The Start of Something New


Have you ever been in a situation where enough is enough? Where you have been sitting, watching, waiting for something to change but it never does?

Ajeli is a little old lady in the mountains of Haiti. Her age is unknown, but what matters to us is the last 4 years we have known her.

She lived in a shack with no husband and no children to care for her. She only ate when the Haiti180 team brought her food. She knew only pain and no joy. The neighbors were poor and mistreated her, saying she was an “inconvenience” and  “useless”, as she couldn’t work or contribute to help put food on the table.


Ajeli 1


Until one day, we decided enough was enough. Although our plan for building an elderly home is just getting off the ground, we decided to give it a jump-start. We asked her if she wanted to come to a safe place where she would find food and shelter and affection. She responded in her weak voice, “Wi.” That was the “yes” we needed. That was the “yes” that was going to give Ajeli hope again.

Ajeli #2

As we got her in the car and pulled away from her old life, her life of physical and emotional suffering, she was welcomed by a warm meal and love at the orphanage. The children at Kay Mari were glad to help her, in fact, they stepped right in, grabbing the comb to braid her hair and the spoon to feed her. No directions were needed; the kids knew exactly what to do.


After a bath, warm meal, and new hairdo, everyone, young and old, jumped into the car to bring our adopted grandmother to her new home just behind the orphanage. A charitable neighbor happily agreed to house Ajeli in the extra bedroom in his house in which we (the children and staff of Haiti180) could regularly visit her, bathe her, bring her three healthy meals a day, and just spend time with her.




It has only been a few days since the move and already the difference is astounding. She is gaining strength and becoming more alive every time we visit her. She was once lonely and sad, discouraged and hopeless. She is laughing now, which we haven’t seen her do in the 4 years we have known her. She tells us stories of her past, of people she knew and places she has lived.

Ajeli was a hairdresser. She lived in Port-au-Prince and remembers curling ladies hair and braiding the smallest braids. She laughed as she thought of how she can no longer see and how her hands can barely hold a spoon, let alone braid hair! We laughed with her and enjoyed the moment as she reminisced of her younger years. She told us she used to live up the mountain in a little house, looking down on the land where Kay Mari is now. She told us that today is Wednesday, but she giggled when she couldn’t remember what day comes after Wednesday. She is getting her joy back. She is getting her laughter back. She is getting her dignity back.



What does it even mean to “get your dignity back”? To some, it means getting the food, clothing, shelter and love that every human being deserves. To me, it is hope. Feeling that someone cares whether you live or die. Knowing that someone is thinking of you when it is raining and is concerned when you are sick. Knowing that someone is taking time out of their busy day to visit you. That is what it means to restore dignity. To restore hope to the hopeless. Every day we thank God for Ajeli and the gift and witness that she is to us. And everyday we pray that we are able to continue to work for Our Lord, restoring hope to the hopeless and love to the lonely and suffering.

Ajeli is not alone. There are so many others just like her, even here in our own village, that are in desperate need. Our hope is to not only build a home for them, but to show them the care and attention they deserve. And what a gift it will be for the children of Kay Mari to minister to the suffering through their joy, laughter and beautiful innocence!

Come pray with us. Come and meet Ajeli face to face. Help Haiti180 with your prayers and financial support so we are better able to serve the lost and forgotten.

Thank you and may God bless you.

katie herrmann


  • dianna brothers |

    I certainly was touched by your story. My mother is elderly and I know the loneliness she feels from living alone. I can’t imagine the desolation and sadness Ajeli was feeling until you took her in and gave her the love she desperately needed. I thank God for you. God bless you and your efforts

  • I loved her story and am looking forward to meeting Ti Je in person.

  • Lisa Dougherty |

    You are doing beautiful work Katie, there in Haiti,,,,,truly loving and serving God! My daughter spent some time with you this summer at the orphanage and she was touched by your dedication and the work of all of those serving the mission. She loved spending time with the children! May God bless you, the Haitian people and all of those involved with Haiti 180.

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