You may have heard that I was privileged to attend the Family Graduation ceremony this summer and to hand out diplomas to each family. It was a deeply moving experience and — as someone who played a key role in making it possible — I wish that you could’ve been there with me.
Even though we filmed many elements of the ceremony, I wrote a brief reflection about it because I find it’s the best way to remember the beauty and the hope of such a transformative moment. I’m sharing it in the hope that it will give you a sense of how special it was and what a difference your generosity is making right now in Haiti.
In the past I’ve avoided participating in these ceremonies because I didn’t want my presence to distract from the honor being given to the graduates or to contribute to any kind of “white-savior” narrative.
I’d hoped to observe the ceremony from the back of the church, but our local partners there insisted that we come up and speak to the gathering and then pushed me into the role of giving the graduates their diplomas.
I don’t like to be on display like that, but I realized that by being there we were in some way representing you and all the family sponsors who’ve played such an essential role in this work.
It also felt wonderful to be there just to have the chance to celebrate this huge accomplishment.
Haitians know how important it is to make time to celebrate – especially now.
This is a difficult moment for so many in Haiti. Part of how Haitians have the strength to persist is by taking time to notice and take delight in whatever there is that’s positive.
To laugh even when things are hard, and to find joy in even simple things.
So, it was impossible to let something as momentous as what these families accomplished pass without a celebration.
For most of these women this was the proudest moment of their lives. It was the first time that they were ever honored publicly, the first time they’d ever received a certificate with their name on it or any kind of formal recognition of their success.
In this photo above, I am the one getting the hug, but the gratitude this participant was expressing is also meant for you.
Throughout the program every speaker mentioned how grateful they were for folks like you who provided the funding that supported them in their journey out of destitution and into dignity.
And while all the graduates were adults, children are really the heart of this initiative. Graduation means that the children in these families will grow up at home, rather than being sent away where many become enslaved in restavèk.
It means these kids will grow up well-nourished; they will be able to attend and complete school. They’ll have safe drinking water. They’ll avoid all the indignities and humiliations that come with extreme poverty.
They will be the first generation to be liberated from the generational cycle of extreme poverty, and for that I will be forever grateful to you.
Thank you again for your generous and faithful support. It means more than I can say.
With deep gratitude,