Today we arrived in Haiti. This was my first time coming to this little island that is just a short plane ride from the most southern point of the United States, Florida. We were greeted by Pamphile and quickly whisk away to a bullet proof vehicle. With all of the political unrest that has savaged the country for the last four months everyone’s alert level was high.
We swerved in and out to traffic and headed to a local market to collect some supplies for the trip. At the market one of our children, Ronald, met us. He came to us when he was four he is now 21 years old and recently received a scholarship to attend college. He is studying computer science and has a deep passion for it.
After we stocked up on supplies we were whisked away again to get out of Port-au-Prince. There are basically no rules on the road in Haiti which makes the experience quite exhilarating. We swerved in and out of traffic trying to get out of the city as soon as possible as to not get stuck by any possible roadblocks. Over the past few months Haiti has been in such political unrest that gangs had been placing shipping containers across the roads in retaliation of the inflated gas prices and ongoing corruption by the government and President Jovenel Moise.
Once out of Port-au-Prince it was as though we had joined a race car team. We sped down the road, honking, and swerving in and out of our lane to expedite the journey so we could go to HaitiChildren Village before night fall. Sooner than I knew we were pulling off the paved road that was following the coast North from Port-au-Prince. The road we pulled on was some small limestone rocks which got bigger in size the further we went. We passed some villagers homes that were packed right on top of each other. Occasionally, there would be a slight separation where the villages would walk to get back to other homes. Then it happened, Susie exclaimed, “These are the walls of the orphanage!”
My heart started to quicken in pace. I had seen pictures of these walls but here they were in person. The walls towered on the right side of the road. The walls surround the entire 18-acres of HaitiChildren Village in order to provide a secure environment for the children to live, grow and go to school. Some orphanages in Haiti are targets for people to rob children and sell to make an income. We have never had a child stolen from the security of our walls.
Once we were about halfway up the length of the wall our driver honked and the gates to the HaitiChildren village were opened by the armed security guards. We drove in and passed a few of the free roaming goats that scattered the landscape. The vehicle pulled up to the Church and community building where the Director of HaitiChildren, Erline awaited our arrival. We were greeted by warm smiles, a kiss on the cheek and warming hugs. The entire staff were eager to greet Susie and make the acquaintance of Carolina and myself.
We proceeded to make our way to the first building that houses the girls of the orphanage. It was so amazing to see their smiling faces. They were so excited to see us and get to spend some time with us. The children were following us around, grabbing our hair and asking us to take their pictures.
We began to make our way to the second building that houses all the boys. They were just as eager to meet us, play with us and have us take their pictures. The third building that we went into is for our disabled children. Here we were greeted by some of the biggest smiles! These children were beyond ecstatic to see us. They reached their arms out and grabbed on to us pulling us closer to them. Some of them just wanted us to hold their hands while others wanted us to touch their faces and heads.
The progress some of these children have made over the last 26 years is astounding. Some of them have gone from not being able to walk to being able to walk with a walker. The sense of accomplishment exhibited by these children was breathtaking. To think that without HaitiChildren these children would have been shunned by society to death is astonishing. Each of these children have so much love and light to bring to the world. I wish that everyone be able to be graced with their presence.
At times life can be taken for granted. All the girls, boys and disabled children at HaitiChildren reminded me that, life is precious. Family is precious. Community is precious. Without the right to life, the love of a family and the support of community most of us would not be where we are today. Sometimes all that is needed is a journey to another world to remind us of wealth that is attained from the love and care of family and community is what each of us need. HaitiChildren has created an environment in a sometimes otherwise ruthless country for these children to feel like they belong, are loved and they will never be abandoned again.
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