Here I am, laying down in my bed, done packing, and ready to share today’s adventure. We had planned in our “To do list” on doing a hike on Saturday morning since two to three days ago. I was the first one to say no because the mountain that we had in mind to hike was really high. And guess what….the crew convinced me to go. Thinking that the road was going to be better than I thought, I got excited to go, but no….it turned out to be quite an extreme adventure. We woke up early this morning to start getting ready for our day and had our yummy breakfast as usual. Everybody was excited for the hike, so we got ready quickly. Part of our crew that came along with us was Enock, a friend of Fathers, Gabrielle, who works at the general store, and the children that always hang with us everytime we do something in the village. We started walking down the road that was going to take us to the mountain when all of the sudden they pointed straight to the mountain, meaning that the only way to get to the top was walking through it. I immediately said, “I’m not going that way” because the original plan was to walk the road were the trucks usually drive and get to the top. Thank goodness we did not take that path, yet…. While talking to the children and our friends, we had at least 10 minutes walking already and things changed from that point. It was kind of late to make a desicion to turn around and not go since we have been walking for a while. Since I did not go with the group the two previous times, I decided to move forward. The only way to get to the mountain, unfortunately for me, it was a little path that was not the best. Even worse, last night was pouring and really made it harder to walk through the mountain. Bad decision for me at least, but we moved along with the group. Once we started walking, after asking several times “Are we there yet?”, it seemed to be endless to get to the top…the difficulties of walking in a muddy path, little and big rocks everywhere, and being breathless did not help me and some of the crew at all. It was really bad!!! After almost two and a half hours and several stops to catch our breath and keep walking, we finally made it to the top. The view was amazing…the fresh air really helped a lot and the feeling of moking it to the top..priceless! Something that caught my attention once we made it to the top of the mountain was really seeing huge houses, if not mansions that belong to rich people. I think that was the “path” that our friends from the village told us about. We started walking around that road and recuperating from that extreme hiking. Some of us thought that our return to the rectory was actually walking down that road…but no…there was no road that could take us back. We were confused!! To our unfortunate surprise the only way was to do it the same way we came. And believe me, if coming up was hard and dangerous, going down was even worse! At that point, there was no other choice than to do it. I was a bit scared of getting hurt or maybe falling from that slippery road. Enock was my helper coming down the mountain. If it was not for him, I would probably could have fallen and broken my leg or neck, if not worse. Coming down was so bad for some of us. Some fell, some had to stop because it was to slippery, mudd everywhere and yes..I fell getting to the rectory. I hurt my knee on a flat huge rock, but nothing serious. And of course, I slipped several times and almost falling with Enock at one point. After one and a half hours coming down from the mountain we made it home. I was sweating really bad and was really sore, but really happy to have made it safe after struggling from that adventurous hike. Once at home, we had our last lunch …. It is our last day and I cannot believe tomorrow we leave from this place. Sooo many things that we have enjoy doing here, all the people we meet, and the most important thing being able to help those that are really in need! Haiti, you will be missed, but always be in my thoughts. Tomorrow will be a long day and back to reality again. Great experiences will be remembered and really great people too! Ready to go to bed! Buenas noches, Good night, and in Creole this last time , Bon’ nwit!
It is Saturday, our last full day in Ayiti. The day we’ve all been dreading has come upon us and it’s almost over. We have accomplished all of our missions here and then some. Rebecca told us Saturday was our free day if we finished 100% of our projects and we did. She is content with our work which feels good. One day as we sat on the roof, we looked behind us and noticed the enormous mountain. It is the highest peak of Mon’Lopital. No other Enactus team that has visited Mon’Lopital has ever hiked up that mountain. Let’s just say our team is very adventurous! I love it. We decided we would ask Father Roosevelt if we could hike up that mountain. He gave us the okay to go but warned us about the intensity of the trail. He was NOT lying.
We began our epic hike a little after 8 am. Our Haitian friends, Gabriel, Enock, and Lebron along with 6 village kids, were our guides. This was the beginning of an insane trail. We started off steady despite the narrow, forested trail. This mountain is extremely steep so the journey up was beyond exhausting, at some points, I felt like my lungs were going t collapse and my calves ached. Streams of sweat dripped down my back, neck and face. Our ears popped due to the elevation. We stopped to take breaks and drink water. We all shared our water with the Haitians. This bond we have created with them is so strong and special. It is something I cherish deeply. In one week, I have created bonds with so many people here. I feel like I’ve known them for a long time. They tell us all the time that they will remember us every day. I will too. The villagers did not have a bead of sweat on their faces and seemed just fine. They reminded us that they are used to walking for hours usually carrying loads in their backs or on top of their heads.
This hike was no joke. I looked up frequently and each time the peak was closer. Gabriel, Enock, Lebron and the kids were so helpful. They held our hands, guided us, and simply took care of us. They are so kind. I see it in their eyes, the way they look and talk to us, that they care about us like we care about them. They are forever thankful for the things BRCC Enactus has done for their village and their families. In exchange, we will be forever thankful for the way they have welcomed us into their community and shared countless, beautiful moments with us.
I cannot stress how hard it was for me to make it up that mountain but after 3 hours I did it….and it felt AMAZING! It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. We were ecstatic once we reached the top. I felt like I could see the entire country, like I was coasting with the clouds. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget and there I was with my awesome team and my Haitian brothers. Complete joy.
If we thought the hike up was a challenge, we just weren’t ready for the way down. I would rather hike up that mountain again then ever come down. It has poured here for the last two nights so the ground is slippery, muddy, and loose. There is barely a trail down so we had to make one. I looked down and prayed to my sweet Jesus to get me down safely. It was so steep that it gives me goose bumps thinking about it. My sneakers were covered in mud so they had no traction. I felt like I was ice skating down the mountain side. If it wasn’t for our awesome guides, I do not know how I would have done it. It was quite the experience. Once I saw that road nearby, my body and mind was at ease. We had done it. We could laugh about it now and say we did it. We were all relieved to be safe and back to the village. I salivated at the thought of a shower. I was a dirty mess by the time we finished our hike but I didn’t care. I had just climbed that mountain with amazing people in Haiti, doing what I love and the view we saw was breathtaking… nothing could take me off cloud nine.
We had our last dinner in Mon’Lopital tonight. I tear up thinking about it. Yes, I miss my sisters, my sweet friends, my crazy dog but I am not ready to leave. I have fallen in love with this place. Deeply, deeply in love.
I sit here on the roof overlooking Port au Prince, listening to the sweet sounds of Mon’Lopital..the sounds of children playing, dogs barking, roosters crowing, truck engines rumbling down the mountain and I’m embracing it for the last night. Haiti has been all I expected and way more. I had heard stories from other groups that have been here but it is not the same as experiencing it yourself. I have learned so much about Haitian culture and about myself. Haiti has taught me so much about people, struggle, unity, humbleness, gratuity, self- respect, culture, self-drive…I could go on for days. I come back to America with a renewed attitude and vision. I feel empowered and driven to do my best in everything I do, to do everything 100% with no regrets and convinced we are spoiled rotten.
I want to continue writing but I feel the need to simply sit up here and embrace every last minute in Haiti. Wow, what a trip this has been. This trip has left a footprint in my heart beyond measure. Thank you beautiful Haiti for all the memories and lessons. I do not know when I will be back but I’ll be back someday.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. – Romans 12:2
God is love. Spread it.
Pictures will be uploaded tomorrow!
My last day in Haiti, it feels like I’ve been here a lifetime, but then I look back and it feels like I just got here.
I woke up just early enough to watch the sunrise and to see Father go off to an early Saturday mass with Jonathn as his alter boy (so cute)! I will miss it here, I love everything about this place the people, the views, the life, I don’t even mind the crazy bumpy roads or the roach I found in the fridge this morning. It will be hard to say goodbye.
I officially feel like a Haitian after the INSANE hike we went on today! We all agreed to go on a hike up the mountain because we were under the impression that it was all going to be easy and on the road (cough, cough Lele is a liar), let’s just say it wasn’t. We died. It was really steep all the way up and sooo hot and then it was even steeper on the way down, I think pretty much all of us fell at least once, except for our Haitian guides who to be impossibly sure footed. Everyone but Rebecca went, we also had six or seven Haitian guides with Enock and I working together as translators. The view from the top of the mountain was amazing, it felt like all of Haiti was below you, you could see for miles and miles. On top of the mountain is where the rich people live, it’s insane the houses are beautiful and the roads are paved. I was disgusted that the people up there could live so luxuriously while two and three miles below them people are struggling to get by and going hungry and breaking their backs for so little. Just…amazing…
When we got back all anyone wanted to do was relax, eat and nap, so we did. Then we ran through our script. Seeing our projects here and becoming familiar with our script I really feel confident in our team and can’t wait for competition, we truly are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
We went to the store down the road to get some Ragaman before finishing our Haiti checklist and debriefing on everything we need to do. We are going to have so much to do when we get back. Now, I think we will finish our last day in Haiti with packing and a mean game of Uno.
t rained last night, it is the dry season but it rained, I think it is a good omen.
I was so happy last night when we got the Haitians who live with us, Setlisse, Lele, Caleb and the others to hang out with usn in the living room, thry are timid so we had to convince them it was ok. Eventually, though, Stelise came out and had a Prestige with Mitch, who showed her the pictures he put on his iPad. Setlise is the friendly, push-over cook, it’s funny, she really likes us and reminds me of the cook on Downton Abbey.
It is so cute watching the children here come out of their houses in the morning all dressed up in their school uniforms, some with the new shoes we gave them, and done up hair, perfecting a scene of chaos in a front yard with chikens running around and a multi-colored small house, surrounded by a large family getting ready for the day. One girl stands outside her house below me dancing and singing “you, you, you” possibly the only word she knows in English.
Today was a long car day. We went to the artisian co-op and I bought souveners for my family. Then we went to the orphanage with Fathers adopted children. Apparently people just leave their children they cannot take care of with Father just because he is a priest and he finds homes for them etc. It is very sad. The children at the orphanage are a lot more shy then the kids in the village, they didn’t really talk to me but they were cute and you could tell they really love Father.
On the way back to the village Father stopped and bough some sugar cane for us, is was so good I want to try to find some at home so Cierra and Caitlynn can try it too.
After hanging out for a bit at the rectory Mitch and I decided to go on a walk so Lele took us out (I think that probably he is getting tired of it). Lele has a difficult time saying Mitch’s name so he calls him Smitch, guess what Mitch’s new nickname is? Yep, you got it! The walk was an easy on today, we stayed on the roads, but Lele and I had to keep calling “Allons-y Smitch” because Smitch wanted to take a picture of everything.
Tonight is also a late night, we played uno with Lele and Caleb and it was so fun. Tommorrow, Saturday, is our last full day in Ayiti, I will miss this place and its people, but I hope that I will be able to come back someday.
I’m having so much fun right now because while I’m trying to write my blog, my friends are playing UNO…so tonight’s blog will be kind of short . Today was a really good day!. We went to Pourt au Prince after being here working in our projects for almost three to four days in the rectory. Our days have been very productive and we have had great outcomes so far. It’s really good to know that our plans and hard work has started giving us fruits. Going down by the mountain we saw some people enjoying their D-lights already!! That was really neat to see… so many people will really benefit with these lights!!.. Driving through the city of PAP is just an adventure…the drivers here are so crazy and it looks so normal for them…you would have to be really brave to drive here.. Parts of the city are still under construction, so many people living still in the streets in tents and others trying to work hard to bring it back to the way that it was. Honestly, it looks really sad..there is so much need in this country! Our first stop was at an Artesian Co-op. The art here is very colorful and looks really well done! There was a little bit of everything and the prices were very reasonable. I love to shop, so I was having so much fun! Moving along with our day, the orphanage was our next stop. We were finally able to meet the children after seeing them only in pictures. They are really cute and look older from the first pictures we had seen earlier last year! We drew some pictures with them for their donors and they seemed to be having so much fun.. Before leaving the orphanage, we took some pictures with them and guess what happened next…they sing a song for us! In return, we sang “You are my sunshine” and they really enjoy listening to us. I hope that we can continue supporting these children because they seem to be grateful with the help they are receiving! After we left, it started to get really hot and for some reason the heat makes you kind of sleepy. I do not know if it was just me, but the whole crew kind of shut down in the van. After being most of our day in PAP it was time to return home. Our yummy lunch was ready for us and again it was delicious!…I’m really going to miss this place and the people that have been really nice to us. Even though it is different from our home country, there is a lot of things to appreciate such as the nice view from the whole city on top of the roof, the warming welcome from people that do not even know us, the children enjoying getting to know us and asking constantly for gum…So many memories that will always be remember…Well.. ready to play with the crew and more stories to tell tomorrow! Good night!
I woke up to the aroma of sweet plantain and savory fish at 8 am. Our routine was the usual. We sing a song in Creole to give thanks for the food. Father taught us the song on the first night and even since we have been getting better at it. Now, we chant it like professionals. Our lovely cook, Setlise and the other people in the rectory love it and laugh.
Friday was planned to be a full day for us. We wanted to go down to Port au Prince to the orphanage and to the artisan cooperative to buy souvenirs! Father shelters 10 orphans. He calls them “my kids”. I love that. Through BRCC Enactus, sponsors have adopted eight of them. For 20 a month, the sponsors provide food, education, and a home for the kids. Rebecca shared with us that most of them have been dropped off t the shore by parents who simply cannot take care of them. Although this sounds inhumane, it is reality for thousands of orphans here. The parents hope that someone else can put food in their stomachs and a roof over their heads. I applaud those back in America who have found it in their hearts to help a child in need.
We drove all the way down the mountain to “downtown”. I love the organized chaos of the streets in Haiti. Some way, some how we have not seen a car accident. This is hard to believe considering the way of life in Port au Prince. Dump trucks squeeze down narrow alleyways, dogs running in the streets looking for a bite to eat, vendors swarm, tap taps stop in the middle of the street to unload passengers. I give them props for keeping it together. Haitians are extremely savvy, driven people.
First, we stopped at the artisans cooperative to shop! This was overwhelming, in a really good way! Once you walk through the gates of the store, bright Haitian art covers the walls and shelves. Every culture has their own style of art and the Haitian style is gorgeous! I did not know where to begin. Key chains, wall art, jewelry, paintings, etc at fairly reasonable prices. Rebecca likes this store because it doesn’t overcharge foreigners like most souvenir shops. In addition, all of the products are bought from local artists so we are keeping them n business. An hour plus later, we were all checked out and ready to hang out with Father’s kids.
Getting to the orphanage is a mission! The road is bumpier then any other road we have traveled and it is really far into a village. Finally, we stopped at a house and Father leaded us in. The kids lit up when they saw him! All of them gathered around him, held his hands, kissed him, and he picked up a little girl named Chelsie. They were sweet and smiled at us. At first they were shy like most kids. We lay down on the floor with all of them and drew. We had tons of colored paper, crayons, stickers, stencils, etc. They were very well-behaved, sweet kids. The house is clean and spacious. I could tell them were proud of their home.
We took photos of each individual child to bring back to their sponsors. All Haitians are super photogenic! Thy have gorgeous facial structure and rich, dark skin. We handed out sunglasses, snap bracelets, and toothbrushes. They were so thankful. Humbly, each one smiled and said “Merci”. I admire these kids for their ability to overcome adversity and be as joyful as they are. Beffore we left, they sang to us. Their voices were raspy yet, sweet. In return, we decided to sing “My Little Sunshine” to them. It was really special. We took a group picture and one of the little girls grabbed my finger. Her hands were petite and soft. It is a feeling I cannot explain… You had to expericne it to understand. The woman that takes care of us stopped me before I left the gates and asked me to come back one day. I can only hope so.
On our way back up the mountain, we saw one of the women entrepreneurs selling D-Lights! We were so excited and so was she. She was smiling ear to ear. I got to Facetime with my sisters this afternoon, which was really cool! I miss them a lot but they support me in everything. I do not want to think about leaving just yet. ☹ Cristyn and Mitch went for a walk and saw another woman selling D-Lights. She told us that she had already sold 10 lights! Wow, how fulfilling. They are quite the saleswomen!
After dinner and hanging out on our beloved roof, we went through our scripts for competition team. It was the best rehearsal yet just because we are here in Haiti.
