A Letter from Dori

We received this letter from Dori Rothenthaler, an RN from Grand Rapids, MI who recently returned from her first trip to La Gonave. She has kindly given us permission to share it (we added the pictures). We think you will enjoy it. Here it is, unedited, and in its entirety…

Hi Steve,

Although I usually don’t tend to be short on words, I had to take a few days to really process my thoughts on the impact Haiti has had on me. Quite often I have reverted back to my invitation from Cindy to come to a Church Service at Berkley and the quick whim of “I need to go to Haiti with this group thought.” I sat in on the first meeting with the hopes that everyone would be accepting and welcoming towards this Catholic girl joining their group. Not knowing who I am, the personality, work ethic, and background I’ve come from; what would they think or say?

My heart and faith felt an over abundance of Joy the second everyone smiled and said “heck yes” (Ron). From the moment I met the group, I knew that this was going to be the CHANGE I needed in my life. Being a part of something so much bigger, something I had dreamed about, but never knew where or how; that meeting brought light to these questions I had. I began night after night researching Starfysh. Stalking the website, reading caption after caption about crop progress, Education, Economy, and a 2011 video on YouTube that made me say “my heart and Faith are in this.” Not to mention the pictures of so many people that I actually met during my visit.

Now for Haiti… I would have been able to share many pictures, but as you know my camera more than likely was left in the TapTap… hahaha…

You know how you can picture a place in your mind, and just as you happen to see a photo or go to that place so many things change for you. The realization of what you “thought” was not quite what it was. This is how I processed Haiti! I knew from photos the devastation, poverty, malnourishment… the list goes on and on… I knew of these things, but NEVER did I know how the feelings would consume me in being there. We went into homes, welcomed by families that are DYING for clean water. They didn’t know us, and we didn’t know them, but what we all knew was a $100.00 water filter can save lives (their lives). Beyond the filter, there was universal exchanges of appreciation A SMILE, A HUG, AND PRAYER. I recall climbing into the back of the pick-up truck that transported us from home to home, and I closed my eyes and said thank you to God for holding my hand on this journey, and blessing me with all that I have.

Between the 4 groups, we installed 20+ water filters that day, and after every installation we prayed over that home. P.S. I prayed out loud for the first time that day, and I felt an overwhelming presence in which I cannot explain in words. As the second day approached, I woke up early to find you and Freddy sleeping out on the porch. I quietly went back inside the Starfysh house and began my daily journal.

Page 1. I wish you all could be here. I wish you could see and feel what I am feeling right now;and then I began to cry. I felt this overwhelming sense of grief! These are Human beings!!! What are we doing??? What have we done??? What can we do??? We sat down for breakfast and we discussed the plan for the day. I sometimes drown out other peoples conversations to keep the one I have processing in my mind going (and no I am not crazy, or so they say… lol) I remember thinking, 5 days is not long enough, once a year will not be long enough… NOT FOR ME…

Backpacks… Oh the backpacks. What an impact you can make on a kid with a simple back pack, small toy, candy, and pencils. The profound impact it made in Haiti would never make as profound of an impact here that’s for sure. The kids… Blah Blah… Loved every second of it. The gentle touches they made to our hands, almost like we seemed to be unreal. Which in hindsight, we probably were…. The simple backpack seemed huge to them, but the smiles were a gift I will carry in my heart FOREVER… 

After 2 short days, I have fallen in love with Haiti, and God willing, I will be back. The week continued with visits to the village of Makochon… Uniformed children greeted us with the greatest smiles I have ever seen… Songs were sang, tag was played, and photos were taken. My heart was being filled even more.

Berkley Hills has become part of my family. My scattered brain thinking is putting me off course a little, so I apologize. I know we helped while we were there, and I feel like our trip was a good start. I just know there is so much more to be done, and I need to be a part of it. I haven’t found much value in myself! I feel like I am a great mom to Taylor and Nolte, and a great wife to Aaron, however; I also feel like I have a much bigger purpose in this world! My work as Spectrum health as the Ambassador of the Employee Giving Campaign is appreciated, and my time spent at God’s Kitchen is as well, but I NEED to do more than this. I am capable of much more!

If I can take away something so profound that I learned and experienced in Haiti it is that no matter how much money you donate, and time you give of yourself, if you’re not helping others help themselves, you are setting them up for failure. A smart man in Haiti told me that I can hand a man $50.00 dollars to go to the market and buy some food, and when that gone he’s hungry again. But if I teach a man to plant, grow and harvest, he will never go hungry. Haiti has changed my life in so many ways, and I have grown closer in my faith because of my experience. I almost feel as though I got more out of Haiti than what they got out of me, and I’m not sure if that’s selfish, or if it’s ok. I’ve been praying about it!

Thanks so much to Starfysh, Berkley and the team for accepting me into the Starfysh home, into your lives, and into your group. I have made some wonderful friends and family (here and in Haiti). God bless you all!