Click Here for the Rayjon Website

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fanshawe-Rayjon Awareness Trip 2015

Look listen and learn.

Our first day in Haiti we had already been pushed out of our comfort zones,  just enough to make for a good introduction for the experiences in the days to come. It is an understatement to say everything is so different here. From the stifling heat we would normally complain about in Canada,  to seeing a SUV so filled with people that a woman was riding on the roof, to having a security guard with a semi automatic rifle in his hand at all times. They all opened our eyes. As Victoria says "such is life here in Haiti, its so authentic". 

Speaking to that authenticity, the guard with the gun had the most genuine, welcoming smile that put us all at ease immediately.  The woman atop the suv had 2 men watching out for her as they sat out the side door windows. Even though you see the rubble in the street,  you also see the school kids walking passed it and not being worried by it. Even though you see a rooster in the street, you also watch cars slow and swerve around it. No one rushes,  everyone is vibrant and proud of the simple life they live.

We had our first share session on the roof of the guest house while we watched the most beautiful sunset. Kelsey mentioned she noticed a kind of freedom here that's not found in western culture.  For instance we find that vehicle horns are used to communicate so frequently.  And unlike in Canada where the beep of a horn is the equivalent of being told off,  it is used to be polite and say "excuse me" in a way.

No one perceives it as rudeness. That freedom of not being held back to communicate in that way. Not to mention the freedom to drive in what we would consider a hectic environment. But it works for them. Everyone is kind and courteous because no one is rushing to beet the yellow light.  These observations led the group to ponder if Canada's traffic laws might be hindering the ease of driving.  Are all those laws and regulations absolutely necessary when in different parts of the world  people are able to maneuver themselves through traffic just as efficiently without them? Just a thought.

Anita asked the group if bringing supplies to the country for people to use was undermining the whole purpose of development and self sustenance.  We've all learned that the old fashion thought process is to go and "do something" we recognize needs to be done. Or come and bring something we think they need.  With trying to avoid that mind set and attempting to focus on listening to what the Haitians want and need before acting on our own initiatives, is it counterintuitive to still be handing out? As we all thought about what that could mean,  Victoria passed around a handout of a model explaining the level of participation charities have employed over the years. Going from coercion from the charity and compliance by the people, to co-leading and initiate which entails the Haitians telling us what they need to achieve that self sustained lifestyle they deserve.

I expressed some doubt about whether we were wanted here at all. I wasn't quite convinced that we would be received the way we thought we might be.

My worry and doubt was all cleared away after our 2nd day; today.
After waking up late to rush to the airport, we learned our plane wasn't coming and spent a few hours in the airport waiting for another one. Amanda, one of the brave ones, went and bought a banana from the man outside and struck up a conversation with the man selling dvds.  She now owns the Witch In The Woods.  Im sure the conversation she had while buying it will be better than the movie itself!

Once we all made it to Cap Haitian, we met Andre,  the project manager of the nutrition center, the preschool, and the adult literacy program. He's the kindest, most sincere hearted person I have ever met. He arranged for us to have meet and greets with some of the women who use the center's services.  My feelings of doubt were subsided when Andre shared that he had only asked 3 or 4 moms to stay and speak with us but when the other women found out,  they all wanted to stay! They all wanted to share themselves with us. I was so touched when I learned that they all cared that we were there to hear their stories. 

Tonight's share session was lead by Amy and and Daniel who started it off by telling us they were proud of us all for handling the hairy scary events this morning with the plane delay. We all applauded  each other.  Then Amy offered herself to us for support with tomorrow being the difficult day of the nutrition center. 

We moved into a discussion about what touched us most about today's events with the interviews.  Emily shared that she was most touched by the 13 year old boy who diligently brings his youngest sibling to and from the nutrition center everyday. She slso learned that he cared for 4 other siblings at home as well. Liam thought it was amazing to see that even though you could tell it was wearing on the young boy,  he had no intention on giving up because family means everything to him. Danielle had an interview with a woman who had 8 children at 38 years old and only started using the nutrition center for the first time with her youngest.  Kelsey and Amy shared the story of the 90 year old lady who brings her grand child. She told them that god has led her to live a full life regardless of circumstance and that he will do the same for them as long as they take care of their health.  Jackie loved playing with the young kids in the day care while they waited for their parents. She loved giving them the physical touch and fun human connection all children crave!

Tomorrow is another early start with a 6:30 wake up call. Its going to be the most emotional day yet. I'll keep you posted on how we are all affected by the nutrition center,  the small business presentations,  and pre school children play date!