Click Here for the Rayjon Website

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Photos Last Days

Photos Last Days

Photo Last Days

Photos Last Days

Hurry up, wait, smell this, by the way your flight is cancelled

We are in our home stretch of our travels.  We have our final breakfast all together followed by a mini packing party to prepared our purchased Artizan art work for the long travel home. We hop on our first of two flights home.  The flight is pretty smooth, except for the medical emergency of another passenger mid flight in which many health professionals responded including Dianne. Once we land in NYC at JFK airport we find out that we will be hosted by the Big apple for a couple extra hours as all flights have been delayed due to weather. We follow our personal guide (an airport staff) who guides us through the chaos of the airport as hundreds await their boarding call.  Once we get all hyped up to make attempt number two home, we find out that it is CANCELLED following a second delay. So three of our finest, both Barb's and Sara, march on over to the help desk and score us a hotel and flight from La Guardia airport, and some snacks.  We spread out into 2 groups again- cause apparently a group of 8 is hard to accommodate in North America as well, and scatter to our hotels for a brief 2.5 hour stay.  
We awake within a couple hours of a power nap and rush off to La Guardia airport in NYC.  When we arrive we are pleased to find out that our plane is leaving as scheduled.  The beginning of our flight is a little rocky as the plane tips from side to side before further ascending. After a long night and two flights later we finally touch down in Toronto and finish our last stage as we merge onto the 401. By noon we make it back to Sarnia and reality. 
We return from Haiti but part of our hearts remain there and so in honour of our experiences and the effect that the country and it's people had on our hearts and minds, we will spread awareness of what we saw and heard. We will never forget our time in Haiti.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Photo from Day 7  - Artist in Croix de Bouquet

Photo from Day 7 - Cathedral in Port Au Prince damaged in earthquake in 2010

Photo from Day 7 - Slave Statue with Conch

Haiti day 7
"Gina it's me, let me in!"
Today marked our final day in Haiti. We look back at our past week and reflect on what we have bared witness to.
We start the day with mass as a local Catholic Church.  The pews are full with countless bodies young and old which spill out to the yard, a beautiful sight to see.  We try our best to follow along and join in the singing when possible. Following mass we make our way to an NPH orphanage for children with disabilities. Upon arriving we seek out Dianna's friend Gina, a women whom the guard is refusing to let us in to see, so the brilliant lady that Dianna is, sends a note to Gina saying " it's me let me in", and sure enough we are able to.  Once within the gates we get to meet Gina but were unable to see inside the facility due to the children not being present and a retreat presently going on. 
We then continue on the road to "Tin town". We shop till our hearts content. With each of us having a set list of merchandise to purchase we are off searching and bargaining for goods with local artist. We then cycled through shops for our own goodies to bring back to friends and family.  On our way back to Walls (hotel) we see the infamous slave statue as well as where the president's home once stood.  We then have lunch at what was once an old hospital turned hotel that is decorated with voodoo statues and paintings- marking the voodoo presence within the community. 

Today, like all the rest, we end with reflection which provides a time of discussion and debrief on the day.  Today, with it being the last brought out a discussion of wanting to do more when we returned home and how our 1st world problems are minuscule compared to Haiti. Each of us has been affected by this trip in one way or another whether it was by the people we met directly, the stories, or the sights we saw, we are not going home as the same 8 people that hoped on a plane in Toronto a week ago. We have built friendships and a bond that was build from Haiti, one that can never be replicate or fully shared unless one was part of the core 8. Tonight we remember the people of Haiti and it's history and how strong and resilient they are as we give it our own loving embrace good bye. We will forever be changed by Haiti. We walk away remembering that Haiti does not need us but that we need Haiti. 


Sunday, November 16, 2014

More Day 6 photos

Day Six Port Au Prince

Day Six, Group at the Sacred Heart Centre in Cap Haitian

Haiti day 6
Leaving on a jet plane

Today marks our last day in Cap Haitien. We pack our bags and head out for Sacred Heart-the nutrition and micro management centre. When we arrive we meet up with some of the staff that we met the previous day, who provide a tour of Cap Haitien. We break up into 2 groups, one ventures over to the lively market to check out local and imported goods and another seeks out a local hospital.  Through our walks we gain additional history on Cap Haitien and Haiti as a whole as we bare witness to what a resilient country Haiti has been after so much turmoil. 
Following our goodbyes to our interpreter Iddea, in country coordinator Andre, and administrator Waikque we hop onto a very tiny 18 person flight to Port Au Prince.
We safely arrive in Port Au Prince and are greeted by another beautiful city. Port appears as notably cleaner as there is less garbage lining the road and the scent of urine and sweat is mild. We settle in for the evening sitting pool side and chatting till the moon light becomes our night lamp. 


