MY HAITI STORY
Tom Murphy, President & Founder
Child Hope Worldwide, Inc.
My Haiti Story By Tom Murphy
In 2006, my wife, Pat, and I were enjoying a relaxing evening in front of our TV. Quite unexpectedly, I said to her “We should go to Haiti and work with an orphanage”. My comment was not premeditated and I was as surprised as anyone at what I had said. There was no more discussion. A few months later, I read an article in a national magazine stating that Haiti was one of the most dangerous countries to visit which prompted me to forget my earlier comment and drop the subject.
I, later, saw a newsletter on the bulletin board of our church from an orphanage in Port au Prince, Haiti. I was curious and wrote down the website. I contacted the orphanage and requested to be placed on their mailing list. In 2007, a young Haitian boy was featured in their newsletter and his picture brought tears to my eyes. Why would IreactsotoaphotoofakidIhadnevermet? I wrote to the orphanage for more information on sponsoring the young man. Shortly thereafter, I told my wife that the only way we would really learn about Haiti and the orphanage was to take
a trip there. So, I asked for permission from the director of the orphanage for us to visit. We spent the week between Christmas and New Year of 2007 visiting the orphanage. Our lives were forever changed.
We were met at the Port au Price airport by an orphanage representative who quickly whisked us away from the hustle and bustle of the airport. Our trip to the orphanage took us through the center of Port au Prince and we could not believe what we were witnessing. Utter chaos and poverty abounded. Hundreds of people lined the streets selling practically anything you could imagine: furniture, motor oil, clothing, food, chickens, goats and more. Children, 8 and 9 years old, were coming up to our car asking for money or anything we could give them. We were told that families who live outside Port au Prince send their children to the city to beg for food or money. These poor kids were dressed in rags, hungry and fighting for their existence. Our hearts were broken at the harsh reality of what we saw.
We arrived at the orphanage and were greeted with joy by the kids and staff. The kids were beautiful. They were excited and well taken care of. God surely was blessing the ministry of this orphanage.
Our week was filled with many activities -the most wonderful being the opportunity to participate in daily pray and devotions with the kids. I can still hear them singing songs of praise, in Creole. Our hearts were filled with thanksgiving that God was touching the lives of these beautiful, precious children.
We returned to the US praying about what we could do to help the orphans of Haiti. We, of course, had met the young man from the newsletter as well as other boys his age. We prayed about the future of these young men and what they would do after their orphanage stay. We decided to pursue the possibility of bringing some of them to the US to give them a chance for a new life.
We traveled back to Haiti in June of 2008 and learned that it was practically impossible to bring children out of Haiti, especially young men. The US government felt that once in the US, these young men would not return to Haiti and would remain in the US illegally. We had our work cut out for us.
Returning home, I began to research a way to get three boys, James, Alex and JoJo, to the US. I learned that Haitians could come to the US on a student visa but must be enrolled in a school approved by the US Department of State. Even though these boys were in their teens, they only had the equivalent of a 6th grade education soI couldn’t enroll them in a US high school or college. As I searched the Dept of State list of approved schools and I noticed that the Berlitz Language School was on the list. We lived in Bethlehem PA and the nearest Berlitz office was in Princeton NJ. We met with the program director in Princeton and were told that we would have to enroll the boys in the Berlitz School in Manhattan, an hour and a half from our home. Furthermore, there was the cost factor. We began to pray.
The paperwork was endless. I had to prove that we were able to assume the responsibility for the upkeep and schooling of the boys primarily from an economic standpoint. It took several months to complete the necessary paperwork letters of recommendation, my financials and, of course, enrollment in Berlitz. Even then, we had no guarantee that the State Dept would approve their visas.
With paperwork in hand, I flew to Haiti in December of 2009. The directors at the orphanage felt I was wasting my time and gave me little hope of successfully getting the visas. But I felt I was doing what God wanted me to do so I persevered.
Early on a December morning we made our way to the US Embassy in Port au Prince to apply for visas. We arrived at 6 AM and the line was already very long. At the gate, the security officers said I couldn’t come in with the boys; they had to come in alone. I was devastated,
I wanted to plead my case for the boys but was denied the opportunity. When I look back on that moment, I believe God was telling me to leave it in His hands!
The orphanage director and I waited outside the embassy for what seemed to be an eternity. All of a sudden, JoJo came running out of the building and said they wanted to see me inside. I was taken to a counter where a young lady was processing the application and I introduced myself. She asked me several questions to verify my identity and the validity of my paperwork. Our visit was brief.She stamped the application “APPROVED”.
Needless to say, we were in disbelief and ecstatic. Then again, why such disbelief when God is at work.
Two days later, the three boys and I boarded our flight from Port au Prince to La Guardia in New York City. They had never flown or been out of Haiti. In one day, we left Haiti and that night we were standing in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. The next morning it snowed in Pennsylvania, another first for these boys. Pat and I were truly blessed at what God had done.
As of this writing, my boys live in Joplin MO. All have jobs and have made good lives for themselves. Alex and JoJo are new dads. What a faithful God we serve.
My passion for Haiti’s orphans grows daily. I have established a non-profit corporation to manage and raise funds for the orphanage in Haiti. Child Hope Worldwide Inc will strive to provide the necessary funding and leadership to care for and protect the precious children of God. Pat went to be with the Lord in August 2018. In her memory, I have started the Patricia Murphy English School in Haiti to give the children and young people a better chance at achieving a productive and fulfilling life.
Your prayers and support are appreciated.