Leaving the comfortable behind – Josh Anderson
Blessed. If there is one word I could use to describe my time at OtterBox it would be this. Having just graduated college and with no idea what lay ahead, landing on the sales team at one of the most up-and-coming companies in the nation was unexpected, but a gift none-the-less.
Traveling, selling a product that sold itself, and with nowhere to go but up; I could not have asked for more as a 25-year-old. However, we do not realize how comfortable our lives are until we visit somewhere that makes us uncomfortable.
For me, this was Haiti. As I did the research, I found out that 2/3 of the world (66%) lives on less than $2/day. This is referred to as the “majority world.” That means that this “world” that I THOUGHT I knew was really not the world at all. “Normal” took on a new definition as I realized that “normal” for most of the world meant extreme poverty, sickness, hunger and a life of pain and suffering.
I went to Haiti for the first time on a church mission trip in June 2011 to visit an orphanage. Little did I know that this weeklong experience would change my life.
While in Haiti I met Megan Boudreaux who had given up everything she knew to move to Haiti and start an organization called Respire Haiti. Respire Haiti exists to educate, encourage and empower restavecs, orphans, and vulnerable children in Gressier, Haiti.
A restavec is a child slave or domestic servant here in Haiti and there are 500,000 still today. After hearing this injustice and learning of Megan’s vision to start a school, I could not ignore the ache in my heart for these children and the Haitian people. I knew that the only thing strong enough to hold me back from an opportunity to change the future for hundreds of children was my own fear.
So, in September of 2011, after being encouraged by OtterBox CEO and Founder, Curt Richardson, I left the comfort of my job, friends, family and beautiful Fort Collins, CO to move to Haiti.
In my time here I have broken free from the chains that told me that success was worth living for and have seen lives incredibly transformed. The stories of pain, suffering and injustice I could tell you would be nothing short of appalling, but the stories of hope, freedom and love would restore your heart.
Respire Haiti now has a school of over 500 children (most of whom are restavecs), a sustainable garden, recycling center for plastic, two soccer teams, a temporary medical clinic and we are currently working to raise funds for a full medical clinic, secondary school building, community center and church.
Technology has the power to change the future. No matter where you are today, technology is around you. We hope to capitalize on this truth at Respire HaitiChristian School as we have recently been chosen as a pilot school to launch an initiative called “Library For All.” This initiative seeks to get the power of technology into the hands of those less fortunate who otherwise would never have access to this type of information. By creating a cloud based library system accessible anywhere that has Wi-fi, Library For All is aiming for each student at RHCS to have their own tablet device, which will in turn give them access to thousands of titles from academic, to language, to casual reading.
Library For All has partnered with some of the largest publishers worldwide to offer a broad selection of resources in this cloud. The potential of this initiative is exciting and endless, however, before this dream can be realized we must find funding for these tablets. With technology also comes the need for protecting these devices and OtterBox is the best. We hope to outfit each tablet with a Defender Series OtterBox case to ensure their longevity.
My hope is that my experience encourages you to experience the uncomfortable. There is too much that needs to be done in this world to not do anything. If you would like to find out more about Respire Haiti and how you can help, please visit respirehaiti.org and like us on facebook.