Haiti 2014 (Day 6: Nov 25)

(Graham Barbour ’17 and Nathalie Danso ’17): We woke up to a final day of interviewing and experiencing the wonderful culture of Haiti. Although this was our last day, morale was high despite the torrid climate and long day we faced. At 7:30 we departed for Rivage, a community on the banks of the Guayamouc River in Hinche, eager to meet the community and conduct a needs assessment of a second locale.

Arriving at the local school in Rivage, we were startled at how poor and minimal it was, assembled of only wood, tarp walls, and a tin roof. Despite the outward appearance of the school, the students inside told an entirely different story. With smiles on their faces, they happily greeted us, welcoming us into their school. Oxanne, the leader of school, with her son, Gampson, greeted us with many a hug and many words of thanks. Soon after, we assembled into our groups and began our interviews.

Leader of the Day, Helen Shaves, introducing our group to the students in Rivage.

Leader of the Day, Helen Shaves, introducing our group to the students in Rivage.

We immediately recognized the drastic differences between Clory, where we have been conducting interviews the last few days, and this more urban community, Rivage. Despite our initial impressions from the school, the community proved much better off. As we continued throughout the town,  the large wealth gap between the communities became apparent. Most of the residents in Rivage had electricity and easily accessible (yet pricey) drinking water, compared to Clory where there was none. Even though Rivage was much better off than Clory, it had challenges of its own. For example, the school in Rivage lacked tremendously compared to Clory, and the sheer density of houses and people was overwhelming. As our last interview came to a close, we were all hot and tired but excited at the prospect of making a difference in these communities in the near future.

Rejuvenated by a long break over lunch, we departed with zeal, crammed into the pink jeep like sardines. Dividing into our separate cohorts, the ’18s experienced the wonders of the girls orphanage of Maison Fortune, while the ’17s fed children at the Azil. Stuart Luter headed back to Rivage for Stuart to meet the seventeen thirteen-year old girls that will be participating in her women’s empowerment curriculum in the coming months.

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Stuart meeting the girls in Rivage who will be participating in her women's empowerment curriculum.

Stuart meeting the girls in Rivage who will be participating in her women’s empowerment curriculum.

(Hunt Stockwell ‘18): After Claire danced her way to fame among the children, the rest of us enjoyed painting nails, blowing bubbles, braiding hair and playing soccer. We played a keep away soccer game with the girls (who were all much better than us) that everyone joined in on. We all had a great time at the orphanage and it is definitely a place I would love to visit again next time I return to Haiti.

Making friends at Maison Fortune Orphanage.

Making friends at Maison Fortune Orphanage.

(Graham/Nathalie): Having visited the Azil (Mother Theresa’s Home for Malnourished Children) on our last trip to Haiti, we were eager to see it again. As soon as we walked in, a cup of porridge was thrust into our hands and we happily began feeding the children. Nathalie holstered three infants, Ryan bounced two girls on his knees, and Graham raced around on hands and knees, chasing a little boy throughout the room and under cribs.

Highlights of the day:

Gabi: Playing at the orphanages

Hunt: At the orphanage when we were playing keep-away soccer, they would always laugh at Lawson and me when we were in the middle.

Olivia: visiting the orphanage, Maison Fortuné, and singing  High School Musical with the coolest 14 year-old girl.

Helen: playing with the little kids at the Azil who used us as jungle gyms and would not let go.

Ryan: Getting a hug from Oxanne and walking to get Coke from the stand down the street from the house.

Stuart: Running the first introduction workshop with Oxanne and 17 young girls. It made me super excited and hopeful for the future of my curriculum.

Justine:Playing at the Azil with the malnourished children

Elizabeth: Going to Maison Fortuné and playing with all the kids. They new a lot of English and they were so playful and joyful

Claire: The little girls played Justin Bieber on my phone.

Nathalie: Having a little boy at the Azil fall asleep on me.

Graham: Doing the needs assessment in Rivage and experiencing a whole new aspect of Haitian life.

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