CCHS Student Nick Mashburn Brings Hope To Haiti CCHS Student Nick Mashburn Brings Hope To Haiti
BY SARAH ROUSSELL The frightening sense of helplessness and struggle lurks quietly throughout a weary city. Piles of rubble fill the corners of beaten... CCHS Student Nick Mashburn Brings Hope To Haiti

Junior Nick Mashburn brings a welcome diversion to the children of Mirebalais, Haiti. Photo Courtesy of NICK MASHBURN


The frightening sense of helplessness and struggle lurks quietly throughout a weary city. Piles of rubble fill the corners of beaten streets, and orphan children are crying hysterically. The overwhelming presence of poverty is persistently knocking down the frail doors of little shacks as a broken country eagerly struggles to fight back. Starvation begins to weaken the strength of a tired people, hopelessness starts to tug on fragile hearts, and a gloomy illustration of despair is reflected in the weary eyes of a community in need.  This is the terrifying reality for the people of Mirebalais, Haiti, and everyday they are faced with this dreary scene. This summer, Cooper City High School junior Nick Mashburn traveled to Mirebalais for a five day mission trip where he not only changed the lives of the people whom he was helping, but also changed his own.

From August 14th to the 18th, Mashburn walked through the streets of Mirebalais, interacting with orphanages, distributing food to people, and learning about the Haitian culture. Mashburn was informed about this opportunity through his church and was eager to lend a helping hand.  His trip was soon planned and arranged with an organization called Great Commission Alliance. With experience in mission work, GCA has been helping many lives in southern Haiti for ten years.  This year, GCA has changed their direction and is asserting their focus in Mirebalais (Central Haiti).

Since this would be his first mission trip as well as his first time out of the country, Mashburn was extremely excited, but before landing in Haiti, there was a lot of preparation that had to be done.  To be able to interact with the Haitians, Mashburn was required to learn some Creole.  He learned basic terms like, “Hello, how are you doing?” to help him get around.  Mashburn also researched and learned about Haiti’s culture and underwent mental preparation for the images that he would soon witness on his mission.

On his trip, Mashburn got a firsthand view of poverty, struggle, and despair. As he passed through the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, he saw the damage and debris left behind from the earthquake that happened in January 2010. The earthquake did not affect Mirebalais; however, looking at the piles of rubble from crumbling homes throughout its streets, it seems as though it was a part of it.  In Mirebalais, Mashburn was exposed to the harsh living conditions and obvious struggle in the poverty-stricken area and mentally photographed scenes that will stick with him for the rest of his life. He visited an orphanage where twenty-two children slept on the ground, and on several occasions saw mothers come in to drop off their children because they could not afford to care for them anymore.

“I remember one woman who came in to drop off her kids,” Mashburn said. “She spent all the money she had to buy them nice clothes because she thought they weren’t good enough for the orphanage. I saw her sign the papers saying that she was giving them up and she couldn’t visit them anymore because it would be too hard on her kids.”

During his mission, Mashburn also visited a place called Parachute Village where two hundred people lived under a parachute tent that is close to the size of CCHS’s Red Awning.  These people lived tight and close together, making their lives extremely difficult.

“You would have thought they would all be sad,” Mashburn said. “But they were happier than anyone I have ever met before.”

Mashburn and his group worked on many different activities within the city. In the orphanage, they opened a vacation bible school for the children where they could worship and learn about God. In Parachute Village, the group passed out care packages full of food to the people. The Haitians were extremely grateful for GCA’s help, and there was an overall sense of joy as they welcomed Mashburn and his group into their homes, showed them around, and made them home cooked meals.

“We all tried to wear sunglasses when we could,” Mashburn said. “If the Haitians saw us crying, they wouldn’t understand why because that was one of the happiest days of their lives.”

Mashburn poses with Robert, who he met in a Haitian orphanage. Photo Courtesy of NICK MASHBURN

During his frequent visits to the orphanage, Mashburn met a little boy named Robert who was dropped off at the front of the orphanage when he was just a baby, but the orphanage never met his mother or received his papers. It was the people who worked in the orphanage who named him. Mashburn and Robert clicked instantly, and while he was there, Robert was basically Mashburn’s adoptive child.

“He was a pistol,” Mashburn said. “Always laughing, always wanting me to hold him, he would never let me put him down.”

This coming January, March, and July, Mashburn hopes to raise enough money to return to Haiti and to the people of Mirebalais, and continue to do mission work there. His experience has also inspired him to pursue a future career as a missionary.  When Mashburn grows up, he aspires to do mission work in an area called the 10/40 Window, an area composed of fifty-one countries where the government either directly persecutes Christianity or they look the other way as it is being practiced and worshiped.

This mission trip has not only affected the people of the Mirebalais, but it has also held a great emotional impact on Mashburn’s everyday life.  His experience has awakened him to the realities of the world and in many ways; his life has been forever changed. After his trip, Mashburn wrote a document where he described his experiences and emotions.

“We are so blind to what is really going on in the world,” Mashburn said. “Surrounded by our comfortable lifestyle, we rarely see – or if we do, acknowledge – the two billion people that live on less than two dollars a day. Haiti is filled with these people. My view on life has been changed in a way that I can’t keep quiet about. I came home from this trip and I realized as soon as I got off of the flight that I left something in Haiti; my heart. I can’t possibly come home and forget what I’ve seen.”