A Mother’s Story – Lessons of the Heart

This article is a re-print from our archives.  First published on May 11, 2012.  Ms. Deb Fallahay, who served as the educational advisor and grader in the THE SPARK of Le Flambeau exchange program for three years (2010-2012), contributed this heartwarming story. While working as the assistant director for the executive MBA program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Deb Fallahay dedicated her personal time to empowering youth in Haiti.


Lessons of the Heart – A Mother’s Story  by Deb Fallahay

As Mother’s Day approaches, I think of my role as a mother and as an educator.  Yes, mothers are the first educators of our children.  We teach them to walk, teach them manners, how to be kind; we teach them of themselves and of the world around them.  We hope and pray that our lessons stick and that as they make their way past our hands, that the lessons we taught them germinate and grow as they develop into the fine adults we want them to be.

I not only think of my only child who as I write this, is weeks away from completing her first year in college, but I also think of the daughter of a friend as we visited a college together a year ago, on a sunny day in Chicago.  And I think of my goddaughter, who is about to receive her college diploma on Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day.  I will be in the audience along side her mother, releasing tears of joy –  I had a hand in teaching her lessons on standing up to adversity and on managing money.

But there are other children on my mind and in my heart.  I did not give birth to them but they are mine none the less.  You see, I was blessed with the opportunity to pass on lessons from afar.  I was offered a special role to help young Haitian students strengthen their use of the English language through the Le Flambeau Foundation .  I shared bits of my life’s lessons through conversations using the written word.  As they improved, my mother’s pride grew bigger.  With every accomplishment, I felt great joy.

The students I worked with from Haiti have become more than students.  I studied the warm and welcoming faces in the pictures they posted when introducing themselves.  I admired their strength and determination.  In my heart, I’ve hugged them when they wrote of things that brought them joy and wrote of things that brought them sorrow.

There was a small lump in my throat at the end of each semester as we signed off.  Always, a mother’s question looms in the background. Did they understand what I wanted them to know?  When they go out into the world, will they pull from their memory lessons learned and have fun?  Did I do enough?  I pray so.

So to my dear friend and to my dear sisters in Haiti, the mothers of those beautiful children who were first taught by you with love, devotion and great care; Merci, Merci – for sharing your precious gifts with me.  May each one shine brightly and continue on the wonderful path of life-long learning.  Because, every day, is Mother’s Day.

The Le Flambeau Foundation is most grateful for Deb Fallahay’s selfless contributions that continue to have a lasting impact on all of us. 


### How to Get Involved

There are a number of ways to get involved with the   Le Flambeau Foundation   . As a supporter, you can donate to the foundation, volunteer your time, or become a mentor to a young person in Haiti.  Feel free to contact us by clicking here.