Today is International Women’s Day – A time when we stop and think about the incredible accomplishments of women and girls from around the world since the beginning of time. It’s a time to celebrate the women who struggled for equality, who’ve broken barriers, and demanded that the world change for the better. In short, this is a perfect time to reflect on the incredible history of women who have been a force for good in the world.
Whether we look to history for role models such as Rosa Parks, Margaret Hamilton, Ada Lovelace, or Cleopatra, or we are impressed by the role models of today such as Malala, Serena Williams, Laverne Cox, or Amal Clooney, it is easy to get caught up in the stories of incredible women. Just as importantly, though, we should be recognizing the drive and dedication of every day women and girls – our troop leaders, our moms, our daughters, our teachers, local businesswomen, even ourselves.
Before these famous women were leading scientists, military leaders, journalists, athletes, politicians, artists, or writers, each of them started by asking what they could do to make a difference, and taking positive action steps to make their voice heard – Just as Girl Scouts do every day in their community.
Today we would like to highlight one such person who stepped up to take on challenges outside her comfort zone, and ended up doing a world of good in Haiti: Christine Jacob.
Christine spent her junior year speaking at masses, making presentations, holding bake sales, and setting up collection drives in order to collect medical supplies desperately needed by the mentally and physically disabled children of the Missionaries of the Poor Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. After shipping down the medical supplies collected, she and her team went down to Haiti themselves. She led a team of missionaries in repainting, rebuilding, renovating, and restocking the pharmacy. Together, they were able to bring the pharmacy to its full potential, consequently benefiting not only the children who are in great need of the medicine, but also the brothers who spend everyday of their lives serving the children.
When asked why she choose this project, Christine shared:
The summer after my sophomore year, I was privileged to partake in a mission trip to Cap-Haïtien, Haiti to volunteer at the orphanage of the Missionaries of the Poor. Seeing the children of the orphanage in Haiti made me realize how extremely privileged I am. Every morning, I would go over to the residence help bathe, clothe, and feed the kids. Every morning, they were smiling. They had only the bare minimum to survive and their meals were a fourth of what I eat here in the US, but that didn’t stop their smiles and laughs. The Missionaries of the Poor in Cap-Haïtien had been around for about 10 years. While I was volunteering in Cap-Haitien, I found out about a new Missionaries of the Poor orphanage that had more recently opened in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. The Missionaries of the Poor orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti houses 83 children and youth with different mental and physical disabilities, along with children who are infected with HIV-aids. A huge setback that poverty brought was the lack of the children’s access to medicine. In the US, we are surrounded by doctors and 24-hour pharmacies, but this was a luxury non-existent in such underserved areas as Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When I heard that the orphanage’s pharmacy was fairly new and in dire need of renovation and restocking, I immediately got the idea for my project.
Christine’s favorite part of the project was working with and connecting with the children at the orphanage. “They have the minimum to live, yet they have the biggest smiles on their faces,” she said, “they are so happy despite their difficult realities. I miss them so much but I know I will be visiting them again soon.”
Christine also grew as a person from the project. When asked what she learned, Christine responded, “One of the most beautiful things I realized throughout this project was what a generous and giving community I live in. The only reason this project was a success was because of the generosity and giving mindset of the community around me. People went above and beyond when they saw what a good cause I was working for.”
Additionally, she saw how hard work and dedication can make a difference. “I now have proof that one person can make a difference because I know I made a difference in these kids’ lives,” Christine shares.