How A Year Has Changed Lives

Haiti Here And There

It's a tidy home with toys tucked into cabinets. The kids are well behaved and aren't screaming -- until daddy comes home. He has been gone on a trip and wasn't expected home until later in the day.

"Daddy's here," said mom, Lisa Harris.

The Harris family may not be like a typical large family. They have two biological kids, two children adopted from China, two adopted from Haiti, a dog and a cat.

"It's crazy and chaotic," said Lisa. "We love every second. OK, not every second of it; almost every second."

The family said it doesn't seem like a full house and they wouldn't have it any other way.

"Life is like they have always been here," said Lisa.

But a year ago, when a massive earthquake struck Haiti, the Harris family didn't know if they would get the final pieces to their family puzzle.

"That was the scariest moment of my life," said Lisa.

Two of their children, young babies at the time, Davinson and Guimara, were at an orphanage in Port au Prince. Not known to the Harrises at the time, the orphanage was basically undamaged, but everything around it almost completely destroyed.

"Haiti is a country of extremes," said dad, Rich Harris. "It is extremely beautiful and terrible at the same time."

It took a lot of work, but the Harris family was allowed to take Davinson and Guimara out of Haiti because their adoption process had been started prior to the earthquake. A year later, their lives are completely different. Unfortunately for the children left behind, theirs are not.

"What breaks your heart is that it is the kids that are on the street and living in tents," said Rich. "It is very sad."

But the Harris family didn't leave the children of Haiti behind.

"When we got on an airplane to come back to our comfortable Colorado life, we decided we couldn't just come back without doing something," said Lisa.

The family started The Road to Hope, a nonprofit organization that supports other organizations that want to help build self-sustaining communities that directly affect the lives of children.

Rich returned Tuesday night from Haiti, where he said he saw some progress.

"Some of the people are leaving the tent cities, some, not nearly enough," said Rich. "But there is so much more progress to go."

And that is where Rich said he hopes his organization as well as others can help. The Road to Hope is in the process of building a farm where Haitians can work. They want to build a school where the children can have at least one good meal a day while their parents work.

"Our goal is to find a way that kids can stay in Haiti," said Rich.

Rich is a proponent of international adoption but he said the best thing his family can do for the Haitians is to find a way for them to raise their own children.

"The main thing The Road to Hope is trying to do ultimately is create jobs and create a situation where the kids don't have to be given up to international adoption," said Rich. "We want to take care of the kids that are truly desperate in need until we can find a better place for them. Ideally the better place is in a functional (Haitian) family unit. That is Haiti's future."

For more information on The Road to Hope, visit www.theroadtohope.org