Sunday, March 24

Kathia Henry Bonhomme

Imagine waking up and making the decision to live that day for others. I want you all to see and hear about this amazing woman I had the honor to meet & serve with. I haven't been able to get her off my mind since I learned of her unexpected death yesterday. 

This beautiful woman taught me so much in the single week I spent with her. I want to share with you all how hard this woman worked and gave her life away daily. 

Many of you followed the blog I kept for my trip to Haiti this past summer, the tales of hannah overseas. If so, you remember the post about Jimmy

{if you haven't read it, take some time to do so. His story is amazing, and it will help you fully understand the magnitude of Kathia's service.}

Kathia had the most quiet confidence. She was a behind-the-scenes kind of woman. She never sought praise for her continuous acts of service. I was so blessed to have opportunities to serve behind the scenes with her, and was overwhelmed by her love and joy for life. Although we didn't speak the same language, we would sing and laugh together for hours on end. She had this effect on anyone in her presence.

Kathia and Jimmy have been married for almost two years. When marrying Jimmy, she was also marrying into the Zanfan Lakay family. Together, they ran a home for over 70 street children, ages 0-18. To most of them, Kathia was their mother. Three times a day, she prepared and served meals for each child and adult at Zanfan Lakay. 

Not only did Kathia feed the children of Zanfan, she also prepared extra food a few times a week to feed street children of Port-au-Prince.

Kathia cared for each child as if they were her own. She bathed the little children, and braided the girls' hair. Most of these children never knew their own mothers. Kathia embodied the mother figure they never had or knew. 

When the children reached the age of 18, they were no longer able to continue living in the home. Kathia taught the older kids different trades so they would be able to make money and provide for themselves after leaving the home. This included making jewelry and clothing, and tanning their own hide to make bags and shoes.

Not only did she teach them these trades, she also taught them the importance of generosity. While we were there, Kathia and the boys secretly made us all shoes. They presented them to us at the end of the week and we were all speechless. These were the items that they sold to make money, and here they were GIVING them to us.

Kathia and I had a special bond. I had brought a bag of jewelry to give to her and the other ladies who volunteer at the home. At the end of the week, she surprised me with a jewelry set that she had made especially for me. The beads were the color of the Haitian flag, "so you will never forget us."

Kathia spoke very little English. I spoke very little Creole. But our bond and friendship was undeniable. I feel like our hearts connected in a way that any language barrier could hinder. We cried as we hugged goodbye. I told her I would return as soon as I could, to which she replied that she and Jimmy would have an air mattress ready for me. 

I had expected to return to Haiti to serve with Kathia and Jimmy for several months, but was unable to do so.

I am so thankful to the organization Grangou, Michael and Carrie Gibson for funding Zanfan. They provide funds for food, housing, and special amenities such as computers. I am so thankful to have kept in touch with my Haitian family via Facebook.

I called Jimmy and Kathia my Haitian parents, and I know I am not the only one who feels this way. To hundreds of Haitians and Americans, they truly are family. My heart is broken for Jimmy and all their "children" who are mourning over the loss of their Manmi. 

Please keep them in your prayers. We are so happy we can say with confidence that Kathia is singing and dancing with Jesus right now. Those who love her cannot wait to join her one day. 

I hope you feel encouraged and inspired by Kathia's life and service. She truly was one of the most selfless and generous people I have ever met, and I feel so blessed to have served by her side for a tiny period of time. 

Here are statements from Facebook made by some of the Zanfan Lakay boys:

"I can't believe but it's true mama you gone who i will call when i wanna talk who i will kiss when i'm happy who i will say my secret no one can take your place but remenber i will always remenber you cause you always stay in my heart R.I.P Kathia Henry Bonhomme i will always love you my 2nd mother" - Ali Bonhomme {Jimmy's birth son}

"I dont have mom i dont have dad how God can help me?" - Ridje Henry {Kathia's birth son}

Everyone who knew this amazing woman is grieving with the hope and reassurance that she is with her Heavenly Father. We are so sad to be on this side of Heaven without her, but her legacy lives on. 

Today, in honor of Kathia, the boys of Zanfan Lakay prepared and served food to the street boys of Port-au-Prince.

If you feel so compelled, a Memorial fund has been set up in Kathia's memory to raise money for Zanfan Lakay, her family, and her children. Check it out here.

To learn more about Zanfan and Grangou, please take some time to look at my other blog, because what is happening in Port-au-Prince, Haiti is truly amazing. 

I hope you all feel encouraged, inspired, and hopeful after reading about this amazing woman's life. Once again, please pray for the ones who are mourning the loss of her earthly presence. 

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