$2.50 in the Hand of a Child

Deep night, flaming stars, ruby embers, and smoke from the fire…

Last night, I decided to take a short walk and visit Wilda, a single mom in our community. When I arrived at her house, I made my way past the tarps stretched out to form a sheltered porch in front of her house. Her kids, ran up to meet me. She was not home, but they were gathered in the darkness with two cousins around a fire they had built with some sticks. A pot containing a small amount of oil was over the fire, and Djanaika (one of the cousins…in fact, her beautiful smile welcomes you every time you get on the blog) was kneading some dough in a bowl to make some pat…which is basically fried dough. I squatted beside the fire and thoroughly enjoyed listening to their child talk and laughter, mingled with the crackly smell of smoke. One can learn a lot like this! Just as they were telling me a story about an animal called a leza–which apparently glares balefully at you from the underbrush before rushing at you to cut at your legs with a sharp protrusion on its head <!>–their mother and aunts arrived home.

I moved to a chair on the porch beside Wilda, and her son Vladimi came and nuzzled up beside her.

Vladimi is six years old, and this is a story about him.


His oldest brother, Djeffson (14, or so), is not with us tonight, because he is in school in Gonaives. Wilda is the kind of hard worker determined to stare down a hard life right in the face. Her kids are all good helpers, but Djeffson became the man of the house at a very early age. The family all miss him when he is away.

Vladimi is the baby of the family, and to be honest I never could quite make out his character very well. He is very shy.

Last night, he made a comment to his mother about some money sent into Djeffson. He hoped it didn’t get lost in transit. His mother assured him it would get into Djeffson’s hands. I didn’t think too much of it, at first.

Soon after, Wilda related to me that Vladimi’s father had given him a small portion of the garden in which was growing some millet. When the millet was cut down, Vladimi asked his father for $20 Haitian dollars (the equivalent of about $2.50 US) on the condition that he would give his father all the millet flailed from the stalks of his section in the garden. He clasped that $20 in his little hand and walked home and gave it all to his mom to send to his big brother in Gonaives, so that he could pay for the taxi to take him to school.

“So shines a good deed in a weary world….”

Wilda told me that if his father gives him a pack of crackers, or some such item, he will not even open it until he gets home. Then he breaks it open to share with his brother, sister, and cousins.

In a hardening world, may God preserve such pure innocence and open generosity in his little heart.

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