First full day in Haiti. Started off with a great breakfast and learned so much about my co-workers. Hopped on the tap-tap, with half the group going to the Home for the Sick and Dying children, and my group went to the Christian Lighthouse School. They desperately needed a plumber. How many pole guys does it take to fix a pipe?! Apparently 5. Without the tools and proper materials, we pieced together the waterline from the storage tank to their living quarters. It took about 3 hours, but it was so needed. Nobody was able to shower for about 3 weeks. Prior to fixing the pipe, we toured the school, which was awesome! The first group of students through 12th grade is now graduating this year!
We then went to the Apparent Project where Haitians are paid a real living wage to produce jewelry, pottery, clothing, blankets, and trinkets out of all local material that Americans typically would throw away. Their ingenuity was unbelievable. The skill and craftsmanship that went into these items was remarkable. The beads and coasters were made from empty cereal boxes, old newspapers and clay mined in Haiti.
Our next stop was Gertrude’s home for special needs children. I pushed a child around the yard on a wheelchair. He was so wiggley, he ended up laying on his back in the wheelchair with his legs straight up in the air. The smile on his face was priceless.
What a full day we had! Emotions ran high for most of us as we were overwhelmed with our visits. We were treated to a full breakfast cooked by the Haitian ladies. I’ve been so fortunate to have the opportunity to serve with my new friends and co-workers. At 8 AM all of us rode on the tap-tap hanging on tight as roads were so rough with rock and cement. Bonding with the babies was our first serving mission at the Home for the sick and dying. These teeny, tiny babies with their big brown eyes looking up at me, was heartbreaking. I can’t help but think some of the babies were hurting badly, with their sad cries and most likely many are under-nourished. But holding them, hugging and kissing them made me feel good, and that I was helping even for this short period of time I was there. The little girl I was holding was named Thamala, and I did get her to laugh a bit but most of the time she layed in my arms, as I sang softly to her. Someone walked in from outside with another baby. She hurriedly put him in my arms and she ran out. His name was Joseph and he quietly layed in one arm, while Thamala lay in my other arm. I was in happy land. The hard part was putting Thamala down, as she cried and reached her arms toward me. She just wanted the simple act of being held. I had a profound feeling of love, sadness and that God had wrapped his arms around me.
The next visit was unbelievably profound. We visited the Apparent Project where the program was geared toward Haitians selling their wares and earning a living. Such detailed, skilled handicrafts they made. Sam’s blog said it all. About 300 Haitians are employed here, (about the same # that Bell employs) men, women and teens were all making intricate beads from colorful empty cereal boxes, beautiful jewelry, pottery, trinkets. The detailed metal sculptures were all hand pounded with a hammer and nail. They made coasters from the cereal boxes, rolling lengths of cereal boxes tightly, with colorful outer rims. They were all so happy. I got the feeling they had a sense of purpose, and they were all enjoying their job. My word for the day is “opportunity”. These folks working have been given the opportunity to feel self-worth, where so many Haitians don’t have this opportunity.
Without opportunity brings me to our 3rd visit of the day, Gertrude’s Home for Special Needs Children. Everyone grabbed a child to play with, or found a wheelchair with a young one, and brought them outside to be pushed around, talked to, and to see the outside. I had a little wheelchair-bound child that was strapped into her chair whom I cared for. With so much need in Haiti, I think these particular children will fall through the cracks in a matter of time, which makes me sad.
God has blessed Haiti with people from all over the world who came to live and help the folks in Haiti. Thanks to Healing Haiti, and Tommy Bell for this trip. I’m hot, sweaty, emotionally drained, physically exhausted, but so very, very grateful.