Waking up in a cool room with the air conditioning (which are only on during the night), on high and walking out to the dining table where our large breakfast awaits us makes me feel like I'm on vacation... That feeling lasts only a few minutes before the dining room is filled with heat from the beating sun. Quickly, I am reminded that I'm not on a vacation but I'm on a mission.
Today, the team set out to deliver water in two different areas of Haiti. Delivering water to the people of Cité Soleil has easily become one of my favorite things to do on this trip. As the tap-tap bus pulls up the dusty street, several Haitians, mostly women and young children, come running with miscellaneous buckets, cups and water tubs to have filled from the water truck. They all scramble to get in line to be the first to receive water. Among them there are children, some who are barely clothed, waiting for the door to open as the Team and I stepped off the tap-tap. Their arms are reaching up while shouting "hey you, hey you," in the happiest voices, with excited expressions. We barely step down to the street to help distribute water as we are greeted with hugs, smiles, and children saying "porté (pick me up)." As several team members pick up beautiful Haitian children there is one girl that comes through the crowd and finds me. I distinctively remember her. Estáncía has gorgeous brown eyes and a big, white smile that lights up her face. She clings to me as I pick her up and I squeeze her tight. Moments like this warm my soul knowing that even for a moment I am able to brighten her day and make her smile.
Mid-way through the day we stopped in Port-au-Prince where we walked to the end of the pier with the local children. It was here that we had a great view of the mountains surrounding us as we looked out onto the clear, blue water of the Bay of Port-au-Prince, which is part of the Caribbean.
As we returned back to the water station to refill the water truck for our second stop our team enjoyed a refreshing moment under the massive water spigot that is positioned 20+ feet in the air. (See pictures below)
After eating lunch at the Guest House we ventured to Juno's Orphanage. Again, when we arrived the children were patiently waiting for us as we stepped off the tap-tap and picked them up. Juno's is the home to fifteen beautiful Haitian orphans. The children sang us a few songs including "God is so good, is so good, is so good, God is!!" while they clapped, danced and smiled. We played soccer, handed out fruit snacks, applesauce and let the girls put braids in our hair. The team brought beads, glitter gel and a variety of markers to help them decorate and personalize white t-shirts. I was blown away by their artwork and ability to draw things like cars, palm trees and houses! All the shirts turned out fantastic :)
But this trip is much more than just delivering water or making t-shirts. It is about stepping outside of my comfort zone, allowing myself to grow and change lives - even if it's only for a few minutes. Being able to bring water to the people of Haiti and watching them bathe in the streets because they do not have access to running water makes me grateful for having warm, running water back home. Something so simple that we take for granted everyday - yet so many people in Haiti live without.
Throughout the week as we have traveled down the dusty streets of Haiti I have seen people with tattered, dirty clothing or even none at all, livestock eating and sleeping in the streets that are covered in rubbish and sewage (which I can smell and see burning throughout the towns), and tents that are made from tin siding, broken cinder blocks and torn tarps. I've observed that Haitians recycle everything until it literally becomes rubbish in the street. I have yet to see something new. From sunrise to mid-afternoon, I watched a man commit to hard manual labor, in a field under the blazing sun while I thought building a garden on a hill side for a few hours was grueling. We visited General Hospital where I witnessed sick babies being cared for while mothers prayed for their children to be healed and realized how lucky I am for my health (and the advanced medical practices in the US). I played soccer with the neighborhood boys, where I met Stevenson who doesn't have any siblings and asked me to be his sister. Of course I said yes! This moment made me happier to know I am blessed with an amazing brother myself?! All of these moments have enabled me to appreciate (even more now) the new clothes I can wear, my loyal family and friends, the stable home I live in with A/C, my health, the variety of safe food I eat and the ability to purchase items new - if I choose.
I came with a mission to bring love, joy and happiness to those in need. I'm going home with much more than that.
Always live for the moment,