Marine Corps Trained – Mission Ready

My Year In Haiti

By Michele Rager

This is the first in a series of articles describing my year of mission work in a Haitian orphanage. Please follow along as I describe how my Marine Corps training and experience help me to adapt and overcome the challenges of living in third-world conditions.

When I tell people that I have moved to Port Au Prince, Haiti, to spend a year working at an orphanage, the first thing they respond with is, “Wow! God bless you! What will your role be there?” I explain that my mission is simply to help teach the children English, help them to learn critical thinking skills, help the Haitian directors understand American concepts such as preventive maintenance and safety standards, camp operations, supply and equipment control and maintenance, etc. Then they usually ask how I’ve prepared for this mission, and what kind of degree is required to get a position like this. I smile and begin to list my various job skills, and the training I’ve completed:

1 year of college study in Education & Psychology

1 year working with the Department of Education, Head Start Program

8 years in the USMC, Heavy Equipment Operator and Training and Administrative Support, &    Manpower Management

4 years in the US Army, Military Police, Refugee and Civil Internee Camp Operations

3 years with Raytheon, US Army Tank & Automotive Command, Supply and Services

2 years with the US Postal Service

10 years with DuPont as a Buyer and Trainer

24 years as a mother

8 years of which I home schooled my son

1 Associates of Business, Marketing

2 years with Macomb County Chamber in Business Development and Business Networking

It’s easy to see how the accumulation of these experiences makes me uniquely qualified for this type of mission work.

So how did I get this job, you ask? Well, some of the qualities that the Marine Corps helped me develop are confidence and teamwork. Some tasks, we learned, are more easily accomplished when we engage a network of brothers and sisters to help us achieve our goals. I knew I wanted to do this work, so I had a conversation with a good friend and told him about it. He suggested I contact Mitch Album, who recently took over operations of a mission in Haiti. Then it went out to our network and we continued to reach out until we found someone that offered us an opportunity for my friend to be face-to-face with Mitch. They had a conversation and the next thing I knew, I was having lunch with Mitch and telling him, confidently, about the various skills and abilities I possess and how I knew that I would be a benefit to his operations down here.

He asked me to fly down for a weekend to check it out and that was all she wrote. Once I spent a few days with these angels I was done for. My heart stayed here when I flew back to Michigan and it was all I could do to not quit my job that day to come down here. 

To be continued…

For more information on how you can help the mission, please check out or go to and click on his charity link.

The expenses to keep me down here are about $1,200 a month. If you would like to make a donation towards this, please contact Mark Mendelsohn at for more information.