In January 2008, when I was eleven years old, my parents and I went on a mission trip to Haiti. I was immediately struck by the extreme poverty I saw all around me. But even more than that, I was impacted by the kids we visited in the orphanages-their joy, their desire to love and be loved, the hope they had. I came back wanting to do something for the orphans who were still living on the streets.
I asked myself, “What can I do?” So I started brainstorming ideas with my parents, and thought that because I had been playing violin since age five, perhaps I could put together some songs on a CD. If I could use it to somehow raise $5000, I could fund one small orphanage in Haiti through the Global Orphan Project, a Kansas City based ministry. In the next year, I prepared and recorded seven songs, one of which I wrote, called “Heart for Haiti,” which I believe God gave me the melody and lyrics to bit-by-bit over the course of several nights. Making the music CD definitely wasn’t an easy process, but I persevered through the challenges because I believed God had a special purpose in mind.
When the CD came out in November of 2009 (I was then thirteen), I began to play violin and sing at different events, churches, and schools, working to get the word out about the significant need of the orphans in Haiti. Then, the earthquake happened in Haiti (January 2010). Suddenly, people were very interested in what I was doing because I had been raising money for Haiti before this disaster. I performed many more times, and really stepped outside of my comfort zone by speaking in front of large groups of people, including audiences at two national conferences. Through this whole process, I saw God work in so many ways. When I took a small step of faith at age eleven, God took what I had to offer and made it into something so much bigger than I could have imagined.
So far, just over $120,000 has been raised through this project-enough to build and sustain two orphanages in Gonaives, Haiti, and to help fund a school in Marmelade, Haiti. I have had the opportunity to return to Haiti six additional times, and have visited both of these sites. During my senior year of high school (2014), I was able to record a second CD: “A Joyful Heart” with my worship pastor, Jason Parr. Since then, all funds have gone toward sending Haitian children to school (see the #180forHaiti section on the Home page for more information). You can join me in changing lives through education by donating to this project (a Donate tab is on the Home page).
Through this process, I have learned that there is something special about putting your time and energy into helping others in need that draws you closer to God, because it aligns you with His will and gives you a glimpse into His heart. Since that first trip to Haiti, I have grown so much in my faith. In addition, I’ve also become more focused on living generously-not just in helping orphans in Haiti, but in being other-focused in my community and at my school.
Below, please take a few minutes to view the music video of my song “Heart for Haiti.” It is the song I wrote and recorded at age 12. The images and videos in it are from my first trip to Haiti in 2008.