Haiti Changed My Life
By Sydney Gay
Courage seems to me to be a consciousness beyond intellectual reasoning. For example, I went to Englewood Colorado immediately after the Columbine high school massacre where the local the Nazarene pastor had the courage to ask the entire Denver Symphony and a choir of five hundred volunteer voices to surround the families of murdered children with their music. It was decided no standard church hymns were to be played,
I watched one thousand grieving students and parents frozen with fear enter the church. When the conductor raised his baton, instead of a hymn the orchestra played Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff and the theme song from the Titanic with a video of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio’s facing their destiny with outstretched arms; when that scene came across the screen a room filled with grief was released in a way that felt absolutely divine, gratitude and courage restored.
After this experience I joined a group of young Nazarenes being trained to locate and save female children sold into slavery. I had no idea enslavement of children was a worldwide growing industry which involved both Mexico and United States with profits estimated at 1.7 billion dollars a year, neither government has found a way to stop it. The children are transported secretly country to country.
In the middle of this job the Nazarenes provided me an umbrella of protection to go into the jungles of Haiti, where voodoo is practiced. Needless to say, friends thought I was crazy, Haiti is known to be a dangerous place. But in New Orleans, where I was born, voodoo is an accepted practice, this is where Marie Laveau, the Queen of Voodoo practiced her magic, lived and died. Voodoo can’t scare me. I fell in love with Haiti; here eleven hundred American volunteers have built radio stations, schools, hospitals, farms and a baseball factory. That’s right, Mets and Dodgers play with Haitian baseballs.
The Nazarenes took me to a hut in the jungle that belonged to a farm worker, bending over to climb inside the first thing I noticed was a snake with a lizard in its mouth. The more significant courageous Ah of this visit was a concert with Puerto Prince children as young as ten performing Bach, Beethoven and Mozart on professional instruments given to them by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. What encouraged Boston to do this? These kids were focused perfection, so enthusiastic, so beautiful to see they were sent to perform in Carnegie Hall in New York City. 1,800 seats sold out in a week. To my thinking fearless faith and generosity came together to make this courageous journey possible.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com