MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Flipping through photos of young smiling faces, Christa Remington feels connected to each one.
“We have 103 kids on our waiting list,” she said.
Each child is waiting for an education and Remington, an FIU graduate with a PhD in Public Affairs, is doing everything she can to give it to them.
“Education is empowering. When we educate that child, then the tools are in their hands to succeed,” Remington told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana.
Remington first traveled to Haiti on a community service trip when she was 15 years old.
“I saw children my age not in school. I went on summer vacation, I saw 12, 13, 14 year olds who hadn’t even gone to kindergarten,” she said. “It changed my entire outlook on the world. I wanted a career that invested in humanity.”
So she started “The Mission Haiti”, a non-profit that provides scholarships to Haitian students to cover the cost of tuition, exam fees, uniforms, and shoes.
She made countless trips to the impoverished nation as part of that mission, but in 2012, she got sick.
“I got typhoid while I was in Haiti and I couldn’t come home. It was an awful experience. That same year I also got dengue fever. So I think both of those intense illnesses back to back damaged my nervous system,” she said. “It is fatigue and pain. It’s fatigue to a level that I cannot describe it. Some days I can’t get out of bed.”
But Remington doesn’t just keep getting out of bed, she keeps going back to Haiti.
“I have to. That’s my family there. I have six godchildren there. I have two nephews there. It’s home to me. This community that I’ve invested so much of my life in, I can’t imagine not being there,” she said.
She says the disparity between the medical treatment she received here and the health care available in Haiti gives her more reason to continue on her mission.
“In our program we have about 400 kids. We had 40 lose a parent this past year, this past year, mostly from preventable diseases. We had a little girl die. It’s the first time we’ve had one of our students die, just from a fever,” she explained. “That’s one of the reasons we push education. All the statistics show just going to kindergarten increases life span.”
The program’s first graduate is now in medical school.
Remington says she shares the title of “survivor” with him, and many others.
“I would say the real survivors are these kids. And their parents. We have parents who have all the challenges that I have times 10,” she said. “I still have challenges on a day to day basis, but I’m not stopping. I know people who live with debilitating illnesses and they’re not stopping either. They’re not going to let this derail their existence.”
To find out how you can help The Mission Haiti, visit themissionhaiti.kindful.com.