Thursday, August 15, 2013

What an Amazing Experience: Haiti (Day 1 and 2)

I don't even know if the word amazing is good enough to describe the trip to Haiti that I took. It was an eye opening experience. I went with my home Parish in CT, Sacred Heart Parish, July 23-30, 2013. What a great week! 

To share with you about my trip I'm going to give you a short summary of each day and thoughts about those days. Our Deacon, that led the trip, wrote summaries. I will be using those. 

Day One: 

Tuesday, July 23 – Departed Sacred Heart at 5:00am and JFK at 9:20am, arriving in PAP at about 1:45pm.  We were picked up at the airport by Roland (driver and mechanic) who drove us to the Mission House off of Route De Freres in Petionville.  We were greeted by Joseph Jean-Baptiste (chef), Jean-Marie (outside man), Wosbair (inside man) and Fr. Frank Rouleau (chaplain).  After dinner, Frank introduced us to the house rules and shared some introductory thoughts about Haiti.

We didn't do too much this day, but we got the first glimpse of Haiti in the airport and the drive to our Mission House. The first thing that hit me was how HOT it was. I mean HOT! Around 100 degrees and humid everyday. Yes, lots of sweating. But the good thing was everybody else was too! That car ride to the house with 16 people in a 14 passenger van was tight and the first of many of the trip.  At the Mission House we met Fr. Frank, who lives and works in Haiti as a priest. He was a very humble man and funny too! He is originally from CT too and has been in Haiti for over 20 years. He gave us useful information about the country. So far the people seemed very friendly, especially the workers at the house. 

Pictures from the van...

Pictures from the Mission House...

Tomah and Bella, cute mission house dogs
Dining Room
My Bedroom 
Upper Deck, where we had our conversations every night. 
Looking off the deck, vans and front gate

Day Two:

Wednesday, July 24 – After mass (offered every day of our visit) and breakfast, we purchased a few crafts from artisans who brought their works to the Mission House.  About 9:30am we departed for Mother Teresa’s rehab facility for children in PAP.  Visited and fed the children ages 6 months to about 12-18 months of age.  Had lunch at the famous Epidore Cafe (Haiti’s answer to McDonald’s) located on Route Delmas in Petionville.  In the afternoon, we visited Madame Samson’s feeding program for 70-80 neighborhood children and met her son Dr. Wilkens at his new medical clinic serving the same neighborhood.  Dr. Wilkins was sponsored through the same scholarship program as the one through which our GIFT program now sponsors 8 elementary school children in Petionville.  Back at the Mission House, guest speakers from CRS discussed medical and educational programs they support in Haiti.  Had dinner and processed the day’s experience.

I have to say, this first day wasn't my favorite. I think it was because everything was new to me and I didn't really know what to expect. It was amazing to see and meet friendly and faith-filled Haitians. The children at the rehab facility were so cute. One little girl was so malnourished  that I thought I would only see things like that on TV. It was shocking and very sad. The Sister of Charity are wonderful women that really do help the poor and sick children in Haiti. It was great to hold the kids and feed them. Madame Samson is an amazing women that has been feeding poor children in her neighborhood for several years now. Our interpreter, Gloria, who is 16 now, went when she was younger. Also, we met Dr. Wilkin's, her son. He is just like his mother in that he wants to help the needy as well. He just completed his residency and is now practicing as a doctor in Haiti. Although he lived and had his residency in the United States he decided to return to Haiti. Doctors only make $12,000 a year. (Average Haitian makes $2/day). He is so dedicated to his people, an inspiring person. Later that say Catholic Relief Services shared with us the efforts they are making in this country. They also shared about the education system that is trying to improve, but lots needs to be done. Every night we had conversations about our day and experiences. Great way to end the day! 

Kids at the Feeding Program. 
Dr. Wilkins trying to console an embarrassed little girl. So cute!
His clinic

Onto Day Three and Four!

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