When Springfield, Mo., native Christopher Akins, was reading though a back issue of Convoy of Hope’s Hope Report, the story of Johnny Mac caught his eye.
“I saw that photo of him playing makeshift drums and it really touched my heart,” says Akins.
The photo of Johnny Mac smiling widely and playing percussion is a stark contrast to the shape he was in when he came to a Convoy of Hope sponsored orphanage in Haiti in 2006. He was found abandoned and hungry on the mean streets of Port-au-Prince before being brought to the orphanage. His story stuck with Akins.
“I knew I had to do something,” says Akins. “I really think God dropped this in my heart so I began brainstorming on what to do.”
A musician himself, Akins says he knew almost immediately what to do. He’d send instruments to the orphanage.
David Edson, Convoy of Hope’s Caribbean Regional Manager took the call from Akin offering to help.
“It was an incredible idea and having spent time with Johnny Mac and the other kids at this orphanage, I knew how much the instruments would mean to them,” says Edson. “I told him that if he came up with the instruments, we’d be happy to ship them.”
Akins immediately began gathering the instruments, sourcing them separately through donations and from his own pocket. He eventually acquired a drum set, conga drums and a keyboard that were shipped to Haiti from Springfield.
“My goal was to send instruments I would enjoy playing myself,” adds Akins.
Upon shipping the instruments, Akins says he felt compelled to travel to Haiti to teach the kids how to play the instruments, so after coordinating timing with the arrival of the container, Akins and his father found themselves in Port-au-Prince.
“They waited to open the instruments until we got there,” says Akins. “It was so much fun to see the kids and their faces as they opened the. Even the adults were extremely excited.”
Akins and his father spent a few days at the orphanage, teaching group and private music lessons to the children. He says he learned just as much from the kids as they did from him.
“My next dream is to have ongoing music education for them,” he says.