We wanted to visit the village to see the D-Lights in action. In June, the group piloted D-Lights and gave away 22 lights to needy families to see if the villagers were willing to change their kerosene habits and charge the D-Lights during the day. We walked down to a couple of houses with the D-Lights and we were impressed. There they were lighting up an entire home. The villagers said they were a blessing and welcomed us into their homes to take pictures and videos. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing a project you have worked for in action and see it changing the lives of others. Nothing.
Until tomorrow folks, it’s time to play some UNO with the family.
God is love, Spread it
After setting aside money from a few shifts at work it was well spent at the local artists trading center where artists take there works and handmade crafts to be sold. This was something I was looking forward to very much and it was everything I was expecting and more, the works were so beautiful and many of which were made of recycled materials! There was so much to buy at such a good price that I couldn’t resists and for those of you close to me you may have some presents on the way… Hailey….
But more importantly we finished up the last few items on our to do list well we are here and had taken a very very long drive to the orphanage that brcc enactus helps find sponsors for. 20 bucks covers all the children’s food, school uniform, and education for a whole month! For anyone interested please get in contact with brcc Enactus or email me at email@example.com for more information. Back to The car ride was, it was grueling… It was beyond hot even with the AC on full blast.. Which wasn’t very cold and barley reaching the back of the van. With lots of Bumpy roads and plenty of tough Haitian driving later we were sweaty, but we had arrived. The orphans reside in a very nice house considering the area in which the live, which our host father Roosevelt rents for a great price thanks to local community outreach. The children were beautiful and as friendly as could be, we colored, sang songs and even did a small photo shoot on the way out. After even more grueling car time the sweat, heat and fatigue all became so so worth it. As we turned a corner and passed a collections of houses were charging d lights on the roofs!! This was an astonishing sight, seeing as how they left our care just 24 hours before. This gave us so much excitement and we all couldn’t believe the success of our project in such a short period of time.
Later that afternoon me being the nature lover I am decided to go on another hike, with my teammate Cristyn and our guide lele we took a new path upwards on the mountain above the sand quarry. This got us some amazing pictures and views yet unseen by The group. After some nerve racking sights looking down over the edge of the quarry we had began our decent and as another surprise we had found one of the d light sales women in the village hard at work! With a perfect location by where the men work she told us she had already sold 10 lights! Cristyn and I could not wait to get back and share the news along with our excitement. Just as expected the team and our advisor Rebecca were so thrilled that we just had to see these in action and ventured out in the night to see how they were working for the villagers. We headed over to a collection of home to find 5 homes already using their lights! What a sight it was… The residents were thrilled to show them off inviting all of us in to take pictures and show us there homes. In comparison the d lights were so much brighter and much much easier to use, the children were safe around them and mothers didn’t have to worry about the open flames of the old lamps catching anything on fire.
These few moments of seeing our plan in full swing and operating with great success makes us feel so proud to be a part of brcc enacts and of all the hard work that has gone into making this a reality for us here in Haiti. BIG shout out to all the team members back home thanks you for everything you’ve done and hope you feel as proud as we do knowing that everything is falling into place.
This was an amazing day that I will never forget and am going to be very sad when it comes time to back up and say good bye.
Every day is a new adventure in Haiti. From the moment I wake up in the morning to the minute I fall asleep I am learning, seeing, creating something new. Wednesday was no exception. My apologies for not blogging yesterday but I was exhausted. Instead, I sat on here on the roof (this rooftop view will NEVER get old) listening to music and getting my thoughts straight.
Wednesday was a special day. I woke up earlier than usual to catch my first sunrise in Haiti and because I wanted to go to church. My alarm went off a little after 5 am. The rectory was quiet and still in the morning. I took a quick, cold shower and headed upstairs to the rooftop. I sat up there alone and watched the still city of Port Au Prince. I could hear dump trucks rumbling up the hill. Haitians wake up really early and waste no time to get to work. Another day, another goude.
It was nice to sit up there and have some time to just reflect. Slowly, the sun began to rise above the mountain side. Strides of mellow orange and yellow. It was amazing. Later, I accompanied Father Roosevelt to church. The church of Mon’Lopital was destroyed during the earthquake in 2010. They have built a humble place to worship the Lord. Any place is good enough to worship the Lord. I stood out just a little. J However, the crowd was sweet and smiled at me. Some looked at me like I was an alien but that’s okay too. Obviously, the mass was in Creole but I followed them. Father Roosevelt asked for prayer requests and we prayed for my uncle and my family. I really appreciated that. Father was delighted that I was there. It was awesome to see hear him preach. He is an awesome person. I love him.
Wednesday’s mission was to have a field day/ dance party with the kids at the local school and have a meeting with the women who would be selling the D-Lights. We purchased 250 sunglasses to give out and tons of chicle(gum) during recess. The principal and teachers welcomed us as we entered the common area of the school. The kids peered out of their classrooms in excitement. We split up between classes. Some of us took pictures of the kids, taught English to the high schoolers, and handed out goodies to them. When we enter any classroom, all the kids stand up and say Bonjou! They are so polite and welcoming. They shot up in excitement. These kids are gold.
We handed out chicle and sunglasses to get them pumped for our dance party with them. This is not an Enactus project but we do it because it brings them immense joy. Let me say that giving stuff out always turns into chaos. Good chaos. They are so eager to see get a gift like any child. There is no concept of forming a line to receive something. Suddenly, you find yourself in a crowd of cute, little Haitian kids. It is an unexplainable feeling. I felt delighted, energetic, overwhelmed by the little hands in front of me. I can’t imagine not coming back to this place. Every day I am more grateful for BRCC, Enactus, Rebecca and Natasha, who introduced me to Enactus, for this experience.
We gathered the kids and started booming our music. At first, they looked at us like we were crazy dancing but sooner than later they were having a blast with us. They repeated our moves. I moved through the crowd, twisting girls and spinning with them. They laugh at the things I did, the way I danced with them but I enjoyed acting like a silly kid with them. I felt like I could be myself, be silly and they would get a kick out of it. Anything to make them smile.
After school, we hiked up a hill that we had our eye on. Haiti has mountains and hillsides for days so every hill or mountain offers a new, breathtaking view. Our friend, Gabriel, has been our leader for every hike we’ve taken. He thinks we are crazy for wanting to climb these mountains. He’s a really cool guy and the manager at the Mon’Lopital General Store. We packed our backpacks with water, cameras, and chicle and we were on our way. It was a short hike, approximately an hour. We passed banana fields, dry corn fields, potato fields and we finally reached the top. It was absolutely amazing; even better than the view from the soccer field and our rooftop. It was worth the sweat streaming down our necks.
Our meeting was scheduled for 5 pm. The committee along with the seven women attended. We showed them marketing guides, how the lights worked, etc. The women sell goods already so the D-Light sales will be a supplement for them. We left profit pricing up to the women. They decided on 150 goude as the lowest price. By the end of it, we were all smile. The women are enthusiastic about their new business. I have faith that the sales will provide hope and economic stability for the women and their families.
God is love. Spread it.
If you bring your water to BRCC, it will be analyzed.
Today I did “sleep in” to about seven, Storm says I’m crazy, it’s possible. This morning, we hung out at the rectory, which was nice after several long days. Then at 10 we met with the managers of the store about how the last six months have been, and it has been going very well. The only problem they face is transportation to Port au Prince so we have agreed to try to get a pick-up truck donated to the store, that way they can get goods from town, take kids to school, and use a tap tap to get more profits.
When the meeting finished we went to play frisbee on the field where Storm proceeded to bust her butt and scraped up her knee. After that all the children were concerned we were all going to fall while on yet another long hike Mitch convinced to go on with Gabrielle and many of the children from the village.
We relaxed more when we came back all sweaty, hot, and, in Mitch’s case, blotchy (he only got sunburn in spots and he looks funny). Constanel brought us coconuts and I spent some time with him, Leyley, Enock and Rebecca practicing French and trying to translate (that brings me to an odd thing we have noticed here, there are a lot of men around and you do see a lot of school girls but there are very few women about and the ones we do see are shy). Then around 5 the entrepreneurs for the d-lights came to pick up the lights.
Tonight, Setlise, Father’s cook, made hot chocolate! I was so happy we got Leyley and Calmen to eat with us and then, them and Setlise and the other women finally came into the living room to hang out with us (usually they are very shy and nervous around us, but you can tell that enjoy being around us and trying to communicate).
It was a slow day, it was a good day.
This version in Spanish is dedicated to my friends and family!
La semana esta pasando muy rapido y cada ves nos acercamos mas a mas a nuestro retorno a casa. Tantas cosas que he aprendido durante estos dias que me han ayudado a crecer como persona y valorar no solo las cosas materiales que van y vienen sino tambien a las personas con sus necesidades y problemas que suceden dia a dia. Esta manana teniamos en mente reunirnos con las personas que estan a cargo de la tienda de abarrotes que esta ubicada en Mon’lopital. Nos contaron de lo bien que les estaba yendo pero que tenian algunos problemas con el transporte. Si pudieran ver la montana que estas personas tienen que subir a diario desde Port au Prince hasta Mon’lopital se sorprenderian. Toma alrededor de 45 minutos a una hora y la carretera ni siquiera esta pavimentada. Al seguir platicando con ellos pudimos felizmente buscar una solucion. Una camioneta les solucionaria muchos de los problemas que tienen al poder traer sus productos para la venta en la tienda. Las dos personas encargadas de la tienda se pusieron muy contentas cuando escucharon que les ibamos a ayudar. La mayoria de las personas que viven aqui tienen recursos limitados como comida, agua y mas que todo electricidad. Al finalizar con nuestra reunion, fuimos a visitar el lugar en donde se venden estos productos. Es un local pequeno donde se vende arroz, aceite, harina, y entre otros productos. Me sorprendio ver a una mujer en la esquina de la tienda sentada en el piso con un poco de comida que habia cocinado y lista para vender. Me hizo recordar a algunas personas en mi pais que no tienen ni hogar, ni comida y mucho menos no saben si van a sobrevivir al dia siguiente. Hay tanta pobreza en esta ciudad que hace que uno sienta la necesidad de hacer mas de lo que uno quisiera hacer. Hoy por mi parte estuve la mayoria del tiempo en la casa mientras mis companeros fueron a hacer una caminata alrededor de la ciudad. Al llegar la tarde nos reunimos con las personas que van a abrir sus negocios con las luces solares. Ellas estaban tan contentas por iniciar su nuevo trabajo y entienden que esto va a ser una mejoria para su situacion economica. Este dia para mi fue corto pero manana tenemos un dia largo porque vamos a visitar a los ninos en el orfanato y pasar tiempo con ellos. Luego ir de compras por la ciudad de Port au Prince porque ya dentro de pocos dias no regresaremos a casa. Que tengan buenas noches y pronto les seguire contando mas de nuestros ultimos dias en Haiti!
The week is going too fast and our day to return home gets closer and closer. There are many things I’ve learned from this place that I will always remember. The children, the laughs, the good times we had fun with them and the people we were close to that share their experiences with us. It is so incredible to be here and learn a different culture. Again, I feel really thankful to have come here because I’m learning so much about this place. This morning we had a meeting with the people from the general store in Mon’lopital. It looks like they are doing great with their sales even though they have been facing some issues. One of the issues they have been struggling with is transportation. If you could see the roads from Port au Prince to Mon’lopital, you will be surprised! It is terrible…it takes around 45 minutes to an hour to get from one place to another. The only solution that can solve their problems is getting them their own transportation. It will take a lot of work, but we are really excited to help them! So many things we have accomplished and it feels really good to know that we leave from this place knowing that the little things we have done they seem to be really happy with. This day was a little short, but the small experiences really have taught me lots of lessons! Tomorrow we have a long day..we will be visiting the orphanage and meet those adorable children! Port au Prince will be our next stop and shopping time!!!!!! Good night and more to tell tomorrow
Well today after waking up it hit me that we are on the back 9 of our stay in haiti and it feels like we have been here for over a month! But in the short few days of my stay I have come to love it here so much that I could actually see myself staying here for good, I love the work we do and how we get to help people, and when you see how much of a different your making in there lives and how appreciative they are for the hope we bring them it makes you forget every luxury you have at home. And more and more of your worries seem to just leave your mind. One of my favorite things about Enactus is the work we do, it’s like no other because we don’t just do charity, and are very challenging because the things we offer require work from the villagers and are not items that will soon be gone. All of the projects we kick start are 100% percent sustainable. We will never come to haiti to just give out useful items, but instead come with opportunities for people. People with the drive to better themselves and their community. It truly is an amazing experience that will not soon be forgotten by any of the enactus members or anyone in this village. All of this was reaffirmed by the first distribution of the d lights to our excited new sales staff! Ambitions were high as some of the women left with double the initial product launch because they had verbally locked down several sales. This was an incredible feat in its own and fills the team with confidence in what we are doing will be a long lasting business here in mon’lopital and beyond!
We had also held a meeting with our general store staff and added up the profits of the last 6 months to find some staggering results, with profits exceeding 800 US dollars which is 33,600 goude! Even with the large struggle of moving multiple 100lbs bags of rice of the mountain side to the village (which im happy to say a solution is in the works for!) they show us great success in the store with excellent profit margins from such a small village. the managers couldn’t be happier with the hard work they put into the store everyday, with their work they make 3 times what the average haitian does. all of the villagers love the convince on not traveling down the mountain side for daily necessities, making there days easier and much more productive as well as saving money and seeing that money put back into the local community.
All and all it was another wonderful day spent with perfect weather in beautiful haiti, I couldn’t ask for a more perfect place to be given the opportunity to do so much good.
Here is my post from Wednesday, I was just too tired yesterday to type it all up so here it is now.
I wake up with my English intact, somehow, but Jonathn sits on the roof adjacent from mine and I ask him “koman ou ye?”
In Creole and “tu vas a l’ecole” in French so I know that I have not completely forgot mon francais in my sleep. Today we went over to the school and I taught some English to fifteen and sixteen years olds in secondary school. It was hard because Father and the teacher who was in the classroom just said to teach them English they did not tell me what I should teach to the children (children? They are nearly the same age as me but they know so little English it is similar to teaching children how to speak for the first time). Eventually I taught them some songs like “head, shoulders, knees and toes” and they taught me some songs as well, they also taught me how to count in French and Creole, I didn’t have the heart to tell them I already knew how. When my lesson was finally over I left the classroom to discover that all my team members who had been in other classrooms had already finished their lessons. Then it was time for recess and we hand out sunglasses in complete chaos and taught the children how to dance, Father even joined in with “ The Chicken Dance”.
Later, Constanel gave me a French lesson, mainly about bees and how they related to what I am studying, antropology, because he is learning about them in school, he is studying agriculture at a university in Port au Prince. He was really eager to have conversations with me.
We also went out on a hike today, Mitch, Storm, Jessica and I, with Gabrielle and Jonathn as our guides. The view was absolutely amazing. Then Gabrielle showed us his house. His house is small but he keeps it very neat and he was so proud of it (he is one of the managers at our general store).
Then in the afternoon/evening, we met with the committee again, along with the seven women who are going to sell the D-lights. The meeting went really well, the women are confident in what they are going to do and they are soooo happy and grateful for this opportunity
It was a long day I think I will probably sleep in a bit tomorrow.
