By Aly Blech
For The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — This winter break, instead of keeping cozy and having an American Christmas at home, two St. Ambrose University sophomores will pack their bags and head to Simonette, Haiti. Paige Echele and Corri Goldsmith will work in an orphanage called Tytoo Gardens Children’s Foundation.
Echele, an international studies and political science double major with a concentration in international politics, is from O’Fallon, Mo., and has participated in international mission trips before. However, Goldsmith, a psychology and pre-occupational therapy major from Solon, has been on mission trips but never out of the country.
“I have always had a strong pull to go to Haiti; it seemed to be something God placed on my heart a number of years ago,” Goldsmith said. “I saw many of my friends, including Paige, coming and going from these places making a difference in the world and I finally made the decision to make it happen.
“I messaged a friend of mine,” Goldsmith continued. “I knew her sister was working at an orphanage in Haiti. Before I knew it, I was looking up flights and planning the trip. Right when I had the idea, I talked to Paige because I knew she is just as passionate about mission as me. The idea scared me, because I have never been out of the country before, let alone a third-world country, and I wasn’t sure if I was emotionally or spiritually ready to handle the adversary — but I decided I just had to jump in headfirst,” Goldsmith said.
Eschele said, “I have a deep passion for mission work. When Corri began seriously contemplating the possibility of going to Haiti and told me to pray and think about it, it wasn’t long after that I knew this trip was for me too. This will be a whole new experience, as it is in a new country, in a specific orphanage and it is not with a church group. Therefore, I jumped on the opportunity for a new adventure,” Echele said.
Tytoo Gardens, along with being an orphanage, facilitates programs to help rehabilitate mothers in the community.
As they fundraise for the trip, the women hope to help an additional group of people through their choice of fundraiser. They will sell bracelets through the non-profit Threads of Hope to help fund their trip and help support the Filippino women who make the bracelets.
Half of the profits from Threads of Hope bracelets is given to the women who make the bracelets, while Echele and Goldsmith will keep the other half to fund their Haiti trip, Echele said.
The two St. Ambrose students will raise additional funds through Mount Vernon, Iowa, — based One Mission. One Mission has a strong tie to Haiti and assist missionaries, schools, sports teams, and anyone who needs to do fundraising.
Echele, who is a peer assistant for a New Student Seminar class, read the class’s assigned book “Half the Sky” which ultimately became another reinforcer for Goldsmith and Echele along the way.
Goldsmith said, “‘Half the Sky’ addresses major global issues and specifically women’s issues. Threads of Hope gives dignity and financial stability to women who long for the opportunity to better provide for their families. This gives women the ability to be independent from men and not have to stay in situations that could be emotionally or physically taxing. Threads of Hope gives women hope for a future, keeping them away from human trafficking. These exact issues are tackled in the NSS book ‘Half the Sky.’ Paige and I both have read the book and it affected each of us in a profound way, helping us fully grasp the reality of less developed countries.”
Threads of Hope bracelets
Goldsmith and Echele will be volunteering in Haiti from Dec. 12 through the 26 and raising partial funds by selling Threads of Hope bracelets.
The bracelets cost $4 each or $10 for three. To purchase the bracelets, email Goldsmith at firstname.lastname@example.org or Echele at email@example.com.
(Aly Blech is a staff writer for St. Ambrose Unviersity’s The Buzz.)