There is a long road that no one travels.
Mopeds with three and four people apiece race up and down it as a truck full of something tries desperately to make its way over the pitted surface. The mopeds dodge an occasional goat or a child and drive as quickly as the road allows the long way down the canal.
But no one travels down the road to Drouin unless one needs to. It’s hot and dusty and the water in the narrow canal looks milky-dirty. Stuck in a valley, no breeze blows in Drouin.
Even so we leave the highway near Saint-Marc and turn toward the rice fields. Rice fields that now, seem to teem with growing things, but not so long ago they did not. After the devastation of 2010 this community lost its livelihood as foreign aid poured in to flood the market. Those who grew rice in Drouin could not sell rice when all the rice in Haiti was free.
Small mud homes flank the rough dirt road with small “yards” that brandish a goat or two and maybe a chicken. Children run from the cars or they stare as we pass at an impossibly slow speed.
At the point that I would understand later was only about half-way down the road I wonder if this trip is going to be worth it. What could we find at the end of this road that would be worth the jarring and the banging and the jerking on this horrible road?
It’s a road that nobody chooses. And a road that no one cares about.
But near the end of the road is a school. And a kitchen with a woman who makes rice and beans and fish broth for the students. At the end of the road is a home with a mother who’s life has been changed because of the school. She can feed and house her children because she is employed now. At the end of the road is a classroom full of French and Creole words and joy and singing. At the end of the road a fire of hope has begun to burn brightly in the form of education and school supplies and uniforms and teachers doing what they have been called to do.
So we stand in the school in Drouin this time last week, the place no one ever goes, and the principal tells the children in his beautiful Creole that we are their “benefactors,” that we are the ones that provide the school books and the food they ate.
And it is too much.
Amber looks wide at me and I can see the tears well up in Erika’s eyes and now we are the ones who are staring. The children, they grin and clap and in turn look back at us with the same wide eyes.
This. Is. Too. Much.
It isn’t me, I want to tell them. It is someone else. We are merely standing in for the hundreds of families that support this beacon of hope at the end of the road.
So this is a role that I must grow into, I think as I stand there. I must become what they say I am because it is true and right and these people deserve someone to stand for them. This end-of-the-road community deserves someone to remember them daily.
So I leave them that day with a rent-open heart and tears still brimming. What do I do with this weight? What do I do with this little spark of life down a long road?
Home again, I’ve realized something.
This insufferably long road is something we can travel down daily if we choose. We don’t have to wait for the SUV to crash us over the rocky path. We don’t have to wait for the next trip or the next plane flight. We don’t have to wait.
We can make the journey when we write a letter. When we pray. We can make this journey each day when we support the students of Drouin.
Can you make this journey with me? With them? As a community if we can sponsor just 75 more students in Drouin we can send 250 more students to school for free in a community and a nation where schooling is not free. We can purchase farming equipment for this tiny village. We can pay their teachers.
We are already 25% to our goal. And it won’t take much more. There is joy, hope, and even the future of the nation at the end of the road.