An Edmond woman changed by a January 2009 trip to Haiti soon will return to a nation dramatically altered by disaster.
Roughly one year ago, Doyce Crandall went on a mission-type trip to Haiti. She spent a week in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere helping Haitians, many of whom live on less than $2 a day.
Living Hope Mission Ministries hosted the volunteers, who were supported by Crandall’s employer, a photography company. The team members helped build a school house and repair a water well used by some of the residents of DeRac, a city of 8,000 located north of Port-au-Prince.
Crandall spent a day photographing students. It was the first time in their lives that most of these children had been photographed, and the free portrait packets Lifetouch donated to the parents are likely the only pictures they will ever have of their children, she said.
Crandall said during the trip she witnessed how every day life for Haitians is about families struggling to find enough food and water, about an absence of government or private aid, about an absence of material possessions. Every day, Haitian children die from a lack of food and clean water, she said.
She said she witnessed how even though Haitians have few material things they are extremely proud of what they do have, and she was moved by their apparent happiness, despite their circumstances.
Crandall said she came home from the previous trip with a greater appreciation for her life here, along with a desire to return to Haiti to help educate children there.
“I want to do my part and make a difference to at least one child that otherwise might not have hope,” Crandall said. “That one child might be the one to change Haiti.”
Many mission trips were in doubt after Port-au-Prince was devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake earlier this month, which left most of the structures there either damaged or destroyed. During the ensuing days delivery of relief supplies accelerated while rescue hopes gradually dimmed.
Crandall said her return trip to Haiti through Living Hope Mission, previously scheduled for Feb. 14-21, has not been canceled. Living Hope Mission hosts groups from abroad who desire to enlarge their vision for work being done in Haiti.
Crandall and her husband Mike Crandall are members of Edmond’s Acts 2 United Methodist Church. Mike said several years ago after joining the church, Doyce became more tuned into the needs of the less fortunate.
“Fortunately, her employer, Lifetouch, shared that passion,” Mike said.
Doyce is a territory manager for Lifetouch National School Studios, a subsidiary of Lifetouch, the world’s largest employee-owned photography company. The company has supported construction of eight schools in northern Haiti, said Lifetouch spokesman Kelvin Miller. Schools were chosen because school children are a major source of customers, Miller said.
Lifetouch volunteers, like Crandall, have traveled to locations in the United States and elsewhere across the world, building and repairing homes and schools and photographing families. About 20 volunteers go on the week-long trips. The company also helps provide daily meals to thousands of Haitian children, Miller said.
“Giving back is one of the tenants of our doing business,” Miller said.
During the upcoming trip, Crandall and the other team members will help build an addition onto a school house Lifetouch built several years ago, Doyce said. There is a severe lack of space, with 60 children being taught in a 15-foot by 15-foot space, she said.
“The children are sitting on laps, floors and even standing just for an opportunity to learn,” Doyce said.
For more information on Living Hope Mission, visit www.livinghopemission.org.
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