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Haiti day 5

This morning we awake at Stella Maris, a convent in Cap Hatien. We complete our usual morning routines then head off to a local kindergarten school. The drive in is a reminder of just how alive and driven the city and it's people are as there are countless vendors set up with bold colours looking to sell what they can. The children we meet are curious and delighted to see us. We play, feed, and communicate through action with these adorable, innocent beings.  Today, we learn that it is the pre holiday for Flag day (Nov. 18), which honours the independence of Haiti. Due to the children being so young they are unable to make the trek to the monument in town along with all the adults as they parade along the streets dancing, singing and playing music, therefore they allow the young children a day to visit on their own. Once we arrive at the monument there is a sea of children all dressed in their schools finest with little ties and bows in their hair. We take a few pictures before heading back on our way with the kiddies in tow.

Our second Rayjon support centre that we visit is at the nutrition and micro finance centre. Here we are able to feed toddlers, see the Alpha program (a literacy program for adults) in session, and interview some of the beneficiaries from the programs. Today was a  day that each of us felt was both highly stimulating in terms of the sights and sounds we heard but also enlightening as it allows us to gain some insight into some of the circumstances that lead individuals to obtain service from the programs and see how they are affecting the children who were once malnourished but no longer are. 


Haiti day 4

"Heartbreak kid 
Once again we have an early morning start- up at 6:30, breakfast by 7:30 and on the road by 8.
A couple of us grab some last minute gifts before heading on our way to St. Patricks school in Saint Marc. We present with hopes of engaging in and swapping stories about our native lands, a goal that is successfully obtained. Once we arrive we meet a grade 12 class who is learning English upon arrival. The professor surprised us with his fluency in English, providing a good laugh when he answered in English despite our assumption that he would need an interpreter.  We were able to receive some input as to what their hopes are for the school, such as a bus for field trips and a chemistry lab to pursue a vocational goal as a doctor. This is a moment that particularly sticks our for all of us during reflection, as the young man speaking made very logical and reasonable requests, something that we doubt our Canadian boys would do given all the luxuries we have. It also shows just how resourceful teachers must have to be in order to produce a lesson without a "smart board" or computer.

Our second class is grade 11's who are learning French literature. This was a class of inquisitive minds as they fired question after question at us regarding Canada and who we are, with an added dose of flattery including an "I love you". This is a school that we would all have liked to spend more time at but unfortunately we were unable to, however we did have a chance to speak one on one with 2 brothers- 1 of which was the young man who spoke up in the first class about his dream of being a doctor.  After a couple pictures taken and a good conversation had we are once again on the road, this time to Cap Hatian.

At 12:20 pm we stop for lunch break. As we sat and ate our "nutritious" meal of Pringles, Oreos and PB and J sandwiches we soaked up the sun and a view that is spectacular with endless mountains and lush terrain. While eating, our youngest guide Johnston sought out water from a local friend of Fauxbert, in order to cool down the engine. Upon his return, the engine was cooled and bellies full, we returned to the long and winding road.

 Like any good trip there will be glitches along the way, well today was no exception when one of the Barb's lost her glasses which were suspected to of fallen out of her pocket during our picnic. Fauxbert, being the socialite that he clearly was able to contact the same guys that drive Johnston to get water, to search for the missing glasses- and successfully find them, which they do. Once the mystery of the missing glasses was solved we were once again on the road for Cap Hatian. The scent in the air is a mix of harvest- the sugarcane, rice and natural country air. The sights include farmers harvesting rice, children dressed in school uniform and adults shopping at local markets, walking and conversing with one another. When we arrived at the convent safely, thanks to the good graces of God and the careful driving of Fauxbert, we send off our guides who will return to Saint Marc as we continue on our trip with a new interpreter and driver, whom we will begin our day with tomorrow.   


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Haiti Day 3

The calm after the storm

6:30 am wake up call from a collection of joyful singing children arriving at Gilbert. 
As we awake from a night filled with roasters crowing and rain pouring like buckets of water, we we dress and prepare for another day.

