OTTUMWA — Lydia Moses, 11, is a girl with a mission — to help as many Haitian children as possible.
Her first attempt far exceeded her goal of sending one child to school this year. Thanks to her initiative, two children, a boy and a girl, received the gift of a lifetime, a full year of education plus a milking goat for each of their families.
The daughter of Harold and Gina Moses and a member of Pleasant U and I Sodbusters 4-H club, Lydia’s interest in Haiti really took off this spring after seeing a picture of 10-year-old Cencia wearing the purple dress that was her first 4-H sewing project. Obviously, the dress was a hit with the beaming orphan, as well as two other little girls in the photo gazing enviously at Cencia.
Lydia chose a pillowcase dress as a 4-H project last year because “I heard Sharon Guiter and Grandma (Gwen Leatherman) talk about the project for Haiti, and I wanted to make one,” Lydia explained. “Sharon and Grandma helped me.”
“I wanted to send another dress to Haiti, but at this level in 4-H (intermediate), you can’t have exactly the same project two years in a row,” she explained earnestly. “Grandma brought up the idea of starting a program of collecting money to send a kid to school.”
It was an idea she enthusiastically embraced. Her fair exhibit, which won purple and blue ribbons respectively at the Wapello County 4-H Expo and state fair, included a floral print pillowcase dress plus the decorated collection can and a notebook containing photos of Cencia wearing last year’s project, copies of fliers and posters, as well as a detailed explanation of dress construction and the fund collection process. She is justly proud of the ribbons but is much more excited about the benefit two Haitian children are receiving due to her efforts.
The collection process got off to a slow start for the Cardinal sixth-grader. First, the school principal and then her church pastor delayed replying to her request for permission to put out a collection can. But Lydia wasn’t about to give up.
“I called the church pastor two days before the Wapello County Regional Fair and asked if it would be OK to put a collection can at the church food booth,” she said.
With a friend’s help, Lydia had HELP 4 HAITI posters explaining the project ready to hang and a decorated red plastic coffee container for donations to put near the cashier at Living Hope Bible Church food booth. Lydia gave a talk at church showing pictures of Haiti that Lindley had given her, resulting in more donations.
Kenny and Sara Lindley, of Blakesburg, recently hand-carried the $780 check to Haiti and brought back photos of the smiling recipients and their goats, as well as personal information, “even their shoe sizes,” Lydia reports.
The children are both 13, in the sixth grade, like English and have several siblings. The money pays for school supplies, books, food, water and maybe uniforms, she explained. “The children get only two meals a day, breakfast and lunch at school, no dinner.”
“Kenny and Sara have been wonderful to work with, keeping Lydia informed,” commented Gina, Lydia’s mother.
Lydia loves to thumb through the photo album recalling the stories the Lindleys have told concerning various pictures. One of her favorites is about a birthday party for a 98-year-old man.
“Kenny told him they would have a party for this 100th birthday, but the man asked, 'What if I don’t live to be 100?' 'Then we’ll have a party right now,' Sara said, and they went out and bought everything for a birthday party,” Lydia giggles. Her pictures prove a joyful celebration complete with balloons and a party hat for the beaming old gentleman.
“The people live in just shacks,” said Lydia, turning from the birthday party to pictures of dismal shelters people call home. “They still have blue tarps since after the 2011 hurricane,” she said pointing to a tarp-covered shelter constructed of pieces of rusted metal and others made of various combinations of lumber scraps and metal.
“I want to go to Haiti really bad and actually see how they live, what it’s like,” she said wistfully.
She knows the numbers, $725 for the round trip and $40 a day for a house and food. She also knows that children have gone, with a parent, on some of the mission trips.
“I hope to make it a lot better for the people. I will always collect money to help the people,” she said with resolve.