Haiti: Seven years ago..and two years later…

I’ve been searching for words to express my thoughts all day. Five year’s ago today Port-au-Prince, Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. It destroyed most of the buildings and infrastructure that had been established in one of the poorest places in the world. My heart sank as I watched the round the clock coverage of the disaster. I even thought about traveling down there with some local doctors. We worked on a way to make that possible but we decided that it was better to send someone with a skill set to help those in need than another reporter to cover it.

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Why did what happen in Haiti hit me so hard? Well two years before the earthquake, in January 2008, I traveled down to Louverture Cleary School to spend a week with The Haitian Project. We volunteered our time helping with projects during the day but after school we conducted soccer clinics. I know what you’re thinking: Lauren isn’t a soccer player. True. I wasn’t and I’m still not but the skills we were teaching had more to do with teamwork and empowering girls than it did the actual game. And as I learned, the universal language and common ground we all shared was soccer.

The trip was only a week but it forever changed me. I still remember the people I met and the impact they had on my life. And the lessons they taught me.

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When the earthquake struck in 2010 some of our friends were killed. The school sustained significant damage. The structure that volunteers from Loras College and other areas worked so hard to build, had been destroyed. Life as they knew it was forever changed. But their spirit was not broken.

The following years in Dubuque, Iowa, I worked with a local restaurant and bar to build a fundraising for the group. And to honor my friends and their loved ones.

To this day I remember two very POWERFUL words and ways of life that were shared with me:

1. Faith, hope and love are all you need.
2. What you receive as a gift, you must give as a gift.

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In a country torn apart by violence and poverty…then an earthquake…I found their spirit and faith to be so inspiring. Seven years later I still think of the days I spent there and the impact it had on my life. Sometimes when things happen a world away it’s hard to understand or even grasp.

But the beauty of experiences is that we get to take them with us wherever we go.

So take yours and share it.

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