In the early days Hut Outreach was just us and a few Haitian friends, Kiki was one. We often visited his house and spent time with his family. Hut Outreach started in his neighborhood- we passed out care packages to his neighbors. We were naïve Americans who didn’t know Haiti, not yet smart enough to ask people, we simply bought what we thought they needed: first aid kits full of bandaids that probably never got used, five-gallon jugs for carrying water more efficiently than in an open bucket, coloring books and crayons for kids. But we gave those gifts out with abundant love. The people received them gratefully and friendships were cultivated. We gave gifts and prayed with families. We listened and started to learn.
The last night of the trip Kiki invited us to his house. We bought popcorn. Back then funds were low and we could not have afforded to actually feed everyone, but popcorn was cheap. We must have popped ten pounds of popcorn, we never ran out.
When we arrived in the neighborhood we saw it: Thank you very much
I don’t have a picture, but here I am 20 years later and my eyes are welling up just thinking about it. I can picture it, the simplicity, the sacrifice, the creativity. This was not a sign made carefully with expensive art supplies from Hobby Lobby. This was not created by a team of people with fancy software, yet it was the most beautiful display I have ever seen.
Thank you very much was written out on the ground. A clearing in the middle of the neighborhood had been carefully swept and smoothed out to create the canvas. Seeds, leaves and flowers had been artfully arranged to create the letters. Our new friends had truly made something out of nothing, they showed their gratitude with the gift of time and true degage. Degage is the Creole word for make it work, and that was the first time I saw the concept come alive.
It was selfless, creative and kind. It exuded gratitude and I will never forget it.