Yes another event filled day in Haiti! But this one had a start like no other, it all began last night after another PHENOMENAL meal here from our resident chef (who may be in the works of her own cook book) and after eating her delicious meals for the past couple days I felt the urge to help and learn how to cook some Haitian meals to bring back to the states. Naturally I offered and asked if it would be ok to help prepare dinner for the following night, as she graciously said yes I had joked about killing the chicken for dinner and I soon found out they my American sarcasm is not as easily picked up in Haiti and would be slaughtering our dinner the next morning. As morning came and I entered the kitchen they were ready for me but turns out I was not quite ready for them. To my surprise we would be cutting the neck and not snapping it. This was a slightly shocking adjustment of its own, but it was too late to turn back, so after mustering up the guts I went for a quick slice and only one measly feather came off… Shocked I look at the knife and found how dull it really was and was instructed to cut Ina sawing motion back in fourth… Oh boy the looks and laughs I received from the staff were priceless, but we still needed to eat dinner and I was not going to quit now. needless to say it did happen and I was not thrilled about doing this at first but this is how things are done here in the village and I admire and respect the work that goes into each meal, and come dinner time, the chicken just seemed to taste a little sweeter then usual
As for the rest of the day We got to go to the school and meet all the children primary through secondary school, as we toured the campus and met all the students in there class they were all so welcoming as some of the team even taught them English. they were all awesome but my favorite by far was the kindergarten classes! The teachers had them sing songs for us and they just loved there picture being taken, And when I would turn to show them they would all scream, laugh and chant for more. Seeing such joy over the littlest things really warms your heat and makes you feel so honored to have the things that you do. Soon we broke out all 250 pairs of sunglasses we had brought as a gift to the children ( just to put in perspective we ran out of glasses for the children) but none the less they still loved them and were great models for us wearing them. After a million pictures and tons of fun conversations with the all the children we regrouped and watered up so we could start what ended up being the best hike I’ve even been on. We went to a peak closer to the bay around port au prince and it was… Was… Well words honestly can’t describe, but lucky for you back home pictures can and there will be plenty to come! The peak offered 360 degree views of mon’lopital and amazing views of the water. As if that wasn’t treat enough we took the path less traveled through a forest of banana tress and lush tropical plants,there was just so much green everywhere you looked. Then Gabriel took us over to show us his house, pigs and even tell us of him girlfriend! It was the true local experience we had been waiting for and wanting since before our arrival.
But as much fun as we have been having it was time to sit down and get back to work for what we came here to do. We sat with the local committee again and got to meet the new sales team for d light haiti! We hashed out the detail and went over the basics on product features and sales techniques, after many thanks from the village committee and the ambitions sales team they left for the night and will be back again tomorrow to pick up there first shipment and spread the word! There is a new light in Haiti and it will be available tomorrow!
So many things to say, so here we go! I woke up this morning with a little stomachache, but thank goodness it went away quickly. We had spaghetti for breakfast and some eggs that were really good! One thing I do not usually drink is coffee, but after having it a couple of times here, I think I’m starting to like it. After our yummy breakfast, we had in mind visiting the children at the school in Mon’lopital and spending some time with them. Once we got there, which is really close to the rectory, we were divided into small groups and started to visit the children. Most of them were kind of shy at the beginning, but once we started saying Bonjou (which is good morning) they responded to us immediately. I started to taking pictures of them and showing them their own pictures. Some started to laughing at them and some wanted more pictures. It was really priceless to see their excitement! In most every classroom we visited, pictures were taken and they really seem to have so much fun. Jessica, Mitch, and I went to the Kindergarten class and once we were there, they sang a song for us. I wish I could remember the name of the song, but hopefully it will come back to me later. They were all over us, saying hi and talking to us. There was this little girl, that is sooo cute, her name is Esther. She saw me with the camera and immediately started to smile without me saying something and asking her friends to look at the camera for more pictures. All of them are so adorable! Once we were done visiting the classrooms, we thought about giving them some sunglasses we purchased for a couple of songs we had in mind of doing with them. It turned out to be crazy!! but in a good way We gave away the sunglasses to them and told them that we wanted to show them some steps from a couple of songs. One of the songs we were playing were the “Gangnam Style”, “Call Me Maybe” and the “Chicken dance”. Father even learn the steps of the chicken dance and started to dance with us and the children. We had sooo much fun!!! The kids had a blast with the sunglasses and dancing too. What a great morning! After we left the school, we went back home and had our delicious meal as usual.. and we finished our day by meeting again with our D-light committee and explaining more about the process for their future business. It turned out to be great! Great and humble people and really happy to start something that will benefit them! Sitting here in the living room with a really cute and sleepy cat that we call Mimi, I finish my day! Ready to take a cold shower and bed too! Good night!
January 21st, 2013
First, I must start this post by wishing my amazing, beautiful, and loved mother a very happy 40th birthday! I’m sorry I could not be with you in person on your special day, but you know I am always with you at heart <3, plus I think she wouldn’t mind making an exception on this one :p.
My day started at 6:30 am, which for anyone who knows me personally know I’m an in no way shape or form at morning person, but this particular morning I woke up felling excited to be up so early and really take advantage of our time here. I woke up with a sense of hope that we could not only increase the villagers quality of life, but also relay my hope to them and empower them to truly change their lives for themselves and their families. It is impossible to overcome poverty if the people themselves do not believe their lives can change and become stable, which isn’t something you can teach in a class or explain to them, but rather a feeling you can give them in the way you speak to them, understand them, respect them, and believe in them!
Our first task of the day was to pick up all 600 D-lights that will soon be lighting the village of Mon Lopital. Driving thought Port Au Prince (the capital) was unlike any experience I have ever had. It was the first time in my life I witnessed slums, garbage filled sidewalks, and waterways. I couldn’t help but feel helpless, helpless for the thousands upon thousands of people trying to sell whatever they can to simply have a meal or provide a meal for their children. I also was quite jealous of the women who could balance baskets full of things on their heads, I mean I’ve seen that many time in picture, on tv, and on the internet but have never seen the skill in person. I also was amazed by the chaotic roads, which Is basically a free for all, no road signs, no speed limits, no lines in the middle of the street, just people maneuvering around each other with inches in between them.
After our van was loaded full of D-lights, our next stop was the school in Karfore (about a 20 minute drive from Port Au Prince) that had been built by Rick Davis and the 2011 BRCC SIFE team. We wanted to visit the school to check on the children, teachers, building, and make sure they had the supplies they needed to continue to educate the youth of Haiti. To reach the school we hiked up a virtually 90 degree hill, or at least that’s what it felt like, due to the van being unable to reach the top, safely at least. This was by far my favorite part of the day, seeing children who come from very little that are happy, smiling, and singing really opens your eyes to the fact that the real joys in life cannot be bought. The nun who runs the school was the sweetest, most thankful, and applicative women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She kept thanking us for all we do, when really she is the one who makes it all possible and shines light on her students’ lives.
After departing from the school, we were ready to venture back up the possibly worst road I have ever driven on and make our way back to the rectory. Once we got back to the rectory it was time to unload all the D-lights, which with help of a few of our friends here in the village took a matter of 6 whole minuets. We were all so excited and felt so proud that all of ours and our communities’ hard work had finally paid off and we were now ready to set operation light Mon Lopital in full effect.
After the van was unloaded, our adventure boy Mitch insisted we take a walk around the village, but I was very glad he did because it was the first time, after months and months of working on Haiti based projects , I could finally see the people we were helping fist handedly. I was silly and decided it would be okay for me to wear my flip flops, which resulted in very dusty feet because the road to get the village is dirt and dust. The villagers seem much friendlier than the people of Port Au Prince, which I also greatly appreciated. Once getting back the rectory, dinner was served and let’s just say the cook lady knows what’s up! At home I usually eat very late, but here dinner is at 2-3pm, which isn’t bad but definitely different from my normal chaotic, college kid life.
After we stuffed our bellies full and cleaned up the table I figured it was time for my first cold shower experience. I honestly thought it would be much worse for me, seeing is at home I take showers so hot I come out looking like a lobster, but it was quiet refreshing and defiantly got me ready for beddy bye land. As I nestled in my sheet, under my security blanket that is a mosquito net , I fell asleep to the sounds of dogs conversation and roosters singing under the stars.
January 20th, 2013
Bonjou from Mon Lopital, Haiti! After months of planning, organizing, and anticipating what this experience would be like, I can finally say I’m here (and safe if I may add Mom& Dad, cough cough). As I sit here to write this I don’t even know where to start because there is already so much to tell, so I guess I’ll just start at the beginning!
Saturday turned out to be a very very long day! After working a closing shift until 11pm at my job, because no one could help a sista out, I rushed home to get everything organized and accounted for before having to meet with the team at BRCC at 3:30am and venture to Reagan International Airport in Washington, DC. Before I knew it 3 am rolled around and it was finally time to begin my amazing adventure. Once arriving at Reagan we check all 16 of our bags with no problem, besides the fact that apparently we can’t count the actual number of bags we had. The first flight went very smoothly seeing as I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours, so I got the best sleep anyone could probably ever get on an airplane. We landed in beautiful, sunny Miami, Florida at approximately 1pm for a short layover. Thankfully we all made it on our next and final flight to our final destination, Port Au Prince, Haiti. Once landing in Haiti we flew through immigration, which is always nice, and proceeded to baggage claim to collect all 1,000,000 of our bags, which also went very smoothly. Once outside the airport, the hustle and bustle of finding Father Roosevelt (the amazing priest who had worked with our team and makes this all possible) was the next task at hand. After finally getting to meet this amazing man, the van was loaded up and we were finally here, safe and sound. To get to the village where we are staying it is an hour+ trip up a very very bad road (dirt, bumpy) straight up the mountain, so yes my hands were sweating a little bit. After making it to the rectory safely (which is nicer than I expected if I may add) we settled into our rooms. A beautiful first dinner was prepared by the best cooking women ever! Everything was so fresh, homemade, and different (not in a bad way but just different from my regular college kids diet). Also I thought it would be much hotter than it was and it was AMAZING, because I have the hardest time falling asleep when hot! I got the best sleep I have had in weeks, which may be due to being up for over 24 hours, but still non the less much needed! More exciting detail, adventures, and realizations to come!
What a day today! Like every morning so far, I hear the “song” of the roosters coming from different places and the sunrise coming through our window, which is not that bad at all. Today we did not have to wake so very early, so we had a few more hours to sleep. Breakfast was ready and again it was delicious! Every day our cook Louise and helper surprises us with their food. After enjoying our meal, we started getting ready to give away the shoes for the children. Btw, those shoes came from a project that we had in December called Shoe Tree in which every person had a piece of paper in a shape of a shoe with the names of the children, age, and other details. We gathered around 80 pairs plus 50 more donated from Super Shoes! And yes, we brought all those shoes here! But for a really good cause and the children really need it. After giving you a small background about the shoes, let me go back to my story. We started to see the children coming to the rectory and then all of the sudden, there were more than what we expected. We gave away the shoes to those that had their names on the shoes we brought and measured others too. It feel like the line was endless. However, the children were so precious! Many children from different ages. Some thankful about their shoes and others hoping to get theirs in the near future. There were three adorable little girls that I believe were from Kindergarten. Their uniforms were pink dresses with pink little flowers that hold pieces of their hair. They got so attached to a couple of my team mates, Cristyn, Mitch, and Storm. It felt like a long day, but it was rewarding to watch them come and get excited about their shoes. After finishing the part of our morning with the shoes, we followed by testing our Bio Mass machine and briquettes. It was my first time watching how the machine works, but the process to make briquettes was a lot simpler than I thought it would be. The misture of the briquesttes consists of mixing water, carboard, and some dried leaves and press them with the machine. The good thing about this bio mass is that the ingredients are accesible to them and easy to work with. It was such an interesting process to watch! Later that day, we decided to walk around Mon’lopital and explore a little bit more of the area. Many children came to us and asks us about playing soccer. Soccer is a known sport here and they really love it! We played for a little bit and talked a little bit more with the children that came earlier this morning. They really are friendly and love to ask questions! The only problem is that we wish we could speak Creole so we can share more about us . Returning to our “home” we met with our D-light committee. We talked about the ideas we had in mind and how this can be succesful for them. They expressed their needs and plans that had in mind in using the solar lights. As a result, we had a great outcome! they were geat people and really thankful for all the help they have been receiving in the past and present as well.. There are so many things that I am thankful for back home, but seeing these people really teaches me a lesson in how little things can make a difference in a person’s life. I’m really thankful to be here because as human beings sometimes we become selfish and don’t appreciate what we have, but seeing others living without almost anything, amazes me how every day we get things that others may never have in their lives. Ready to go to bed and little bit tired, but happy to be here!! Bon’ nwit!!
I spent most of the last night, in my bed thinking about my Tio German whom now rests in God’s glory. Cousins and friends messaged me with comforting words and condolences. I felt bad because my roommates could hear me crying while I wrote to my cousin, Paul, in El Salvador. He updated me on how our family was doing and the funeral arrangements. We are a close family so I know everyone is holding one another up. At least, we can hold onto that and remember him with a smile.
Today’s main missions were to hand out the shoes we brought from The States, test the biomass machine, and meet with the Mon’Lopital Committee. We needed to decide how we were going to distribute the D-Lights and about our future projects in the village. It is essential to get insight from the committee because they are the ones who know what works here.
Father Roosevelt invited the kids from school to come pick up their shoes. The group who came to Haiti in June measured feet of those in need of shoes and we brought them on this trip. However, they only measured the feet of those kids who really, really needed shoes (not the ENTIRE school)..the kind of need where their toes are poking out through the front of their worn shoes or have holes on the soles of their shoes. We told the teachers that any child who was not measured and did not receive a pair of shoes today could get measured and we would bring them in June or ship them before that. This statement led to the next FOUR hours of measuring childrens’ feet. Before we knew it, there was an immense line of beautiful kids elated to have their feet measured. My teammates and I all assumed a position kind of like an assembly line. Storm measured the feet, Yenny wrote everything down, Mitch and Cristyn tried to find shoes for them from our extra pile, and I took each child’s photograph. If we could not find a shoe that fit, we measured them. Crowds of kids filled the room and they kept coming and coming and coming and coming! It was heart wrenching and eye opening to see the conditions of their shoes and feet. The kids have HUGE feet because most of them walk barefoot so this makes their feet wide and flat. 200 feet and four hours later, the room was empty and every child from the school either had a new pair of shoes or has a pair on the way. I must admit, three hours into it, I was exhausted and my neck and back ached from sitting on the floor measuring feet. I stepped back and and asked myself, who am I to complain about a backache while I measure feet of kids with blisters, cuts, no socks and dirt on their feet? Shame on me.
During the four hours, we got to hang out with the kids who waited in line. The kids are my heart. Once they warmed up to me, they played with my hair, sang to me, and sat on my lap. The girls love my long hair; they grab it in handfuls and stare in amusement. It cracks me up.
After having a Ragaman, the official Haitian energy drink, we were ready to go out and explore some more. Any one who knows me, knows I do NOT do energy drinks but Ragaman is different and delicious! We took a short hike up to the soccer field to pass the ball around and just to interact with the kids and other villagers. Being up there with them is something I can’t fully explain in words. I look around me and here I am in a gorgeous place with mountains, exotic trees, the endless ocean and kids joyful to play with us. I live for this.
We came back and tested our biomass machine. We made the mixture for the cooking briquettes and pressed the biomass. The briquettes turned out awesome! The men are really into this project and enjoy using the biomass press. They asked us questions about how the biomass works and made the briquettes with us. I love seeing them involved and intrigued by the projects. We set them out to dry and are are pumped to light them and see how long they burn.
Father Roosevelt invited the committee to meet with us. We sat in a circle and discussed ideas, concerns, and questions. It was a collaboration of minds working together for one purpose; to increase the standard of living and quality of life of the villagers. At the end of the day, that is the only thing that matters.
It is 10:24 pm and I should go to bed soon. I could write for days. Mitch just called me a “writing animal”. This guy. He transmits his story through the lens of a camera. To each, his own.
It has been yet another long, productive day here in Ayiti. I am falling further in love. I have to be ready to go to mass at 6 am tomorrow. I am looking forward to hearing Father Roosevelt preach (although it will be in Creole) and experiencing church in Haiti. But hey, the Word is a universal language. Father said he would pray for my family during mass, as we mourn the death of my uncle. He has been my rock though this. It has been hard being away from my family but Father and my team has been there for me….Haiti as a whole has been there for me.
God is love. Spread it.
It is hard to find the words for this day.
Well, we began with breakfast, spaghetti, pineapple, and the thick haitian coffee. Mimi, the small black cat that lives here with Father, begged all through the meal, but she really doesn’t like what I have to offer since I don’t eat meat. Then around 9:30 our project for the day began. We had the children from the school come over to the rectory and we handed out the shoes we brought with us, but surprisingly for me, and I think for the others as well, there were soooo many more kids than we had shoes for, so we were in the rectory until nearly 2pm surrounded by children measuring feet. I don’t know what it is, but somehow I always end up swarmed by children here. Hopefully there will be pictures posted. Eventually, all the kindergarteners were climbing all over me and taking turns sitting on my lap, while I was on the floor taking pictures of all the kids who still need shoes. Jonathan also showed up in his school uniform to get shoes and give us his letter to Natasha. All the kids here dress up in school uniforms “pour l’ecole” (for school).
