I’d been to Haiti once before but when asked if I wanted to go again, I jumped at the chance. But this trip was different, much different. Last time I was there, I was with a group from Southern who helped out at a little school somewhere east of Port-au-Prince while doing medical treatment and a bit of construction. This trip we had a smaller group (two families, one Haitien/American, and myself) and stayed at a little mission compound where a lot of the locals would hang out. I definitely got to interact with the people more and learn a lot about Haitian culture. What they love, what they hate, what gives them national pride, their hopes, dreams, and fears. There are so many stories I could tell, so many experiences I could share, but time does not allow me to share them all here. Here are some of my favorite pictures with their accompanying stories.
One of the first things we learned about Haiti was that everyone wanted money! This guy had a whole stunt routine down (kids, don't try this at home) after which he asked us for money. Everyone's gotta earn money somehow I guess...
Our ride from Cap-Hatien to Ranquitte consisted of us sitting on top of an open truck while we drove through the Hatien countryside. It was such an epic ride with the wind blowing in our faces!
Our ride on top of the truck soon ended when the clouds began to pour rain. We pulled a tarp over the top of us and then rode the rest of the way huddled together with our luggage. Definitely made for some fun memories!
The locals had a lot of hand-crafted goods that they would try and sell to us right outside the mission compound where we were staying. It was fun to haggle the prices with them.
Every day, we would take motos from our mission compound in Ranquitte to the orphanage in Bas Pinal. It was a blast to ride along the dirt roads amongst frolicking children and plodding donkeys. My favorite part was when we dipped down into a creek bed and followed the stream a ways before climbing the bank near the orphanage.
This is the new orphanage compound which is being built! They still need money to complete it but once done, it will provide much needed room for the children to live and play.
Almost everything in Haiti is made by hand. This is one of the rebar supports that hold up the walls of the new orphanage they're building. The whole thing is handmade and twisted together with wires.
One of the necessities on the trip was water filters!! All of us had different systems; Miss Sheri had this Life Straw. It was weird to get home and drink right out of the faucet again.
The kids were so cute! I'm not sure who enjoyed the time and attention more, them or us.
This is Chauchou (I THINK that's how you spell his name anyways). He was my moto driver every day, at least for the first couple days. After that, he found out I love driving motorcycles so he let me do all the driving which was amazing! I only stalled it out a couple times and one was only when a chicken ran in front of us while we were driving up a 45 degree (almost...) rock slide coming out of the riverbed. The driving wouldn't have been half so bad if they were actually dirtbikes, but these are street bikes which makes them slide all over the place in the mud and stonebed.
Everyone got to help with projects, even little Caleb! He only had one major incident with the paint and that was when a good friend of his swiped a paintbrush full of paint across his face. Made him feel pretty blue...
We were doing a Bible study and this kid was goofing off with his friends on a nearby table. I couldn't help but take some pictures of this future model.
If there was one thing Caleb loved more than anything else, it was mangoes. Tons of mangoes! The locals would bring them to him by the bucket fulls because he could always be seen eating mangoes. The wonderful thing was that there were several mango trees on the mission compound so we could always eat mangoes whenever we wanted to. And they were probably the most delicious ones I've ever tasted.
There were tons of goats and donkeys and chickens running around everywhere. It was almost like living in a petting zoo for a few days.
One of the days we were there, we got to go and explore the local market. Everyone from the surrounding hillsides would bring their fresh produce to sell. It was crowded, hot, and super busy. Definitely a far-cry from the grocery stores we're used to in the states.
Voodoo is very strong in Haiti still. We heard several stories of demon possession and how the devil has a tight hold on the people of Haiti still through those practices. This is a voodoo tree planted in the middle of the cemetery in Ranquitte. You can see it's been burned on the bottom during their ceremonial rituals for the dead.
One of the days the women did a "spa day" for the girls at the orphanage. They got to wash their feet and paint their nails, things that seem normal to us here but are a rare opportunity for them.
We did a lot of acting while over there! During this particular evening program, Jessica portrayed Mary Magdalene as she pleaded with the kids to give their hearts to Christ.
The water that came pouring off the roofs were caught in large barrels to be used later. Well, most of it anyway. This boy had found a leak in the eaves and loved to drink the water straight off the roof!
On Sunday we took a lot of the older orphans out to a "professional" soccer game! They were so excited and took showers before dressing in their best clothes for the event.
Haitiens definitely know how to play some intense soccer! It was fun to watch them, albeit the sun got hot after standing for a couple hours in a throng of hot, sweaty bodies.
The day before we flew out, we visited the Citadelle Laferrière which sits high over the town of Milot. Built in the beginning of the 19th century by one of the leaders of the slave revolution, it is often referred to by the locals as the 8th wonder of the world. It was an intense hike up to the top, but the view was absolutely worth it!
Looking down from the Citadelle, it was easy to see just how high we really were. Haiti is such a beautiful country.
It was such a blessing being able to visit the orphanage there and helping out with various projects. I'll be producing a short promo video for Haiti Helpers soon but in the meantime, check out their website to learn more about the projects and current needs! www.HaitiHelpers.org