You’ve heard the one about the starfish…


Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Oh, wait, it’s a blog – you can’t stop me. Hee. Okay – if you’ve heard this one, feel free to skip the next three paragraphs.

So one day there was a storm, and the high tides brought hundreds… nay, thousands, of starfish up past the normal tide line. When the waters receded, the starfish were stranded. As the sun came out, they were drying up, dying in the heat and unable to return to the water on their own power.

A young boy and an old man were walking on the beach. The old man watched as the boy picked up a starfish and threw it out into the water. The boy went to the next starfish and did the same thing. After watching him for several minutes, and several fishes, the old man approached the boy and said, “son, you are crazy. There are thousands of starfish stranded on this beach. You will never be able to save them all, or even save enough of them to make a difference.”

The boy picked up a starfish, looked at it thoughtfully, and flung it out into the water to safety. Then he looked at the old man and said, “it made a difference to that one.”

Yeah, I know, old story, old cliche, old and tired and overdone by every do-gooder in the history of do-goodingness. I know. But today I was not looking for originality points. I was just a little bit frustrated. See, last weekend at the pancake fundraiser we raised a little bit of money to fight cholera in NW Haiti. Not a whole lot, but some. It was not what most would consider a crashing huge success. In fact, if you really were to analyze it in worldly terms it was pretty close to being a failure. Except one couple, one dear couple who I am proud to be in CMA with, came and looked at the display of school children who need sponsors, and asked a lot of questions about sponsoring school children, and took away one of the “how to sponsor a child” cards that I had made. If they choose to sponsor, it will make as much difference to that “one” as going back into the water would make to a starfish. I’m not even exaggerating here. Twenty-five dollars a month does so much more than give a kid a chance to get a better job when he/she grows up. It literally can save a life – sometimes just because school lunches are the only food they get. But I digress.

We did not, as I said, raise a crashingly mind-blowingly huge sum of money. We did, however, raise and send enough for a few people suffering from cholera to receive an IV and some oral rehydration salts, and maybe even antibiotics if they needed it. It made a difference to those ones.

But what really has been eating at me all week was something said by another guest – also a wonderful, kind, delightful CMA member that I am proud to be in ministry with and who I respect. And believe me, he is not the first to say this and will not be the last, but once in a while I just have to call it. He said,

“Haiti. <eyeroll> Yeah, that place is a mess. Always has been, always will be. Nothin’ anyone can do about that.”

Well, something like that. Something like – “the mess is too big, why are you wasting your time trying to clean it up?”

The mess is huge. And I CAN NOT clean it up. I’m just a dumb blan girl from North Carolina, I’m not rich, I’m not famous, I’m not even particularly good at throwing fundraisers (although I do plan to practice until I get better at it!)

I can’t fix depleted soil, or pathetically inadequate access to affordable health care, or infrastructure, or jobs, or tourism. I don’t know anything about politics, I don’t know nearly enough about Haitian culture, and you could put my knowledge of sustainable agriculture up next to my dying pot of basil to see how much I don’t know about that.

Quite honestly, I am convinced that a dumb blan from North Carolina should not be trying to save Haiti. For a variety of reasons, starting with the evils besetting a culture of dependancy, Haiti should and must be saved by Haitian citizens. And they can save it. They are. Check out if ya don’t believe me. 

But I can make a difference to Kerly and Malia. And since I can, I kind of have to – at least if I want to proceed through life with a bit of self-respect intact. And if I can the mission with it’s new secondary school and the funding to keep it going, and help Haitian teachers and Haitian school administrators get the funding and training and support they need to start more secondary schools and keep them going and educate Kerly and Malia’s generation – it will make a difference to those ones.

Boy, am I glad to have that off my chest. I didn’t really realize how much it was bugging me until I started ranting about it.

Love y’all. Happy Thanksgiving – I am grateful to be alive, saved, and loved by my family! And a lot of other things that would bore you silly to read if I tried to list them all, so go ahead and focus on your own lists. Enjoy!

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