By Kate Riley January 14, 2010

I was telling jokes and poking fun in my post earlier today.  After watching the news for the last few hours, I’m no longer in the mood for jokes.  With the devastation from the earthquake in Haiti, and their people in dire need of assistance, my heart is in another place.

I have a beautiful 17 year old stepdaughter.  She is not just beautiful on the outside.  More importantly, her beauty comes from within.  For the last two summers, rather than spending her days at the beach or the mall, she chose to travel to the developing nations of Dominican Republic and Haiti with a non-profit organization called Building Homes, Building Hope.   This volunteer organization works to rebuild communities in these impoverished nations. 

Here are some images from her travels.  These people live in a state of poverty we cannot comprehend. 

haitian family   haitian mother


haitian boy

haitian woman with laundry

sweet girl

haitian woman 2

haitian girl

haitian women

haitian woman

haitian boy on horses

haitian homes

Where they bathe and do their laundry:

haitian water supply

haitian men in canoe

haitian boys bathing


Here are her own words in a paper she wrote on reflection:

“When I arrived in the Dominican Republic, I was unprepared for the extent of the poverty I witnessed. In the photographs, you’ll see the conditions in which the Dominicans and Haitians live. Their homes are mere shacks, barely fit for an American definition of civilization. However the families that occupied such homes only radiate generosity and joy. Whenever I feel frustrated or depressed, or see materialism around me, I reflect on my time in the Dominican Republic and Haiti and regain a sense of happiness with all the blessings in my life.”

Powerful words.  She is so right.  Please do what you can to help the Haitians.  At a minimum, please text the word “Haiti” to 90999 to donate $10 dollars to the American Red Cross relief effort.  It will be added to your cell phone bill.


  1. i texted earlier today. i am so happy so many others are doing this. i pray that the ppl of haiti will get enough help to start over. its so sad how many ppl have died from this tragedy.

  2. PrayingPrayingPraying here and doing whatever and giving whatever we have to help.

    Thank you for drawing attention to the cause. How sweet of stepdaughter and her images are touching!

  3. I’m so glad you shared this. What a wonderful daughter…of course you are very proud. We are proud of her! Just today I told my hubby we needed to donate to Red Cross…something…anything to help. I’m so glad I came across your site. We are both doing this and I will send people your way to read your wonderful post.
    Thank you so very much!

  4. One more thing…I noticed you live in N. California. My hubby and I were married in Placerville, and lived near Sonora a couple hours to the East of Sacramento. I have always enjoyed your
    blog and great posts!

  5. Your stepdaughter’s concern for humanity and willingness to contribute is rare these days amongst
    teenagers. Please tell her I am very impressed! It is a heart breaking situation.

  6. Thank you for the simple texting instructions (I am text-illiterate). I just texted for the first time and sent my $10, and have posted the instructions on my Facebook page as well… continue to pray! What a beautiful young lady your step-daughter is.. her pictures and words are inspiring!

  7. My daughter also went this past summer to the Domincan republic and experienced the life of those people. I can not fathom it as much as she can since she was there but I can only imagine. This is so terrible and have been through more than we as a person in a lifetime have experienced. My daughter was a nurse helping with surgeries, now you hear that hospitals are being made out of trucks and other things…I planned on posting some of the pictures my daughter took this past summer also with people.

  8. The pictures are beautiful, you must be so proud to have such a wonderful (and well-spoken) step-daughter :)

    My friends who have done mission work in Haiti all say the same thing – they live in such poverty, but they radiate love, and religion and family are everything to them.

  9. so many here in the US are protected from even seeing poverty. I have been blessed to have been born in poor country of humble means. I appreciate the post and wish more people would understand what is like to live in those condition made worse by natural disasters. Thanks a billion.

  10. Thanks for sharing the beauty of this girls nature! There are no words……. I just turned off CNN, my heart breaks for the Haitians, all their relatives. So sad….

  11. Thanks so much for sharing these photos. What a blessing to see a teenager who is putting others first. My hat’s off to her and my prayers to the people of Haiti.


  12. Your stepdaughter is a special girl. Her words and photos are touching. My brother took 2 trips to Haiti in high school to help some churches with building. He said the poverty is heart-wrenching, and the government corruption is infuriating. Sending aid can be difficult because the government officials are so evil, living in the riches stolen from aid while the rest of country is dying. Some people make a living selling old tires by the side of the road, and many call a card board box home. :( We have a lot to be thankful for in America. I hope that workers can make it there to help and that the supplies go to help those who need them.

  13. Hi Kate-

    What a nice, thoguhtful, and timely post. Visually seeing the photos your stepdaughter took , really make one realize, how poor the nation is and how we take everything we have for granted. I am showing this post to my 22 year old daughter who is going to Senegal on March 10th with the Peace Corps for 27 months.

    my best- Diane at InMyOwnStyle

  14. I was googling today looking for Manzanita Branch craft ideas. Your Advent tree came up and I started looking deeper into your blog. It’s so cute. Love your ideas….will be checking in regularly!

