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Sunday, March 19, 2017

March Break Awareness Trip Day 5 & 6

This morning we had to say goodbye to our wonderful hosts Mike and Nancy at Deep River Mission house. We graciously thanked them for the hospitality shown to our group! 
We boarded the Tap Tap and let our luggage ride in another truck. Our first stop was the Sacred Heart Centre where we were greeted by Andre and his team of volunteers (centre staff who volunteered on the weekend for us). From here we split into three groups and were led by an interpreter and a few of the Haitians.  Volunteers took us on a walking tour through town.  We had the opportunity to visit the local hospital, the main public square, the Basilica where mass was underway and the market area.  I am sure this walk about will be a highlight for all of our group members when they look back on their trip to Haiti. This was another great opportunity for us to be introduced to part of Haitian society. After our walking tours we reconvened and headed out for lunch at a Haitian restaurant. Our volunteers and translators joined us. The food was great and all seemed to have a good time. 
Our time came to leave Cap Haitian so we boarded a very small plane for a quick flight to Port Au Prince. We were met at the airport by representatives from St. Joseph's Boys home. We took a very scenic and cozy bus ride to the Boy's Home which will be our accommodations for the next few days. This space is beautiful and we are thankful to Bill and his staff for having us here. 
As part of tonight's reflection we heard from Walnes, one of the gentlemen who had been raised by the Boy's home from a young age and now works here. He shared with us a bit about his life and the trials and tribulations he faced. We are thankful that he had the courage to share with us. 
Each night on our trip we have met for group reflection at the end of the day. Each member has been assigned a different virtue to present/discuss one night. Tonight's was courage and at trip leader Joanna's request here is part of what was presented tonight:
"Courage is an important thing and it's available to seeing many places for those who look and listen for it.
Courage is an openness and response to vulnerability. Courage is a choice to risk and accept potential discomfort and to face fear and uncertainty. 
  Courage happens on many levels whether it's asking a question, turning out a night light or trying something new. Courage is accepting the call to go an awareness trip, meeting and agreeing to travel with strangers, getting on a bus in Haiti, hiking mountains, trying to speak Creole, offering stickers in a crowd (see "mob") of school children, communicating through a translator and admitting that you don't know what you don't know. 
 Courage is speaking an unpopular point of view, questioning the status quo, working for equality, accepting foreigners who don't speak the language into your learning environment, asking for and accepting help, singing songs acapella  and working to better yourself and your situation at any age. 
 Courage is a big theme in our trip to Haiti but courage will be with us when we return to Canada."

Tomorrow we will attend mass then hike to a waterfall that is commonly used as a voodoo site.

Day 6 
Today was our first full day in Port au Prince. We were greeted by a wonderful breakfast and broke out our Sunday best to venture to the Sisters of Charity home for Sunday mass. We celebrated mass with a many children from the school there as they led the worship service for us. A highlight was the music and singing the children provided. Despite mass being in French many of us felt the significance of the service. 
After mass we made a pitstop at a grocery story, which our host Bill explained to us would be a store utilized by foreign delegates and some of the more wealthy Haitians. We noticed many familiar items that we would typically find in our stores back home. Honourable mention goes to the Kirkland brand Maple Syrup that was "Made in Canada". 
From there we took a road trip to Saut D'Eau Falls. We were greeted by many Haitian young men who happily assisted us during our time at the Falls.  After enjoying a picnic lunch, many of us took the opportunity to climb up the Falls. Our Haitian helpers fulfilled their role by ensuring our safety and level footing through this adventure. Their balance impressed all of us and we extended our thanks to them. Our bus ride back was full of Haitian-bus Karaoke, and to clarify these weren't Haitian songs, just "interesting selections" sang by Canadians IN Haiti. 
As part of our evening reflection we had the opportunity to hear from our host Bill, another gentleman who was involved with St Joseph's Family Home as a young boy and has gone on to give back to his community in many ways. After hearing a bit of his life story and how he became a part of St Joseph's house he and another gentleman of the community, Woodward, shared their musical talent with us through song and drumming. For many of us, this by far was the highlight of our day! 
Tomorrow we will be visiting the Apparent project and doing some shopping at Croix des Bouquets. 

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