Back when I shared my friend Erica’s story, I knew that the next story I wanted to share was that of my good friend, Ivette. I met Ivette about two years ago, and from the moment I met her I knew there was something very, very special about her.
Ivette is one of those people who truly does have a heart of gold. She is the definition of a servant – constantly helping others and being an encouragement in any way she can. Since knowing Ivette, I’ve seen her grow exponentially in her desire to do more to change other people’s lives.
I always knew Ivette had a big heart, but it was never more apparent than when she began having a heart for the people of Haiti. For years Ivette has had Haiti on her heart and mind, and just recently she went there herself to make her desire to help a reality. I sat down with Ivette to learn more about her trip to Haiti and the passion behind it.
When and why did you originally start having a heart for Haiti?
I have always been moved by people affected by natural disasters, but for some reason Haiti’s post-earthquake devastation stuck with me since it happened in early 2010.
Tell me about your trip – what did you do while you were there? What was the main purpose?
I went to Haiti with a two-fold “plan” of sorts — the first was in a volunteer capacity with Wellspring Trust, to follow up on some of the work it supported, and one project in particular that I helped raise funds for — the building of a peanut butter factory to help battle the severe malnutrition. The second purpose was to fulfill a personal journey and to find out what my role would be going forward in Haiti. I believed that I was supposed to go and I wanted to see what would happen once I did.
What was the most memorable part of your trip?
On the second day, we visited a village that wasn’t a part of our itinerary, and the level of poverty which I had never seen before really shook me. The kids that we saw were severely malnourished and were hungry, but also hungry for love and affection as well. They fought over wanting to hold our hands and the little ones wanted us to pick them up. As we handed out nearly 200 peanut butter sandwiches that ran out before we could get one to everyone, I had the thought, “There will never be enough,” but later on in the trip, time and time again, I kept seeing how that thought was a lie that would become a truth only if I truly believed it.
What would you say is the most fulfilling thing about helping people in need?
I would say that getting a “meta” view of your role in this world filled with so many people was my most fulfilling take-away. I believe that the story our lives tell are meant to have an impact, and that we are all connected and here for a purpose.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned through this journey – about yourself, and about helping others?
As cliché as it sounds, seeing that truly every little bit helps totally resonated throughout this trip. Not only of your time, but also making connections, having conversations…getting to know what the real needs are, and brainstorming on how to meet and exceed them. If we focus on and get overwhelmed by only the big picture, we can become paralyzed with hopelessness, but if we start with what we CAN do and do it effectively, the results can be so much greater that you originally imagined.
What now? Any plans/hopes for the future with Haiti, or any other causes?
Right now I plan to continue to follow up with the peanut butter factory, which we plan to expand exponentially (and possibly bring to the states). I’d like to return to Haiti again next year — I absolutely fell in love with the country, which is truly beautiful and filled with loving and hardworking people. In the near future, I want to learn more about fundraising and exploring whether or not I have a knack for it. Ideally, I would love to help people who have open hearts for giving back, but they don’t necessarily know where to put their time or their funds. I want to connect people to their own personal causes.
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What friend in your life is an inspiration to you?