If you've been following our work, you've seen her name. You've seen her face. You've read about how much we absolutely adore this woman. But other than that, you probably don't know much else about her.
Allow us a moment to introduce you to her and her situation.
Rachael first met Simone after Hurricane Matthew passed through Haiti this past October when she was out checking on her neighbors. From that first meeting, Rachael and Simone became friends, visited often and introduced the rest of us at Konbit to this sweet woman.
Simone cares for her 3 year old grandson, Jodelin and her 19 year old granddaughter Wislande due to absentee parents. This is an all too common occurrence in Haiti so we have tried to do whatever we can to come alongside of her and care for these grandkids that keep her "young."
This woman is a prayer warrior and a giant in the faith if we've ever seen one. We recently had a small team in and after they had visited her, they walked away saying she was "connected" [to God] and that couldn't be any more true. Simone is overflowing with joy and is quick to let everyone know that there is no one other than God. She reminds us constantly that He sees us and only He can provide for the needs we have. Any time we take food to her, she usually breaks out in prayer and thanksgiving to God for knowing that she needed food and for sending people. When we share about changes and things going on in our lives, she's quick to let us know that God has a plan for us and it's a good plan. We are constantly encouraged by her and we always walk away from our time with her encouraged and so incredibly thankful to God.
Here recently we were visiting her and I (Jessie) asked her what she used to for a living when she was younger. She lit up and began talking about how she used to make peanuts and sell them in the market. She became real animated as she was explaining the process and said she could make some for us. It was then that we started thinking...
what if we brought a team in and she got to teach the team how to make peanuts?
So we asked her if she would be interested in doing that and she about jumped out of her skin with excitement. Judging from the response we got, we knew this was a done deal and it was going to happen.
Our first team arrived a couple weeks later and before we went to her place, we gave Simone the equivalent of $10 US for her to purchase raw peanuts so she could teach us. The day came for the team and Simone was firing on all cylinders and joyfully teaching the team the art of popping a peanut, how much salt to add to the water to boil the peanuts, when the peanuts were done boiling, how to strain the peanuts Haitian style, how much sand to add back to the pot and how to stir the peanuts in the sand to keep them from burning. After a couple hours, it was time to try the peanuts that were grilled and they were AMAZING!
The team then bought the peanuts off of her and she had a stash left for herself. We told her she could do whatever she wanted to do with them and she let us know she was going to go sell them in the market.
About a week later we went to visit Simone to check in on her and ask her if she wanted to teach another team to make peanuts and she wasn't home. Rachael, just thinking out loud, said, "How cool would it be if the reason she isn't at home is because she's been able to make and sell peanuts again?" I agreed that it would be awesome but I guess we'd have to wait until we saw her again to ask. As Rachael and I were walking back to the house, we stopped and visited a few other friends along the way. When we were done visiting them, Simone heard we were in the neighborhood once she got back home so came and found us. We asked her where she went and sure enough, she had gone to the market to buy more peanuts so she could keep making and selling them.
THIS IS WHY WE KONBIT.
Simone took what little she had and was turning it over. Just that little bit she had after teaching us has gotten her back in the market and making money to provide for her little family. The family who had nothing and was dependent on the kindness of others, is now able to have a little income. PRAISE. THE LORD.
So now things look a little different. A good different.
Instead of asking her how much she needs to start up and to teach our next group how to grill peanuts the Haitian way, we just have to let her know when we're coming so she is sure to have peanuts on hand to make. Instead of giving for her to teach us and then buying what she has after, we can now just purchase the peanuts from her and she gets to keep the profit. The profit that she makes feeds her family and enables her to continue buying, grilling and selling. It's been such a cool thing to witness and it aligns with the heart and reason why we started Konbit.
We have been blessed enough to build physically in the life of Simone but one of the sweetest (and most unexpected) things has been how she has been building into us spiritually.
People like Simone and stories like hers are all over Haiti. The longer we live and work here, and the more stories we get to share, the more opportunities you have to join in with what God is doing. You are poised to extend the reach of the hands of Jesus to the people we serve through Konbit.
Some come and let us #konbittogether.