Afterward, Dr. Mike Mercy, then head of the St. Alphonsus Emergency Room, invited Holland to join him as he checked on a patient at the pediatric hospital.
Just inside the hospital door, the two American men passed a Haitian farmer, stretched face down on a lobby bench, a puddle of tears forming beneath him on the floor. Dr. Mercy soon learned it was the father of one of his patients. Or, former patients.
The man’s 11-year-old son had died that evening, after a painful saga that included watching his son bleed uncontrollably, seeking the help of a voodoo witch doctor, waiting for magic healing that never came, carrying his son for a week’s walk to this hospital, and arriving too late for the medications and transfusions to save his boy’s life. It was too late.
"Imagine the feeling," said Holland. "Being that boy’s father, thinking that if you only would have come sooner..." For Holland, it was heart wrenching.
What Happens When We Leave?
Holland, who believes in a merciful God, wrestled with the misery, struggling for answers.
One night, after touring an overcrowded city hospital---a hospital that was bombed the very next week during ongoing unrest---Holland knelt in his hotel room and cried, seeking a way to make a difference.
With family who needed him in Boise, he knew he couldn’t stay. He also knew he must not forget. He knew that once back home, it would be tempting to pretend this kind of pain and loneliness didn’t exist. He promised he wouldn’t. And he hasn’t.
The Start of the Help
Holland has spent the last two years pouring his memories into a series of
14 paintings and a book, The Children of Haiti, that poignantly depict the
inexplicable hope of the children he met. And he has formed a nonprofit
foundation, For The Children, Inc., to raise funds for poor Haitian
children and, eventually, children around the world.
Proceeds from the sale of Holland’s books, paintings, and prints are
being sent to the orphanages he visited in Haiti.
But Holland, a father himself, is passionate about doing more. He
is actively pursuing the opportunity to adopt several Haitian orphans.
anticipation, he is converting the 1.5 acres around his Victorian home
into a children’s paradise---with a duck pond, horses, room to run,
and more. "I really believe every single life is sacred," says Holland.
"Through the paintings and through the foundation, I want to do
everything I can to put faces to the problem of world hunger.
Once you’ve looked into one of those eager faces---and really seen
the beautiful, hurting person behind it---you can’t look away."
(Next month: Called to Paint The Pain)
Gary Holland paints commissioned portraits and other fine art.. His
"Children of Haiti" paintings are on display and prints are for sale. If you
are interested in supporting For The Children, Inc., please call 208-338-9105.
"Dignity" --- by