Johanna’s Story | ” The work of one person can change so many lives positively”

Now halfway through her placement with our team in Haiti,  University College Cork (UCC) student, Johanna Murray, shares some messages of hope and positivity from her experiences so far.

So we’re now at the halfway point: only six weeks left here in Haiti. It’s strange, but I’m already starting to miss it here.

One thought that has been heightened for me here is the unfairness and inequality in the world. Development can be one of the hardest sectors to be employed in: it’s fickle, it’s difficult. We see people suffering on a daily basis. I’m always taken aback by how unfair the whole situation is, that there are individuals actively working to keep developing countries the way they are because it suits them or makes them more money. You can ask yourself, “why?”. Why was I so lucky to grow up in a country like Ireland? Of course, Ireland has its own problems and whatnot, but you cannot compare it to the likes of Haiti. The important thing is to not let these negative thoughts overwhelm you.

It’s easy to say, “what’s the point?”. But there is a point!

If we give up hope, we’re letting people down, and I refuse to be part of that.

There is so much we can still do. I know it sounds corny, but I have had many discussions with my friends about how hopeless things can seem, especially if you keep up to date with world affairs. But I have a positive message to give you today, one that I hope shows you how the work of one person can change so many lives positively.

I first met Morgan Wienberg last week in Les Cayes.  Morgan is co-founder and Head of Haiti Operations of the non-profit organisation Little Footprints, Big Steps (LFBS). Sandra, Girlande, Alienne and I were meeting with her to discuss some of the members of their family and community development plan joining our Vizyon Pam programme.

Morgan’s story is a very interesting one. She first came to Haiti in 2010, six months after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. Morgan left her home country of Canada, aged just 18, to help with the relief work in the devastated country. This trip would change her life and that of so many others.

Morgan volunteered in an orphanage and found conditions there to be appalling. She witnessed children who were neglected, beaten, and starved. In some cases, children were used as slaves or sold, as if they were property. Although it was sorely needed, the children were denied medical attention. Morgan discovered that children had been sent to the orphanage by their parents in the mistaken belief that their children would be offered food, education, and loving care, and she began to work towards reuniting children with their families.

In 2011, Morgan co-founded LFBS. She was met by fierce opposition from a lot of dangerous people who had profited greatly from the corrupt orphanages. But Morgan continues to live in Haiti, leading the organization with integrity, creativity and perseverance. She forges partnerships and collaborations with other non-profits and with the Haitian government, spearheads initiatives and pilots programmes, hires and guides Haitian staff, and manages programme administration, all the while tirelessly pouring love and encouragement into the children and families that come her way.

I find this lady incredibly inspirational. For me, it’s an honour to have met her. But I want this to be a message to people who think that the world is hopeless, that we can do nothing against those on top who cling to power. We can, and we can do it every single day. The staff of Haven work tirelessly towards this, and I am so delighted to be a part of that work.

Our team was honoured to present Morgan Wienberg with the William Jefferson Clinton Goodwill for Haiti Award at the 2018 Haiti Ball: this short video highlights the incredible impact she and the LFBS team are making.

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