We started out this morning by visiting Haitian Initiative in Cite Soleil where we were able to observe and help with their daily ruitine. First we were able to watch the soccer team tryouts that were going on on the HI soccer field. From there we walked to the feeding center where all of the soccer players are fed breakfast each day in the summer, but fed dinner each day during the school year. Many of the kids greeted us on our way in to the center. We were able to take part in serving the food to the children as well as playing games and dancing. After Haitian Initiative, we had the pleasure of walking with our team to our first water truck stop of the day.
We delivered water to two neighborhoods in Cite Soleil today. Here are some facts about Cite Soleil:
Cite Soleil has a population of about 400,000 and is one of the most impoverished communities with some of the largest slum areas in the Western Hemisphere . Over 70% of people do not have access to a latrine. Half of the homes are made of cement blocks with tin roofs and the other half of the houses are made of a variety of found things like sheets, cardboard, and sticks. There is no sanitation system; therefore, the garbage swims in the mini-ditches along the sidewalk in the city. Many of the children do not have clothes so they run around the streets bare.
All of this does not slow their love for life. They are such sweet people and speak with kindness.
Healing Haiti, founded in MN, is the only organization allowed to bring free water to the neighborhoods. The people of Cite Soleil are grateful for the water and gave us a big welcome when we arrived. The second neighborhood had children everywhere in the streets when we arrived with very few adults in the distance. The children chanted, "Hey You! Hey You! Hey You!" when our Tap-Tap (taxi bus) and water truck were coming down the street.
The neighborhoods were quite different in personality. The first neighborhood had order and waited in an almost perfect line behind the water truck. There was definite desperation and they quickly took their five gallon pail of water when it was full, but yet there was order. No one was allowed to budge and only a few tried. I was able to help on the water line to fill the buckets and get them out of the way in order to waste as little of water before the next bucket started to fill. The hose was as large as a fireman's hose, so the pressure was quite high. We were soaked after helping with the water line.
The second neighborhood was not as orderly, but I think that was mainly because they didn't seem to have as many buckets. The line was shorter, but the energy was higher. It seemed more impoverished, if that was even possible.
When we weren't on the water line, we were entertaining the children, walking pails of water to people's homes, or lifting buckets on top of the girls' heads for them to walk home. It was common for 4-5 children to be tugging at each of us begging us to hold them. If only we could hold that many! We sang songs like "Tooty Ta" which was easy to entertain many children with that song. The children loved to be held and they also loved to play with our hair. Their immediate love for us was selfless and all-knowing.
The day was emotional and empowering and took time to process when we returned to the guesthouse. I know when we return home to Minnesota next week that I will still be processing today's water truck day and all the experiences we've had here in Haiti. I am thankful for all of the blessings I see here in Haiti and that God has allowed me to be present in the moment.