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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Day 6 - March 2015 Haiti Awareness Trip

Today a much earlier wake up call for 6am was in place to attend Sunday mass. Together the group travelled by bus to a local church with hundreds of others to experience a Haitian mass first hand. The girls fancied up in their skirts and dresses, and the men put on their finest dress pants. With the ending of mass, the group arrived back at Walls guest house and quickly ate their breakfast in order to have more time for our next adventure. After we were done eating, we hopped in the van and began our way to Kenscoff. An hour was spent winding through the Mountains till we reached our destination of Nous Petites Frere et Soureurs orphanage, home of over 340 children. As we entered through the gates, the immediate reaction of the group was pure amazement. Everyone before- hand had it in their minds that a trip to an orphanage in Haiti would be incredibly devastating. To our surprise, the orphanage was very great in size with many resources for the children. We all were touched by the fact that these children didn't act as if we assumed them too. They didn't act as a family, they were a family. They shared so much love with the group and within themselves. The group had the choice of areas to visit. Within our tour, we all visited the building that provided education and health care to over 20 special need individuals. After many hugs the group separated to interact with the kids. We danced, sang, skipped rope, blew bubbles and loved with each other. Touching moments were shared with the children and group that brought many to very emotional states. The group as well had the chance to purchase bracelets and art from some of the children to go towards the art program. Sadly our visit came to an end, and our goodbyes were said. 
We piled back into the vehicle, where we all shared a moment. A moment that involved a lot of tissues and support from one another. We discussed our respect for all the workers, and how content all the children were just being in each others company. We allowed ourselves to become open with one another and accept and share love. Once again we drove down the windy roads of the mountains back to Port-Au-prince.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Day 5 March 2015 Haiti Awareness Trip

Our day began with the usual 630am wake up call and breakfast with the group. After our morning meal, we headed back to our rooms to pack our belongings for our next stop.  Our day planned till 1pm was to tour the city of  Cap Haitian with the staff members of the Sacred Heart Centre. The group was split into 3 smaller groups with 3 staff workers guiding us.
The first group visited the home of a staff member and walked through the incredibly energetic food market. The second group had the pleasure of being shown around a local hospital then accompanied through a fish market. The staff members also brought all groups around square park. The third group toured the hospital and had time to shop in a souvenir market. Everyone had the mutual feeling of respect for the hard workers of the SHC(Sacred Heart Centre) and were very appreciative for them to spend their day off accompanying us. 
With the ending of our tour through Cap Haitian we ate lunch together and said our goodbyes. A very heart felt goodbye was given to our interpreter (Idia), who shared her story that touched everyone in the group the day before. It was now time for the group to get on their flight scheduled for 3pm, but was delayed till 630pm.
By the time the flight was ready, everyone was so incredibly eager to get aboard. Together, we watched a beautiful sunset from above and had an astonishing view of Haiti. The group then landed back in Port-au-Prince, where they drove to their next place of stay, at Walls guest house. To end the day, we enjoyed dinner together, then reflection. 

Day 4 - March 2015 Haiti Awareness Trip
Today started off again at 6:30 a.m. with a knock on every door to get ready for the exciting day ahead. After breakfast, we all piled in to a truck and Andre's car with all of our donations and we were off to the Sacred Heart Centre.
On arriving at the centre, we split into two groups, one staying at the nutrition centre and the other went on their way the Fort St. Michel nursery school. This is also when we were introduced to Idia, our interpreter.  Each group had some incredibly touching moments at each location. The students at the nursery school were extremely excited to see and interact with us. When the truck approached, we could hear the children inside. Upon entering, both groups were greeted with open arms by both the teachers and the students.
Many of the students asked to be lifted up and swarmed at our feet. Many of the students reached out and touched our hands almost as if to see if we were real. The first group that went to the Fort St. Michel attempted ring around the rosy and Simon says where the second group was slightly more prepared with crayons, colouring books and stickers. Many of the students wanted to give their artwork to us when we were leaving. When the groups left there was a mutual feeling of wanting to spend more time there. Many of the students come to the door to hug us and really  didn't want to let us go.
 Back at the the Sacred Heart Centre we were all given a tour of the facility. We saw the space for the adult classes, ex. sewing, cooking, etc. The next level up were the offices of the nutritional nurse, the accountant, Denise, and Andre. We were given an explanation of what the job entails and everything the centre does. The third level was the kitchen and meeting rooms where we later had lunch. The final level was a unanimous favourite...the babies. Both groups got to spend a lot of time with them  individually and as a large group altogether. Many of the girls created a strong bond with some of the babies and it was very hard to leave them. It was incredible to see the hard work of the staff there and how much they care for the children. A little while later we were pulled from the babies for lunch .
We had the amazing opportunity to eat with the staff of both Fort St. Michel and the Sacred Heart Centre. We had some time before lunch so we had the opportunity to first hear Idia's touching story, then had some fun with the staff. We danced and sang and had the opportunity to share some parts of our experience from the day so far. There were many things that some of the staff members said to us that were very touching and surprising such as how they were surprised that we just jumped in so quickly and without hesitation. Others were that we interacted with the children, even if it was obvious that they had a cold, like it was nothing, and so on. After we finished our lunch, we went back down stairs to observe the alpha literacy class. It is amazing to the see the looks of their faces as they get better and better. There's a real sense of pride in their work. Yet again another amazing day here in the beautiful country of Haiti.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Day 3 - March 2015 Haiti Awareness Trip