Finally, after measuring nearly 150 Haitian feet, we had a chance to try out our biomass machine which works wonderfully! I was very impressed and so was the man who got to take one of the machines home to begin to make and sell the briquettes, which are used for a form of burning fuel, and which replaces charcoal.
Dinner today included fried plantains again (my favorite!) and after dinner Leyley and the children in the village took us to play soccer on a field on top of a hill. The kids are so sweet, holding our hands and trying to help us over the rocking paths. A couple of the older boys who go to school in the city helped me with my Creole and asked me so many times if I spoke French, I had to explain that I was not fluent several times, but they caught on. Enock speaks English pretty well but he told Mitch and I that we were to speak French or Creole with him so we would get better, eventually however our conversations disintegrated into Enock speaking some English and us speaking some French.
We spent possibly half an hour out in the village playing before we returned to “notre maison” (our house, the rectory) to meet with the village committee about the D-lights. With their help we have laid out a beautiful plan for our seven entrepreneurs in the village and will be able to begin putting our plan into action tomorrow.
Tomorrow Jessica and I are hoping to make it to 6am mass, then we will all going over to visit the school before starting our work with the D-lights.
Au Revoir, ton ami
Today I woke up as anxious as ever to distribute the shoes for the villagers of mon’lopital, since we’ve been here everyone was asking about new shoes and now we finally get to give them out… and what an experience it was! Seeing all of their faces and the joy it brought them was truly inspirational, seeing as something so insignificant to us being such an incredible gift to them. After receiving the sneakers all the kids would sit outside and show them off to the others well they all admired them, pointing with ooos and ahhhs. After more and more students continued to show up from the local school we had realized how much the school had grown and took measurements for the students who did not get measured last trip and ended up taking over 140 new measurements!! Nearly 5 hours of shoe distribution later the delivery of shoes was a great success, and want to thank our team mate Natasha for all her hard work in setting up projects on the brcc campus and beyond to help get tons of shoes for our friends here. We are excited and up to the challenge to see how we will come up with ways to send more shoes here to continue to outfit the rest of the school.
Not only did we affect the village a positive way with shoes but also began our new and improved test of the biomass briquettes, this involves making briquettes out of recyclable materials, leaves cardboard, manure, and mixing them all to a pulp and pressing them into a briquette to burn in the replacement of charcoal. This will keep everyone healthier, start even more business and creat a massive effect on the ever piling trash here on haiti. the biggest improvement was the addition of a new portable electric mixer to bring the materials to a more fine pulp, allowing them to be pressed tighter, bond stronger and burn longer
The last major item on the agenda today was to put in the ground work and set the final plans in motion for d light haiti!! We were welcomed to sit down with the village committee to fine tune and organize who would be the proud new business owners who will profit themselves and help the families save over 12% of there yearly income but converting to these new lights. After a long discussion of the d lights, and possible new projects to come! We are more confident then ever in the success of our efforts. I think I speak for the team when I say we all feel a great sense of accomplishment seeing our projects come together and work in action, truly showing us that anything is possible. Even just a few months ago I never would have believed you if you told me I would be in haiti doing the things I am today, still cant but feel incredibly blessed to be here with these people and can’t wait to keep moving forward in the morning!
Lavi a se yon boul k ap woule
Ou pa konnen kote l ap rete
Life is like a rolling ball, you don’t
Know when it will be stopping.
Today, a life was taken to be with the Lord. My uncle, German Romero, passed away after suffering a heart attack. I read the words in a message from my sister in Virginia and I was speechless…stunned to know that he was gone.It crushed me and more so, to know that my father was heartbroken. I spent a lot of time with my uncle this summer while I was in El Salvador. I remember his funny jokes and broken English. It comforts me to know that he was a sweet man, a man of God who now enjoys in the riches of Heaven. Rest in Peace Tio German. You will be forever in my heart. See you at the pearly gates.
Let us rewind the day exploring Haiti.
The roosters awakened me before my alarm at 6 am. Today. I lay there in my little bed, surrounded by the mosquito net. We had to be ready to eat breakfast and go by 7 am. I took a baby wipe shower (yes, there is very, very limited water), put my sneakers on, packed my backpack and was ready for today’s mission. Our plan was to drive to Carrefour to the D-Light distribution center. After fundraising and monetary donations from our community and Rick Davis, we reached our goal of buying 600 D-Lights. D-Lights are solar powered LED lamps. 90% of Haitians currently live with no electricity and use kerosene lamps as their source of light. Kerosene is not cool! Not only does it cost them a lot of money but causes cancer, fires and is a poor quality of light. D-Lights are brighter, safe, cheaper, healthier, and charged completely by the energy of the SUN! The sun is free, my friends.
We met with Tom Adamson, the director of the D-Light center in Carrefour. He informed us on all types of information about D-Lights and other social development projects he was directing. Tom is a businessman but more than that he is a kind man, determined to help the people. I dig that.
We packed boxes of D-Lights in the van and to the roof of the van and headed to our next stop, our school in Riviere Froide. Rick Davis, our BAB member that passed away, built this school. We hiked up the mountain and that was a workout! This was bliss. We walked up to the school and I could hear the voices of kids! Class was in session but once we walked up, they all starred and giggled at us. They sang to us to welcome us. It made me melt. The kids here are gorgeous with their bold facial features, dark skin, and bold eyes. I could go on for days. I passed out chicle (gum). They love gum here!! They looked at me and repeatedly said “mesi anpil”, thank you very much in Creole. We took pictures with them. They were shy at first but warmed up to me. It still makes my heart beat writing about it. One little girl was terrified of me as I approached her to pick her up. Rebecca told me that some of them have never seen a white person in their lives so they freak out a little. She must have been 3 years old. Some even think we are ghosts because we are so pale compared to the Haitians. The teacher said something to her in Creole that must have comforted her because she smiled at me.
We snapped pictures of the kids so we could show them a picture of themselves, they LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! Most of them have NEVER seen what they look like. Mirrors? Cameras? Pictures? Not common at all here. So it was awesome to see their faces light up as I zoomed in on their faces and showed them. Did I forget to mention the view in Riviere Froide? Like all of Haiti, the surrounding mountains and blue ocean never cease to amaze me. We hiked back down the mountain and were on our way back to the rectory…better yet, my home.
Again, we had a delicious lunch waiting for us when we returned. The food here is out of this world. Next, all of us wanted to see the village of Mon’Lopital and meet the people. I love my teammates. They have been down to explore together, encouraging, and I know we all love what we are doing. These are good people. Surround yourself with good people and good will come to you.
Leyley, Father Roosevelt’s cousin, took us around the village. Soon after leaving the gates, Jonatan met us. Jonatan is an adorable, charismatic boy from the village. He is also Natasha’s best friend. Tasha, I know you are reading this. In my broken Creole, I told Jonatan you were my best friend and that you say hello and this kid lit up!!! He was so excited to hear your name. He loves you and remembers you he says.
We walked through Mon’Lopital to visit our general store that was built in June. There is a back room in the store where we hope to build a bakery. Bread is essential for the Haitian people because it is cheap and fills you up. Currently, the villagers have to travel to Port au Prince to buy bread. It would great if we could set this up so it could be more accessible to them. It is on our agenda for Haiti. We can do it. We walked to the sand quarry where men shovel sand into dump trucks all day. This is the only job in the village and it pays very little. Kids walked with us and followed us through the village. They wanted more chicle. Chicle, chicle!! They yelled. The people here are amazing. Although we are clearly foreigners, they wave and smile and welcome us. I cannot tell you how many times I said Bonswa, goo afternoon in Creole, today. I love that everyone is cordial and everyone greets each other here. Learn something Americans!
The kids walked next to me, held my hand as we walked down steep parts, laughed at my broken Creole. They took care of us…I could tell these little champs felt empowered that they were guiding us through their territory. You have to be here to fully get that. At one point, two little boys on each side of me grabbed my hand so casually. Inside, I melted but I just held onto their little hands and kept it moving. We finally made it back to the rectory and had to say farewell to our new little friends. Everyone grabbed their computers to blog and upload photos. This is when I read a message from Nelly, my sister, telling me about my uncle’s death. I spoke to my Pops and he gave me strength to keep positive and not let it put me down. He confirmed that he is in a better lace, no longer suffering. My team was so supportive. I needed my alone time. I took my first shower in Haiti, really short and cold. It felt good though after so much sweating and dirt on my skin. Father and I came up to the rooftop and we prayed together. We spoke about life and death. He is awesome and comforting.
Another night, drinking Ragaman, the Haitian energy drink, overlooking the city and pouring my heart out through words. I sit here thinking about my uncle and my family who is mourning. He just became another angel looking down, protecting me. Tomorrow is another day. Live to be missed.
Be more. God is love. Spread it.
Our morning started early around 7:00 AM with many things in mind to accomplish. First, we had an amazing breakfast The food here is so delicious!! We had bread, and soup made with squash, potatoes, noodles, and other yummy spices. Apparently, this soup is typically made on January 1st because they celebrate their Independance Day and New Years day one that day. While coming down from Mon’lopital to PAP, we saw several men on the side of the road working with sand. Looking at them working really hard made me realize how blessed we are to have the tools we do to do work that others do not have. After that, we hit the road to pick up our solar lights. We met with Tom, which is the person that had our D-lights, and discovered other amazing accessories that we can use to improve the quality of life in Haiti. Second on our list was to visit the Rick Davis school that is located in Riviere Froide. To our surprise, at least for me, it was on top of a hill. Our van made it almost there, but had to stop because it could not go any further, so it was our turn for a little hike. It was sunny, starting to get hot and humid, and really not a small mountain to walk up. I realized that I’m so out of shape. Darin, if you are reading this, you understand what I mean After that little struggle, we made it to the school and saw the children in one of their classes. They are so adorable!! While I was taking pictures, I took a picture of a little girl that caught my attention. She was a little afraid of the camera when all of the sudden I turned around and she started to smile and yes…that was the shot. I showed her the picture and she was really happy to see herself in it. She was really cute as were all the other children. Walking down the mountain to our van, there were many children from a different school talking to us and asking for “Chicle” (btw, that’s what they call gum.) One thing I noticed is that if you give it to one, everybody else wants one. They all love chicle. It was time for us to leave and we decided on our way to Mon’lopital to stop and get some Ragaman. Ragaman is like an energy drink, but I think better than the ones I’ve tasted at home. Once we got to the rectory, we had supper which, again, it was delicious!! These ladies are great cookers. We decided after we ate to walk around Mon’lopital and visit some of the surroundings. We visited the store and started talking about future plans for our bakery. Then, we visited the school that was close to the store and unfortunately the kids were not there . Many things to see and explore around this area. There was a field that we went to where many kids play soccer or other sports that had an amazing view of the city of Port au Prince. Looking at the view makes you not want to leave Haiti. Lele, Father Roosevelt’s cousin, was our guide and he took us to see where the sand quarry was located. Again, these people really are hard workers and unfortunately they do get paid really low. Throughout our long walk, we met this boy called Jonatan. He is really sweet boy. One thing that Father shared with us about him is that he would like to be a priest when he grows up, s ;l;luch an incredible child with a huge heart. On our way back to our place, many children came from different houses asking again for chicle. These children will chase you until they get what they want. Anyhow, today was a great day! The heat was not that bad and the people have been really nice with us. Specially the children that steal your heart with their smiles. Tomorrow we will continue with our journey and many more things to do! Good night.
The people here are fantastic. They love to see us, we are an odd minority here and yet I still feel that we belong.
Our main mission for today was to pick up the six hundred D-lights in Karfore, a suburb sort of area in Haiti that blends in with Port au Prince, only the road conditions can truly indicate where you are here. After a breakfast of bread, a spicy goat soup, and coffee with we added flavoring that Rebecca brought that made the thick coffee drinkable, we piled in the van Father Roosevelt helped us rent from he city. The six of us plus Leyley and Father took he arduous journey down the mountain. The roads here are insane; until you reach the city they are dirt and sand which coats all the plants and whatever else might be close by with a pale white dust. Once again the city driving was crazy though oddly it doesn’t feel as terrifying as perhaps it should be. Although I did find out today how to get a ticket in Haiti (not that we got one). You can get a ticket if you are a transportation service and you do not have written on your vehicle where you are coming from and where you are going.
When we reached the compound/business that we bought the D-lights from we met Tom Adamson, the head of the business, who has lived here since 1978 when he moved from Canada. He was really cool and has a head for business in Haiti; he gave us some good advice.
Our next stop was the school in Karfore that our team helped build back in 2011. It was quite a hike up a hill that resembled more of a wall than a road; yet, it was only half of what children here have to walk to get to school every day. All the kids were very interested in us, they sang us a song and Jessica gave them candy, which they loved. One little girl, however, was absolutely terrified of us because, as Rebecca explained later, some young children here believe that we are so pale because we are ghosts, a fact that, given my complexion, isn’t very surprising. At the school the children are taught trade skills, such as carving soap stone so that they will be able to go out and sell goods.
On our way out of the city we stopped and bought a case of Ragaman, an energy drink that tastes like a mixture of seven-up and liquid candy. The ride back to Mon Lopital was once again bumpy and bumpier, with us and 600 D-lights crammed into the van. After reaching the village and unloading the lights our work for the day was done and it was dinner time, despite the fact that it was only 2:30 pm. (they only have two meals here breakfast and dinner). The food was good, especially the rice and fresh pineapple. The spic here are all so new to me and the cooking has a very distinct taste.
After dinner we decided to spend our free time getting acquainted with the village, so Leyley took us on a tour. Mon Lopital itself is more spread out than I originally thought it would be, but after seeing Port au Prince there is no better way for it to be than in stark contrast with the cramped city. We visited the general store, which seems to be doing well, and the spot where we are hoping to put a bakery soon. The school we visited here in Mon Lopital is only a primary school, if the children want to go on to secondary school they have to walk down the mountain to Port au Prince everyday, surprisingly we have seen some kids do just that; they love to learn and have big dreams. Soon we had a flock of kids around us asking for “chiklee” (gum), which we brought plenty of, and wanting to see pictures of themselves on cameras. I got to practice my French today, too. One of the kids, Jonathan, speaks French and Creole and I spent a lot of the walk talking to him. He corrected my French and taught me some Creole and I told him we would bring a letter back to Natasha, “Mon ami, Natasha” he says. I can see Jonathan now, writing the letter, from the top of the roof.
First full day down in Haiti and what a day it was, This morning i was able to catch the sunrise over port au prince and the surrounding bay, never have I been more happy to be up before 6am! After snapping some amazing pictures and packing my bag for the day it was time for my first Haitian shower, cold and short but after being up for more theming 24 hours straight it was just what I needed. Geared up and ready to go for the day we headed out to pickup all 600 of our lights meeting up with our distributed Tom as he explained how the lights work, how they are able to reach all parts of the island and some future plans for d light. we started the long journey through the city and over to a school for students with special needs built in partner with brcc enactus. This was our first true interaction with the public and it was a blast, everyone was so happy to see us and they even gave us small gifts the students made. After even more pictures of the beautiful hillside and swarms of children surrounding you enjoying there own pictures, and giving candy sadly it was time to get our lights back and visit some of the locals in the village where they will be distributed. We were guided through the village and over to some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever witnessed, working our way through the village to find the only place of employment for these people. A sand quarry dug hundreds of feet into the mountain where the men pound rocks into sand and fill massive trucks to sell for money, making only 15 dollars per truckload! A truly incredible sight to see, following another 150 pictures we gathered quite the crowd hiking with children teaching some of us the language, inviting us to visit their homes and absolutely loving the taste of American chewing gum. Once and again (and probably every night I’m here) the night comes to a close after more delicious Haitian food and views above port au prince from the roof of our now home away from Home to the sounds of nature and the never ending work from the sand quarry.
This blog was written based on Sunday night, the night we arrived here. I lost connection and had to re write. Here it is.
It is currently 9 pm in Haiti. We made it here all in one piece! After a long, eventful day of hauling luggage and airports, Yenny and I almost missing our flight, we finally made it to the St. Jude Rectory where we will be staying. As I sit here on this rooftop, overlooking the city of Port au Prince I find it impossible to fully transmit the energy and feeling into words. It has only been a matter of hours in this gorgeous country and I have already been impacted by it. I hope this entry will give you a glimpse of what the world has to offer through travel.
