Why Dozens of U. S. College Students Chose to Spend Spring Break In Haiti

College students serving in Haiti (Photo: Live Beyond)
College students serving in Haiti (Photo: Live Beyond)

When most college students plan to spend their spring break enjoying the warmth of the sun on an island in the Caribbean, Haiti is not the location they have in mind. The poorest nation in the western hemisphere, Haiti’s difficulties extend far beyond the earthquake which struck there in 2010, as systemic poverty and leadership crises have plagued the nation for decades.

The average Haitian lives on less than $1.25 a day — most subsist on far less. There is no electricity, plumbing system or clean water accessible to a majority of the country, and most of the population is starving. With sweltering tropical temperatures and mosquito infestations that are a constant 24-hour buzz, disease is rampant.

Despite these difficulties, dozens of U.S. college students recently chose to spend their spring break helping us here in Haiti, working to alleviate some of the suffering they encounter here, rather than join the party scene on some tropical beach.

Their reasons vary, but one student from Abilene Christian University summed it up succinctly: “I wanted my spring break to mean something and have a lifelong impact. Just hanging out with friends and having fun doesn’t have an eternal or spiritual impact.”

One of the young people from Texas A&M University described his choice as a calling to help others. “The Lord calls us to do more than relax on the beach or hit the slopes,” he said. “I go to Haiti because the Lord calls us to set free the oppressed. I choose to serve, because my peers choose not to.”

In working with all of these young adults, I’ve learned that this generation wants its time on earth to count for something. They’ve seen too many generations before them living only for themselves, and realize it’s empty and meaningless. And in Haiti, they have a chance to do something important with their lives, for someone else.

I loved how another A&M student described her motivation after a previous trip to Haiti: “I spent my spring break in Haiti because when I visited last July, I saw things that I can’t unsee. I had to go back — for the women who are raped, for the disabled who are outcast, and for the children with bellies full of worms. This spring break taught me that chasing the American Dream for our own glory is foolish. It taught me that all of the money we gain from our success isn’t for us to keep. If we don’t feed the hungry, heal the sick, or stand up for the oppressed, who will?”

For many, it is their faith that inspires them. “We want to serve because God wants us to.” Another student said he wanted to use his spring break to see and serve the people of Haiti, and he’s asked God to give him a heart for people like those in need in Haiti.

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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Dr. David Vanderpool is founder and CEO of LiveBeyond, a faith-based, humanitarian organization improving lives of the poor in Thomazeau, Haiti, with sustainable solutions in medical and maternal health care, clean water, education, and agricultural and economic development. He hosts dozens of college students and other missions-minded individuals looking for a place to serve short-term or year-round.