Last month I promised to share my experiences from our trip to Haiti. We were only in Haiti for 2 full days but it seems we were there so much longer. Haiti is a very powerful place - so many good people, so much misfortune, so much corruption. It's hard to even put into words what Haiti is. You just need to experience it.
Upon our arrival at the border, Karris, one of our missionary friends, greeted us and escorted us through the customs and immigration process and then we walked to the orphanage. We were greeted by more old and new friends.
Here are some highlights:
We arrived on Danita's birthday and got to celebrate it with her and all of her children. It was an amazing experience when we got to hear the older children share their stories and tell Danita what she has meant in their lives. I felt like we were intruders at an intimate family gathering:
I was so happy to be able to spend time with Everson, one of our sponsored kids whom we had met on our previous trip. At that time, Everson was living with his mother and grandmother and attending a different school. He now spends part of the week at Danita's and attends school there:
I got to see one of the village girls, Widlene (on the left), who captured my heart on our last trip, and also met her older sister, Magdelene (on the right):
The girls took us back to their home where we met their mother and grandmother. Below is a picture of the girls at home with their mother. As the girls are 10 and 11, I calculated that their mother must be in her early 30s:
I met one of the children who was rescued after the earthquake. Josiah and his mother were brought to live at the orphanage. Danita was in the process of making outside living arrangements for them when his mother abandoned him. I just wanted to take him home with me:
Another of the rescued children was Marie Joy whose arm was severely burned as a result of falling into a cooking fire during the earthquake. She was abandoned, malnourished, and described as "too sad for a girl weighing only 15 pounds" when rescued. Marie Joy is now the darling of the preschool. She's shown here with her constant companion, one of the missionaries, Brittany Joy. They both live up to their middle names:
In addition to spending time at Danita's Children, we also spent part of a day at another orphanage and got to visit with Emily, a missionary nurse extraodinaire who has committed to spending several months working at the orphanage and helping at the medical clinic on Danita's property:
Emily is living with Pastor Daniel, his wife Clynie, and their 40 children at the House of the Lambs of God Orphanage. In addition to the orphanage, they run a school for the community children. Here is Pastor Daniel, Clynie, and their daughter Dalisse, whom we sponsor as a caregiver for the other children:
It's incredible how much time one can pack into two short days when visiting Haiti. These photos just capture a portion of all that we did and all the people that we saw. We met two new missionaries at Danita's, Jen and Mya, and several more of the children who came to live there after the earthquake. We got to tour phase one of the new pediatric hospital that is being built on the property, a facility that will benefit the entire community. I know I've left out lots of things we did and saw, but I'm hoping this will give you just a snapshot of our experience. We had far too little time with our friends but look forward to seeing them on another trip.
After a whirlwind two days in Haiti, we again crossed the border to meet Francis, the taxi driver who took us back to Puerto Plata. Francis is a trusted driver who has worked for Danita for many years, escorting people to and from the border and bringing in provisions when necessary. When we pulled up at the resort where we had stayed earlier in the week and were going to spend one more night, Francis got out of the taxi to help us retrieve our luggage from the trunk. After ensuring that we had everything, Francis departed, but not before giving each of us a giant bear hug, much to the puzzlement of those in the outdoor lobby. (Don't all cab drivers hug their fares?) It was then that I realized we had become part of a family, a family of orphans.
In closing, I'll include a gratuitous photo of me and my hubby. (Notice all the trash on the ground around us. Haiti occupies one-third of a small island, has no landfills, and no means of disposing of refuse except by burning it. Thus, there is litter everywhere.)