Lambert High School senior McKenna Tinc never thought a mission trip to Haiti in the summer of 2016 would change her life. After all, she was there to help the Haitian people. But as she soon learned, giving has a ripple effect.
“I needed Haiti, more than Haiti needed me,” Tinc said.
In ninth grade, Tinc was an unfocused teen, often angry at the world. However, after volunteering through the Haitian Timoun Foundation, her eyes were opened. Tinc and her group that was partnering with other organizations were helping the children and the poorest of the poor in Haiti. She remembers being shocked by the immense poverty and challenges the people face, but also being inspired by their hope and joy for life.
She worked at the Wings of Hope facility, helping physically and mentally disabled children with necessary health skills. In those moments, Tinc realized that the stigma and prejudices these children faced were universal and ones she, too, could relate to. Growing up with congenital pigmented nevus, she knew first-hand how it felt to be ostracized.
“Seeing the children in Haiti persevere despite their disability and lack of resources made me want to help them even more,” she said. “I realized we are the same.”
This idea of sameness sparked her own change. Once home, Tinc immediately made some positive changes. She started taking advanced classes, got involved in the French Club, and began planning a second trip to Haiti. Her attitude toward education changed and she became more focused on her future.
“I suddenly knew what I wanted to do with my life,” Tinc said.
Since her sophomore year, Tinc has been working on raising awareness about the Haitian people. She currently is raising funds for $20 water filters that provide clean water for families [Visit https://give.fonkoze.org for more information].
She went back to Haiti in 2017 and is planning to go again this summer after graduation. As she tells everyone: “Haiti is my second home — a part of my heart belongs there.”
Tinc is definitely a role model for her peers and a great success story of finding one’s purpose. In her junior year, she began work on and recently completed the International Skills Diploma Seal doing her final project/portfolio about her work in Haiti.
She also will attend Oglethorpe University in the fall and plans to have a career in the international field as a photo journalist.
As she looks back on her high school career, Tinc and many who knew her as a freshman, remark how much she has blossomed and made real connections between her education and other cultures. Tinc is already changing the world, and to think it all began with helping a child in Haiti.