On a Mission
Berks Residents Travel to Provide Aid
Photo by Carrie Kizuka Photography, LLC
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In the past, missionaries have been sent far and wide to spread their faith. But over the years, missions have transformed into a means for mobilizing many more people who want to help those who are less fortunate at home and abroad. For those who are involved with a local church or religious organization, a mission trip can be a way to share their faith while lending a helping hand. For others, the trips can be an outlet to share their talents in a way that benefits others. Regardless of the motivation, a mission trip is the ultimate experience for spreading the desire to do good, empowering service, and changing lives. These Berks residents are on a mission to prove that no matter your beliefs or skill set, everyone can do something to help those in need.
Photo courtesy of Carrie Kizuka Photography, llc
One call started it all
Professional photographer Carrie Kizuka’s life changed when her friend Jane returned from a mission trip to a Haitian orphanage. Child Hope International is a Christian organization that provides orphaned, abandoned, and at-risk children in Haiti with the physical, educational, spiritual and personal care they need through programs and ministries. The program aims to place children back into their homes so that they can teach other children the life and entrepreneurial skills they need to live on their own.
“I was touched by the stories Jane had shared. When she told me that she was organizing a trip for early 2014 I jumped at the chance to join her,” Carrie explains. “I knew how much the Haitian people were negatively impacted by the tsunami in 2010 and I felt like this would be a great opportunity to not only give back to people in need, but also to educate myself on issues of global importance.” Before the earthquake there were an estimated 380,000 orphans in Haiti, and officials believe that number doubled after the quake. Carrie traveled with Jane and 11 other women from across the country to Haiti, where each woman used her unique talent to give back to the orphanage.
Giving to those who give back
During her eight-day visit, Carrie donated her time and talents by helping to paint murals around the orphanage and distribute food through the community feeding program. She also tutored students in geometry, trigonometry and pre-calculus. However, her work did not stop with the children at Child Hope. Carrie also wanted to give back to those who were dedicating their lives to keep the organization going. She donated professional photo sessions to two missionary families who had moved to Haiti years before and had since adopted Haitian children.
The first family she photographed included a single mother working as a teacher and her son, who happened to be wheelchair-bound. “They were two of the most positive, loving people I have ever met in my life,” Carrie says of the family. The other was a married couple who moved to the country to do mission work and adopted a daughter. “These families probably would not have been able to afford professional photo shoots, and honestly, that was probably far from being a priority in their lives at the moment,” Carrie says of her subjects. “I thought it would be a nice gift to their families and a small token of my appreciation for the kindness and dedication they have shown to their communities.”
A valuable souvenir
Each day while the children were in school, Carrie explored Haiti and the programs currently available to people in need. She toured a dilapidated maternity hospital and a tent city, and she had a chance to visit an after-school program that emphasized sports and art, a church service, and a park that had been created to help the local people. “Everywhere I went I was continually surprised by the Haitian spirit. Everywhere I went people were smiling, singing and playing. Seeing people who were content with so few material items in their lives really made me view my life through a different lens.”
Carried explained that while she would like to go back to Haiti, her experience there created in her a desire to help at home. “I gained a new perspective from that trip and a new desire to help those in need in my own community.” She knows that there is much work to be done locally and has set her sights on finding a way to help those in need, wherever she is needed.