Friday, November 13, 2009

Haiti Trip - Days 1/2

On Friday, November 6, our team of eight ladies and John Miller of One Vision International got a very early start on our journey. Setting out at 5:30 a.m., we flew from Knoxville to Charlotte to Miami to Port Au Prince, Haiti.

From there, we traveled by bus north to Caberet. We arrived too late to visit the children on Friday, so we went on to the hotel. The next morning we woke to see the beautiful countryside of Haiti that had escaped our notice in the darkness of the prior night.

Here's our lovely team: Deena, Lisa H., Mia, Susan S., Rachel, me, Lisa B., and Ellen. Oh, and don't forget our brave leader, John Miller.

Since it was a Saturday, all of the children were present - little ones and teenagers too. We were blessed to have translators David and Cecile. Cecile is married to Dr. Noel, who works closely with One Vision and John in the care of these children and on the plans for their future home. Deena and Rachel told the children Bible stories each day and led them in games and activities.

Lisa and I spent some time with the teenage girls. I had a short Bible study with them, and then Lisa spent some time talking with them about purity. Dr. Noel and Cecile had a desire that we begin abstinence education with the teenagers at the orphanage, and Lisa did a wonderful job. They listened intently and asked questions when Lisa gave them the opportunity.

The children were eager to be held, so I was perfectly content to oblige. It's not uncommon to have a tired little one fall asleep in your arms.

Since my prior trip last May, the children have been moved to this new location. If you remember, they were previously living in an abandoned nightclub. Most of them were sleeping on the former dance floor under a thatched roof and sharing two commodes. The new location is situated beside a river and offers much more space and protection from the elements. Enclosed within its walls is a small church, several structures, and eight commodes. The structures are used for school rooms, a kitchen, and housing. Below you can see the church (I'm perched in the doorway catching a breeze), the kitchen, and the river.

As you saw above, our team worked alongside the caregivers to prepare lunch for the children. They actually did all of the cooking (after all, how would we know how to cook rice for 120+ children in a pot over a fire?), while we helped with dishing out the food and serving the children.

The following picture of Mia expresses how we were all feeling by this point in the day ... and it was just our first day. It's impossible to paint an accurate picture with words or images of what it's truly like to be there: it's so hot, so humid, there are so many children, there is so much need, there is a language barrier, the bathrooms are indescribible, and yet you yearn to offer more, help more, hold more...

Here are the children devouring their midday meal. It's always a heaping plate of rice with some type of meat and gravy. Even though the plates are piled high, the children eat every single bite.

An afternoon shower brought this lovely gift to the skies:

After we left the children, we visited the property that One Vision has purchased for the future site of the orphanage. We walked through the neighboring community, where we were greeted by hundreds of people. The residents of this modest home invited us inside to pray for their family of seven, including a three-week-old newborn who was sleeping on the one bed.

One Vision has purchased 40 acres for the future home of the orphanage. The plans include a dormitory with an adequate kitchen and bathroom facilities; a school (which the community children can attend too); a church; and a farm. It will change the lives of not only the 120+ children currently in One Vision's care, but it will change the lives of this community as well.

They need to raise about $100,000 to build the orphanage and are hopeful to reach that goal very soon. If you would like to make a donation, please mail it to One Vision International, P.O. Box 20608, Knoxville, TN 37940. Mark your check's memo "One Vision Haiti." Thank you!

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