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Hearts open everywhere

Haiti, March 26, 2010

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I have been making Mercy Corps presentations to a variety of service organizations, schools, and churches since the earthquake in Haiti, but yesterday was unique. I had to purchase special clothing for this appointment!

I was invited to give a presentation to a group of inmates in the Oregon State Penitentiary who had raised money to donate to Mercy Corps' efforts in Haiti. They presented a check to Mercy Corps for $1,065, which they received from inmates who earn about a dollar a day working there! And, on my way to Salem, I had received a phone call from an anonymous donor who agreed to match their efforts. So I was able to share that their total contribution was $2,130!

The inmate Toastmasters Club organized the effort and was joined by four other clubs to reach out to the general population with information about the earthquake and Mercy Corps' work there. They were most impressed by Mercy Corps' plans that use local suppliers wherever possible, that hire local people. They were also inspired by our cash-for-work program, which jump-starts the local economy.

Several of the men expressed gratitude that they could participate in the project as a way of making amends to society. After the slide show I presented, several had tears in their eyes with the realization of how far their contributions would go. This was a heart-opening experience for me as well as for them!

The special clothing I mentioned earlier? I had to buy an non-underwire bra to go into the facility!