Andelson was only about 5 or 6 years old when I met him. It was his baby brother Gerson who passed away that brought me to Habanero. I spent most of my first 2 years in Habanero knowing only Andelson's family. He was and still is a sweet boy with a tender heart.. My first memories of him is seeing him come home one day from school and he brought a little hard biscuit and a small cardboard packet of milk. Andelson got them both at school that day. He brought them both home to his siblings even though he was hungry himself. I'll never forget that day and I saw him do it many days - share and give - that is his heart. He's all grown up now and struggling. He dropped out of school to try to earn money for his family - it's hard. The unemployment rate stated for 2018 by the Dominican Republic is 5.83% but it's over 50% in small rural villages like Habanero. So these days he rides around on a bike looking for odd jobs. The good news is he's looking. He's not sitting on the white plastic chairs drinking beer and playing dominoes. He's a hard worker trying to survive. If we're doing construction I try to give him some work and he never wants to be paid. He's thankful for Evergreen4kids being in his community. He's dear to my heart.
Ayadi was about 8 years old when I started working in Habanero. He was rough around the edges. Not sure how else to describe him. Sweet one moment but when he was riled up by others his anger flared. Ayadi was part of a group of hungry street boys who would hang around the mission house when I was in Habanero. Sometimes I'd feed them dinner and they'd sleep on the floor and then I'd make them breakfast in the morning. Children are the same everywhere and they have the same needs. They crave stability, love and attention. Most times the sleep overs went well and it reminded me of my own son's sleep overs years before. But, when Ayadi got angry he didn't know what to do with that anger and he had no one to help me deal with it. So he'd yell and punch and if it got real bad he'd go home and get a machete and come back and threaten and chase the other children. It was very upsetting - I'd never seen anything like it before or since. However over the course of time Ayadi has mellowed and matured. And a lot of people have prayed for him and loved on him and he has healed some from his painful childhood. Today Ayadi is my right hand when I am in Habanero. My security. He's almost always with me guarding me. Today he has a part time job with Evergreen4kids coaching our new baseball team. No more machetes!
Keilah is Pastor Robert's daughter, she was only about a year old when I first saw her. She never hung around the house because she was very well taken care of and she was kept on a tight rein. I see her more now that she is older because she hangs out across the street from me at her Grandmother, Oliva's house. She's bright and funny and oh so creative! Plus she sings like an angel. When I'm there we share songs together on You Tube! I hope one day she will be a leader for the next generation coming up in Habanero, This picture is of her with some of the hair barrettes she makes and sells. I bought these from her and they will be for sale at our auction on November 2nd.
Writing this floods me with so many memories. Good and Bad - I've seen pain and suffering and peace and joy as well and things you just can't unsee. I would give all my memories to you if I could so that you could understand how we are all connected and how important it is to love one another. Just love them. I'm so thank to all the people that help support the work of Evergreen4kids. I'm thankful for all the mission team members that have visited Habanero and poured their love into this little village. My gratitude overflows.
I've seen a lot of change and growth in Habanero. But there's still work to be done. A difference is being made - change is slow -- but change is sure.