Friday, July 31, 2015

Day 5: Carrefour, Einstein Alberts, La Lou Orphanage, Pizza Amour

If I had to pick one word to describe the whole day for my team it would be polish. For some of our team the day began with alarms announcing "time to get ready for church" and for others the day started with a plate full of pancakes. This morning we had the chance to attend a 6:00 AM church service at a local church that is about a 10 minute walk away from our guest house. I attended this beautiful service where the church-goers would pace up and down the aisles declaring their prayers with their arms high above their heads. Although we were only able to stay for an hour, their passion was truly heart-warming. The word polish fits into this piece of the day due to the imperfections and the unpolished aspects of Haiti that our team has witnessed throughout our trip up to this point. It occured to me that while in the United States we may have ornate, polished, and extravagant churches, that this church surrounded by dust and garbage was impeccably polished.

Our first stop of the day was at Carrefour (home for sick and dying adults). While this visit was out of many of our team members' comfort zones, everyone walked in with their beautiful souls and determination to help anyone in need. The word polish ties into this experience more literally since most women wanted their nails painted with the nail polish we brought with. I think that all of our team members  who went outside of their comfort zone were comforted by the knowledge that the women now had the color of the nail polish to brighten up their days. 

Next stop was Einstein Alberts. We pulled up to this little shop full of beautiful, handcrafted bowls that several women were varnishing. We were all able to see all of the lovely wooden bowls that had been made with much effort and time. There were not many bowls ready for sale when we arrived, but even thought they were not all varnished or polished, they were still stunning and held as much value to the women/men who spent the time crafting them. Our visit was short, but we left with several bowls and lots of smiling faces.

La Lou Orphanage came next, and seemed to be bursting with laughs. We were greeted by the cutest kids who were all very eager to participate in our team member, Dawn's, art lesson. There were many colorful giraffes in the room after the excited kids finished coloring their drawings. They caught on to our singing and clapping games quickly and they all laughed when we sang and danced the TootyTa. Cassie gave them a fantastic dental lesson where they all 'polished' their teeth with the new toothbrushes we gave them. La Lou Orphanage was a joyful visit for many.

After our service work was done we were able to polish off our day with a fun grocery store visit and pizza from Pizza Amour. These trips provided us with great bonding time, tons of laughs, and stomachs full of pizza and dessert. 

Natalie (:

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Day 4: Grace Village Tour // Elderly Visits

Our morning started off with a tour of Grace Village.  Grace Village is a place created by the founders of Healing Haiti where a few children live, and hundreds of children get food and an education.  Some of the children who now live at Grace Village were once child slaves who are now being taught how to trust and love.  Before they came to Grace Village, many of those children were used to people stealing their blankets at night when they slept .  At Grace Village they are taught "what's theirs is theirs" and nobody steals.  They are taught to live like a family, so ultimately when they have a family of their own later in life, they have that life skill in place.

Also at Grace Village, they have an aquaponics system where they farm their own talapia and use hydroponics to grow their own vegetables, as the terrain is not conducive to growing plants.  They have two bread ovens, where they teach people in the community to make bread so that they can go and sell it in the community to support themselves.  They are now working on a commercial bakery to provide a needed service as well as many more jobs for the local people.  So much at Grace Village is about coming alongside the people of Haiti to help them learn how to help themselves and not just accept handouts.

In the afternoon we visited 3 women in the elderly program.  We washed their hands and feet and brought them a hot meal and cold water.  We poured our hearts into them through touch, praying for them, asking them about their experiences, and singing and dancing with the children that gathered.  We started with Marolen, who was frail and quiet.  Then Felicie, who was happy to see us and was so grateful for her house that was built by Healing Haiti, followed by Maricia, who was so joyous that she greeted all of us with hugs and hooted and hollered when we washed and dryed her feet!  Let's just say that her fingers and toes were painted by some unusual methods and persons, along with her grandchildren.  ;)

To end our day, we were given a tour and explanation of the earthquake that shattered this beautiful country when we visited the Mass Gravesite.  The multitude of souls that were lost sank into each and every one of us as we looked around and thought about what it must have been like to have lived through such a disaster...

Tracy, Cassie, and Michael

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Day 3: Orphanage for Children with Special Needs//Home for Sick and Dying babies//Apparent Project//General Hospital

