In Haiti, you don’t need a lot to give a lot for Christmas

Morgan Wienberg has a lot to celebrate this Christmas season. Just a few years ago, the 22-year-old Yukoner began rescuing Haitian children who were living in the streets or in abusive orphanages.

Morgan Wienberg has a lot to celebrate this Christmas season.

Just a few years ago, the 22-year-old Yukoner began rescuing Haitian children who were living in the streets or in abusive orphanages.

Today, she is watching those children grow into strong leaders who are paying it forward to the most vulnerable in their community.

Wienberg’s organization, Little Footprints, Big Steps, focuses on giving children a safe place to live, reuniting them with family when possible, and giving them the training and tools to succeed in their lives.

This month the group has forged a partnership with the Association for Parents of Handicapped Persons in Southern Haiti, a self-organized group of Haitians supporting each other to raise children with disabilities.

On Dec. 6, Wienberg took nine boys and one girl from her Haitian family to a beach day hosted by the organization.

“I took them along to assist with the event, hoping that it would not only help facilitate the day, but also give my boys some confidence and the opportunity/drive to help others. It worked!” she wrote

in an email to supporters.

“I am so proud of those boys. They really stepped up; the day began with everyone in a group, and a space in the centre of all parents/children for people to dance and sing.

“One of my former street boys, 14-year-old Job, danced in front of everyone – with a little girl with Down’s syndrome dancing her heart out beside him!

“Then, to my delight and surprise, four of my 16-year-old boys got up to the ‘stage’ and sang a song called ‘Children are Life’ about children’s rights and the importance of investing in children.

“I cried. I was so moved! Ednel, one of the boys for whom I am legal guardian, was included in those four boys and before they sang he greeted ‘this special group of parents.’

“Afterwards, the older boys helped carry handicapped infants into the ocean as their parents didn’t want to go in the water.

“I had other boys speak to parents, listening to their problems and asking what type of support they need most. These kids were my team.”

Reaching out these parents is a big deal, because it could prevent more children from ending up on the street in the future, Wienberg wrote.

“I am so thrilled to have discovered this association, as I think it’s key to preventing the abandonment of handicapped children. “This is an issue I’ve been trying to address for so long, due to children consistently being abandoned in the local hospital. Typically these children are handicapped – and are abandoned because the parents have no resources and no support network.”

Morgan’s team of young leaders will also visit the pediatric wing of the hospital over the holidays to visit with children and parents, and hand out small gifts of food, medicine or supplies based on the needs of the family.

For Wienberg’s team, Christmas is a time for giving back but also for celebration.

On Sunday the organization hosted a party for the Association for Parents of Handicapped Persons.

“It was an incredible success,” wrote Wienberg.

Government officials spoke at the event, parents shared their stories, and the kids performed a skit on the theme of anti-discrimination that had the crowd in hysterics, she said.

The boys living in Wienberg’s safe house were rewarded for their hard work this week with a special treat – dinner at a beach-side restaurant.

And all of the girls left to spend the holidays with family in the countryside, wrote Weinberg. She sent them off with gifts of hygiene supplies and other small things.

Little Footprints, Big Steps is always looking for donations to support education, training, medication and housing for children and families in need. Visit littlefootprintsbigsteps.com for more.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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