Week 1 team: Monday, Jan. 26
Our travel to Haiti was pretty uneventful. Eight of us left Lawrence on Saturday morning with our donation bags, met Randy in the airport and then connected with Brian from Indiana and Rocky from Alaska in Miami.
We had a bit of a hang-up at the Miami airport but got the problem solved and landed on time in Cap Haitien at noon on Sunday, Jan 25. Based on the experience of our October team, we were concerned about getting through the Cap Haitien airport smoothly. Our plane was full and had many other American teams coming to do medical and construction work in Haiti so we didn’t stand out and were able to pass through the airport without a hitch. They even allowed power tools to come in without assessing an import tax. Praise God for a smooth entry into the country.
Sunday afternoon we got to go to the Children’s Village and attend the monthly talent show of the kids. One of the talents included a version of pin the tale on the donkey and they asked for one of the “visitors” to play. Tasha volunteered and did a lovely job of pinning the tale on the donkey. After two hours of children singing, playing games and telling jokes, those who had had a birthday in the past month were given a birthday gift. One of the preschool girls who sang a solo stole the hearts of several of our team members. Several of us were able to see the children we sponsor and enjoy some photo opportunities and smiles.
We went back to our team house, unpacked and went to bed early to get ready for our first day of construction.
On Monday, we were up around 6:00, ate some cereal and prayed for God to bless our day. Then we walked to the corner at 7:00 to wait for the Kids Alive bus to pick us up.
The day started with the opening flag ceremony. The children lined up, did their morning recitations, sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness” in Creole, and said a prayer. Two children raised the flag while the others sang the national anthem. After that, they went to their classrooms.
Tasha, Kenna and Stephanie spent some time this past year studying Creole, which helped much in communicating with the children. Since they knew a bit, they are able to pick up even more. By the end of their two weeks here, they will probably be able to communicate pretty well with the kids. Several other teams members are working hard to communicate in Creole with the children. Having wi-fi at the village makes it possible to use google translator and speaking Creole makes the experience here that much more enjoyable.
Part of our team spent the bulk of the day in the hot sun shoveling rock. At the beginning of the day, there was a huge pile of rocks in the center of the location where we will build the transition house for teenage boys. The goal was to spread the rock out evenly to make a foundation for the house. By the end of the workday, rock was leveled, so tomorrow plumbing work should begin if we can get the right pipes.
Rocky, McKenna and Carolyn spent the day bending and tying rebar. After at least five attempts and much help from one of the Haitian workers, McKenna and Rocky finally mastered the art of twisting wire around the rebar.
Several of us walked over to the fifth house, the one our church raised money to complete, to see any progress had been made on it since October. The Haitians just received the green light to begin the work and today was their first day on the job.
The first task is to blow torch out part of the Styrofoam so concrete columns can be made to provide strength to the roof and walls. The goal is to have the house completed by May. Thank you for your generosity to make this possible!
To finish off the day, two of the community Kids Alive children took us on a walk through the neighbor. The first stop was at a cassava bread bakery. We were given a tour through the bakery and the process of making the bread was explained. At the end, we were each given a sample of the bread, make from cassava root, coconut and cinnamon. It tasted a bit like slightly sweetened triscuits.
Our next stop was at the home of our tour guides, an 11-year-old boy and his 10-year-old sister. We were given a tour inside their home – a small 3-room building without running water or electricity. The children share a single bed and the grandparents share another small bed. The only other thing in the children’s room besides the bed was a twister board, which was used as a plastic tarp to catch rain from the ceiling. The family graciously let us take their pictures.
Then, we were led on a gorgeous walk through the farmland between the neighborhood and the Kids Alive compound. We stopped to see the land that the grandfather of our tour guides farms to make a few dollars to buy food for his family.
We were anxious to get home from the hard day of work to take refreshing showers and eat dinner. While some of us were waiting on the shower, we snuck up to the roof and enjoyed a beautiful Haitian sunset. The Haitian Kids Alive field director, Robensen Gedeus, and his wife joined us for dinner to share the journey of faith and how God brought them to Cap Haitian to work with Kids Alive. The road wasn’t easy; they lived in Port Au Prince during the 2010 earthquake and their house was flattened while Mrs. Gedeus and their two daughters prayed on the front porch for safety. Their family was homeless for a month, living on their front lawn, waiting for God to provide for them. He answered their prayer and brought them to Cap Haitian to work with Kids Alive.
Some of us are already asleep (Larry) getting needed rest to prepare them for a hard day of work tomorrow, while others are gearing up for a game of cards. Whether asleep or awake, we are looking forward to a day of hard work and time with children tomorrow.
Posted by Doug Heacock on behalf of the week 1 team.