|A home overlooking the Artibonite River.|
Haiti was my first missionary trip and I'm a convert. I cannot describe the feeling of purpose I got when I was there. Despite the unknown - where and under what conditions we were going to sleep, eat, bathe, etc - my family and I knew that we were here to help in whatever capacity and for however many hours. When life was stripped down to the basics, it all became so outward focused. It's almost indescribable but it was a great to let go of everything and only worry about how to help. OK, OK - we aren't saints either - so it was very, very, very hot so we were also trying to remain hydrated and were carrying around "sweat" rags - we were going through some major detoxing :-) but it all adds to the laughter now that I reflect back... I shared this experience with my mother and one of my brothers, which made it even more special. We are each so different but we all went with open hearts and were ready for anything. Together we experienced the shock of Port Au Prince (from the lack of sanitation to the tent cities to the still collapsed presidential palace), the awe at such beautiful landscape throughout the country and most importantly the pure warmth of the Haitian people. (The team we went with welcomed us with the widest smiles and the warmest hearts.) Most people (outside of PAP) were also welcoming and very hospitable, others were just wary of the "blancs". We were the only non-Haitians on the team and quickly realized we were being called out to as "blancs". People were either very curious of us or were cautious then warmed up or simply wary and stayed their distance.
Our trip to Haiti was amazing on so many levels and the organization I went with was just tireless and inspiring (New Hope Ministries International). Our team ranged in age from the 20s into the 80s - with each person just there to give. It was awesome being part of such an effort.
Below is map my brother created to show all the places we went to - impressive right? ok, maybe just to us because this was out first trip there :-) but memorable without doubt. Our Haitian team members guaranteed us that we had seen more of Haiti than many Haitians :-)
|We landed in Port Au Prince (PAP), then headed North then back to PAP before heading South. |
It was an amazing journey, throughout such a beautiful country.
Although I have nearly two thousand pictures, I'd like to start by sharing some of my "Faces of Haiti" pictures. My goal was to capture Haiti and it's people in a respectful way, here are a few shots to start off with. I hope to post more over the next few months. Enjoy...
Port Au Prince: This is one of my favorite pictures. Such beautiful
faces but the look in their eyes still haunts me. I can't
describe it but it touches me every time I see it.
|Port Au Prince: another beautiful face with haunting eyes.|
|Maude, the President of New Hope Ministries International,|
with the adorable son of one of the Hinche clinic volunteers.
Hinche: a wonderful little girl and a fellow missionary (an R.N.)
|Pignon: A grateful mother and her adorable infant.|
Pignon: Little Sisters - the girls were allowed to select a toy and
they were so good. The eldest let her younger sisters select first...
|One of our local, medical volunteers with a little boy.|
|A curious and sweet little girl from Pignon|
Missionaries with a grandmother and her two
grandsons, sadly their parents passed away.
|Three friends on their way to play soccer.|
|Happy little girls in Fond de Negres|
|A charming little boy from Fond de Negres|
A fellow beach lover from Cayes - this is another one of my all time favorites.
My trip to Haiti was such a gift. It reminded me that love makes such a difference in each of our lives. Whether a person comes from the wealthiest circumstances or the poorest, love is what creates great citizens of this world. In Haiti, as in other countries, I saw people (from the infants to the elderly) with so little but had each other and therefore were able to project love and kindness to others. And this love allowed for laughter and mischief and warmth despite hardship (hardship being a relative word, no matter your economic state, hardship exists everywhere). I thank God, my family and Maude for making this trip possible. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!!!