Paradise 4 Kids

“Don’t doubt just Do” – US volunteer Suzy Haggblom

IMG-20151228-WA0020I arrived in Sierra Leone, West Africa on the afternoon of Oct.21,2015. The plane touched down and I immediately thought of Gods, continual prompting of my spirit “Don’t doubt just do”. And do I must. I was here and so much awaited me. I was anxious to see what God had in store for me and how I could possibly be of service.

My journey to Freetown began the year before when I picked up the New York Times. On the front page there was an article on the Ebola crisis in West Africa. I was intrigued by the story of this little girl who 
had lost her mom and dad. There was such a crippling fear of this deadly disease that the extended family members could not and would not take in these children.
I felt compelled to help, but how? I was a single mom, a preschool teacher with two children. One away at college, the other about to leave for college. I took the article from the newspaper and put it in my bag. Why? There was just a gnawing feeling that God needed me to be of  service. Again I asked how? I could barely meet my monthly bills so I know that the lord did not want me to write a check. The answer was to give of myself. All of me!
On December 25, 2014 I applied to the Peace Corps in hope of getting a position in Sierra Leone. My plan was that when my daughter went off to college I would go off to the Peace Corps and we would all meet up and share our experiences. The Corps informed me that they, along with  various other organizations had pulled out from all the regions of West Africa because of the Ebola crisis. Would I consider Rwanda?
Before I could decide, a friend called to tell me that some priest was coming to speak about Sierra Leone and an orphanage that a mission was trying to build. So off I went to a Greek Orthodox Church, a Christian  religion that I knew nothing about, with the hope of finding some answers. “How do you want to use me Lord?”

I heard Father Themi speak passionately about West Africa. He spoke of the abject poverty, high youth unemployment, high maternal and infant mortality, widespread rural poverty, poor infrastructure, disease and a high proportion of people who are unable to read or write. He went on to speak about the children who have lost their parents Ebola and now are orphans.
Somewhere in all of that I heard an invitation. I introduced myself to Father Themi after his talk. I told him I was a trained Montessori teacher and I wanted to come to help. He asked me if I was scared and I said yes, but…

Here I am, helping to improve early childhood education in West Africa.
I firmly believe that education is the only way to peace, and our young are our world’s greatest sustainable resource. I am blessed to be part of this mission. Under the guidance of Father Themi and his sister Mary I am reminded that everything is done in God’s time and it will all work for the Glory of God. “Don’t doubt just Do”

Have a Peaceful Christmas

Suzy Haggblom

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4 Responses

  1. Nick pipikios says:

    Awesome story… I wish I had that courage

  2. Barbara says:

    I admire your courage to take action and I have no doubt the the children will benefit from your visit. I am also sure that YOU will benefit as will as this amazing experience will give you a new perspective on life, for sure! May God watch over you and bless you as you move through this journey!

  3. Jeannie Constantinou says:

    Hi Suzy. Thank you for being the hands and heart on site when others of us cannot be. We are long time friends of Fr. Themi and we know his passion for this ministry. But we have the opposite problem: we can write the checks but cannot go. So I am gratified to know that you have joined Fr. Themi in his ministry there. This is holy work and I’m sure you will reap rewards one hundred fold. May God bless all of you there are P4K and all those around the world doing such invaluable work. Please continue to share your experiences with us. Wishing you blessings for a peaceful and grace filled New Year, Pres. Jeannie Constantinou

  4. Linda Chelius says:

    Dear Suzy- It is wonderful to hear of your experiences and growth. What you are doing is a blessing to so many and will impact many lives. May God continue to bless you with opportunities to be of service and with good health and happiness. With love in our Lord….Linda

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