FORT GAY —
A Fort Gay woman shared a place that had “literally stolen my heart” with her physician father on a spring break mission trip to Neply, Haiti.
Savannah Workman and her father, Dr. Marc Workman, were part of a mission trip where they worked in medical clinics, helped with children with disabilities and served the Lord — together.
“It is such a cool opportunity to be able to share a place and a people that have literally stolen my heart with my dad,” the Campbellsville University sophomore said. “Now I think he fully understands my passion. It really just deepens any relationship to share a mission experience, but I think it’s even more special when it’s with a parent.”
Not the first
Although they had been on a previous mission trip together to Guatemala, this trip was the first one they were able to do a prayer walk and community programs together.
“It was the first time we got to actually be together in the mission field — especially during the prayer walk. That was a really neat experience to be able to share,” Dr. Workman, a physician in the Louisa Medical Clinic known for making house calls, said. The Workmans traveled to Neply (on the western coast of Haiti) working with myLIFEspeaks whose mission is to provide resources for special needs children and try to change the way people with disabilities are perceived in the Haitian culture.
Group members also work with orphans and have developed what they call “house families” where there is a Haitian couple supported by myLIFEspeaks and given a home in which to raise typically developed and special needs children together in a family style environment with seven children or less.
Though the children aren’t biologically related, they have literally become a family.
“Spending time with the kids in the community — whether at a feeding program or just playing in the village, was really fun,” Savannah Workman said. “I felt like we were part of the community, not some random Americans who were strangers.”
She said the verse they focused on was 1 Thessalonians 2:8, and she said she felt myLIFEspeaks has “really succeeded at ‘sharing life’ with Americans and Haitians alike.”
They had a movie night with the children in the community, and they all got to come to the myLIFEspeaks campus and watch “Finding Nemo” and have snacks. “That was a blast,” she said.
The team members who weren’t medically inclined were supposed to work at the local school all week, but because of Fat Tuesday/Ash Wednesday celebrations, the schools were closed.
Instead they got to work on small repair/cleaning projects around the campus where they stayed in the community center and special needs school.
“We were also able to spend a lot of time loving on and pouring into the orphans and special needs kids,” Savannah Workman said, giving the caretakers a break since they were out of school.
She worked with the prayer walk and the feeding programs for children who weren’t in schools and also with Redemption 72:14, an after-school feeding and tutoring program for at risk preteen/teenagers and several children who are domestic slaves in the community.
“There were so many opportunities to share the Gospel and build relationships,” she said, but the greatest, and yet worst part, was working with Redemption 72:14. “The program is awesome and allows them a chance to just be kids,” she said, “however, it is just really heartbreaking to see such beautiful and strong kids being oppressed and treated like property instead of children.”
She said there is “so much hope and promise in their lives, though, and it is so humbling and inspirational.”
Her father helped with the feeding program and other community outreach programs and worked in the medical clinic with Haitian nurses for three days. They also got to experience the village league soccer, or futbol, games each night.
“One of my favorite things was when the Haitian nurse Carmella would lead worship songs and pray for her patients and fellow nurses every morning before they would open the clinic,” he said.
“Another positive experience was being able to help care for one of the myLIFEspeaks security guards who had a bad motorcycle accident while we were there. Probably the greatest part was seeing the kids’ faces at the feeding programs and around the village or playing with soccer balls and how happy they were with just the simplest games and toys,” he said.
The worst part, he said, was seeing all the poverty, in Port-au-Prince especially. “It was just devastating. There were just heaps of garbage everywhere and so many people and animals. It was unbelievable,” he said.
One of the greatest moments of the trip for Savannah Workman was when they took the house children to the beach.
“One of the boys, Malachi, is 6 and has severe special needs. He is unable to walk or stand on his own so after we had held him in the water for a little while, he was sitting on the foot of his stroller with the waves lapping at his feet. All of a sudden, his house brother came over and began to dig a hole by his feet, and he then picked up Malachi’s foot, washed it off, and placed it in the hole that was now filled with water. Since Malachi couldn’t go out and play as everyone else, he had made him his own pool. To see such service and brotherly love in a 9-year-old boy for someone who is not like him was so humbling,” she said.
‘Fell in love’
This was her second trip to Neply and fifth mission trip with three to Guatemala. It was her dad’s first trip to Haiti, but third mission trip (twice to Guatemala).
She said she went to Neply last spring break and “fell in love with the country and the people.”
They made their decision to go in early December. She went with Dustin Ford, a 2011 CU graduate who was the team leader and one of the nurses.
“I knew there was a need for medical help and that there were nurses from Campbellsville going so when Savannah mentioned going back, I was interested in spending the week with her and being able to serve,” Dr. Workman said.
The team members consisted of the Workmans, Ford, Kayla Howard, a junior from Campbellsville; Bethany Bugg, a sophomore from Wilmore and Dena Clements, a senior from Campbellsville.
The Workmans attend Big Hurricane Baptist Church in Fort Gay.
The Workmans said they would return to mission work. “I would go back in a heartbeat,” Savannah Workman said, “to Neply or wherever God is leading me.
“There is something about leaving your comfort zone and experiencing something so different from your own culture that really puts things into perspective and, through that, God really turns your world upside down — whether you’re expecting it or not!” Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,600 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.