Following bootcamp, we flew down to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We arrived on about the 20th of June, and prepared for our trip up to the project site. We were met my Lance Ware, the missionary that we would be working with, and others from his ministry. We were lucky that all but two bags showed up... however... the two peices of luggage that were not there were our oven, and a water igloo packed with food, and other kitchen supplies. needless to say, because we didn't have the oven, we did a lot of cooking with oil for that first week and a half...
we piled up into the vans, and it was a typical "developing country ride." squishing too many people, and too much luggage into a small-ish vehicle, driving like mad through the city, all while avoiding potholes, other vehicles, and random people in the streets. My first impression while driving out of the airport was "dang... this is so much like africa." and, although there are a good number of similarities, it was interesting how that thought changed throughout the course of the summer. so, we went through the capital, and I could just imagine how overwhelemed the kids felt at this point. the first time through something like that is sooooo mind blowing. it just breaks your heart. and, then we started up the mountains, and exited the city. we traveled up a "paved" road, and then onto a not-so-paved road, and then were dropped off, and walked the rest of the way to our project site. Needless to say, 33 white people (or "blancs" as they are called in haiti) stir up quite a site, especially when they are attemping to carry two duffel bags filled with 50 pounds of stuff each.
Riding on the back of a Taptap, with Joe (one of our Haitian friend's), and Danny (one of my co-leaders.. head male leader!)
we got to our site, which was situated at about 4000 ft elevation, on the side of this beautiful green, lush mountain. however, we got there, and there was pretty much nothing. the only two structures on the site were the squattie potties, and the foundation for the future site of the orphanage home, with a pile of loose cinder blocks that will eventually be used in the orphanage building. So... question was: where do we put our tents (on the side of the hill!?!), what about our kitchen (on the worksite, using the loose cinderblocks as "walls" with a tarp as a roof, tied to rebar...), what happens when it rains (seek refuge at a local church!), and where the heck to we get water from (down a very steep mountain pass...)!!! so, needless to say, it was remote, and rustic, but it was beautiful, and it was home for the summer.
A sunrise just after rise and shine... 4:30am
Haiti is very westernized. and, you can feel it. it is poor, but where we were in the mountains, it seemed as if you can "forget" the poverty of the city... simply because in rural life, people live rural lives. and, it is definitely not that they are not poor, but it doesn't seem as if it is as awful as it is in the cities. the people are pretty funny, being very systematic, but with the dreams and aspirations that we have as humanity. People frequently ask about the influence of Voodoo on society... and, you know that it is there, but it isn't like there are creepy things happening around every corner. but, you do hear stories from people who have "mambos" for their mothers, and voodoo trees where people do sacrifices, etc. so, it is there, but, apparently the country has found a lot of freedom from it, and you can tell the God is working in the country.
i would have the privilege of being the person who would frequently be able to go to town, because i was the one who could speak french (in haiti, they speak mostly Creole, but a lot of people speak french as well). and, as you know, I love being the person who was able to adventure into town, mostly by myself... the ride would consist of hiring a little motorcycle to get to the main road, and then traveling by "taptap" which is a truck, with a covered back roof, where they squish 20 million people into. "there is always room for one more." mangoes are abundant, and the people are beautiful, and curious about "Blancs." The children are more receptive and outgoing than the adults, but there was never a time when i felt unsafe, or anything.
but one thing is for sure... i didn't feel "home." it was not africa, that is for sure. and, although some things were similar (poor, but not as poor as some of the places i have been; black people, etc...) many things were different. and, it just confirmed my love for africa. my love and my call. I am so excited for the day that I am brought back to africa. 'cause it is there that i truely belong, and where my heart lies.
more pictures to come... but, this computer is being temperamental!