(Ryan Fulmer ’17): Today we had another early day, leaving the house at 7:30 to head to Clory for the second day of our needs assessment. Upon arriving to the school, our central meeting point, we realized that it was full of children that were very happy and eager to learn. Before breaking into groups and heading to the community, we had a short tour of the school. As we went from room to room, the children sang a welcoming song in English that was as heart-warming as it was impressive.
After that we finally broke into groups, and my group, Mr. Boland and our translator, Pleasure, headed to a hilly community right next to Clory called Dokano. Today we visited 15 houses, and since we ran out of Luci Lights yesterday we distributed chlorine tablets that people will be able to use to treat their water. People were incredibly effusive when presented these gifts, as they are often treating their water with bleach or not cleaning it at all. We would have liked to be able to give everyone lights, but we hope to bring even more in the future. Using the money from a fundraiser we will be conducting when we return, we will buy more lights for future distribution.
As our needs assessment in Clory came to an end today I spent some time reflecting on the past two days. Although I have been to Haiti in the past, I feel like all of us truly experienced a day in the life of a common Haitian for the first time as we became immersed in their culture. Many of the people we visited did not eat every day, could not afford sending their kids to school, had no shoes, and got water from a spring which they cleaned using Clorox bleach. More surprising though is that despite the fact that these were the poorest people I had ever seen, they were also some of the happiest. I could not imagine filling their shoes for one day and still managing to have a smile on my face like most of them did. The children were always full of laughter, and everyone was always welcoming and helpful. I know that the data we have collected over the past few days, along with the data we will collect tomorrow in Rivage, will inspire all of us to find solutions to some of these people’s greatest needs.
We returned to the midwives house around 1:30 where we spent some time relaxing, having lunch, and beginning to digitalize the written data we collected today. After that, we all packed back into the Midwives for Haiti pink jeep and headed for the Maison Fortune girls’ orphanage and the Azil, a feeding center for the malnourished. Today the 17s’ went to the girls’ orphanage and 18s’ went to the Azil.
(Gabi Diskin ’18): When we arrived at the Azil, they were finishing up feeding time. We sat down in a room filled with extremely well behaved kids waiting for their dinner. We began to try and talk to them with the little creole we knew, but most of the children could only answer ‘komon ou rele?'(what is your name). Most of the kids we were with had anklet labels that included their name and age. The majority of the kids were 5 and 6 years old but looked like they were 2 or 3. It was tough to get to know the kids, but once they had eaten their meal, they warmed up to us. The malnourished children were given a highly fortified milk with a huge amount of calories to help them gain weight. Some of the kids loved it, but it was hard for others to drink, and some refused, even pouring it on the ground or into another child’s cup. It was sad to see them refuse the only thing that will help them get better, but understandable because it is some of the only food they have for months at a time.
After helping the kids finish drinking their milk, we wanted to play with some of them and give them the attention they deserved. Some other kids wandered in to find us and we picked them up and played with them in an outside courtyard. We all had an amazing time with the kids, and always had more than one kid clinging onto us. It was an incredible experience seeing the all of the ranging severities of malnutrition. I loved playing with the kids, even though we could not communicate, we just high-fived and smiled to show them how happy we were to see them. It made us feel like they really valued our time there and were so happy to see us. One boy even fell asleep on me! When we had to leave it seemed like we had only been there for 15 minutes, even though we were there for about an hour. It was hard to say goodbye, and it was definitely one of my favorite experiences of the entire trip so far.
(Ryan Fulmer ’17): At the Maison Fortune orphanage we were greeted by the girls’ orphanage house manager. She made us feel very welcome, and we gave her a bag of various donations and supplies for the girls. On of my personal favorite donations, a soccer ball, was also a quick favorite among the girls. A few of them began to play soccer while Helen, Justine, and I painted the girls’ nails. After that, Graham and I joined in on their soccer game in which we played until it was time to go. The girls at the orphanage were happy and sweet, as they were last year, and we always enjoy spending some time with them. I know that all of us were leaving wishing for just a little bit more time, but I know the 18s’ will continue the fun when they visit the orphanage tomorrow.
When we returned to the house, we were lucky enough to have a Creole lesson from one of the Midwives for Haiti translators, Kelby. He taught us a few basic phrases that are helpful and important to know to get around Haiti. Some of us knew a few of the phrases, but finally learned how to pronounce them correctly. Some of the most beneficial phrases were: ‘Bonjou’ and ‘Bonswa’ (hello),’Komon ou ye?’ (How are you?), and ‘kikote ou soti?’ (Where are you from?). I loved having the lesson, but just wished we could’ve had the chance to have the lesson earlier in the trip. It expanded our Creole, and Kelby even let us buy the Creole book that he based his teaching on. We have spent the rest of the night having dinner, planning for tomorrow, digitalizing our data, and playing cards.
Today was another productive and exciting day. While we got a lot of good work done in Clory, we also had our day’s share of laughter playing with the girls, and our hearts were touched by the young children at the Azil. We are eager and excited for another early morning tomorrow!
Highlights from today:
Stuart- All of the helpful feedback and awareness I gained today working with Oxane, Gampson, and Bengie
Graham- Getting to know our translator Jimson better and discussing everything from the best way to kill a rat to how he can no longer eat sugar cane because he is proud of his teat hand wants to keep them that way.
Nathalie- Talking with 14 year old Sophia at the orphanage and watching her talk to Mr. Boland
Justine- Getting to know Jimson better
Ryan- Playing soccer with the girls at Maison Fortune orphanage and painting their nails
Helen- Painting nails with girls at the orphanage and picking up where we left off from last year
Gabi- When a little boy from the Azil fell asleep on me
Hunt- Talking to the group of girls at the Azil who wouldn’t talk back but smiled and laughed and were cute
Lawson- Going to the Azil and talking to Kelby
Elizabeth- The Azil
Claire- Going to the room with young girls at the Azil
Olivia- Seeing the pregnant ladies fact light up she we gave her the aqua tabs.