Once again today, we started with a 6:30 am wake up call which most of us didn't mind due to the excitement for another beautiful day in the country of Haiti. After our 7am breakfast we began to pack up our belongings for our 830 am bus departure. As we left hotel Le Xaragua, again we were taken with the absolute beauty we were about to see while driving to Cap Haitian. Our first stop was at St. Patrick's High school. Unfortunately, we were unable to interact with the students because of their term exams being in process. We did have the pleasure to have a discussion with the principal as well with a few students. In our conversation with the principal, we talked briefly about some of the struggles the students face and their difficulty in paying their tuition. With the students, we had them practice English with us, and we practiced  our Creole with them. The group enjoyed a laugh as many students pulled out their cameras to take our photos. After our visit,  we started back on the road to continue our journey to Cap Haitian. Although the path was breathtakingly beautiful, it was not easy. Our group was incredibly thankful for our bus drivers concern for our safety while staying calm and cool!  With every turn, continuous honking could be heard from both directions of warning that a vehicle was approaching around all the hairpin turns. Many were mesmerized by the beauty, while some had to look away. The mountain views were too incredible to describe, and we all were left in awe.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Day 2 - March 2015 Haiti Awareness Trip
We started off our 2nd day in Haiti with a early(for some) 6:30am wake up call which lead us to breakfast. After breakfast, we headed back to our rooms to prepare ourselves for a day full of hiking

and visiting of the many sights of Gilbert. Many of us were unprepared for the beauty that was seen within today's adventures. Everyone was in amazement of the beautiful sights of the mountains while hiking up them. 
Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by the children and teachers by song. The young ones were incredibly eager for Rayjon travelers to take their pictures. They were absolutely astonished while after taking their photo, we were able to show them the photograph. Then, after few minutes passed, the children were wanting more to use our cameras to take our pictures, than for us to take pictures of them. Visiting hours came to an end, and it was time for us to view the children's learning environment. The classroom was very well organized and had a friendly atmosphere, yet the  conditions were extremely different from ones that we know. Instead of multiple rooms, one room was split into 3 areas with two grades in each room. Upon asking the children what subject they preferred most, we were surprised that almost all responded with math and French. To end our visit with the children, we played a friendly game of soccer. As well our group had the the pleasure to discuss the challenges and uplifting moments of being a teacher in Haiti. 
After our discussion with the teachers, we made our way to the health clinic where dozens of Haitians lined up waiting to receive medical care. Together we toured through the medical centre and were able to watch the nutrition program in progress. After our touring of all programs, we made our way back down the mountain, which was much easier then the way up. Together, on having this once in a life time opportunity to travel to Haiti, we have a mutual feeling of respect for the daily hard work and dedication of Hatians.

Day 1 - Haiti Awareness Trip - March 2015
We started at 1:30am when our group met up at the Holiday Inn in Sarnia. We loaded ourselves and our luggage into 4 cars and we're off to Detroit. A few hours later and we were through security and at our gate with McDonalds in hand. Next stop Atlanta! A short hour and a half flight later and we were there, we had a three hour layover and some of the girls took advantage and had a little snooze on the floor. Then it was time to board our final plane, next stop Port au Prince!! 
Once we landed the fist thing we all noticed was the wall of heat. Coming from a Canadian winter to a very hot tropical climate was quite the shock to our bodies, and this was just inside. Through a very busy customs and baggage claim we kept our group close. As we approached the last set of doors, the excitement rose and so did the temperature. Walking out we got our first real glimpse of Haiti. Through a crowd of other Haitians, we found Michellet who lead us through a parking lot (where we had to dodge many cars) to our colourful bus. On leaving the airport parking lot we entered quite the traffic jam. "Sidewalks" turned into an extra 2 lanes and motor bikes weaved in and out. After the long journey to Le Xaragua Hotel, just outside of St. Marc, we were given our room keys. 4 flights of stairs with our suitcases in hand, if we weren't ready for a nap before we certainly were now. Before dinner we all watched a beautiful sunset and then got our plates for our first Haitian meal. Following dinner, we had a quick reflection to recap the day. 8:30 and we were all off to bed for some well deserved rest!

Written by Patrica Gladwish-Maloney