                            Orphanage for Children with Special Needs
Today we had the privilege of visiting a new partner with Healing Haiti, an orphanage for children with special needs. When we arrived, the 20 children were gathered in a nice tiled room at the front of the building.  It was a good spot, as the breeze came through to keep everyone cool.  They were excited to see us, and our team all stepped in to interact and get to know the children.  One girl 'chose' me (Debbie).  She couldn't walk, but scooted over to my legs and looked up at me with her beautiful eyes and I sat down to be with her.  She really likes to have her back massaged and has a great smile  - her name is Diane.  Another boy named Bradley came up to me (Tony) and was quick to join in on a little game and continually wanted to play, he was all smiles. Many of the children were eager to have our attention and to be held and played with.  Since this was a first experience for a Healing Haiti team, we had no idea what to expect or plan for.  We sang some songs and they loved it, so we got the guitar, and Michael played and we all sang some more.  Oh, it was so much fun!  One guy, Fonz, got some wonderful loud clapping going as he joined in to the beat of the music. As Michael strummed instrumentally, one of the workers started humming a tune.  Soon it turned into a loud impromptu sing along, a Haiitian-inspired hallelujah song! This was the highlight of our time while serving these wonderful people. 
-Debbie and Tony
                                              Home for Sick and Dying Babies
  The other half of our group were blessed with the heart breaking visit to the Home for Sick and Dying Babies.  The ward that had the sickest babies was filled with about 10 children in various states of health.  We jumped in, each one of us, regardless of whatever ailed the child, picked them up, and held them.  They were thin, quiet, and when those big brown eyes opened, there was nothing to do but hold them as close to your heart as you could.  I (Tracy) picked a child named "Jeff" who happened to be next to "Elvis" and put him on my shoulder.  We hung together the entire time, ate a few times, and slept in my arms.  I could do nothing for him but hold him close, talk to him, and pray silently for this child whom no one came to visit.  Other parents came and went, but we were alone.  The emotions that I felt upon surrendering him to his crib overcame me, and the tears came quickly.  

                                              General Hospital
Today was my first ever visit to General Hospital. I've been to Haiti 2 times before, and to be honest, I've avoided this visit. It was definitely far outside of my comfort zone. We brought care packages for everyone, many donations and fresh, cold water. Although they received our gifts with so much joy, it still didn't feel like enough. The facility was lacking basic supplies, so we brought with us some formula and diapers.  So many sick, sick babies. The nurses asked us to take one of the abandoned babies. His parents coudn't care for him and so they abandoned him at the hospital. Many of the babies needed fresh diapers, more food, and physical touch. It was beyond overwhelming. I wish I could have done more but I'm so glad for what we did do. 

Water truck day, in front of Hope Church

       Water truck day, on the pier

Half the team getting ready for the Home for Sick and Dying Babies

At the orphanage for kids with special needs

Artisans at the Apparent Project, making paper beads

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

7-28-15 DAY 1 || Watertruck day ||

Day 1: Travel Day

Everybody's morning started at approximately 3 am after weeks of preparation and excitement. Then it was off to a long day at the airport for all. After a few delays, checked bags and lots of extra patience, we finally arrived at the guest house and are getting to know each other over dinner and group chats.  We are getting settled in and praying for a safe, rewarding and adventurous week ahead! We are all very excited to serve, learn and love this week. 

Now it's off to an early bed time to catch up on some rest and prepare for a big day tomorrow. 

Until tomorrow,
Je vous remercie et que Dieu bénisse

Meet our team!
               Our lovely Illinois family!

         Minnesota peeps, representing!

Day 2: Water Truck Day

Our first day serving started out strong. We woke up and had some french toast and eggs, chugged a few bottles of water, and headed on our way to Haitian Initiative in the wobbly taptap.
At H.I. we watched boys and girls practice, and picked up a game of soccer with the ladies. Suprisingly we only lost 2-0. After our visit at the soccer field, we walked them to their lunch room, danced, and handed out food from feed my starving children! Then, back to the taptap..

Our team arrived at the first stop (17) of our watertruck journey in City Soleil. It was a little bit hectic, but exciting to see smiles all around. 

Natalie: "Even though I needed to take a break from the heat in the taptap, the kids would pop their heads in smiling to make sure I was okay. Who knew a smile could make me feel so much better?"

At this stop we got to visit the new church and school that is being built. The kids were running alongside us to go dance and sing with hope and celebration for what the future has in store!

Phaylen: "This part was the most emotional part of the day for me. Seeing the kids by their new partially built church, dancing, smiling, and singing made me feel extremely happy."

After seeing the constuction on the church, we all got back on the taptap and went to watertruck stop number two. We were greeted by the typical "hey you!" from every kid on the street. This stop was much shorter than our first, but very well done by the people on the line of buckets.

We said our goodbyes and headed to the taptap.

Stop number three (stop #26) came late because the watertruck lines were long. We were very tired before this stop but our translater Emanuel got us singing "God is so good", which hyped us up. We arrived at stop three which was located ocean side. The people were very excited to see us and couldn't wait to get their water. The lack of rain water made them a little more desperate than normal. After the truck was empty, we walked to the pier with some of the kids and sat on the edge. We watched the older boys show off and do backflips off the pier. Our day came to an end as we waved goodbye to the kids as they chased the taptap until they couldnt run anymore.

-Rachel, Phaylen, and Natalie

P.S. We will add some water truck pictures later...wifi probs!  😉