Here’s part 2 of my recap for our trip to Haiti earlier this month! We had a great time helping sponsored students and reaching out to the local community
Hey all, I’m back with part 2 of our recap of our trip to Haiti (you can read part 1 here). My first post covered our first couple days in Haiti (Monday through Wednesday), and this post will cover our other 2-3 days in Haiti (Thursday through Saturday).This gorgeous photo of my daughter was taken by Becky (Pickrel Photography), one of our team leaders
As I mentioned in my last post, part of this is to share not only about our trip to Haiti and the reality of life in Haiti, but also as a bit of a travel journal for myself, too. My memory hasn’t been great lately, so I wrote things down in a notebook on our trip and wanted to write down our experiences on my blog, too, so I don’t forget things.
If you’re interested in helping to sponsor children for school or help to provide a new and safe concrete home for families, check out The Mission Haiti’s website!
Here’s a peek at our room in the upper level of the orphanage, the rooms are all open to the outside through the roof so we had to sleep under mosquito nets. Since our son was the only boy/guy on the trip, our family slept in a separate room, and everyone else slept in the bunk room.
We did have an air conditioner in our room, but we only used it sparingly in the evenings before bed to conserve electricity (the orphanage runs on solar power and generators). The power was shut off at about 10 pm and turned on again at about 6 am, so no electricity at night to conserve.
We brought clip on batter-operated fans for our beds, which helped a bunch! But the batteries ran out halfway through the week and I didn’t bring extras 😮 It was in the 90’s and 100’s most of the time we were there, and very humid.
On Thursday morning, we set up at the Cabaret Baptist Academy across from the orphanage to meet with families on the school sponsorship waiting list.
Some of our team met with the families to fill out forms, they got their photos taken, and I handed out clothing, toys, toiletries, and shoes. We helped out all morning (from 8 or 9 am to about noon), then headed back for lunch and a short break.
Families waiting to get put on the school sponsorship waiting list
After lunch, we took a few people to visit a sick mom and her family. We took some of our nurses with us to see how she was doing, and check up on her family. Her home was in a neighborhood in Bercy that locals call Cholera, since there was a massive outbreak of cholera there after the 2010 earthquake.
Our medical team walking to the cholera neighborhood in Bercy
The family we visited lived in a tarp shack. Their home had been a temporary shelter after the earthquake, but they were never able to get a better home after that, so they lived in a very hot tarp shack since the earthquake (8 years). The Mission Haiti is going to find a sponsor for their family to get a new home soon 🙂
Tarp shacks like the one this family live in are very hot, this one was well over 100 degrees inside. They don’t always keep out the rain and it’s very hard to keep out intruders. The Mission Haiti works to help families have more secure concrete homes to keep families safe, cool, and dry.
After our visit to the family in the cholera neighborhood, we all loaded up in the orphanage tap tap truck and headed to the beach for a break.
On the way to the beach resort, we stopped at a souvenir shop for local handmade gifts. You can see a bit in the photo above that most places in Haiti are surrounded by walls and gates, and smaller houses are surrounded by barbed wire and cactus fences.
We came to the Wahoo Bay Beach Resort in Carriès, Haiti, not too far from Bercy/Cabaret where we stayed. It was beautiful!
The ocean breeze was cool and our beach afternoon was such a welcome treat.
The beach was pretty clean as well. One of the things that I had a hard time getting used to was the amount of garbage in Haiti (it’s hard to tell in our photos). There are very few to no municipal garbage systems in Haiti, just private trash services that cost money.
Many people can’t afford the private garbage services, so they throw their garbage on the ground or burn their garbage. It was very hazy in Haiti from the smoke from burning garbage, and smoke would come into our rooms at night. My allergies and sinuses didn’t like that very much haha!
There are areas in Haiti that are clean, like the resorts and national historic places, but in the populated areas like Port-au-Prince and the rural towns there is a lot of trash on the ground. Safe and cheap drinking water is often distributed through little bags of water, but they contribute to a lot of the garbage problems.
By the end of the week we were getting used to walking through the roads with plenty of litter, but had to watch our feet if we were wearing sandals since there was broken glass and nails on the roads, and even a syringe on the road. People who drive tend to get flat tires a lot.
