She was just like me. I knew it when we first met on a dirt path in Haiti. I knew it when I saw how she looked at her children -- with equal parts worry and affection. It was how she stacked the pots and pans, how she swept the floor, how she kept the clothes clean -- all of this keeping of a home, this making of a family.
And it was how she prayed. I couldn't understand her words, but I could hear her passion. And I knew it then--
We were the same. Because we were mothers.
But the differences between us were glaringly painful.
Her floor was dirt. Her walls were tarps. There was no kitchen, only a corner by the front door where she built a fire. And there was this hostile threat of hunger, hovering above everything that she was trying to hold together.
Her home was a tent. It was meant to be temporary -- just a safe place to settle down for a while until the dust settled. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake shook Haiti, turning a country inside out and killing more than 230,000 people. That mama survived, and she found a way to keep her family all together under the roof of a little blue shack set up by a humanitarian group. Soon, whole cities of blue tents emerged on hillsides.
That was five years ago. No one meant for the blue tents to be forever homes. But five years later, that mama was tucking her kids in to "bed" -- on the floor -- in a sort of blue hell. She prayed for beds, for a real house, for a roof. For someone to help.
And she waited -- as if her spine and her resolve were made of steel. Maybe she knew that a mother's prayers are unlike any other prayers on the planet.
I met her two years ago. And I met other mamas like her -- strong in spirit but living in terribly vulnerable conditions in a blue tent city. I prayed with them and for them. "God, please. Do something."
I kept thinking, "This will change. Someone will do something about this." Looking back, I don't know what we were waiting for.
A few months ago, we knew it deep in our guts: we had to be the change.
And you all right here? You said you were all in.
We partnered with Touch of Hope and launched Five Houses in 2015 to replace five of those blue tents. We needed $15,000.
Within a few days, you came through. You had donated enough money to build those five houses. And then one more. We raised enough money to build six houses!
This Mother's Day, some moms will get cards. Some moms will get flowers or chocolate. But these six mamas in Haiti? They each got a house.
Happy Mother's Day Yoline, Nata, Viola, Sonia, Gabrius and Clivianne. You are brave and beautiful and mighty and magnificent.
I can't get enough of these pictures. Kayla Raymond -- the missionary in Haiti who is making all of this awesomeness happen -- emailed the photos this week. And I just.can't.get.enough. These smiles! These beds! Actual beds!!! Actual floors and actual roofs and actual walls! #MomsHelpingMoms
One more house?
We could. Couldn't we? Raise money for one more house? There are dozens of blue tents in this village. When Kayla visited the village this week, she met Denise.
Denise lost her home in the earthquake as well, and she lost her husband two months after. She has five children -- two teenage girls and three young boys. She was pregnant with her youngest son when her husband passed away. Kayla wrote to me: "I was compelled by her story, loved the spirit and strength of her children, none of which go to school. I am going out on a limb and I going to challenge my readers to build just one more house. For Denise."
Our family is in. We want to be a part of a miracle for Denise. We are #MomsHelpingMoms. If you want to help make a miracle for Denise this Mother's Day, click here. You can donate by sending a check, or through PayPal. Be sure to include a message with your payment that your donation is for Denise.
Thank you, friends, for your generosity in donating to make these mothers' dream come true. And thank you, to Kayla and to Touch of Hope, for allowing us to partner with you. You all are doing the hardest work, in the trenches, every day. We love you!
Read Celebrating Coming Home by Kayla Raymond