Today we celebrated one of our guesthouse worker’s birthdays. His name is Clarel and he turned 25! Clarel was orphaned at the age of five when his mother was on a refugee ship that sank. He was then sent to an orphanage with his two brothers. From what I have heard, it sounds like it was a decent orphanage by Haiti standards, and he was fed and well cared for. There are many, many orphanages in Haiti, and we have heard a lot of horror stories about them. Often the owners see them as a way to make money, so when churches or organizations send donations such as food, clothing, mattresses, etc., the owners will sell those items to make a profit, and the kids never see anything. Thankfully there are some good orphanages here too with loving owners that truly care about the children.
Clarel is a wonderful young man, and we wanted to be sure to celebrate his life. We made his favorite food for lunch – macaroni and cheese, played charades, and opened gifts. A wonderful Heartline volunteer donated a brand new soccer ball and air pump to give him. It was a blast! We also had dessert and he blew out all 25 candles. It’s hard to know, but it was likely the first time he’s ever had a birthday party.
To top things off, in the afternoon we went over to the soccer field in our neighborhood. He had invited his brother and a bunch of friends. It was so great to see them all smiling and laughing and playing around together. Ryan even joined in for the game, and did a great job!
Life is not easy in Haiti, especially for a young 25 year old guy with no parents, living on his own and trying to get by. Clarel is still working on finishing high school, but it is very expensive. He has to work in order to survive, but of course since he’s working, there’s no time to go to school. This means that he has a very limited education, which severely limits what few opportunities he may have here. It’s a vicious cycle with no easy solution. I recently read this statistic about the education system in Haiti:
The Haiti population is 10,032,619, 60% of the population is under 21, 47% of the population are illiterate, 70% of kids under 21 did not finish primary school, and last but not least only 40% of children will ever set foot inside a school and a mere 4% will graduate.
It’s difficult to know what to do with all this information and how to even begin to improve the situation. He is just one person out of so many that have similar stories. I guess today we will just be thankful that we could show him how special he is, and that his life truly matters.
Bòn Fèt Clarel!