Editorial: Why people with nothing have so much more


(Photo: Submission/Jaycie Owens)

by Jaycie Owens, Special to The Simpsonian

When I made the decision to join a mission trip to Haiti, my goal was to find answers. Answers to what the rest of the world was like, and answers about who am I as a person. What I discovered was so much more than I expected.

Upon arrival in Haiti, my view of the world was instantly changed. Trash lined the streets as people stood by fires kept in buckets. Traffic laws were nonexistent as two lane roads quickly turned into four or five. Voodoo was being practiced in shacks on the roads, and most houses did not even have a front door.

As we moved out of the city, the shock did not end. On open fields, shacks made out of sticks and tarps dotted the area. Goats and pigs openly roamed the markets. There was one water well for an entire city.

On my mission trip, I aided an orphanage of children ranging from three to 18. We read books to them in English, helped with daily activities and gave them love. What I did not expect was the amount of love these children already had.

Every day I was surrounded by children with tattered shoes and ripped clothes, but they never once complained about what they were given. Each one of them knew how lucky they were to be taken care of, to have clothes on their backs and a meal waiting for them. The simplest things in life gave them pure joy.

These children, all of which had little possessions, showed so much love. They loved all of us, even though they had just met us. They shared the smallest rations of food between large groups of friends, and they were beyond eager to learn.

The love these children exhibited completely opened my eyes. With next to nothing, they had so much. They appreciated the smallest things, whether it be a snack or a new water bottle. They just wanted to be around others.

These children were so much happier than I had ever been. They had a love for each other and an unbelievable love for God. Regardless of the fact they may not have material items, they had so much passion for life.
The love I was surrounded by made me question what made me happy and what love really was. I realized cell phones and attention did not create real happiness. Happiness was enjoying the moments doing what you love. Engaging in your passion wholeheartedly creates happiness, whether it be kicking a soccer ball into a goal without a net, or playing a guitar that’s missing a string. It’s surrounding yourself with family and friends, and doing whatever it takes to make them happy.

Love is putting others before yourself. It is giving someone your last drops of water, regardless of how thirsty you are. It is giving someone a snack, even though you may be starving. It is singing a church song so loud because you love God so much, even if you are the shyest person in the group. Love is opening yourself up and not being afraid to be hurt.

These children, who do not have anything, have so much more genuine happiness than I ever have. That week in Haiti taught me that love does not come with material items; it is giving everything you have to make someone else happy. Happiness is appreciating every moment you are given, and using each moment to live your passion.