The Other Side of the Fence

July 7, 2014 • Haiti
Greta Home, Kindergarten Graduation week, Haiti.

During the day, Robert Higgins served as a heavy equipment operator in Haiti. In the evenings, he spent time with the kids on the other side of the fence.

Nicole Higgins was a field accountant for Samaritan’s Purse in Haiti. After a year and a half in the country, she and her husband, Robert, recently returned home to North Carolina.

What is in a fence? It keeps things out and keeps things in. No matter what side you are on, it seems greener on the other side.

At Samaritan’s Purse in Haiti, the fence is our protection from the dangers lurking outside, but sometimes it feels confining.

The other side of the fence

Robert and Nicole played with children like Tatu, Donnie, and Jascoura on the beach in front of the Samaritan’s Purse base.

The beach kids see our side of the fence as a source of all things good: friendship, food, entertainment, and money. To them the possibilities are endless.

It’s easy to allow the fence to shut out the community, but my husband, Robert, didn’t let it deter him from making friends. On any given night, you could see him talking through the fence with several boys. The beach kids constantly called out his name in their Creole accent, “Robear!”

Three teenagers, Johny, Gladson, and Jeancois, persistently sought Robert’s attention. The boys are 17, 15, and 13; the latter two are brothers. They would talk for hours at the fence.

Sometimes Robert and I would go outside the fence and talk and joke with the kids. Other times only the boys came, and Robert would stay on the inside.

After a year, Robert felt these boys were like his kids or younger brothers. These children are really looking for guidance and friendship. None of the three boys have a constant father figure at home. It was an awesome experience for Robert to fill a need in their lives.

The other side of the fence

Johny received a New Testament after he completed The Greatest Journey curriculum. Robert and Nicole hope that he lives a life for God.

Through our friendship with the beach kids we were able to see the potential in each child, but Johny stood out to us. He knows some English, which was helpful at the beginning when we did not speak the language. He is also one of the oldest kids and shows more responsibility and awareness as you see him interact with his friends.

Johny goes to school every day and to church on Sundays, playing in the band during worship. Getting a good education in Haiti is difficult, but he has managed to make it to his last year of high school.

Once, we helped Johny pay for a field trip to a big city several hours away. It cost about $5. This was the farthest away from home he had ever been and said it was one of the best days of his life. He excitedly told Robert all about the trip and how much fun he had.

Living in the developed world, we take for granted many things like getting an education or going on trips. Our desire for Johny is for him to finish school, get a college degree, and find a good job in Haiti.  Haiti needs strong Christian leaders that are willing to take a stand against corruption and dedicate the country to God. We feel that, if given the opportunity, Johny could be one of those leaders.

The other side of the fence

The children at the base loved to learn from and play with Robert.

Before coming to Haiti two years ago, some of our friends prayed over us and felt that God was going to give us “spiritual” children. We don’t have children yet, and we now understand what God was telling our friends.

God gives us all opportunities, and out of those opportunities, chances to grow more like Him. Don’t be afraid to step out in faith and trust in the plans God has for you. We are so thankful for our time spent in Haiti and for the friends of all ages that we made.