The minute you get off the plane, the Haitian heat hits you. Even the aroma is different yet, sweet and foreign to me. Authentic art lined the walls of the airport. There was a lively band playing folk, Creole music welcoming us at the gates. We went through immigration, customs, and then to claim our 16 pieces of luggage. Let me tell you, it was a mission to get all of our luggages onto carts in between the masses of people. Men tugged at our bags to help us so they could get a tip in return. We walked outside and looked for Father Roosevelt. Father is the priest of Mon’Lopital, the village we stay in. I have heard so much about him and all he does for his village and us so it was awesome to meet him. Once we walked out into Haitian soil, I was trying to take in every noise, every face, every action around me. Men put our bags into two vans and we were on our way. On the way here, I sat in the window seat to observe my surroundings. I saw Haitian flags everywhere. They are very prideful and love their country; regardless of their poor, corrupt government. Kids played futbol. Kids with no shoes or food in their stomachs but joyful kids. Vendors lined the roads, women balanced baskets on their heads and cars drove like madmen honking to let other drivers know they were passing by. The atmosphere reminds me of my beloved Honduras and El Salvador where my sweet parents originate from. People starred into the van as if they were confused. I guess its because we look different; however, Haitians are used to people, white people, coming here for mission/ service trips. I made eye contact with so many people and we waved at eachother and smiled. That was all it took and we understood eachother. It was a great feeling.
Coming up the treacherous mountain to Mon’Lopital is a task in itself. The road is reallllllllly bumpy and dusty. It takes about an hour to get to this village by car, five and half hours roundtrip if you walk which is what the majority of people do here. We made it to the rectory around 6 pm. Father showed us our rooms and we settled our stuff in. Each bed has a net around it to keep out bugs. We had an exquisite, authentic Haitian meal to welcome us to Haiti. They cooked rice, lentils, goat, plantains (one of my favorites),and other Haitian dishes I cannot name. Father blessed our food before we broke bread. We sang a hymn in Creole. I am determined to know it fully before I leave! Over diner, we told him a little bit about ourselves as did he. We laughed and talked about our plans while in Haiti. It was a very special dinner to say the least. I will never forget it.
After dinner, we unpacked and organized all the things we had brought. Whether it was shoes, medical supplies, candy, or crayons for the orphanage we separated it. Next, we sat down with Father to establish a plan for the week. Everyone that knows Rebecca, our awesome advisor, knows that she needs a concrete plan to function. We planned out all the things we want to accomplish through the week.
Now, here I on the roof with this breathtaking view of Haiti in front of me and I cant wait to wake up to explore more. Every trip I take just confirms that this heart of mine is made to travel. I can already tell that I will be learning a lot in Haiti. Bring it on.
To my beloved sisters, parents, and friends…thank you so much for the support. I miss you guys but I cannot lie… I do not want to leave this place!! I just felt a sprinkle of rain so I’m going to head inside. Stay tuned and I appreciate the time you took to read this. I am in love with Haiti already. I call it love at first sight.
God is love. Spread it.
So here we are, we made it to Haiti!!! Starting at 3:45 a.m to finally getting here by 6:00 p.m to Mon lopital. Our trip overall was not too bad, but little things here and there happened which made it an unforgettable day. On the plane, as we got closer to Haiti, I was able to see how scarce trees are on the mountain which confirms the reality of the high deforestation rate. hearing stories about it is one thing, but seeing it gives it a different meaning. At the airport, ready to wait for Father Roosevelt (the priest that lives in the rectory that we will be staying with) outside, we saw many people trying to help us with our luggage which was expected due to stories I’ve heard in the past from my team mates and Rebecca. We got picked up and got ready to go to the rectory(home for us here). The streets in Port au Prince are crazy!! We saw a light after driving 10 minutes or so and still people did not care about that. I think people feel the freedom to drive where they please. The streets were rough, but I somehow got the impression that it was going to be like that. It took us from Port au Prince to Mon lopital around 45 minutes. At our arrival at the rectory, a delicious meal was fixed by some ladies that live here.. By the way they did an excellent job! After eating, we started to work on things and getting ready to start with our journey here. It is close to 9:30 p.m and ready for bed! More stories to tell tomorrow! Good night everyone
Day One in Haiti
The city has a heart beat, a fact that can be said about nearly any bustling metropolis, but the beat of Port au Prince is as unique as the lively Haitians that live here.
Father Roosevelt picked us up at the airport, where we lost a losing battle with the hands at the gate whose only desire was to help us bring bags to cars, for a small fee, of course. These helpers were our first taste of Haiti, they’re eagerness did justice to the stubbornness of Haitians with their insistence that they could speak English and that our “no merci”‘s were unnessasary. The ride through Port au Prince, however, was even livelier than the men at the airport.
Father Roosevelt drove the car I was in, twisting round and round crooked streets, streets that I would be lost in with in seconds if left to my own devices.
There appear to be no traffic laws here and even fewer stop lights and road signs. People run out into the streets at will and you get to choose what part of he road to drive on. Yet, this unorganized chaos lends itself to the nature of the city, people line the streets, heading home from church, selling goods at packed stalls, and blending in with the bright colors of painted buildings.
That is another aspect of Haiti that I love; the vibrancy of color seen all around. Tap-taps swerving and winding down streets packed full of Haitians, are painted in bright colors and scenes, I even saw one with a hippi-esk portrayal of Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet from the Titanic, though if I had to guess I would say most people here would not understand the reference.
Now, sitting on the roof of the St Jude, rectory I can feel the heart beat of Haiti in the rhythm of festival music wafting up from Port au Price streets to the quite village of Mon Lopital.
Caitlynn, I even saw a chicken today, running free through the streets of the city,and Cierra, there is a kitten here at the rectory, small, black and surely not much bigger than my hand, he spends his evenings catching moths, I know you would love him.
as the first day comes to a close we are now all sitting on the roof of where we will be staying and have an INCREDIBLE view overlooking port au prince listening to the sounds of the cities carnival and singing happy birthday to our team mate yenny! a great way to end a very long day of traveling and almost missing a plane and a bumpy ride up atop the mountain. After unpacking a wonderful dinner of chicken, rice, fried plantains we sat together with father Roosevelt and hashed out our plan of attack for the week, hitting a minor speed bump realizing that we had accidentally taken an extra bag from the airport! But after a quick pit stop to return what is not ours we will begin our day by picking up all 600 d lights we worked so hard to raise the money to get! So far the trip has been extremely eye opening from the city center of port au prince to the beautiful views of the Haitian mountains and picture perfect hospitality of our hosts, can’t wait to keep you all posted on things to come! Until tomorrow from Haiti, Mitch Grenzebach
It seems like just yesterday that our team was brainstorming ideas for our mission to Haiti and now we find ourselves drowning in medical supplies and shoes to pack for a trip that is now 16 days away. The holidays and break from classes had fogged my focus on this trip but yesterday Storm, Cristyn, and Yenny organized and packed up tons of our luggage. It became real again. I missed that feeling you get when you are doing something bigger than yourself. Enactus has opened my eyes to this truth. For years, I lived in my own little world like many of us.We wake up in a comfy bed, take a warm shower, drink a cup of coffee, and begin our day without thinking how blessed and fortunate we are. If we are so fortunate, why not spread this feeling and share this gift was someone else who needs it?
I am beyond excited to be in Haiti. I want to be there already to put our plans into action for people who need it. I am excited to be thrown into an environment I am not accustomed to. I want to soak in everything Haiti wants to teach me its culture,about life and about myself.
First blog, down! There will be many more to come once we are in Haiti!! Stay tuned to this journey. God bless. Spread the love.
How can I even begin to describe this trip so far? This is my first time in Haiti and there are so many things I have seen and learned already. It is so different here than in the US. I’m sure that goes without saying but it’s true. It turns out, I am not good at speaking Kreyol!! If you’ve ever seen the episode of friends when Pheobe tries to teach Joey french, I am like Joey when I try to speak Kreyol!! But still, even though there is such a communication barrier with many of the people here, I feel so loved and so included. I can’t sit down for very long without one of the children here saying, “Jenny-fer!” and pointing to the jumprope or the soccerball to invite me to play. There is something so beautiful about the way that people can communicate without being able to speak the same language. Seriously, the only thing I can say to most of these people is hello, how are you, but we have been able to teach each other games and dance together. I love just looking across the room at Layla or Annie and because i can’t say to them, “I am so happy to be here with you, you are so sweet,” and because they can’t say the same to me, we just smile and wave and it’s like we understand. At least, that is what I feel they’re saying to me and I hope they feel the same from me. I am so thankful to have met Father Roosevelt. He is one of the most caring and giving people I have ever met. Everyone here seems to respect him so much. He knows them and he cares about them. Like he was telling Meg and me the other night, he spends time with the community, in the community, but he also spends time outside of it. “Like Jesus” he said, Like Jesus who spends time in the community and also on the mountain. I feel so encouraged to live that way more when I go home after seeing Father Roosevelt live in this way. The students I’ve met here are so eager to learn too and that has also been so inspiring to me. Unlike students in the US, including myself a lot of the time, these students want to learn, they understand the gift an education is. It makes me excited to finish school at JMU and become a teacher and hopefully help US students understand that their education is a gift. I want to help US students get excited about learning like the students I’ve met here are excited about learning. Like I said I am learning so much. About family, faithfulness, grace, kindness. I’m excited to take it all home with me. I am thankful to be here. Got to go, i want to keep playing with the kids! I haven’t played like this since 1996! jump rope? uno anyone??
hello!! hanging out on the roof of the rectory and blogging again. it is so cool up here and feels so good every night so we spend a lot of time up here once the sun goes down. it actually hasn’t been too bad as far as the heat goes..it’s definitely really humid and gets especially hot inside the house, but if we stay in the shade outside as much as possible it’s not too bad.
today was eventful and lots of fun!! we slept in this morning, and then father gave us access to some school supplies their twin parish in michigan donated to them. The box included crayons, markers, paper, and best of all: English flash cards!! I’ve never been so excited to see school supplies in my life. Jenn and I have been wanting to do some English lessons with the kids but weren’t sure how to do that without supplies or the ability to speak Kreyol. We spent the morning making a little lesson plan that included some simple vocab, basic conversational greetings, numbers, the alphabet and a couple fun songs (head, shoulders, knees and toes and if you’re happy and you know it). While we worked, Mariann, Leyla, Wooze and Shely (spelled her name totally wrong in the last post! sorry) joined us and we gave them a little lesson in English while they taught us Kreyol. Then Mariann ran and grabbed the radio and we struck up a spontaneous dance party!! It was lots of fun.
After some rest and lunch, Father took me to the computer lab that Mackenson is in charge of in the center of the village. So far they have five computers and the ability to access the internet!! This is really exciting and I think it’s going to be an extremely important and helpful resource to the people here. The only problem right now is that not many people know how to use the computers. Jenn and I are going to do our best to help show them as much as we can before we leave. Today we tried to look at Excel a little bit, but I don’t actually have too much knowledge of that program so we’re going to try to learn about it a little and then do a lesson for the people who work at the store.
After the computer lab, we went back to the rectory where some kids were gathered. I asked “who wants to learn English??” and their faces lit up and they ran inside the rectory gate. One thing that has been reinforced to me in being here this trip is how important and precious education is to the people here. In talking with anyone, old or young, they inevitably bring up education in the conversation. They talk about how they want to go to school but don’t have the chance, how they love learning, love teaching, want to learn English, etc. It’s something we take for granted so much at home and it’s so frustrating to see its inaccessibility here. I remember all the times as a kid, I’d say “i hate school!” nobody says that here.
Anyway. I gave a little informal English lesson in the rectory and it was so much fun! It’s the first time I ever taught anything and their eagerness to learn and excitement as they had little conversations (“how are you? i have two sisters”) made it such an awesome experience. Enoch, a member of the village who is studying English at an academy in Port au Prince right now and hopes to be an English teacher, helped me give the lesson, because he was able to translate the Kreyol version of what I was saying if they couldn’t understand from pictures or the way I explained it. One thing about Haiti is, if someone has something, they share it with everyone around them and this includes knowledge. They help each other and encourage each other to learn. Anyway, I think these informal English lessons will be a big part of what Jenn and I do while we are here. Hopefully this is something that can last, and I think it will because people seem really excited about the lessons. I met someone yesterday from a neighboring village who started an English club in his village. It’s just lots of people who want to learn that meet together a few times a week and don’t allow themselves to speak Kreyol during those meetings. He said he might come to one of our lessons later on this week and if he talks to some of the people here about what his neighborhood has done, maybe that will be something that could stick here too.
Last night we hung out outside of the rectory with some of the people and learned how to jump rope, play a Haitian version of tic-tac-toe and a card game that they play. Hopefully my Kreyol will start to improve so that I can get to know more people here as the days go on!
Hope all is well back home
bon swa! jenn and i have safely arrived and are in our haitian home in morne l’hopital. we left miami around 3 this afternoon and once on the flight we discovered that michel martelly…the president of haiti..was on our plane! as pancha would say..WHAT THE WHAAAAT!! he was just four rows in front of me and i never tried to talk to him but i did walk past him to the bathroom to try and get a glimpse. so crazy! we arrived and since it was sunday, the airport was actually pretty slow & low-key. we got all our bags and got ready for the craziness that is leaving the PAP airport. i took one step out of the airport and literally ran straight into someone. i thought he was someone who was going to try and help me with my bags so i started to say the usual “mesi, no..” and then looked up and realized it was father!! i actually yelped which is kind of embarrassing…but somehow we had weaseled his way up to pick us up at the door, which usually no one is allowed to do..i don’t know how he did it but it was awesome to see him and it was a huge help!! we clearly have the “in” connections in haiti!
father and lele drove us up the mountain (including a pit stop for another brand of energy drink…atomik! i had my doubts but it’s definitely as good as ragaman) & we arrived to an amazing meal including goat, plantains, passion fruit juice, spicy coleslaw, and lots of other deliciousness.
after lunch we played soccer, jump rope, and cards with a few of the kids who are staying with father this summer: leyla, mariann, wooze, and also cheli.
it’s been an awesome and eventful day already and we haven’t even left the rectory! excited to spend some time out in the village tomorrow and see everyone again. thankful to be back here and hopefully we’ll write again & post some pictures soon!
It is my first night back from Haiti. I apologize for missing out on a couple days of blogging. As you know there were some malfunctions with the website. But hey we’re here now aren’t we?
I don’t know if I can write this blog to fully convey the extent of how I truly feel. These are some strong feelings I can’t really put into words but I’ll try. Last night before we left, we had as usual an awesome dinner, took our fast 5 minute, cold water showers and got to our rooftop chilling as scheduled. And as expected it was amazing, cool, and beautiful as always. It never fails you, never. The lights were brightly lit for everyone on the mountain tops to appreciate Port Au Prince. And appreciate we did. I went upstairs and got to sit by myself for a little recollecting all the awesome things that had happened earlier that day (I.E. the amazing and inspiring stocking story of the villages new store or getting the blessing of the Arch Bishop of Haiti) and the past week. It felt as though I had been in Haiti for more than a few months rather then a week (a good thing). The people have welcomed me into their community, their homes and their hearts. Yesterday before dinner, one of the gentlemen from the village committee came up to me as I spent my last hours with the kids and told me in broken English, “Natasha I will forever keep you in my heart, I am very upset you are leaving, but we thank you for everything” I wanted to cry but I held it in. I wanted to cry because I had done nothing in comparison to the things these people have reminded me and taught me. To be humble, to appreciate what you have rather than focus of what others have. These small lessons are the most important ones. The ones that we tend to easily lose. A quote came to me after all this. “Wisdom is not the way you think, but what you are.”
2000 pics taken, a dozen videos recorded, an assortment of projects completed. and yet.. nothing compares to the feeling of being engulfed by the Haitian air. Some may call me weak, but I came home and cried to my roommate on how much I feel incomplete from not being there any more. Partial tears of joy, partial tears of sadness. I miss this place so much. It bothers me the way we live in the U.S. It really does. Constantly people look at what you have and how you look rather than the way you think or what you can positively offer. Anywho, going down the mountain the last time was the best part as that car ride is terrible! haha I cant get over it. They need to fix that road. What could be a 5 minute drive is turned into a 45 min one just because of that. Poor car! that’s all I have to say. The last time going through the city, I looked at the people, the stray dogs on the streets, the vendors, the U.N. trucks fully stacked (and doing nothing), the tap taps (Heavily condensed taxis of more that 10 people at a time), the food, the architecture, the colors, the art, I took it all in in hopes that if I don’t happen to get another chance to come back here, I would be able to remember the things that collectively create Haiti. The most stable thing here that I have seen is the Haitian PRIDE and it will never fade. Thank god. These people are ready for a positive change and they are willing to work for it as Ive seen this week. A good sign towards a sustainable change. Rebecca has been a blessing in giving me this eye opening opportunity to help those in need and in turn get the help back. Pancha has made this trip the most entertaining of them all. What a comedian she is, yet still has her head on firmly in the right direction. Thanks Guys, for leading me <3
Gah after all of this, like I predicted I still haven’t been able to convert every thought into words. Its ok, half of you reading this will see me in person. Only then will I be able to paint the picture for you on the incredible time I had in Haiti. Bon Voyage until next time.
