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Abby Belt


Year Joined MKLM:
2018

Country: Haiti

City: Gros Morne

Ministry: Jesus-Mary School (Lekòl Jezi-Mari) and Mercy Beyond Borders Learning Center

Ministry Area: Education and Leadership Development

Ministry Goals: At Jesus-Mary School: To empower teachers’ classroom instruction and aid in their continuing development.
At Mercy Beyond Borders: To enrich the education experience of MBB scholars and support their leadership development.

Population Served: School: 22 educators and their approx. 500 students. MBB: Some 200 scholars.

Ministry Context:

Jesus-Mary School: In the most recent series of nationwide protests and lockdowns (of several within the last year), we have seen an unprecedented amount of time pass without children being able to attend school. When everything else goes to the sinkhole, children deserve a good education that can empower them to progress past the difficult place from which they begin. Working with the teachers not only boosts the morale of local professionals trying to make positive differences in the lives of their pupils, it allows us to work together to uplift the future through the power of solid and consistent education.

Mercy Beyond Borders: These young women earn their places in MBB, and prove through dedication to academic excellence, personal integrity, and volunteering that they are leaders both of today and tomorrow. They do not look at the chaos around them and wonder what to do next, they simply act, press on and pursue excellence in their lives. Many have stated their goals include going to university, graduating and giving back to their country and families. Young people, especially young women in a country where a majority of their peers are statistically likely to have at least one child before age 18 and not pass their final year of high school, deserve as much support as possible in pursing their goals and pushing past the limits others place on them.

Current Ministry:

I work with teachers in their continuing education through workshops, formations, lesson planning, and out-of-the-box projects for one of my ministries. I also occasionally work directly with the students—side by side with their instructors for different projects we’ve developed together—which is quite fun. I am still in the early stages of developing a soccer program between some of the schools, but with the lockdowns, it is taking more time to establish; when we are on more solid ground, I will be better able to make progress with this endeavor.

I work in a volunteer capacity with Mercy Beyond Borders, a beautiful scholarship program for young women in secondary education, helping to facilitate their learning center’s library and English tutoring. My role at MBB involves a lot of background projects geared toward the girls’ advancement as well as data tracking so that we may understand where improvements may be made to make the program as nourishing as possible.

Personal Data:

I first knew God called me to mission when I was 14. Unsure of how that would come to be, I also knew I would take that leap right after college. I graduated university with a degree in secondary education and went to join the ranks of Maryknoll Lay Missioners the following fall. Each time I learned more about Maryknoll, its work, and what it stands for, I fell more in love with the organization. Getting to combine my passion for my career through the organization I call home with the place and people who’ve irrevocably etched themselves into my person has been the greatest and fullest experience of my young life. I do not know what all God has planned for me, but I know beyond doubt, I was made for education and mission.

Every person deserves a champion, especially children. Being able to work with other professionals in this community to uplift, empower, and believe in these bright, amazing humans is so life-giving. It also reminds me daily what is truly important. To be rooted in love, to work and grow and live from love, this is something we can all do and all do well. Beyond any quantifiable “success” here, the relationships I am allowed to develop because of the life I get to live is how I know I am right where I need to be. Would these amazing humans be fine if I wasn’t here? Absolutely. That was my first actualization about this life as a missioner. People existed before I came and did okay, as will they when I am gone. However, we’ll each have the moments and tiles of one another in the mosaics of our lives where we walked hand-in-hand for a time, and how unequivocally blessed am I that the tiles from this chapter run in the rich and vibrant colors of Haitian proverbs, lessons, sunsets, school uniforms, and the happiness-inducing, unadulterated laughter of truly inspiring young people?