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Friday, May 6, 2016

Fanshawe/St. Peter's Seminary Trip to Haiti

ROBERT'S BLOG- Monday, May 2nd

Monday, May 2nd
Our Group!

A phrase that was repeated throughout the week was "When you think you have experienced the height of the trip, something else comes along that is even greater." This was true even on our last morning. We visited St. Damiens Childrens’ hospital where we first attended a funeral service, showing our support for the four families who had lost their children. After the service, Fr. Rick Frechette greeted us over espressos and cappuccinos but could not stay as he needed to go out into the streets to help treat a cholera outbreak. We went for a tour throughout the hospital, which was inspiring in general, it was beautiful to see how much they care about their community and all the services they provide.

Finally, we ended our tour of Haiti at a nearby restaurant with a final cool drink and some French Fries!!  Then it was off to the airport and the long trek home to Canada.  Thank you Haiti.

ROBERT'S BLOG- Sunday, May 1st

Sunday, May 1st
The scenery around Port-au-Prince can be difficult to take in, especially amidst the shanty towns where the poorest of its citizens dwell. In the midst of one of these areas lives a group of nuns who live a life of poverty and service, the Missionaries of Charity started by Mother Teresa. We spent Sunday morning with them, and they quickly put us to work caring for the malnourished children they take in. Half of our group was assigned to sort medication while the others fed the children. While working, another tour group saw us working away, a local Church group led by seminarians from the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. Jocelyn said it best about this experience; "Things seem so hopeless at times in Haiti, but everywhere we have been we have found someone who proves that there is hope".

St. Joseph's Home for Boys

Later that day we returned to St. Joseph's Home for Boys, and after dinner we heard the testimony of the home's manager, Bill Nathan. Bill was a slave, a rekovac, who was adopted to a family after being orphaned at a young age. He was rescued by guards from the Sisters of Charity mission in Port-au-Prince and was raised at St. Joes. While a slave, Bill found his musical talent, playing drums on the bucket which he carried water in every day. Since his liberation, he has travelled the world sharing his stories and his drumming ability. He and another young Haitian, named Joly Wootrod played music for us that evening.

This was our last full day in Haiti for our 2016 Fanshawe and St. Peter's Seminary Haiti Awareness trip. We spent the rest of the evening debriefing then packing for our flight home.

ROBERT'S BLOG- Saturday, April 30
Lush farms on the way from Port au Prince to Jacmel

We woke up at Wings of Hope to bucket showers, then breakfast which included fresh fruit. The pineapples and mangos tasted unlike any we have had back home.  We drove to a market and got to experience the rush of Saturday shopping in Haiti. Imagine thousands of people crammed in a small street selling their wares, while motorcycles, cars and trucks are driving through. There is organized commerce happening in the midst of it all.
We then got to visit some art stores in Jacmel, which is a city famous around the world for its arts and crafts. At the nearby beach, Danny competed with a young Haitian man in handstand walking. We returned to Wings of Hope for lunch, as the first ever guests at a restaurant they opened up that day.

Meghan with some of the residents at Wings of Hope

After saying our goodbyes, we then journeyed back over the mountain to Port au Prince, to a gem in the suburbs called St. Joseph's home for boys. St. Joseph's takes in boys who grew up on the street and provides a roof over their head while educating and teaching them to be leaders, community minded citizens and gentlemen.  St. Joseph’s was destroyed in the 2010 Earthquake, but has been rebuilt.  We were greeted by Bill Nathan, the home’s manager, and shown to our guest apartments where we stayed for our last two nights in Haiti.  This place was amazing.  Danny, Jacob and Rob played basketball with Elmerson for a while before dinner.  After dinner we held our reflection on the rooftop patio and spent some time getting to know some of the boys.  Elmerson is planning to become an artist, and through the support of St. Joseph’s, he has been able to train under one of the greatest artists in Haiti.  This young man exemplifies both the hope and the determination of the people of Haiti. 

ROBERT'S BLOG- Friday April 29th

We woke to another early morning on Friday, ready for our travels south to Wing of Hope in the town of Jacmel. To get there, we drove through winding mountain roads through the peaks of Haitian mountains. We were grateful for the guard rails on this well-maintained road. We saw the fortitude of the rural communities to make good use of the rich, red soil, as proven by the terraced farms which adorned the mountain cliffs.

When we got to Wings of Hope, we got a guided tour of the guest house and explanation of the organizations mission. We learned that persons with disabilities have had a difficult history in Haiti, but Wings of Hope provides a safe, happy, loving, caring, and hopeful family environment for children and young adults with physical and mental challenges. At Wings of Hope, each child receives a combination of occupational therapy, physical therapy, recreational therapy, and classroom time. After the tour we went to visit the kids in the residence area, where we were greeted with song and dance and excitement. They truly were fostered to live life to the fullest. A young man, named Vilner drew pictures for Dawn, and although he could not speak he communicated in English through writing. Another resident, Steve treated us with his musical abilities on the bongos. Danny and Meghan shared their cameras and took pictures. While Rob and Jacob both alternated taking walks with Gessner, a resident who loved giving tours.

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