I LOVE HAITI!
Soooooooooooo.. being that we are up in the mountains, it is sometimes just IMPOSSIBLE to get internet service all the time. Its done a little differently in Haiti as it is run by how many megabites you use up by downloading. So Friday night we didnt know this and tried to download and use a lot of the internet. Silly. So Saturday night we were left with no internet and were unable to blog.. Which leaves us here, today, Sunday, FUNday Im just going to combine the two.
So we woke up at 7 am bright and early. Take note as we have gotten up at 7 to 7 30 am everyday since the day we arrived. and sleep isn’t easy to come as you will find out by the end of this blog.. haha. So back on track, woke up at 7 got ready at breakfast and off to start our day strong. We went to the store and started putting the shelves together and up. It got overwhelmingly complicated.. But it is what it is. It ended up getting finished so thats a good sign. The outside is done.. We have large plans of throwing some paint on that bad boy.. making an art project out of it!! I soon got derailed by SOCCER of course! I had to go get some soccer in. so I joined in on a game which ended up with 2 on two. My little buddy and me ended up demolishing them with a score of 2 to 1 haha. they were impressed. These kids are so talented, its crazy. They’re footwork is so advanced. I told them I was Indian and Portuguese and that was the end of it. Christiano Ronaldo, Pepe must be related to me. Theyre obsessed with portugal and futbol in general so I have some company now. Im a maniac. Everytime I come outside they rarely call me by my name anymore and now i am known as Portugal. haha its nice.
Then the best part. we got to measure all the childrens feet for our shoe tree project. That probably had to be my highlight of the day! The kids loved that they got special attention each. and it made me all gushy inside. everyone knows how much of a softy I am. as of today (sunday) weve measured about 78 feet so, you guys better get ready to buy some shoes and donate! I got to give a piece of gum to each kid and thats it. Everytime I go out other than hearing portugal I hear chiqule (gum).
Then we had the village council meeting where about 11 members of the committee came to sit and talk with us about the plan of action with the upbringing of the store. Theres the language barrier there so it started off rocky. It was so frustrating trying to get a reaction out of them or something atleast but by the end of it we had smiles, ideas, laughs running at the mouth!! it was beautiful. Everyone was at an odd place and it was weird at the beginning but to sit and witness the change in the atmosphere was awesome. you saw the trust being built. That they realized this actually was their project, we just wanted to help start it for them. For their community. we all had some soft drinks to cool us down as it was bloody hot. Let me tell you something… Coke is made with real Cane SUGAR here!!! It tastes so much better then that crap in the US. Fructose corn syrup my bleep.
I had heard about the quarry and the “soccer” field but had not yet been so saturday evening we decided to make a trip up there. At about 6 we went to the field through this weird odd makeshift pathway through trees and banana tree bushes. Beautiful. Everything reminds me of back home in India. I cant wait to make that trip in december. aghh. anywho The kids will NOT let go of your hand. So you have about 15 different little hands holding onto your arms and hands and waist.. You ask how do you walk? I have no clue. but I love the attention… Even more, I love giving it back. The reaction is so priceless. They yell with a smile everytime you tickle or dance with them. Il tell you im a big kid, so it goes on for hours. so we go to the end of the walkway and wow the most amazing thing ever. This huge open land at the end of the mountain looking down on the city and the sea and beaches!! The kids sang and made circles around me and it changed me. These kids are miracle workers and they dont even know it.
when we got back home there was a problem with the shower when it was my turn to go for one. I ended up having to shower in a trickle of water.. FUN. Oh and what makes it better? Having to shower with the fear of giant hissing cockroaches and turnatula like spiders sharing the shower and bathroom with you. So in the midst of taking the shower the water faucet wouldnt turn off.. now this created a puddle on the bathroom floor. We decided to leave it as it would prob dry. But when we came down from the roof, Rebecca said she saw about 20 cochroaches come from out of the sink and drain. What a nightmare. And a 7 legged spider that was about the size of my palm was there too that rebecca had to kill. My biggest fear are these insects so I didnt end up sleeping till about 130 – 2am dreaming of things crawling on me.. and thus this is why we cant go to bed early..
Back on the roof this fine evening. there is barely any humidity. I gotta soak in this time I’m having with Rebecca Pancha and Lele Today was as predicted awesome from the get go. We woke up at about 7 30, ate some awesome breakfast as expected. Man the Haitian food is AMAZING!! Today for dinner we ate this pudding like soup called La bauillie made up from cinnamon and platanos (plantains) Their food consists of a lot of plantains, curry and spicy goodness <3 Im in heaven if anyone knows my appetite haha. We took the 45 min drive down to Port Au Prince through the rocky terrain. Its not even 10 miles to reach the city but because of how high up into the mountains we are and the lack of funding to pave the road, its difficult to get down and takes you forever. Not to mention you have been bouncing off the walls inside of the car. lol We went to a numerous amount of places, including the bootleg Home Depot, known as Eko Depot here in Haiti! two non profit fair trade storess, their mission is to help the Haitians.
Once again it was nice being back in the hustle and bustle of the streets of Port Au Prince. The people, the views, everything inspires you. But today, I felt a little weird when I saw two guys fighting on the street as we were driving by. They got into it, and not only because it was the first time I had witness the Haitian people not working together but because of the reason. They fought over a shirt. Something as simple a item of clothing, a need not a want for these kids because the fuel for a brutal fight. It bothered me. Positively speaking, we went to one of the fair trade stores and went on a shopping spree!! It is so cheap to buy jewelry and cute pieces of art around here it blew my mind! What I wanted the most was a beautiful painting I had continuously been seeing on the side of the roads and the shop didnt have any. Low and behold, some art vendors came to the entrance and became the best salesmen around lol. We bartered for a good 15 min, well Father Roosevelt did, I just kept my foreign mouth shut lol Or known as etranje, a foreigner. The kids kept calling me that today haha. I got a goood piece of art <3 Pics soon to come. We went through town and got some fresh fruit. mm how the aroma of the freshest pineapple filled the car!
We made it back to the Rectory where we ate yummy lunch as usual. Platanos, friend yams, rice and beans, goat curry <3 … mm Im hungry. We ended up taking a nap because we never realized how tired we all were.. Watched the Germany v. Greece game. Go Germany! Pancha and Lele drilled holes in the Pvc pipe to finish the biomass while the loud upbeat voices of the playing children rang in our ears. Pancha and I decided to go spend some time with the kids. Oh man, they melt me to the floor every time. The kids ran and asked me to pick them up, give them hugs. They put me in the center of the circle and danced around me and directed me to dance. It was the best feeling in the world. And even though I just met these children not even a whole 24 hours before, I felt loved. I felt the love emitting from their smiles, their tight grabs of my palms, the hugs wrapped around my legs. Earlier, some kids were calling for me and Father Roosevelt said they love natasha.. My statement after was a reflex, I said I love them too. Its the truth, how can you not fall in love with such genuine people. In the city, there was a billboard that said “enu tout kont” Translated, “We all count” it was the best thing id seen all trip so far.
We tested the soil in Fathers back yard with a soil testing kit, but after some silliness between Rebecca, Pancha and I, we came up with the funny idea of making a funny “tutorial” video. I had the funny presenter voice while Rebecca did the flight attendant gestures and Pancha head of the casting crew. The video will be posted! haha. Oh man this whole time so far, Ive failed to mention the BUG SITUATION! Im horrified. Everyone knows about my phobia of spiders, so conveniently, gigantic cockroaches took their place, ofcourse. They like to crawl out of the sink pipes when your not looking. Its a great surprise when you enter the bathroom. Rebecca had to check the bathroom for me to go for a shower because I made her, and ofcourse a HUGE one was on the floor. She had to kill it by throwing a flipflop on it which made it jump onto her ankle hahahahah. I couldnt get over it. Thanks Rebecca. well, il cut it here.. Im sure your going to have to read the novel that Rebecca is writing so I’ll save you some time! Good night, god is love, life is great, relish what you have. Haitians are some tough amazing people.
Friday has come and gone. Its been a long but great day. This morning we went for a walk and it was beautiful…. we waited for the pigs… word came that they guys in the purchase committee were on their way back from the second day of pig buying in Hinche…. they had 16…. which was great.The cost of livestock on the main island is higher than on LaGonave… more people on the main island and I serious food shortage so hence the costs are up. We were excited that we were able to get 16 healthy pigs. We also had to consider the cost of transportation to go to three markets… Port au Prince and Two in Hinche and then back again… I have never been to Hinche its in the central plateau and from what I have heard really pretty. So the day goes on and no pigs…. then we heard that the truck had broken down and they had to fix it but they were back on the road but had to go slow because of the pigs. So we waited… packed up while waiting….and then word came that they had broken down again in Port au Prince…. they did a bit more of fixing and got back on the road. Time ticks on and you know nerves were fraying when Father Roosevelt went up to the roof and held watch over the mountain road waiting for a tap tap full of pigs. Finally they arrived…. 6:30pm and I can tell you by the time those pigs pulled into the rectory yard the entire village was there to watch including the 8 families who had been chosen to get breeding pairs of pigs. You could tell that those families were the worse off in the village. They were so excited. It took a bit of time to get a rope around each pig’s neck and get them off the tap tap. Then we reviewed what the pigs were for… no need it was totally understood. Then we had photo time with each family head and their pair of pigs. Then they walked their pigs home. It was awesome!!!! Lots of times we send money or leave money for projects to be completed after we leave… but this time we saw the completion… and will be receiving updates as the pigs are born.
After it calmed down… it was time to visit a few homes to see how the solar lights were working. We had heard reports from villagers throughout the day that they were so proud because of their lights… we were thanked by people so I was guessing they were indeed effective but we wanted to see for ourselves. We went to the home of Mackelson. As you approached his house it was pitch black … even with flashlights it was still tough to see the terrain. As we entered his house which was a good size we immediately noticed that his light had been anchored by hook in the center of the room. It lit the entire room … I have to say it was awesome. We were in awe. He told us last night he stayed up late because he had light….. we then went over to a member of the church that works with Father R. Their house was so small just a skinny bedroom not two people wide. The only other room was a tiny kitchen nook… tiny. The bedroom had one little bed about a twin size and a few clothes hung over the bed. This was a tiny place for a poor family. That light lit their entire home. Again they were proud and excited tro have the light… they kept explaining that the sun was free and that it saved money that they would have needed to buy kerosene or wood. We even got to visit four of our pigs was walked around visiting homes. The pigs and the lights are a great start in helping this village develop…. it is just the first step of many. We have plans… plans we have already put into play… stay tuned for more as Haiti Turns!
So after a nice final meal we went up on the roof to enjoy the lights of Port au Prince and a game of Pictionary. We had a blast… it was so much fun. Six of us divided into two groups… it was Pancha, Mike & me against Chelsie, Joni and Meghan…. Mike is an awesome Pictionary player…. I laughed so hard my sides hurt.
So now to end my blog and my adventure we leave tomorrow morning at 7am to go to the airport… our flight is at 10:30am … after a stop over in Miami we will return Reagan and colder temperatures. I am excited to go home and see my family, friends, and of course Meg, Molly and Manfred… I also love the luxury of a hot shower and my own bed… but I will miss Mont L’opital, Haiti and Father Roosevelt… so I guess its no surprise when I say … we will return.
Signing off from Haiti…
Where oh where to begin… This has truly been a memorable and life changing journey. I feel I must begin with our host, Father Roosevelt. The SIFE team has been involved with Father Roosevelt for six years now. He is among the most honest, kind, warmhearted, and all around genial individuals I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing the company of, even if it was only seven days. It has nothing to do with being a man of faith but because he listens to his heart. He is diligent in is efforts to bring prosperity and ease the suffering of people that are less fortunate in life. He opened his home here in the mountains to us, gave us shelter, food, and was an extremely valuable link to the people that live here. His work and dedication is as inspiring to me as the Sistine Chapel would be to an artist. Truly a remarkable man and the people are lucky to have him here.
So many amazing things I have seen on this trip and they have done nothing but push me to continue my education so I can continue to do more and help the people that need it.
We went for a walk today with Joseph who took us to a hill which had a makeshift shelter of leaves and branches with a flag in it, that originally we were told it was for voodoo purposes, but they use it for tiered irrigation farming. The view from there of the mountains behind us and the ocean and the city of Port-Au-Prince in front of us was amazing. Later in the day, the pigs that we purchased arrived and the eight families that the village delegates chose would receive them for breeding were there with smiles on their faces and warmth in their eyes. It was a truly moving spectacle. With the animals they are given a source of income due to being able to sell the piglets at the market as they are born. We went around and saw two of the homes of the people that lights were given to and it was nice to see them enjoying the light at night without having to buy kerosene or candles. It’s the little things in life that can make a world of difference. Father Roosevelt said that we did the work of Jesus and brought light into the darkness. That statement alone was enough to make me teary. These passages we write and post in no way paint a clear picture of the life and people here. It’s merely just a glimpse into the picture. My hope when people read these, aren’t they give up what they are doing and come here, but even as they are busy and caught up in their own lives and problems, that maybe they will at least think of those that have nothing and and learn to appreciate the things that they have. This world is confusing to me and I see no end to the strife that people struggle through on a daily basis. Where there is human error there is corruption, but that doesn’t mean anything other than those are people that are without love in their heart and need to be shown compassion. I hope that I have the courage to take these lessons to heart and use them to further myself and those around me and that I come into contact with.
Sorry people for posting this late – the generator went out early last night so I was unable to post this… this my Thursday night blog post….
Thursday Blog Entry
A 5.0 earthquake this morning…. in the Dominican Republic….early about 2am… so was that what woke me or those blasted dogs????. What-the-what! Guess I can’t blame this one on Megan Samples…. but although it was not felt… it’s just too close for comfort. I think Pancha agrees. Last night it rained…. as this is the dry season… very welcome. Tonight it is pouring… unusual but then again welcome. All I can say is … interesting.
Last night Wednesday night) I was ecstatic the dogs were not barking.. I thought Father had banished them to the backyard after we kind of told him they were keeping us up…. never occurred to me that they were not barking because it was raining… but as soon as it stopped raining those blasted dogs started barking and barked all night…. It’s pouring now… hopefully it keeps raining!
Well happenings for today… Tuesday we had a village given our name as a honorary name for what we have done for the people of LaTorre Bouchan and today we were told by a village committee that we have brought light to the darkness…. wow how do you top that? Today we did “little” things… we toured the primary school and another large building that currently houses a part time medical clinic. This village desperately needs a secondary school…. the distance and the road the kids have to walk to get to school is unbelievable. The village told us that a secondary school was on their wish list…. after touring the set up the clinic building is really large and underutilized so we decided and Father R agreed that it would be perfect for a secondary school ….all we need is a building in a box building to make into a medical clinic. All dreams but dreams that would change the daily plights of a few hundred students who have to walk or hitch rides down the mountain everyday …rain or shine to go to school.