Our group received a tour of the Gilbert school and dispensary clinic. This tour allowed for insight into how a couple buildings in a very remote area in a third world county can turn into a life saving facility for both medical purposes and education- both of which open a world of new possibilities and opportunities for life, all with a limited budget and resources. 

After our tour we split into two groups- one which obtains transportation to a local school out side of St. Marc and a second group that took a more active route of hiking back- a hike that was much more smooth going then the previous day had been.

Upon regrouping we go for a tour of a local market in St. Marc. It was a sight that could rival the St. Lawerence market in Toronto as it was full with everything from electronics and generators to an endless amount of shoes and material, that stacked 2 booths deep.

Following our tour we stop for a bite to eat before returning to our oasis of a hotel and relaxing for the remainder of the evening in our nice dry clothes

Haiti Day 2

Donkey for 1!
We wake bright and early at 7am to prepare for what will later be know as a grueling hike against natures  elements.  After a delicious breakfast we head out for a school in Pinson.

As we walk along our hike becomes both entertaining and eventful couples with flowing streams, lush mountains and rolling rocks. We hiked up hill and down for a total of 4.5 hours with a brief visit at an elementary school.

Upon approaching Pinson- a school off a very remote path, we were able to witness class in session.
While visiting we played with balloons that Marlo provided, which brought glee and a time of play.  Pinson provided insight into the dedication that the people of Haiti have into what they believe in- as some teachers within the country do not get paid for their jobs yet they still present each day without complaint and in impeccable dress. This is an element of responsibility and dedication that each of us respect and hope to bring home to our own lives. 

After being serenade by the children and Barb receiving her own personal concert of Happy birthday we started off on adventure #2.

This second half was both a sight to be seen and heard- definitely a time to be a fly on one of our backpacks. So we started walking with our entourage of children from Pinson in tow, hiking up hill once again on extremely rocky terrain, when it begins to rain cats and dogs. The rocks were so slippery that to get good footing on zero incline was chancy at best, but we tried, with the guidance of 6-10 year old we navigated the path one step at a time. Had we not had our helpers along with our guides Michelette, a teacher from the school and Luknor we would of been not only lost but bruised and battered from falling. 

About halfway to our new residence at Gilbert one of our fearless leaders, Joanna, took a terrible fall along the path, injuring her left ankle. With the help of the team she was able to disperse her luggage and water bottle and was guided arm in arm by our guides. Once she provided the OK we took a breather by a local farm. With the group of "Blanc's" and our Haitian leaders all gathered about we drew a crowd. Luckily this also brought about the kindness of a local farming family who provided their mother donkey, and saddled her up with clothes and a blanket in order to provide Joanna a mode of transportation which she rode, with the leadership of the matriarch of the family along with Michelette and the school teacher, making it safely to our destination.

Once the remainder of the group made it to Gilbert we were greeted by fellow Rayjon volunteers and stories about the hysterical sight of mother Joanna riding in on a donkey as Jesus once did many years prior.  

As we wrapped up our night with a delicious meal made on a fire stove and Joanna's ankle tended to with care by Merta (a nurse at the dispensary clinic), we reflected on the obstacles of the day and dried ourselves the best we could for a good nights sleep.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Day Two: Awareness Group hiked to Pinson School

The Awareness Group hiked to Pinson School and then spent the night  in Gilbert which has limited solar power and no internet, so Day Two's blog will be posted tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Haiti day 1

Waking up

November 10,2014

12am the cars are packed and bellies full from a very delicious Italian dessert and 8 ladies strike out on an awareness trip of a lifetime.  We become "mules" for the day as we are stacked with personal belongs and much needed supplies for the country of Haiti. 

6:11 am- We fly out of Toronto and the comfort of our home country and into JFK airport where it is a dash to get our next flight to arrive in Port au Prince. 

2:35 pm- We safely land in the beautiful country of Haiti where we were faced with every travellers nightmare- lost luggage.  Our leaders Dianne and Joanna worked diligently on getting things arranged to obtain their luggage safely tomorrow. 

Once we left the airport we head straight for the hotel with a beautiful view at that. 

The drive to the hotel provided a gentle glimpse into what the living conditions are here and how just how much the sales industry supports them as there were miles and miles of stands along the roads that provided posts for jugs that ranged from some mysterious liquid in a bottle to good ole bottled water.