Many of the people who visit the wealthier areas of Haiti and the resorts often don’t see the poverty in Haiti. It’s important to see both sides of the country. Both are real. There are clean and safe places, but there are also dangerous and poverty stricken areas. Even the resort was surrounded by walls and had security guards (like the orphanage and our hotel in Port-au-Prince).
Some of the other visitors at the resort didn’t know what kind of poverty existed in Haiti until some people on our team talked to them about it. Having running water and a flushing toilet is a luxury in Haiti since many people use outhouses and have to haul water from nearby wells. I am so grateful for running water!
All of that aside, our beach afternoon was a much needed break from the heat and hard work! It was great to be able to take our shoes off for a while and feel the sand and water on our toes.
We enjoyed our time swimming, beach combing, and then had dinner at the Wahoo Bay Resort restaurant.
On Friday morning, we went back to the accelerated school and did a medical training for parents of sponsored school children. While the medical people on our team did the training, we stopped by to visit some more people in the community and took backpacks, supplies, toiletries, and clothing to families and sponsored children in need.
On our way back to the orphanage, we stopped at a local abandoned clinic that sits empty. The sweet ladies who run The Mission Haiti want to buy it from the local mayor and create a community center with it. So far, the mayor is not willing to sell yet, so we’re praying that they will be able to purchase the building soon.
We came back to the orphanage for lunch and to gather our things to head to the airport. The 2 sweet little boys in the photo above live at the orphanage 🙂
Getting ready to leave, here’s a view of the Cabaret Baptist Children’s Home (the orphanage we stayed at). The children stay at the home on the first level, and teams stay in the top level. As part of our funding for the trip, we paid money to stay at the orphanage. This helps them with their expenses 🙂
Our team getting one last photo before we leave the orphanage
The children’s home tries to be self-sustaining as much as possible: they use solar power and generators instead of getting electricity from the city. They collect rain water and double filter as their drinking water rather than getting it from other places (it’s safer that way, too). They had running water, too, which we were all grateful for!
We loaded up in the tap tap to head to the airport. On the way there, we made a quick stop at Rosie’s Boutique for souvenirs. Rosie’s Boutique is a fair trade gift shop filled with items made by local Haitians. The unemployment rate in Haiti is a staggering 80%, and Rosie’s Boutique mission is to support families in Haiti through fair trade job creation.
Rosie’s Boutique has an online shop that you can check out, too! They have beautiful hand made gifts, and your purchases make a difference.
The metal art at Rosie’s is made from recycled oil drums. So beautiful!
From Rosie’s, we set off for the airport in Port-au-Prince. Our flight was supposed to take off at 4:45 Friday evening, so we got there about 1-2 pm. A storm rolled in, so our flight to Miami kept getting pushed back until it was finally delayed until 10 am the following morning.
Fortunately I downloaded movies on my iPad to pass the time for our kids
We spent all afternoon and evening at the airport, and finally had to leave for a hotel in Port-au-Prince around 11 pm. We didn’t end up going to bed until 1:30 am, and then had to be up early to get back on the shuttle by 6 am.I’ve never been so sleep deprived in my life haha!
The Port-au-Prince airport only has few restaurants, which are mostly only in the American Airlines terminal, and a few shops to buy snacks. The restaurants closed fairly early (around 8 and 9 pm), so thankfully we had plenty of snacks and food of our own.
The electricity at the airport went out a few times briefly (once while I was in the bathroom and I panicked a little), and the airport employees are fond of taking bribes (that’s probably why American Airlines also has it’s own security). Since American Airlines has it’s own security, we went through 2 security checkpoints to fly out.
After our flight was delayed till the next day, we had to scramble to the American Airlines counters to get vouchers for a hotel in Port-au-Prince. We stayed at the Atlantic, which looked nice on the outside but wasn’t so great on the inside.
We didn’t have a shower that worked, some of the electrical wiring tried to fry my phone, and there was no deadbolts for my door so every noise made me wake up. But at least there were no bed bugs in the beds!
Our flight the next day was getting delayed again, but not too long this time. We finally got to Miami for a long layover, and then on to Denver for our final leg home.
Our trip to Haiti was an amazing experience, we all want to go back again! It was eye opening to see how blessed we are to have basic needs met, like running water, solid homes, and clean water to drink. We are truly blessed in America!
And we shouldn’t keep those blessings to ourselves, we are meant to use our gifts and blessings to pour out on others around us.
Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist