Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A tribute to Chris Zahuta an All Hands Volunteer and example for us all

This is one of the saddest blog articles in a while.

I will start with the "news"...Chris Zahuta of California a volunteer for All Hands in Leogane Haiti died from a fall. Here is the story from the Hands.org site: (reposted with permission)

"Remembering Chris Zahuta

It is with deep sorrow that we announce the tragic loss of one of our brightest volunteers, Chris Zahuta, 20, from Santa Ynez, CA. Chris, who had been volunteering with us in Leogane, Haiti since June 6, worked tirelessly on our transitional schools program. He was respected and cherished by all and had built strong friendships with volunteers and community members alike. He took great joy in making a difference in the lives of Haitians, which was evident in his enthusiasm and energy. Tragically, on Sunday, July 17, Chris suffered severe head trauma after a serious fall. He was flown by helicopter to Port au Prince, then on to Miami by air ambulance, where he passed away. Chris’ sudden loss is deeply felt in Leogane, where community members have begun to light candles and place flowers outside the All Hands base.
In an email Chris sent to his mother on the 8th of June, he said, "today was so much fun working…I love the people and the area is like nothing you could ever imagine! I love it! I’m going to make it and change someone’s life! I love you mom and I miss you!"

Chris' mother, Christie has written the following:
“Our Son and brother Christopher Zahuta just spent 6 1/2 of the most amazing weeks of his life in Leogane, Haiti with All Hands Volunteers. When we took him to the airport on June 6, 2011 we expected to see him again on July 22, 2011. Sadly that was not to be. He accidentally fell and suffered a head injury which resulted in his death. But even with this horrific turn of events I do not regret him going in any away. He dreamed of doing this and helping others and making a difference in someone's life. He sent me many emails describing how amazing his time there was and the wonderful people he was meeting. Knowing that he was working on schools to help the children there was one of the most fulfilling experiences of his life. Now he is back in the states as we wait for the hospital to do what is necessary for organ donation. When he first got to Haiti he told me that he was going to make it and change someone's life! And now, as much as I want him with me, he is going to be changing even more lives. He was born December 13, 1990 and I had the honor of being his mother for more than 20 years”.
Christopher's Family (Christie Jeffers-mother)
All Hands pays tribute to this wonderful, hardworking young man, who volunteered with passion to help communities in need. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Chris' family and friends, and we share in their grief.
For further information please contact Stefanie Chang at stef@hands.org."

I would add that the thoughts and prayers of all of BonaResponds goes out to Chris' family.   It is a sad time.  We have worked with All Hands many times and several of us volunteered in Haiti with them last year.  I confess I did not know Chris, but I feel like I lost a friend.  Maybe it is because he was doing what we do, maybe because he was being the example we all need.   Regardless it strikes close to home. 

Please take some time to remember Chris' life. But also do not forget that he died helping.  He died where he wanted to be, doing what he wanted to do.

Life is full of risks and rewards.  Helping others, be it in Haiti or in your own home town, is the same.  Do not be scared away from it.  Do not stay away from Haiti.  Accidents can happen anywhere.  We can all learn from this death.  We can remember to take precautions, but in the end, bad things can still happen.  But, like Chris, we must make the most of our time on earth to make a positive impact.

I am sure that Chris would want all of us to pull together to help even more, not less.  To make a difference, the difference that Chris was making.  The difference that Chris' actions will continue to make. 

And finally to Chris himself.  I do not know if you can read this, but thank you for being the example.  For showing us that each of us can make a difference.  Your death, while tragic and sad, will not be in vain. Your actions will live on through all of your many friends, family, and your All Hands family as well.  The students in the schools that you helped to build, the Haitians who you met on the streets, will all be richer because of your actions.  Thank you. 

No comments: