While many students were grooving to musicians like T.I., Wyclef Jean, and Brooke Valentine at BET’s annual Spring Bling celebration in Daytona Beach, Florida, as seen this past weekend on the their station, eight Howard University Students chose to volunteer instead as part of a mission team to Haiti.
These eight Howard University students in conjunction with The Mount Wesley Foundation and the United Methodist Campus Ministry worked with children at the Wings of Hope, a shelter for disabled children and Mother Teresa’s Home for Abandoned Babies.
At the homes, students played games, did arts and crafts, and assisted the staff with physical therapy and feeding. Although the students did not choose the most popular activity for spring break, they agreed that it was the most rewarding.
“I felt called to go on the trip to Haiti. This experience helped me grow more spiritually and I felt connected with God and his people,” said Krystina Lafontant, a sophomore psychology major.
Many of the students also agreed that once a person participates in community service, they will be forever changed, as they were.
“Now I felt that there’s a whole lot more I could do,” said Ronald Gabriel, a senior finance major. “If people in Haiti could help each other and themselves, then I can give back also.”
One of those persons were Luckner Fondrose or Maia as he is nicknamed, operational director of Wings of Hope, who suffered a tremendous amount of loss during his childhood. His mother left him and his grandmother died around the same time. Fondrose was left in the care of his abusive aunt who beat him routinely and made him a Westavick, a child slave.
Fondrose could not endure any more of the abuse and ran away. He spent six months living on the streets, surviving by begging and washing cars.
He gives credit to God for bringing him out of that situation. “God took me from the ground and now I have dreams and I have respect”.
The history of the Wings of Hope dates back to 1993, when a group from France established a home for children with mild to severe disabilities. However it was hard finding homes for the children then Michael Geilenfeld, a former Catholic priest, and St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, a place for formerly homeless boys between 8 and 18 to stay, came to the rescue.
The boys at St .Joseph’swere not only horrified at the condition of the children, but by also by a comment that labeled them as “living pieces of furniture.” They wanted to take all the boys in but Michael knew that they could not afford to that but, the boys believed that “with God all things are possible and that God would provide for them.”
Today, the Wings of Hope, is thriving with visitors, nurses, and staff who all love and care for these children, most of whom suffer from autism and cerebral palsy.
Howard students like Krystina insist that small acts of kindness make a world of difference.
“We can all make a difference,” she said. “There are so many opportunities and ways to give back. Talking to people and telling them what you’ve experienced can really inspire others to get out and do something.”