to see them all coming and going from their classes listening to which class they chose and why. Jhonny and Jackenson went the extra mile here. Jhonny wants to go to university to learn diplomacy so he specifically chose an English class. He also initiated that all of our conversations should be in English so he could continue to work on this. He has also been thinking of community contacts he can make to begin moving forward with this career. Jackenson has always been extremely shy so he decided to go way out of his comfort zone and take a public speaking class. He plans to go to university when he graduates next year and, as much as he doesn’t want to, he knows he needs to work on this before he goes. He told me how painfully difficult the whole thing was, standing up to speak before a group of strangers, but how he was glad he did it because he grew and gained confidence. He also took the initiative on several occasions to come to me and respectfully express some improvements we could make at Emmaus House. Big steps for this young man. I was thoroughly impressed with his willingness, ability to articulate, and his capacity to see a need and look for ways to make sure it gets met. In these small areas, these two young men are showing a courage to do hard things.

When you invest in Emmaus House, you are investing not only in a courageous group of young people like Jhonny and Jackenson who are striving to grow, but also in a dedicated team of godly people who are working every day to make future leaders in Haiti out of these young men and women.

- Tanya Pirtle

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