Mironda Heston was the daughter of Hands Helping Haiti founder Linda Heston. After spending a year in Haiti during college, she fell in love with the Haitian people and culture, and returned to Papaye, Haiti to continue what she had started.
Tragically Mironda was taken from this world at the age of 24 after contracting dengue fever while working to serve the people of Haiti. Mironda had a masters degree in Sustainable International Development and spent the last several years of her life doing exactly what she wanted to do. With her beloved and respected Haitian partners, she worked each day for the empowerment, dignity, equality and humanity of the rural poor. Though Mironda may not have known it, she did leave her mark in the world. She continues to inspire us in our own search to find a place in this world as we ask "what mark do WE want to leave."
Mironda's commitment to Haiti was symbolic of her passion for life. It was selfless and undying. She strongly believed that a better world was possible for Haitians and she dedicated herself to the creation of that better world. While in Papaye, Mironda worked with the Peasant Movement of Papaye (Mouvman Peyizan Papay of the MPP). She worked on using popular education to improved health facilities and focused her struggle on promoting gender equality and reproductive health in the peyizan (peasant) society. She humbly and courageously worked in conditions of constant vulnerablility to civil unrest and political tension. Her commitment was to a cause far greater than her own comfort and safety. She tapped into a personal strength when she moved to a country where she knew practicallly no one and hardly spoke the language. Despite the challenges, Mironda thrived in her work and personal life. She worked on proposals to help secure essential funding to establish a health clinic in rural Haiti. The MPP movement recognized her selfless effort and undying commitment when it named the newly established Papaye health clinic, The Mironda Heston Community Health Center.
Mironda displayed a sound knowledge of the inequities in the world. Her commitment to international development was inspired by an appreciation of the opportunities and freedoms she enjoyed as an American. She wished to use her freedom to make a difference in the world. In a journal entry in August 2002, she wrote "I have the power and privilege to do good things, to use that freedom, understand that freedom and respect that freedom and to make the world a better place to live."
Mironda was an amazing woman whose accomplishments, goals and attitude belied her young age. She was loved as a friend and respected as a colleague by everyone she came in contact with, and her simle and laugh was truly contagious. She was able to argue opinions without putting others on the defensive. She spoke her mind freely and had just and simple values. She was extremely dedicated to making a difference in the world and worked hard at doing so.