Perspective from the latest team:
How was Haiti?
I think it’s safe to assume that anyone who has been to Haiti hears this question more frequently than any other upon their return. How can you concisely answer this question? Forget concisely, how do you even answer it?
How was Haiti? That’s probably a question best for someone who had been there before the earthquake. One who wasn’t can only imagine what it was like; less broken perhaps?
For some of us, HaitiServe’s most recent trip was our first to Haiti – and what a first impression it was. We first went to Children ofThe Promise, a children’s home on the outskirts of the northern town of Cap-Haitian. This was a pretty amazing place. It’s like a small
oasis in the midst of the sugar cane. Children of the Promise is cool in the sense that they not only seek to provide care to children when their families are unable to do so, but they seek also to be connected with the community in which they live in by providing free, clean water, and jobs for the locals. While there we were able to work alongside the full-time staff and nannies to help care for the 40 kids (all of which are under the age of 3). It may seem like a simple task to care for children, but how humbling it was to just serve the people who do it daily there. We were able to care for the sick children who needed constant care, give more kids daily attention and interaction and change lots of dirty diapers. Also, what a blessing it was to have Taylor Clement, a nurse practitioner, there to work alongside the staff nurse in administering some much needed medical care. In addition to this we helped build a small hut on the roof of one of the buildings to house the future solar panel equipment (soon Children of The Promise will be totally self-sustaining), got beat in soccer by some locals (most of which were barefoot), and had a run-in with an oil covered, fake gun wielding gang of boys.
Upon arriving back in Port-au-Prince, we very bumpily made our way to a couple different places. First to our digs at the Wall House where we met up with our guide and translator Wooby, then to a school with 1,100 children run by an amazing man named Chedrick. Not only does Chedrick run the school, but he also heads up the feeding program at the school which provides, often times, the only meal to 600 kids daily, is the pastor of 2 churches, AND is the area director for Young Life in Haiti; no big deal. After this we went to The Apparent Project, and how cool it was to see the local artisans making the necklaces which are sold in the States. There was something about the work environment there which seemed… hopeful. The artisans were laughing, talking, listening to music, taking pride in their work. It seemed safe. All of which are things which I personally never think about in my workplace, yet was something which was seemingly so different than other work you might see Haitians doing.
The next day we went to where Wooby lived, which was for some of us our first visit to a tent city. Wooby’s particular tent city has over 20,000 families in it. On the way we picked up some cookies to take to the “school” in the tent city. It was no less a school than we have in the states I suspect, however, the conditions for learning could not have been more different. The school we visited was maybe 300 sq. ft., had close to 60 students, had tarp walls and ceiling, both of which were riddled with holes, and must have been close to 95 degrees. Far from what we might consider the ideal learning environment, yet the kids were behaved, attentive, and joyful to see us. How humbling.
Our final stop was to Children of Hope. An orphanage about an hour outside of Port-au-Prince which is run by a man named Bobby, his wife, and Bobby’s mother Mama T. Again, how incredible it was to witness a place of hope for these children. In all I think there were about 40 orphans who live full time at Children of Hope and even more who daily attended school there. We arrived just in time for the kids to begin eating lunch – rice and beans with spinach and chicken. Not only were the kids nutritional needs being met, but they were also being loved, taught, and disciplined. What a picture of caring for and loving orphans as Christ has called us to, and how hopeful it was to know that in the near future at least 4 of these children will have loving homes in Knoxville with the Moldrup and Smith families! How impossible it was to see these children, play with these children, talk to these children and then simply leave. The song they sang as we left summed it up, really it summed up our entire time in Haiti, “We are not forgotten, we are not forgotten, we are not forgotten, God knows my name, He knows my name.”
How true this is, and how even truer it seems in a place like Haiti. So, how was Haiti? When we were there Haiti was and is still broken, still poor, still dusty, and most of all still in need of Christ. Are we any different though? It’s clear that the Lord has not forgotten the Haitian people, and how difficult it is now for any of us to forget them as well.