On Jan. 12, 2010, the Caribbean country of Haiti experienced a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that crippled a country that was already facing political, economic and social inequalities.
Hart football player and current junior Luke Michaelson was just five years old at the time and couldn’t really offer any substantial help. His parents had just gotten back from the country, along with close family friend Greg Barshaw, the founder of Connect 2 Ministries, and spoke to Michaelson about their encounters.
“My mom had been talking to me about it and how eye-opening it was,” Michaelson said. “I’ve always wanted to go, but I’ve never been old enough.”
Connect 2 Ministries is an organization that was launched in 2009 that aims to help relief efforts of the 2010 earthquake, as well as help local churches, orphans and the rest of the disabled Haitian population.
Now 16, Michaelson has returned from spending a little over a week in the country offering help in any way he can, specifically in the town of Onaville.
Exactly eight weeks after Michaelson and the Hart football team fell 52-21 to eventual champions, San Juan Hills, in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs, the Hart junior arrived in Onaville on Jan. 10.
The Indians went 7-5 overall this season and finished in a four-way tie for second place at 3-2 in Foothill League play. The Indians reached the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs, defeating Chapparal 34-23 in the first round. Michaelson recorded two tackles in the contest.
Michaelson, Barshaw and about 13 other volunteers with the purpose of serving and helping build an orphanage for children involved in sex and labor trafficking, as well as share the word of God.
Michaelson said he painted rooms, built beds and genuinely bonded with the children of Onaville.
“When my (Connect 2 Ministries) team and I got to the orphanage for the first time, the first thing that this one kid did was sprint straight towards me and gave me the biggest hug ever,” he said. “He didn’t let go.
“They are just awesome and want to show you these magic tricks, or race with you, they just always want to be with you because they don’t have anybody to be with them, really. To them, we are these incredible people, but I just loved being with them and hanging out with them.”
Since returning to the states, Michaelson couldn’t help but compare just how extreme and deplorable the living conditions are in Haiti and just how blessed he is to be living in America.
“They are drinking water that is extremely polluted because they don’t have running water,” Michaelson said. “Their houses are made out of bamboo and whatever they can find and the government in Haiti does nothing about it.
“I’m incredibly blessed to live in America with all this stuff, really, because they don’t have anything. They don’t have much, but they have Jesus, and that’s who they look to. To me, that’s awesome and it just shows me how I’m always distracted with the things that we have in America and they don’t have anything to distract them, so their main focus in Jesus. It just shows how selfish I am and makes me want to give … because we have so much in America and they have nothing.”
Michaelson insists that this will not be his last trip to Haiti and encourages more people to help and contribute to help feed, clothe and educate those in need. For more information, you can visit www.connect2ministries.org.