In February, Wells native Taylor Allis made a life-changing decision.
After taking a semester off from her studies at Augustana College to make good on her intent to teach abroad, Allis accepted an invitation to travel to Haiti with a team from Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Preventive Health Strategies that included co-founders Dr. Annette Bosworth and her husband, Chad Haber. Among other efforts that include freeing slaves and establishing water purification and food distribution systems, PHS is working toward establishing an English immersion school in Haiti.
After spending two months in the impoverished island country still reeling from the effects of a massive and devastating earthquake in 2010, Allis has pledged to return to the school as a founding teacher when she graduates.
What follows is a first-hand account of Allis' experience in Haiti and the heartwarming bond she developed with a little girl who never seemed to smile:
During my first week in Haiti, I met a precious little girl named Rosaline.
We rode into this little village and about 50 vibrant kids chased after our tap-tap and started cheering, "The whities are here, the whities are here!" It was quite the scene that unfolded. We sat in the back of this pick-up truck and witnessed how riled up people could get just by our presence. I was laughing with them, smiling at them, and waving to them. Their happiness and joy were infectious. But then I saw these unforgettable pair of eyes staring at me. Rosaline's eyes. They were the biggest, saddest, eyes I've ever seen. I was hoping that she'd snap out of this glare she was giving me, and soon be as happy as the rest of the children. This was not the case.
When we got out of the tap-tap, we made our way into a building where school is held. This shack is also where the orphan children have to sleep, using coconut leaves as beds. While we were talking to the people in charge of this makeshift school, I looked over to the corner of the room. There was Rosaline sitting all alone. She was perched on a bench, just gazing at us with those cold eyes again that rarely blink. While all the other kids were outside playing and laughing, Rosaline secluded herself and just sat and stared. I couldn't help myself, so I went over and held her.