Before visiting Jacmel, Haiti, with Love Takes Root, I didn’t know much about the area. Quick Internet searches taught me I’d visit the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. More than 80% of the population lives under the poverty line, which means they live on less than US $2 a day, and 54% live in abject pov-erty, which means less than US $1 each day. While these facts are sobering, it was still not enough to prepare me for how I’d feel once I arrived, as well as when I returned home.

Flying into Port-Au-Prince was a rollercoaster ride of emotion. I was so excited for the duration of the 2.5-hour bumpy flight. When I made eye contact with the first child I saw, I felt so empowered to be a leader and to bring joy to these kids. Haitians are so happy having so little. Most of the children are happy to have a set of clothing to wear, one pair of shoes, and rocks to play with; a far cry from my experiences in the U.S.

My time in Haiti taught me to enjoy more than material possessions. I loved getting to see all the children smile because they were genuinely happy. I learned to be grateful and to have that sense of gratitude reflect outward onto others.

Ashley Phelps was part of the Mission Trip August’15.  She plans to return.

ashley haiti