An earthquake changed her life and started it all, but now she is the one shaking things up on this devastated island nation.
And though she has already accomplished more than anyone thought, God still isn’t done with her.
Haiti is ranked as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with an unemployment rate of 87% – a ranking no country wants to hold.
At least 80% of the population of Haiti lives in abject poverty, including a shockingly growing number of street children.
Street children are defined as children three to sixteen years of age for whom the street has become home – more so than any sheltering by a family. Often these children have lost their families through natural disasters, illness or abandonment due to financial hardship.
Since street children generally have no protection, supervision or direction from responsible adults, they are vulnerable to disease, addictions, starvation and of course abuse.
Needless to say, as they get older, the ones who survive are tougher and rougher than kids who typically live in orphanages.
On January 12, 2010, Haiti was struck by a catastrophic earthquake that registered a 7.0 magnitude and produced at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or higher. It is estimated that three million people were affected by this earthquake and it is on record as the most devastating natural disaster ever experienced in Haiti.
Streethearts founder, Linsey Jorgenson, was at the time a successful businesswoman with an enviable job, lots of shoes and an awesome sports car, living in the D.C. metro area, but even though she was living the American dream she always felt like there was something more. She often wondered, “Is this what it’s all about?”
Then, Linsey’s boss at the time tasked her with putting on a fundraising event for Haiti’s hurricane relief and gave her just three days to pull it off. Obviously, this caused Linsey much stress, but she worked long hours to make the fundraiser a success and in the midst of it her sister called to tell her about a woman she’d seen on TV that ran an orphanage in Haiti.
The fundraiser was a big success and then Linsey and her boss were able to meet the woman who had the orphanage in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. She ended up inviting Linsey to take a mission trip to Haiti, and Linsey jumped at the opportunity– not knowing it would change her life forever.
The trip touched a place in Linsey’s heart, and she realized, finally, “what it was all about.” Linsey ended up raising funds to go back to Haiti and spent a year there working in that same orphanage.
And, as many say, the rest is history.
Linsey left her job, sold that sports car and almost all of her earthly possessions (even her shoes), and in 2012 feeling the Lord’s call on her life to stay in Haiti and help those street children, Linsey founded Streethearts.
Their mission is straightforward: To end the population of homeless youth in Haiti and throughout the Caribbean.
Streethearts works as a change agent for street kids in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, helping to redirect the course of their lives by providing for fundamental needs along their path from childhood to adulthood. Each child steps into an individualized life plan when they enroll in the Streethearts program.
The Streethearts model focuses on 7 areas necessary for children to cultivate and maintain a healthy heart – Faith (Christian Studies), Nutrition, Health & Hygiene, Safety/Discipline, Sports & Recreation, Education and Workforce Development.
Streethearts is not an orphanage. They offer rehabilitation, community reassignment, and education/job placement to street children. Instead of creating their own school, Streethearts has partnered with five local schools to ensure these children get the education they not just deserve but also crave.
Streethearts believes in love for our God and our Neighbor. They believe that teaching others about God’s love and about Jesus Christ is fundamental to empowering individuals and the community. Streethearts operates a street church to offer pastoral care to kids still on the streets, in an effort to help encourage them to leave the street life behind.
While their vision is to end the population of homeless youth in Haiti and throughout the Caribbean, their mission is also to empower homeless youth and transform communities through the love of Jesus.
It’s amazing to see how one woman chose to answer the call the Lord put on her life, surrender all and take that first step of faith in order to help those less fortunate.
Streethearts is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring, empowering and loving the street children of Cap-Haitien, Haiti.
Linsey, her staff and all of Haiti need your prayers and support.
To learn more about Streethearts visit their website at www.streetheartshaiti.org