Meals on Heels
Down jagged hills and through narrow dripping alleys, we walk. Little rivers in the mud road soak our shoes and float trash out into the Caribbean. Soft rain rattles on the corrugated metal roofs of small wooden shanties and crumbing concrete hovels. Inside a few of these homes are those too crippled or weak to go out in search of food.
Today we walk out to meet these, the most vulnerable people I have ever seen, following one young boy, Jon, chosen to go out and bring life where others could not reach.
Northwest Haiti Christian Mission had a problem. Their mission in St. Louis du Nord, Haiti had a clinic, birthing center, operating room, baby orphanage, education and special-needs care facility, elderly housing and a nutrition program for the community. But the mission was located up a steep hill. There were those in the city who desperately needed food, but couldn’t make it up the hill to receive it.
So three young Haitian boys – “the three musketeers” – were chosen to form the “Meals on Heels” program, bringing cooked Feed My Starving Children meals out to the infirm in their homes. Of those three, only Jon remains; one left the city and the other was crippled in a tragic accident. Every day after the accident, Jon pushed his friend in his wheelchair up the hill to the mission so that he would still be part of the work. A year later, the crippled boy died. Jon was crushed.
Now, five of us “blancs” (“white people” or “foreigners” in Creole) follow Jon on his route down the hill and out into the city carrying cooked meals in a repurposed 27-pound kitty-litter bucket. Jon is 16 years old and walks tall with broad shoulders. Little boys run out from their homes to parade next to and run ahead of us. A man walks by smelling the cooked meals and gestures to Jon to give him some. Jon presses his lips together and keeps stride on his route. His cargo is precious here and Jon will not change course.
Jon leads us through the city and down next to the ocean where ragged homes speckle the wet sand. Little boys who have run ahead stand and point down an alleyway just barely over two feet wide. Jon turns down it and enters a tiny home with cracked concrete walls and mud floor.
Inside is a mother with her young son, Eli, who is kneeling on the floor in the corner. He is blind and functionally deaf. Jon gently ladles the food into a metal bowl on the floor and Eli reaches out and feels the rice with his thin cocoa fingers. Leaning over, in fistfuls he piles food into his mouth. He eats with an urgency that I have never seen before.
He is hungry: a deep bitter hunger far too familiar here in Haiti.
It hits me, then and there: Eli and the others we have visited can’t possibly go out and get food. Jon is the only one who is coming. Jon is keeping people alive!
I know God cares about Eli and the others on Jon’s route. Their rescue comes not from brilliant officials or elaborate plans, but from a humble boy and a kitty-litter bucket full of food.