After our tour we met with the village committee that would help us decide who would receive the first batch of solar lights… I think we had about 27…. We taught them how to use the lights and ho to maintain them. That’s when they told us that we had brought light to darkness. They told us that many people either burn wood, charcoal or use kerosene to light their houses… if they had the money… many times they do not… so they live in darkness without the sun. Father Roosevelt explained that not only do children not get to do their homework but it is unsafe … he floors in these houses are dirt and insects and “things” come in when its dark… and now since there is light the people will have a better life, children can study, people can be more productive. The villagers are excited about the lights…. I mean really excited. So they were going to give them to the families that needed them the most… Friday night we are going to visit a few of the homes to interview the people and also see how they make a difference in these homes…. I am excited about this. The company we purchase these lights from also matches lights so we are lighting the world one match at a time (Can’t claim that one … Meghan and Pancha came up with it )
The pigs story continues… so two of our men left at 6am Thursday morning to drive to Hinche to purchase (hopefully) 16 healthy pigs … and they left in a tap tap J We received a call around 2pm on Thursday that they had bought 13 pigs… they were going to spend the night in Hnche as there was another market on Friday morning and they wanted to see if they could et more pigs…. They will return with all pigs Friday afternoon for the pig distribution. The key is that they are being really picky and only want very healthy pigs… hence this epic journey. Hinche is 2 hours one way … so I think this demonstrates that the community is taking this project very seriously. What more can you ask?
So I finally proved to everyone that there is a Home Depot in Haiti…. Eko Depot. It took a but to get there but once there everyone agreed … Eko Depot = Home Depot. We plan to shop there in the near future for the next phase of the Mont Lopital Economic Development Initiative or MLEDI for short
We then went to see Father Roosevelt’s home for orphaned children. They were adorable! There are only 11 children at this home so far…. All orphaned and in the custody of Father R. We took photos for the sponsors… although we need about five more sponsors (hint hint hint)
Well once again our journey was ending… we climbed back in the van and head back through Port au Prince and up Mont Loptial….normally a rock and roll ride…but tonight it was in the dark and wow was it ever dark. When we got back we had a wonderful surprise… they made us Plantain Pudding… now that may sound questionable to you… but let me tell you it is AWESOME! It was a great day… we had fun… and changed the lives of a lot of people. We may not be able to change the country of Haiti… but we are changing the lives of many of the Haitian people. And tomorrow we have the official start up of our pig cooperative. How cool is that??
Let me leave you with this…Margarete Meade once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
Chelsie here, Today was jam packed with many different things. This morning we went and looked at the school here in our village (it is the primary school) the kids were so cute and there were six or seven classes all for different grades, each class we went in to to say hi they sang us a song! It was really cute. Then we went to go see the clinic, which we decided we want to transform into the secondary school because the kids that can go to secondary school have to walk a long way to get there, down and then back up the hugeee mountian…everyday. So we decided one of our upcoming projects will be creating them a secondary school. We will be working with Rick Davis who wants to build another building similar to the school we built, using the building in a box. So we decided to use the ‘clinic’ as the school and the building we are going to build as the clinic instead. We came back to the house and had a meeting with the church board and gave out the solar lights. My pretend husband was there (we all have one) his name is Mackenson hes so sweet. We went back to the school when the kids had recess and played games with them, I am going to miss them very much. I showed them the secret wave from ‘The Little Rascals’- the under your chin wave, accomponied by me making the tooting noise out of my mouth with my tounge followed by an Indian owowowowow sound and they loveeeddd it. That is how we greet and say good bye now. It is so cool how language barriers can actuaclly bring you together- we dont ever say anything with lots of meaning but we all give gestures, like blowing kisses or huging or holding hands or even my stupid friend signals that they love. Its very cool. The word for gum is “chicklay” here and so we all laugh and say I am the chicklay queen cause I always have the bubble gum to give the kids, Joni gives the stickers, Meghan gives her camera haha. They also say my name very funny it got to the point we would all look at each other and say “did they just say Chelsie or sea shells?” so now I am also sea shells barbie lol. After hanging out with the kids and watching Ben climb a tree we came back and had ‘dinner’ which we eat at like 2 or 3 pm. Then we went into Port Au Prince. We first drove for what seemed like forever to find “Eco Depot” which is basically a smaller version of Home Depot, seriously its kinda scary. They had armed guards at the doors and make you put your stuff in lockers (just like most large stores…not that there are many). After looking around the store to see what they had that we could buy here next trip instead of transporting it with us, we left to go see the orphans. The orphans that Father actuaclly has full custody over- apparently that is not uncommon and Priests can adopt numerous amounts of children here. We went to where they are living and visited awhile, there was a little girl named Chealsea there and I wanted to bring her home with me. I am making this promise to the future Hatian baby that I will adopt you someday when I have a good job and have a dad for you, Ill be back I promise. After leaving the house, where I taught them my new friend greeting/goodbye that I did with the kids from the village this morning (apparently they all like it which makes me sooo happy, they think its funny, probably cause I look redicous lol). We were on our way back and I saw this little boy. And the whole two hours back I was thinking and Im going to try and put it down into words. Rebecca said something the first day that we were here and Ive rememberd it almost like its embedded in my mind. She said: When you are born its a game of luck and chance, being born an American is like winning the game. In a place like Haiti, you pretty much were delt a terrible hand… We continued talking and I remember saying something like yeah, and so its our JOB as the lucky ones with all the resources to help the people who cant help themselves. Well I thought that I understood that when we got here. But looking back, I really had no idea. Who can really have an idea until they have seen some of the things that we were witnessed to in just this one week? There is sooooo much more terrible things going on that we do not see, so shouldnt the things we see that are so terrible be enough? Being here and looking onto the faces of children that have survived more in their few amount of years and have done more back breaking long labor days of hard work than I will probably ever know in my life. The same children that BEG to go to school, or to have a bed, to have a LIGHT, to have a family that loves them. Through all of this Haiti is religious, they have kept their faith in God. When speaking to a normal Hatian looking back on a day that they just had, speaking of all of the terrible things that they endued…they will shock you and say something like, but hey it rained for 10 minutes last night oh how God loves us. How truely wonderful. Father at dinner tonight was telling us how he became a priest and I tell you it sent shivers down my spine. I do not think I have heard some one be so natural speaking of how great God is as if everyone knows already, yet is still humbed to the point of accounting God for all of the wonderful things that have happened to him to help others, not for one second saying that It was because he worked very hard. I am just sitting here tonight on my cot, extremely baffeled. I feel like all of the things I worry about mean nothing. I am healthy, no where near starving, I have people who love me completely and unconditionally, and I have people that I love that are safe and live in a land of opportunity. So today I thank God. I thank him for directing me and showing me what was missing, even though I was unaware there was something that was not filled. I will be praying for the flashes of faces that I see when I close my eyes, and for the days when the streets of Haiti are clean and all children can go to school. If you pray you are doing something. Pray for the little babies that are dying at the nuns home we went to, or the little boy on the street I saw and cried for today. That is all for tonight. I appreciate you taking time to listen. Tomorrow is our last day, and I am sad. Until tomorrow <3
Hey, Chelsie here.
Today was our chill day we got to sleep in alittle and do homework. We spent alot of time with the kids getting our hair braided and teaching them games and the chicken dance! We wrote down our needs assesment and are planning what actions we would like to take to make these amazing people a better place to live. We did not get the pigs today we get them tomorrow due to some complications. I decided today that I will defiently be saving and paying my way to come with Rebecca and megan downey and who ever else wants to come once a year for as long as they are coming. I feel very safe and needed also very loved by the children and I want to make their life better. Thats pretty much all for today. Card games to come with in the hour for sure. We will also be traveling to the orphanage where our sponsored children are tomorrow. Until tomorrow <3
So how does that song go… when this old world starts getting you down…. ep just come up on the rectory roof and look down over the lights of Port au Prince…. incredible. So to catch up our followers this was a down day for us… and after yesterday…. well received. Father had to go into PAP to retreat so we awoke to breakfast… after which the students did homework, we blogged … caught up on our needs assessment paperwork and just had time to catch up. Last night the dogs barked so I stayed up blogging… by the time I went to bed I was exhausted. The girls told me the dogs barked all night… but I never heard a thing to which I am thankful.Not to mention I beat Pancha in 3 out of 5 games of UNO….. sweet!
The key things of the day I think was teaching and doing the Chicken Dance with a serious mob of kids tonight…we plan a repeat performance tomorrow and have already talked Father Roosevelt into joining in. We also did a separate needs assessment for Father… again I know its not a event we can truly call a SIFE project … but since we plan to keep coming here and staying with him… its the right thing to do… when he moved into this new rectory there were no towels, sheets, blankets… he had to borrow them from another church for us… so we will have a linen drive for him and as we and other groups from our area come …. there is a constant rotation ….. we will send them over to him. We also needs a stove… the one in here is way beyond broken … there are rocks on it… tell you something. We are going to do a special fundraiser to buy him an oven. He is a great host… he makes sure we are always taken care of and safe…. I think its the least we can do… and everyone on this trip more than agrees.
As for the needs of the community well they need a well and we already located a water source. I see some calls to Rotary Intl and Engineers Without Borders in my future. Hopefully we can get another group involved to help us raise money for it. In Haiti water offers not only life but so much more. Crops and agriculture, a saving of time and money… the opportunity for children whom otherwise would be spending their days hauling water back and forth to actually go to school. They really need the store I referenced in past blogs,…. which offers their staples, saves time and money and would create jobs and through profit reinvestment additional community development projects. They need a secondary school. The kids here have to walk 7 kilometers down a sand and rock road down the mountain. A road that is constantly used by massive sand trucks.. its dirty and dangerous. A bakery is a need … they lack those small businesses that you usually find in any village. Those businesses create jobs… among other things. I could go on and on.
Gail I know you’re following this blog… today we sent Rummey and a member of our newly formed Mon Lopital Agricultural Cooperative in PAP… we were not allowed to go with them – the site of the blanc (white people) would increase the prices dramatically. We sent $1200 USD with a wish list of 16 pigs…. 8 female and 8 male. They took a tap tap to bring the pigs back and then…. they got back with no pigs Seems the pigs in PAP were for slaughter the people thought they were not healthy enough. So tomorrow they are going all the way to Hinche to get the pigs…. tap tap and all. It was really interesting… and showed that they really want this coop to work and want only good breeding stock and healthy pigs…. still wish I could ride in the tap tap with 16 pigs though… I’ll take lots of photos and next trip you will have a big job…. doing check-ups on all coop pigs!! :-0
Tomorrow we are going to visit the new orphanage and take photos and meet the children the BRCC community have already sponsored (thanks to Greg and others) and need to get sponsored. I think we have 7 more ….on the way Father Roosevelt is taking us to Ecko Depot to price building supplies for the store and just because no one ever believes me that there is a Home Depot in Haiti. Actually there are now two… one near the airport that I have been to and one in Petionville. We are going to Petionville .. I told Father I had never been up there…. he said it is on our way … Sean Penn’s camp is up there… I think we will drop by and see how they are using our Building in a Box.
So now I have several students who are telling me that they want to come back and plan to pay their way… On top of Meghan Downey, Cheslie also is hooked… I think its great and I true testament to the power of the Haitian people they hook you! The sense of community and appreciation for everything from a sticker to a motor… its addicting. Now if I could just muzzle those dogs!!!
Yesterday was a pretty big travel day…I think we spent a total of at least 9 hours by car/boat yesterday getting to and from Lotore Boucan, but it was definitely worth it. Lotore is the village we went to last March; Father Roosevelt took us there and we found extreme poverty. Most people slept under ripped tarps held up by sticks, the lack of any latrines whatsoever in the village created a pretty overwhelming smell on the island. The people had no access to a school or a doctor unless they walked two hours at least. It’s a pretty isolated village and it seemed that no one had ever seemed to notice their need…it felt like a village at a complete standstill. I can’t tell you the differences I saw yesterday. First of all, while we were taking our little speed boat (using TWO motors!! …basically meaning we were flying..really fun) to get to Lotore we slowed down when we were almost there and our driver told us he was going to fish. He didn’t have a fishing pole, so he just gets out this reel of fishing line and uses his hands to throw it in. I think it literally was less than a minute before we saw a pull on the line..again he just used his hands & he pulls up a HUGE fish!!! It was incredible!! We all started cheering. (Except then he gets out a giant stick and clubs it in the head, we stopped cheering after that….whatthewhat.) But the fish was large enough to feed tons of people..and the most amazing thing is that at the end of the day the man who caught the fish (he’s from Lotore) gave it to our guide/guardian for the day, Romi. Then, when we were back in the van and driving back up to Father’s we made a stop and Romi passed off the fish to his family. The fish changed hands twice just in the time we saw it…pretty amazing. Nobody is thinking about themselves..they are all about sharing and community, they use the little they have for giving. As PUNcha would say…that was very..unselFISH. Anyways, when we got to Lotore, I could see enormous differences right away. The community, once with just a few spread out “houses,” is densley packed with huts, tents, and even a few buildings created by Food For the Poor now. Food for the Poor also gave them a refrigerator and a generator so the fish they catch won’t spoil and go to waste!!!! Really, really exciting. If I posted pictures, it would still look pretty bad…none of the houses are up to any kind of real standard of living…but comparitively, more people on the island are at least sheltered, and the person to hut ratio seems to have gone down. Food For The Poor has also already talked of building some real, acceptable houses for the village. Really incredible progress to have been made just in the past 10 months. They now have latrines, they now have 3 or 4 legitimate fishing boats which they also rent out to others from other villages on La Gonave to use. But the biggest difference I saw was with the people..it’s kind of hard to explain unless you see it, but the community is vibrant now; the people are full of life. They have a purpose, and they have hope that things will continue to get better, that progress will continue to be made in their village. Last time we were there, the villagers were at a very, very basic state of just survival, and now they are living. They have goals: to build a school and to improve their homes…and these goals feel attainable. They can slowly chip away at these things; there is movement happening and it’s an obvious change in atmosphere. They are clearly determined and it’s exciting that they now have the means to put that determination to good use. It was overall an amazing day. I’m so glad we were able to make the trip as a team and actually deliver the materials to Lotore. For one thing, it was a pretty awesome experience to witness, with everyone helping to figure out the fishing materials. Pancha translating, Mike using his fishing knowledge, Chelsie putting her fishing pole mad skilllzzz to use, all with the help of the Lotore villagers. It wasn’t any kind of “here, we’ll show you what to do” but our team and the villagers were working together and sharing ideas to figure everything out, which made us feel a real sense of connection with them. I also think it was very important for us to come back, just to make it a more meaningful experience for both us and them. I think that did more to say that we haven’t forgotten them, and that we’ll continue to be there and help them and connect with others who can help them than it would have if we had just mailed the materials or sent someone else to deliver them. The president of their committee talked to us and told us “thank you for keeping your promise, for coming back to help us.” It was really moving. So proud of the Lotore community today, and thankful for everyone who helped contribute to the progress being made there!
Quotes of the day:
“I am pleased to announce….that I have opened my Ragaman!” – Pancha
“I’m way too big for this computer. I feel like I’m sending a text message” – Jeff
Pancha (seeing a cow): Oh look! That pig has horns!
Ben : Are we going to La Gonave? Can we swim there? Rebecca: Well you better start now
How bout them mangoes!
Just woke up and breakfast smells delicious. Speaking of food, the meals in Haiti are absolutely amazing! Typically they serve chicked fried, rice, beans, and a spicey sauce to go over everything. We always eat two meals a day; one in the morning and one at about three p.m. Whenever we’re thirsty we have the choice of Coca Cola (it tastes so much better here), Ragaman (a Haitian energy drink; SIFE team favorite), coffee (made specially for certain individualson our team..), and water (which we always always always drink out of a bottle). Oh, and our cook always puts the table cloth over our food, to protect it. And if you haven’t noticed I’m talking a lot about food; we’re about to eat breakfast.
Okay well, I’ll resume by ‘blogging’ in awhile. I have so much to talk about! Bright and early yesterday morning, we said our goodbyes to our friend Jeffery and loaded up in our infamous white van. We then drove through Port au Prince and picked up our boat motor and began our two hour drive to Lotorre. After an always eventful ride in the van, we reached the shore. It took awhile for the Haitians to get the motor started, but they always seem to figure things out and before long we were on our way. The boat ride across was absolutely breathtaking. The water was not only clear, but was the definition of aqua-blue. It looked like someone poured gallons of blue Kool Aid into the ocean. About three-fourths of the way to Lotorre, our guild casually mentioned that he was going to fish. By fishing he meant, throwing a single fishing line with bate attached, out of the moving boat and into the water. About seven minutes later, we heard Pancha translate “he caught something!”. I think we all expected to see a cute little fish, because, as we all thought, “what can you cach with just a piece of line?”. Well, much to our surprise, the man pulled a massive Marlin out of the water and we all scooted to the back of the boat to make room. It was so fascinating to not only see the fish, but watch how it was caught.af After the Marlin was caught, we arrived at Lotorre. When I first arrived in Haiti I was totally shocked at the massive amounts of poverty. Stepping ashore Lotorre was like experiencing all those emotions all over again. Children ran around naked and homes were nothing but rusty pieces of metal propped up against old branches. It felt like we had stepped back in time hundreds of years. But as we were shown around the village, I began to change my mind. A simple community building had been built which contained a solar powered freezer to keep the day’s catch fresh. Next we saw a solar panelled light that had been constructed. The light allows the village to put the night hours to use. After we presented our gift of fishing poles and gear to the community, we gave out gum and stickers to not only the children but their parents as well. As I was giving out stickers I was amazed at how excited the men, women and children were to receive a sticker on their hand/ forehead. Mother’s were bringing me their new-born infants, toddlers were pulling at my clothes and teenagers were putting their hands in my face; just to get one sticker.
