Thursday, January 29, 2015

Accolade for Saving Lives

Five years ago I remember talking with Antenor Frantz at our home in Haiti. I asked him about his dreams, and he told me of his vision to form a mission that truly invested in the lives of just a small number of kids. I asked him what would make his mission different than any others, and he told me, "I would invest fully in those kids. In their families, their education, their understanding of the Bible, their job skills, everything. With those few I would try to make a real difference in Haiti."

Then a few months ago he formally left his position with another mission, and when I asked not long ago what he was up to, he cheerfully presented me with the paperwork for his new mission, Accolade for Saving Lives. In short, my good friend has not been sitting still twirling his thumbs.

Instead he's partnered with other like-minded Christian Haitians who have the same goal of making the world a better place, and those plans have been rolled and formed into action. Yesterday I had the opportunity of photographing their new beginnings as they began to convert and remodel a small, humble office space in the city.

"How did you come up with the name, Accolade for Saving Lives?" I asked him.
"I can see it in my mind. Coming to these kids who need help, and almost like an embrace, raising them up and encouraging them in life. This word, 'Accolade', is the best word that describes what I see."
Accolade by definition: an award or an expression of praise.
I wasn't sure at first. But as I think of kids who need a helping hand, someone to encourage them, to guide them, to lift them up. it sounds more and more like a fitting word.

As I watched him painting the wall, I noticed the onlookers, the kids in the street, the old man who lived next door, everyone taking a curious note of what my friend was doing. I laughed inside, because with him, it always starts this way. This artist steps into a black and white world with his paint, or his clay, and he begins to create something beautiful. Before you know it, an old dry wall that was once sleepy and bland has been transformed into the very picture of the sun itself, setting in the Haitian sky. Already in the office yard, there are papaya growing. There are cherries in the tree and banana. I think of the fruit that may yet come from this place.

People begin to stop him as he's working, and the questions -that is, the opportunities - begin to form.

"What is this?" "What does Accolade mean?" "What is your goal?" I begin to hear the people say.
It will be such an interesting story I think, and such a beautiful painting it will be as this Haitian man who loves his people begins to pour out his faith and his belief onto the canvas of this city.

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