We took an amazing mission trip to Haiti a couple weeks ago, we couldn’t wait to share it with you! Here’s part 1 of our trip to Haiti and what we did with an amazing organization working to end illiteracy in Haiti: The Mission Haiti
Hey friends, I’m stoked to share this post with you! Some of you know that we went to Haiti on a mission trip a couple of weeks ago. I ended up dividing my post into 2 smaller ones since I had so much to share, but I want to share the stories of the people we visited in Haiti. I’m sure you’ll fall in love with them like I did!
This post will cover our time in Haiti for 3 days, and my second post about Haiti will cover the other 3 days in Haiti (we spent one more day in Haiti than planned due to travel delays).
We joined with a local church and The Mission Haiti to travel to Haiti to deliver backpacks and school supplies to sponsored school children, as well as visit the homes of families in the sponsored housing program.
Haiti has no public education system, so it costs money for families to send their children to school. Poor families cannot afford to send their children to school at all, so hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti have never learned to read or write.
Without education, people can’t participate in politics and it makes it difficult to get better paying jobs, seek medical attention, and break the cycle of poverty.
The Mission Haiti is helping to change the future of Haiti by connecting sponsors with children to raise money to send kids to school, teaching them about Christ, and helping them find better housing. They also have an emergency fund for their students in case they or their families need medical care.
We loved our trip! I was exhausted the first day since we flew overnight to Haiti and I barely slept on our flights, but each day got better and we were able to do a lot in the 5 days we were there. Our team was also able to take a break at the beach on Thursday afternoon, it was amazing!
In late May, I ended up having a surgery with complications, so I was out of commission for quite a while in June (I’ll post some more about that in a month or 2).
After my surgery recovery, we spent some time raising money for our trip to Haiti with an online fundraising page and lemonade stands. I wasn’t sure how well we could raise money with lemonade stands, but we set up our stands as donation-only and we raised several hundred dollars!
Our lemonade stands did much better than I expected, and we had so many supportive friends and family. God provided for us!
One of the street views on our way out of Port-au-Prince to the orphanage in Bercy (a small suburb of Cabaret). The traffic in Port-au-Prince was crazy!
I decided on this trip to leave my heavier, nicer camera at home and just use my iPhone the whole time. So my images aren’t as high-quality as I’d like, but I’m still glad that I got some good photos!
The main kitchen in the upstairs team area in the Cabaret Baptist Children’s Home we stayed at. The downstairs of the building houses the orphanage, and the upstairs has a place for teams to stay.
The photo above is the Cabaret Children’s Academy across the street from the orphanage. It’s one of the 2 schools that the orphanage founded.
Interestingly, every important building had a walls around it: schools, orphanages, hotels, resorts, larger homes, etc. Some smaller middle class homes had walls as well, and most individual homes had fences of some sort, made of either barbed wire, metal sheeting, wood, cactus, or poisonous plants.
Our first time in Mexico 14 years ago, we noticed the same thing. Many of the homes and buildings had walls around them. Some used razor wire on top and other homes used a cheaper method of broken glass pressed into cement on top of the walls.
On our first day, we sorted backpacks and then took a walk through the neighborhood and up the top of a nearby hill. I was exhausted on Monday from our overnight flight and the heat, but it got better as the week went on.
We started getting used to heat by the end of the week!
Walking through the town, the dogs from the orphanage would follow us every time we went out to walk in the community or travel to another town. We always had at least one interpreter with us and one or two security guys that came with us who worked for the orphanage.
At the top of the hill, we stopped by an abandoned mission and a cross. Beautiful views here!
One our way back down, we stopped at to visit a sweet lady who had received a new sponsored home last year. She showed us her house and was so excited!
We saw several new, sponsored homes on this trip, and we also visited families who needed new homes so we could add them to a waiting list to find sponsorships for them.
On Tuesday morning (day 2), we went over to the accelerated school not too far from the orphanage. This school is a simple hut and it houses a small school for students who need one-on-one education.
My mom, kids, and I did a VBS for the littlest kids at the school. We also took school photos, gave them new backpacks and school supplies, new clothing, and the older children who had learned to read got Creole Bibles.
The children at the accelerated school sang some songs for us before we did VBS and handed out backpacks. It was so sweet to hear them sing and show off the new things they had learned 🙂
Haiti’s Kindergarten starts at age 3 (it’s more like pre-school), so we did a VBS for the small children at the school through an interpreter. It was so fun and sweet!
The kids also got lunch at the school. For some of these children, school lunch is their only meal of the day.
Each day, we worked in the morning, got a break to each lunch and rest/cool off, before going out to do a bit more in the afternoons.
Tuesday afternoon, we went over to the school across the road from the orphanage to meet the mater tailor that the school hired to make school uniforms. Rather than ordering uniforms, they decided to support the local economy and hired a tailor to make the uniforms for students.
The tailor and school employ families of students to make uniforms so they can make money for their families. A great way to help the economy and families in Haiti!
After we visited the school tailor, we visited a couple families and brought them food: a family who had recently received a new sponsored home, and their neighbors who needed a new home. A new home and piece of land only costs $4400, and if they own their own land, it costs even less to just build a new home on it.
The sponsored homes are concrete and similar to the other homes in the area, and they provide a safe and secure place for families to live. They also get to pick the color that they would like to paint the outside, so its more personal.
Sponsored concrete homes are also built by locals, so they also support the local economy in Haiti as well, which is awesome and much needed!
This was the family’s old house/hut. It definitely did not protect against heavy rains or people who might harm the family (sexual assault statistics against women and children in Haiti are sobering). Having a sturdy and secure home with a locking door makes a difference for these families!
Some of these children have endured unspeakable things, and they have no access to counseling or therapy like we have in America. In America, we are truly blessed!
Some children who live in huts or shacks cannot sleep if it rains at night since the rain floods their home. The new concrete homes are elevated to keep the rain water out so they have a dry place to sleep.
On Wednesday morning, we loaded up in a truck to head to the second school founded by the orphanage, the Te Nwa mountain school. The drive was rough, the roads are all dirt and we drove through some big mud pits.
When it rains, the roads to the school are inaccessible, so we were praying that it wouldn’t rain Tuesday night so we could go!
During this trip to the school, my job was to help take school photos of the kids for sponsors. Becky and I photographed over 180 students in all grades!
I was able to use Becky’s Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, and that camera is now on my wish list for my blog 🙂
All the kids at Te Nwa also got their noon lunch, traditional Haitian rice and beans cooked at the school.
After VBS, photos, and lunch, we handed out backpacks with school supplies for the students, and the older students received Creole Bibles.
After working hard all morning, we took a walk up to the top of the hill above the school to have our packed lunch in the hilltop church.
The church was beautiful and cool, a great place to relax for a bit. This church used to be the school until they grew and had to expand into the building they have now. The Te Nwa school is still growing and they were adding new rooms on to the building when we visited.
After lunch, we visited another family who had recently gotten a sponsored home! This one was two bedrooms, such a blessing for their family!
The photo below is of the family’s old home, now abandoned since they have a new home. The back of the home was covered in tarps, so it wasn’t sturdy or secure. The mud on these types of huts fall off the home when it rains.
We headed back for a break, and one of the graduates from the school program stopped by the orphanage to sell some of his handmade souvenirs. We had a nice time chatting with him and looking through his things for sale.
Since my post was getting super long, I went ahead and split this into two posts! I didn’t even add all of my photos to these posts since I took well over 100 of them, so stay tuned for part 2 coming next week!
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