By Josh Flynn for Kokomoperspective

Douglas Vaughn has never forgotten his homeland, Haiti.

Forty years ago he formed the Haitian Environmental Support Program (HESP) and on Saturday, Sept. 11, the organization will host the annual “Shining Our Light in Darkness” walk for a 34th time.

Vaughn arrived in Kokomo (Indiana) from Haiti in 1963 at the age of 13. He spoke no English. He had only six months of schooling. He’d known his guardians for one day.

“I believe if I was older it would have been harder to adapt,” said Vaughn. “But I was young and flexible and had an open mind. And of course, you know, I had God with me.”

While he was adapting to his new home, he wrote letters to his family and saved the money he earned from cutting grass so he could send it to them. He worked hard in and out of school, and in 1971 he returned to his home for a visit.

Caring for Haiti has been a God-given mission his entire life. HESP has helped build houses in the country, renovated a school, built a cafeteria for 300 children, partnered with Lion’s Club International to bring a vision clinic to Haiti that supplied more than 3,000 people with glasses, and distributed medicine, toothbrushes, toys, school supplies and more than 100 dresses to students and teachers. After the 2010 Haitian earthquake, HESP gave aid to 6,000 children and adults and also donated a generator and water purifier.

They also support 85 children, providing them with food, clothing and education.Continue reading

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