This story was submitted by Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School.
Marta Garcia, a junior student in the Plumbing program at , sat through a presentation at St. Mark’s church in Southborough this past summer, and her heart broke as she witnessed the poverty and destruction in Haiti. When the call came to ask for volunteers to travel to Haiti and lend a helping hand, she, her brother Caleb, and their grandmother, Marta von Loewenfeldt, joined Mission E4, a group of 25 adults and teens from Massachusetts, who would fly into Port-au-Prince and then on to a compound set up for volunteers outside the city of Leogane.
“I was overwhelmed by the sights we saw along our bus route to our compound. Everywhere I looked, there was vast destruction from the 2010 earthquake. Dogs, cats, goats, pigs, and roosters wandered through the streets, rooting through the trash looking for food. Children bathed or brushed their teeth in rivers and puddles. People stared as we drove by, and, even walking through the airport, vendors tried to sell us their wares. We were told not to stop or buy anything for fear of inciting a riot. We passed collapsed buildings, shanties, and there were camps for the victims with cholera. There was so much to do, and only a short time to do it, but we knew that anything we did would be appreciated by these kind and proud people, “ recalls Garcia.
All of the volunteers brought supplies with them on the trip. Garcia and her family brought three suitcases of school supplies and items for the girls’ orphanage/school. Each day began at 6 AM with a worship service among the volunteers, and then off they would go to their work destination. Garcia helped build a boys’ school in Fauche, leveling a floor so that it wouldn’t flood and painting benches, and in Leogane, she put up ceilings, lights, installed windows and screens in the girls’ orphanage.
Even though Garcia has returned, her work of mercy continues. She is personally sponsoring two young Haitian girls, Belinda, who is 5, and Rose Carmelle who is 8. “I met Belinda and her mother, and was so impressed by what sweet people they are, who love to laugh and smile. Belinda loved the huge doll I gave her, and she was still carrying it the next day when we met again. After seeing how easy it was to make a little girl so happy, I had to sponsor another. Rose Carmel was very shy, but we colored together and began to bond. Garcia sends $32 per month so that the girls can eat 5 days a week, go to school, have new uniforms, and books for Bible school in the summer.
Garcia has since been approved to be an official Mission E4 volunteer sponsor, and, as such, she is now finding sponsors for 10 more children. “This trip made such an impact on my life. I know it’s very hard to take it all in. I buy the girls things and send it to them. They are so precious and so sweet. I’m looking forward to meeting them again when I go back next summer. We are all very fortunate here in the United States, and a lot of us don’t realize it, but I’m very thankful for what I have.” If anyone is interested in going on a mission trip or sponsoring a child, they can google Mission E4 and check on the upcoming schedules.