  15. I can totally relate. Our daughter has been to the Dominican Republic twice on mission trips. She fell in love with the children there. They also shared God’s love with lepers as well. Isn’t it wonderful that young people have the opportunities to serve the Lord in this capacity these days?
    Love & blessings from NC!

  16. Love to know about the donation. I’ll head over there. Great to read your inspirational post and see the amazing pictures. What a special girl! Come on by sometime soon. Holly

  17. This post was so touching! What a great step daughter you have!! WOW I am in tears!! Thanks so much for posting! I am an avid reader not an avid commenter.

  18. What a wonderful thing your step daughter has done and many people could learn from her the need to give. Even in our economic struggles we still have more than they do, we are blessed. Thank you for the post.
    Just wanted to add that your step daughter reminds me of Amanda on All My Children.

  19. Thank you for using the power & popularity of your blog to spread this important message. Donation made.

  20. These people are beautiful! These pictures say it all… Living in these conditions, and still smiling! I had to look them over a 3rd time, just to make sure I was seeing correctly… As americans we are soo spoiled, we go to Starbucks and spend $5 on a Vente Mocha Latte… and chug it within an hour, and its gone… If only we could these on a daily basis, would make us appreciate the USA and all the amenities….Thank you for sharing…! God Bless the Haitians

  21. Thank you so much for sharing your Lovely Stepdaughter’s experience there through her photos and her very inspire ring words.. Not many Young people are like her… My Prayers are with them each day,, How proud you two must be of her… God Bless;


  22. What a wonderful stepdaughter you have ~ she seems so worldly and sensible for a teenager! My heart is heavy tonight for the people of Haiti and for the family members who have lost loved ones there. We lost a local RCMP officer ~ just confirmed tonight. He was working with the UN and had just arrived back on Saturday after being home for Christmas. It really makes you take a step back and take a look at your own life.

  23. She’s gorgeous and you can see her goodness shining in her eyes. It has been such a horror watching the news the past days. The numbers are staggering.


  24. Love your blog SO MUCH! I got to spend some time doing service work in the DR in 2001 in a tiny town right on the river bordering Haiti- we weren’t supposed to, but we actually swam across the river and touched Haiti (then the guards forced us back!)!Anyway, thanks for sharing your stepdaughters beautiful photos and for reminding everyone to help if they can!

  25. Incredible post, Kate.

    This weighed on me all day and before leaving work, I sent an email consisting of 2 simple sentences to my coworkers and staff. It said:

    It takes just a text and as little as $5 or $10 to help. Think of all the texts you send every day; make THIS one count.

    I attached the link from the CBS Early Show that included the same information for donations that you reference. Also, they have additional guidelines that people really need to follow regarding donations (no clothing, toys, etc.).

    God Bless your daughter for doing what she’s done. I really don’t think I could do that.

  26. I’ve heard you talk about your daughter before and I know how proud you are of her. What a wonderful life purpose she is fulfilling. Thank you for sharing her amazing photos. And thank you so much for sharing this post of awareness.

  27. Wow thank you for sharing this. I also today (earlier on my blog) posted something fun and related to my shop, but by the time I got home from work and saw more photos of the devastation I felt so helpless and with the mood change I put up a last minute post on a variety of places where we can donate to help. As well, your stepdaughter is wonderful for what she is doing and very cool. Thanks!!

  28. If only the world had more people like your stepdaughter! As a Dominican, I want to thank her for volunteering her time in our impoverished country – something we as expatriates forget to do. This disaster in Haiti has served a wake-up call for me, as I’m sure it has for many others. Thank you for posting this !

  29. It really puts everything in perspective. We really do have so much.

    I am currently giving 10% of my Etsy shop proceeds to the Red Cross Relief Fund. I am hoping this idea will catch on. One person CAN make a difference.

  30. Thank you for posting this! Also a note for people donating, check to see if your employer has any kind of donation matching program in place. This could potentially double your contribution.

  31. To the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world. In this time of prayer for these people every little thing counts. Take nothing for granted and love those around you always.
    Thanks for this post about the beautiful people in Haiti.

    Love always,
    your loving step daughter

  32. what a special lady! Thank-you for sharing her pictures, thoughts and wisdom with us. Thank-you for reminding us that we all need to do MORE.

  33. Thanks for sharing her story with all of us. Father God, I thank you for the life of this young lady and many others that are working for you. Haiti, my ♥ is with you. Thanks for the number to donate. Blessing to all, Liliana

  34. What a beautiful girl and so mature to spend her summers helping others. I’ll bet her heart is hurting wondering if the people she has met have survived. I pray that they are doing well. I did a post on Haiti also. I find it too easy to live in our day to day life that to be reminded of what goes on in other parts of the country sure is a wake up call. Thank you for the pictures!


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