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Sunday, November 28, 2021

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    Haitians get chance to change their world with college

    It began on the airplane. The two young men stared out the windows as the island slowly disappeared from view. Neither one had ever left Haiti. Neither had ever slept a night away from home.

    One of the them, a slender, serious soul named Jhonas, had spent years in a tent city, his floor raw earth, his roof a blue tarp. No electricity. No running water. A toilet which was basically a hole in the ground 200 yards from where he slept. A small mountain of plastic bags sat near the foul-smelling opening; kids used these as toilet paper.

    The second young man, Edney, has a long smile and a sizable mop of hair. He arrived at the orphanage I operate in Port Au Prince, Haiti — called The Have Faith Haiti Mission — when he was 7 years old. He was completely illiterate. No English. No French. No alphabet of any kind.

    Today, 10 years later, he is a high school graduate with an A average.

    “What do you think?” I asked as the plane ascended.

    A Haitian flag is carried during the Haitian Unity Day in Spring Valley May 23, 2021. The parade coincided with Saturday's announcement that the Biden administration will extend Temporary Protected Status to Haitian nationals living in the U.S. for eighteen months.

    “Wow,” he mumbled.

    It’s been “wow” ever since. Try to imagine leaving the only world  you’d ever known — the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere devastated by natural disasters, including a 7.2-magnitude earthquake Saturday  — and landing in 2021 America, where every step is an astonishment.

    A highway? Never saw one of those. A traffic light that tells you to walk? A restaurant with 20 different flavors of chicken wings? Supermarkets where you check yourself out? Suburbs?

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