Haiti can be a hard country.
However, given his circumstances, we saw a spark of a dream that remained in Daison. He wanted to be a pilot. He is wickedly smart, and worked hard to learn English, and be one of the street’s best soccer players. But as he got into middle school, the reality of how tough his world was, was sinking in. He started to pull back on his studies, goofed off more in class, and was slowly giving up on his dream. “Why try if I don’t matter.”
But we knew that Daison - as with every child, mattered. So our team in Haiti had been working with him that year to help him understand that he does matter, that he is full of life, and full of potential.
With time, and continued mentoring, the work seemed to be making progress, but something was missing. We needed to find something that spoke loudly to him that HE mattered.
I was having lunch one day with his sponsor - Larry, a retired pilot, and we were brainstorming how we could help. Larry suggested we reach out to pilots we knew in Haiti and ask them how one might chase their dream of taking flight. We ended up connecting with McHenry Priestly who informed us that the road to becoming a pilot is difficult for most people. However, he felt strongly that even with a difficult road in front of someone - they shouldn’t have their dreams crushed. So he agreed to fly out to Titanyen on a surprise visit - to let Daison get the feel for what it would be like to sit in a cockpit, touch the control panel and see the world through the glass of a helicopter.
We wanted to make this a surprise for Daison. To get everyone up to the field where the chopper would land, we told the kids that we wanted to play a big round of soccer. As they put on their shoes and headed up the hill to the field, we started to see a silver bird come into view far off in the sky. As it approached and we felt the whip of the propellers blasting our faces, I turned to Daison and said “This is for you buddy - don’t ever give up on your dream.” He looked at me with dusty tear-filled eyes and smiled one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen.
Once the helicopter safely landed, the pilot got out and walked up to Daison. He shook his hand and welcomed him into his cockpit; and spoke to Daison with authority as if he was already in training school. Through the cockpit
glass, Daison watched hundreds of people from the village climb the hill to the soccer field to see what all the commotion was. His entire village - people who have never expected much of themselves either, saw a glimmer of a dream come true for one kid.After the chopper left, a man from the village came up to me and asked - “did you do all this for Daison - just for him to taste his dream?” “Yes, we did,” I said - "because Daison’s dream matters - just as much as anyone else's."
If you’ve ever felt like you, or your dream, doesn’t matter- don’t give up! I pray that your own "big silver bird" would appear in the sky to remind you that you matter and your dream does too!
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