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Surprised by a Smile - Conor Brooks - Senior at Farmington (CT) High School

Fri, Apr 22nd, 2011

Bog by: Conor Brooks - a senior at Farmington High School in Connecticut

Before I went to Haiti in February, I knew what I was going to see: some devastated buildings, trash in the streets, famished children -- like those ads on TV showed.

And then I got to Haiti.

To be sure, what buildings there were lay in hundreds of pieces. The streets were covered in plastic and unquantifiable amounts of garbage. And there were a few ravaged by hunger who walked the streets.

But there was one thing I could not have expected: a smile. And I didn't just get one or two. They were everywhere. People waved, they laughed, they said hello in Creole or, sometimes, broken English. And they were all excited to see us. That was when I figured out why we were really there.

Haiti has no lack of workers. They have able-bodied men and women all over. We were there to stand by them, showing them that, while they might be going through an incredibly difficult time, the rest of the world has not forgotten them. While they continued to toil, we would continue to support them, and walk alongside them in dedication. The most important thing we could do was just to be there - to immerse ourselves in their lives and to follow in their footsteps.

I saw what I expected to see in Haiti. But I also saw that it is a country of people full of faith, love and hope. And while this hope may be detached from their reality, it is due to the fact that they are not alone. If we walk with them, they will continue to work with a smile.



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