Haiti 2014 (Day 1: Nov 20, 2014)

Today’s blog was written by Justine Kaskel ’17.
It was a rough start; alarm going off at 3:30 in the morning and meeting my fellow bleary-eyed passengers at the airport 30 minutes later. However, this fact was trivial compared to the reality of finally going back to Haiti. After a two hour flight, when we were slightly less bleary-eyed due to the Starbucks we raided at the Norfolk Airport, we landed in Miami and bonded over TGIF green bean fries. It was the last taste we would have of steak before goat meat, rice and beans for a week. In the afternoon “we managed to break two chairs on the plane, but hearing the music and being apart of the culture again and feeling the air on our skin just…” This was [Graham’s] highlight of the day. And I agree, it was a wonderful feeling “smelling the air that just smells of Haiti” and knowing that we were finally back in this beautiful country (Mr. Boland).
Later, we settled into the St. Luc’s guest houses, Villa Francesca, in Port-au-Prince before heading out to the St. Damien Pediatric Hospital with Dr. Brittany Potts. This hospital, especially for Haiti, is absolutely beautiful. There are colorful paintings, statues of animals, and it just felt like a place for kids. What is really special about the hospital, however, is the chapel. Everyday except for Sunday, there is a funeral in the morning for all the children who die in the hospital, though it sounds sad, it truly is a beautiful concept. All children are so special, and the fact that these almost strangers care enough about these lives to hold a funeral for them; the only word to describe it is beautiful.
Touring St. Damien Pediatric Hospital.

Touring St. Damien Pediatric Hospital.

We were all exhausted at the end of the day, so we gladly came back to our guest house to “delicious” spaghetti (kudos to cook team one and Mr. Boland), and relaxed with a game of cards (well, If you consider hogging out on starbursts and dancing to Beyoncé relaxing…). After an hour of that we headed to the boys’ room for a meeting with everyone. Stuart, our leader of the day, lead us through an assessment of the day and everyone shared a “rose” of the day (highlight) and a “thorn” of the day (low point).
In front of the wall at St. Damien honoring all who passed in the earthquake.

In front of the wall at St. Damien honoring all who passed in the earthquake.

Meeting Father Rick Frechette, National Director of NPH Haiti at St. Damien.

Meeting Father Rick Frechette, National Director of NPH Haiti at St. Damien.

The group’s roses from today:
– Walking through the St. Damien’s hospital and noticing how advanced the facilities are (compared to my expectations).
– Seeing the neonatal ICU
– Riding in the clown car
– Visiting st. Damien’s pediatric hospital and being inspired by their incredible work and variety of services offered at the hospital
– Seeing the progression of St. Damien
– Seeing the bubbly colorful environment created by the animal statues at the hospital
– Meeting and talking to Father Rick at St. Damien
– Emerging from the airport and being filled with the sense of culture with the cars and animals.  And the heat gave a sense of “this is Haiti”
– Going out of the country for the first time and arriving in Port-au-Prince
– Seeing everyone together
– Bonding over spoons
– The smell of Haiti that revokes memories

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