Although the people of Lottore have so little, even as a first time visitor, I could tell so much has been done to assist these people. I am so excited to see what they can do with their new equiptment, because I know it will be put to good use. Oh and how could I forget my star-fish!? While we were waiting to get on the boat I noticed a perfectly shaped star-fish lying on the shore. Using what Kreole I know, I asked if I could take the speciman home with me. The village man near by began shaking his head, which I thought was a “no”, but five minutes later the same man came back with three beautiful star-fish the color of sunset. I think the village didn’t understand why I liked the star-fish so much, but they were so proud that I took such interest and fascnation in a product from their island. Let’s just hope my stars make it back home without breaking! Overall, the day was tiring, but in a refreshing way (Ragman did help). At the moment I’m sitting on the roof soaking up the sun, taking in the screen-saver view, and listening to the noises of village.
Just got in from playing tons of games with the kids! I’ve never seen Pancha run so fast in my life! I love teaching these kids new things, especially games. I taught them how to play capture the flag, which is a semi-complicated game, and they caught right on. After running around awhile I sat while four Haitian girls played with my hair. Today has been so nice, we’ve just relaxed, caught up on homework and spent time with the village children. We found out that the pigs are not coming today but instead tomorrow morning. Should be, as Chelsie would say, “interesting”.
Until next time!
So there are seasons in my life when i have this recurring dream. In my dream I find my self walking through a narrow, uneven, and unpleasant pathway. All I know is that I am anxious and eager to find my way out, in the blink of an eye boom! I’m in this old, run down house, in pretty bad shape. Any ways, I walk, climb up stairs, go through different rooms and make it to the door. At the end I see the light and what I am confronted with takes my breath away…its beautiful!, everything is green, full of life…simply amazing! Then I wake up!
Yesterday’s journey in many ways compares to my recurring dream. before arriving to LaTorre in the Lagonave island, we drove through many busy markets; narrow, dusty, bumpy, many paved and again busy roads. A “challenging journey”…for some foreigners…other foreigners, not us…ha! a part of daily life for our hosts and new friends here in Haiti. Any ways, if you remember my dream you could will know that, what was next for us to see and feel was simply fantastic! A gift from the creator was awaiting for us in Miragoane: a boat ride, the blue sky, splashing salty water and a Marlin. Not a Marlin’s fun or baseball player, a Marlin fish. I have never seen one in person it was AWESOME!!!
check this Marlins fun.
I was woken up from my dreamy fabulous boat ride by the harsh living conditions that the people in Latorre are living under. Two things are abundant in this Village. One is Needs. There is a myriad of them, the most popular needs are (like in any other developing country) health services, education, sanitation, waste management, employment and many more. SIFE/BRCC is alleviating the heavy load this community carries by providing some of the ‘tools’ they need to address some of these needs and to sustain themselves. I/we need to admit however that the tools given to the LaTorre community won’t work by themselves, they won’t bear any fruit unless the hard working hands of the men and women of this community puts them to work. And is this determination and sense of ownership, in my mind my dear reader, what constitutes the second thing that is also abundant in LaTorre; determination, sense of community, resourcefulness, and much more, that’s just some of the many strengths that I manage to identify in the short time I share with them. So the point I guess that I am trying to make is that no one can do anything without the other.
Peace to you!
Today was a GREAT day. Although it was preceded by a night of dogs barking outside our window. I swear …the eat dog in China and these dogs will be boxed and shipping tomorrow morning if they bark again all night….
The barking was accompanied by the high shrill buzz of the generate alarm. When the generator kicks off the alarm goes on… it went on about 2am and stayed on all night. So if it wasn’t the dogs it was the generator alarm. Brutal!
We woke early to have a quick breakfast with Father Roosevelt before he headed to his retreat for the day ad we headed to LaGonave. We learned this morning that truck lost its brakes last night in the center of PAP and killed 23 people. Kind of freaky… When we were all going out to load up in the vehicles the van that Father was taking (with Jeffrey and his mom) to the airport and then the retreat was dead. It was amazing to watch these men just throw together a set of jumper cables out of plan wire. It was amazing…. I don’t know how it worked but it worked. We then all piled in and off we went.First we stopped in PAP to pick up the motor ….then we headed to Mirograne. This took about 2 1/2 hours…traffic on a good day is slow and Mirograne is a long way away. When we got there it was a challenge to find where we were meeting the boat… but after going up the wrong side of a one way street…. we made it. Then it was time to get the motor and all our fishing equipment to the dock. One thing about Haiti there are ALWAYS people waiting EVERYWHERE waiting to be hired to carry your things. For about $4 USD they carried it all down an alleyway and we met the crew. Now they had come to get us with their boat and their 25 horsepower motor and automatically decided that they would use our 40 horsepower motor to cut our travel time over to the island in half. No problem that they had to install it and also fill it was oil and gas… all was complete in less than a half hour and we were ready to go.
Well as everyone will be posting the boat ride across was spectacular. During the ride Pancha and I started grilling the boat crew about using our motor….. this motor was to be used by the people of LaTorre Bouchan… well the captain of the boat told us it would be. We told him we wanted to leave it there and take his boat back later today with only the 25 hsp motor … he told us we would again use both… we kept telling him the motor was for the fishing village and he kept agreeing…. then he handed us an ID type of badge that stated he was the President of the Fishing Cooperative of LaTorre….. and he told me (or should I say reminded me) that he was the man that lead our town hall meeting last March – yep he was right and we looked like crazy pushy American women.
We tested that motor …. and it passed with flying colors. The boat flew across to LaTorre … then the crew started fishing going across…. with only fishing line and a hook and within 2 minutes caught a HUGE marlin. They must have thought we were crazy as we were cheering and applauding them as they pulled this beautiful BIG fish into the boat. Then they hit it was a club to kill it….we stopped clapping
When we arrived at LaTorre the entire fishing village was there and we went to the village center and started showing the villagers all the gear we had brought… rods, reels, line, nets. and then we pulled out the sonar fish finder GPS….. it was like handing them a million dollars! The next hour or so was challenging trying to set up this highly technical electronic equipment…with at least 25 men watching over your shoulder. Thank goodness we had Mike – I could never have pulled that one off – they wanted to learning everything. Mike showed them how to wire it to a spare battery and when that GPS screen lit up there were smiles EVERYWHERE…. then we had to go out to the boat and show how to install it…. Pancha translating and Mike doing the technology thing. All the while the people of LaTorre were showing Joni, Chelsie, Meghan and Ben everything else. It was crazy … in a good way. We were shown our latrines that we had built and told that since they were built cholera and tyhoid has pretty much disappeared. Very cool. The head of the village asked us to come to hear a few words before we left… he basically thanked us for coming back to LaTorre and actually doing what we had promised them we would do when we were there in March. He told us that many people go there and promise to help but never come back and we had made them happy because we did when we told them we would. We told us the motor would help them be able to navigate the deeper waters and they were so happy they wanted to honor us by naming their fishing center a name we could chose… it was like an honoring naming…. we told them we wanted it called BRCC SIFE….. they wrote it down and said it would be… we are not quite sure how that will all work but it was a nice honor that they gave … it was their way of giving back to us.
When it was time to leave the island we left them waving and smiling… we promised to visit again to see how they were progressing but from the look of the island … they are on their way to sustainability. They now have three really fast fiberglass boats… three 25 hsp motors and the 40 hsp motor… new fishing gear and the GPS/Fish finder. Food for the Poor also has done what they have told us they would do by proving the village it a large solar panel by which they run a generator and a freezer – this allows them to freeze their catch and not waste it by it being exposed to the elements. A very cool compliment to everything that was being done to increase the quality of life and standard of living for these people. So back we went over the ocean to Mirograne and then the two hour ride back to PAP and Mon Lopital. It was a long but productive day… tomorrow promises to be another great day. We are buying 16 pigs for our pig project (aka goat project) starting eight families on their own pig farms. We also are going to work with a committee from the village on a business plan for the store and bakery we plan to open later this year. I think the chicken dance is also planned sometime during the afternoon with a lot of kids!!!
Well its late… everyone else is sleeping… even the dogs so will sign off and say more tomorrow!
Hey Jeff Here!! The friend that was met along the way, once a stranger but now a part of the family at BRCC SIFE.
Haiti is truly an amazing country and what’s most beautiful are the people that are met along the way. The people of Haiti are extremely ambitious, determine, and their relentless nature is both aspiring and motivating. I do however wanted to share a little on the family that I lived with for a few days. Of course there’s Rebecca with a heart so big it’s impossible to see the end from the beginning, one Who breaks the mold of any traditional accountant teacher and brings caring to a definition which is truly shown in her actions. Who would have thought an accountant teacher could be so cool, down to earth and extremely selfless. It’s amazing how one person can truly make a difference and how together SIFE has truly made an impact. Mike, a man of few words but when he speaks he gets you thinking, similiar to the weather unperdectable yet powerful at times, a man of wisdom and kindness, an honest man who would give Honest Abe a run for his money. Aura (Puncha) Esperanza etc… Just like her names imply, a woman of many depths, one who would surprise you by speaking a language (Kreyol) known by few yet speaks it better than most Haitians in America, a colombiana who heart beats louder for Haiti than most Haitians I know. Ben, a army guy who pants and boots could cause even the most fearless child to shake in their boots, a guy who might have been perceieved as scary until he smiled. Amazing to see how he won the hearts of the children, as we heard from the rooftop the chants of “Ben Ben give us more candy!!” Megan, one who moves with the wind, goes where life takes her and sees no limits as to what could be done, one who’s heart could cause her to come to a foriegn country and desire to explore a foriegn language. One whose’s hick-ups could scare even the scariest people out of practicing voodoo. Chelsea, One who is no where near as clumsy as she thinks she is. Someone who is a joy to be around, one who sometimes speaks first before thougts but when she speaks it comes out positive, in a good way. . Joni, one who see’s no barrier, whether it’s outside making up random games because she desire so much to keep the children entertained or one who mangage to convince kids to catch lizards without knowing what their rewards would be.
Overall my trip to Haiti was amazing and the people who were met along the way were truly life changing. It’s an honor to say I know people from such a powerful and impactful organization, such as SIFE. Elourde Colin, Father Roosevelt and I have started a non-profit orphanage in Haiti where our head qaurters are in Orlando, Fl. We are currently going through a name change so our website is currently down for construction and our Non-Profit is now called Mother’s Love Children’s Village. Honestly without the help of Father Roosevelt and Oraganizations such as SIFE, none of this would have been possible. I truly thank you for making my trip a memoriable one and most importantly making an impact in Haiti.
Today was truly a remarkable day. We went and picked up a 40hp motor and took a two hour car ride to the port at Miro Grane. It was one of the most crowded streets that I have ever seen, and people are wedging big trucks down these mini lanes with such grace it was remarkable. We then took an hour boat ride to the island of La Gonave which was truly amazing. The water felt so warm to the touch and was a crystal blue, the sun was shining bright, the wind was in our face, and the view was spectacular. There was mountains on both sides of us and the view of the town as we were driving away was amazing as well. It was straight out of a movie, with an ancient cathedral that was the prominent fixture of the scene, surrounded by old homes that seemed to jut out from the mountainside itself, as if they were grown from the earth and trees themselves.
When we got to the village of Latorre Bouchan, the people greeted us with open hearts and arms. They were overjoyed when they saw that we had returned as promised, with fishing poles, a motor, a gps fish finder, and a solar recharging station. My mother (I love you MOM!!!) gave me a big bag of soap which the people loved, and a huge container of hairbands for the girls and ladies which they were oh so happy about. They were laughing and strutting around with the new accessories and it was awesome to see something so little bring such a smile to their face. I got to see a little more of life on an island like that. There was a gentleman that had a machete that was chopping the end off of shells for hermit crabs and conch for food. I offered an older man a cigarette which he gladly took and sat with me and a friend of his in the shade as we tried to carry on a conversation which involved a lot of hand movements due to an enormous language barrier, but it was fun. Afterwards, he bade me follow him to his home where he shared a swig of what I think was tequila…. (whatever it was, it made my stomach churn instantaneously whether it was the substance itself or the fact that it felt like 100 degrees outside!) then introduced me to his son, and we talked about our families. He then introduced me to a man that worked so hard, he injured himself to the point that he had an abcess growing from his head the size of a baseball… It was heartbreaking. I felt so bad and I sat with the man and held his hand and I couldn’t help but start to tear up. Afterwards I walked to ocean’s edge with a group of the locals and I could not help but take my shoes off and jump in the water. The ocean was the warmest I have ever swam in and it’s the middle of January. Beat that California!!! When I got out of the water, you could see my tattoos through my white soaked shirt and they all wanted to see them, the loved the dragon and even knew the word scorpion. I’m not sure if they were making jokes at me or not due to the fact that I couldn’t understand almost any of what they were saying but they seemed happy and seemed to enjoy just seeing something different. Just as we do I assume when we come here and see different things we aren’t used to. Whatever it was, I felt like I could connect with the people there just as I could with the people in Mont L’Obital. It truly was a moving feeling to be able to bring some type of comfort to them, something that will make at least some part of life easier. They are all so full of happiness and joy already just being close to one another. Family. Truly amazing and something to admire and take notes from. Although, as much fun as I had, not a member of my group wanted to sit next to me on the bus ride home due to me jumping in the ocean, but it’s okay, it was worth it!!
Today was absolutely crazyy and I have to say I was extra thankful for the fluid in my head that keeps my brain from hitting anything. We spend alot of our day in the car and traveling from place to place to ultimately get to La Torre Bucan where we delivered the gps/sonar system, the 40 hp motor, and the fishing equipment. On our 4 hour journey to the Island, I noticed something that I have not seen in full anywhere else in Haiti sence ive arrived. Out past port au prince there would be places that looked like they were stable. They were clean, people were building, there was trash pick up, and they were growing things. It looked like how Haiti was meant to look. Being here in the mountians where the smallest things we do impact so much, it is easy to feel as if its not a problem, and that we will fix it with motivation. Then going into the city its like that feeling gets completely washed from your system. There are people everywhere and trash where there should not be trash. Everytime you think your entering into an area that has been fixed, you turn the corner and boom, theres another tent city. It has really got me thinking. We had alot of time while traveling today to talk of the recycling and all that. well suposedly there was a large NGO that wanted to be stationed here on the mainland and be soleley for recycling trash. This would completly benefit the people because its not because they are lazy that there is trash everywhere, they literally have NO where to put it. NO WHERE. the government is not even providing some sort of disposal of the trash that is lining the streets. So the problem that this company had was that the government wanted 50% of their profits. Well this is not an incentive for a large NGO to come in to. If we could get a large company to strike a deal (how ever out rageous the cut) with the government, and that be their tax write off each year…just imagine with the determineation of the Hatian people, this place would be CLEAN. That would be the first step. and then you can go from there. Im really thinking about how to do this so if anyone has ideas (partnerships) or wants to help me please let me know! But back to our day- very wonderful I got to teach the villagers how to use a casting rod which they thought was just awesome! The boat ride was amazing and I got lotsssss of sun. The people were amazing and I feel like we had a sucessful day. Right now we are having our meeting with Father Roosevelt talking about the buying of the pigs for the familes here tomorrow- which will be soooo cute! I cant even describe how many pigs and goats and chickens…animals in general that I never see and the people here must think Im crazy cause I run after them and try and pet them- which they just are not having haha. Everyone else is egar to blog so I will be handing over the computer. Tonight is donkey round 2, raining champion right herrree. I also get to take a shower tonight which is exciting. Until tomorrow <3