Today we rose with the sun. With excitement we packed our bags and went to head to HaitiChildren. Again, we turned off the paved road to hit the rocky limestone road to the orphanage. Again, our driver honked for the security guards to open the gate. We quickly exited the car and made our way into the community center where all the children were gathered for breakfast and dressed in their school attire to attend class. We joined the children in eating breakfast which seemed to surprise the cooks and staff. Breakfast consisted of noodles, a tomato-based fish sauce and hard-boiled eggs.
As soon as the children were done eating, they quickly grabbed their backpacks and headed outside to meet their teachers and classmates. They all formed a single file line and then marched into chapel before school. The chapel ceremony was filled with hymns that were led by Pastor Claude. The echoes of the children’s singing filled the entire room.
After the children were quickly lined up again with their prospective teachers and lead down the hill to the HaitiChildren Learning Academy classrooms. There are classrooms for children pre-k through sixth grade. The younger children started the day with singing songs, jumping and dancing around. The older children started their lessons with reading, writing and mathematics. I was very impressed with the manners of all the children and the respect that they showed their teachers.
We then made our way to see the HaitiChildren Rehabilitation Center. On our way up we saw some of the children still making their way to the center. One of them was walking across the yard with the assistance of a walker. When he came to us, he was just a young child and did not have the mobilization to walk on his own. It was such an amazing site to see him be self-sufficient after many years of physical therapy. In the HaitiChildren Rehabilitation Center there were four tables set up for the children. At each table, the children were working on a variety of small motor skills. Some of them were working on painting the number one, others had small blocks that they were playing with and building little structures with, and the other table the children were working on writing and saying numbers zero thru seven in French. The progress these children have made with the help of HaitiChildren’s dedicated staff is extremely inspiring.
After we spent some time with the disabled children, it was time for us to head up mountain to some local villages. We left HaitiChildren Village with our doctor, a nurse and the director of the orphanage. The road to these villages was windy and full of deep rivets. As we bounced along, we climbed the mountain. Along the way we passed motorcycles that had three to five people all bouncing around on them. Most of the villagers do not own a motorcycle so they pay other villagers to take them up and down the mountain. After about forty-five minutes we reached the last of the three villages that we provide free medical care to. We got out of the car and walked down a narrow rocky path to the center of the village.
The villages do not have any electricity or running water. We visit each village every three months to provide free medical care to them. Without the care we provide to them these villagers would not be able to have access to a doctor. Right away we set up our clinic in a school room. Our nurse began to educate the villagers on diarrhea, how people get it, how to prevent it, what to do if you get it, and the importance of re-hydration.
After the educational seminar the villagers quickly lined up to see the doctor and get any medicine, they could that would treat their aliments. We saw children with skin rashes from being washed in dirty water, children with the flu, high blood pressure and vitamin deficiencies. The villagers do not have a market that is close to them. They grow most all the food that they consume which varies depending on the season and what they can grow. They are currently able to grow mostly corn, beans and spinach.
The poverty in Haiti is extremely prevalent when you enter one of these villages. Children are running around who should be in school, while parents and community members tend to the garden as most of them are unemployed. In 2018, the unemployment rate was about 13% and with the political unrest that swept the nation in 2019 the unemployment rate is predicted to increase.
To witness this kind of poverty and lack of some basic needs for existence made me even more grateful for all the hard work HaitiChildren has set out to conquer in Haiti. Setting a higher standard for the value of life: offering medical care to people who otherwise would not have access to it, a home and therapy for the disabled who otherwise would have been discarded, and a home and educational curriculum for those whose parents are no longer with us. Here is to many more years of support to aid the children and communities of Haiti.