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Mesi Ayiti

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MESI AYITI

The wave of dry heat hit me as soon as I stepped off the giant plane and onto the Haitian soil. I looked around taking in my new home for the next week, I already felt as if I was in a different world. The sun was high in the sky; looking up on the hillside above the small airport I saw many run-down-mud thatched roof huts and people carrying all sorts of different things throughout the dirt streets. Stunned by the masses of people running around shouting in different languages back down at the airport, I quickly picked up my bags and caught up with the rest of the team. Walking from the airport to a bus that would take us to our destination, I began to notice all the stares from the people we were getting. Pushing through the small pathway we had between all the people, I started to feel nervous. Asking questions and yelling in a language I could not understand, I put on a nervous smile and kept walking. However, inside I began to feel slightly afraid. I clenched on to my friend’s shoulder as we hurried to get on the bus.

We had a seven-hour ride to the small village of Lacoma we would be staying in to start to build a school and work in an orphanage. A couple hours into the bus ride I began to feel exhausted as I was tossed all over from the rough road and as sweat began to pour down my face. The sun started to slightly slip behind the tall mountains in the distance and the darkness of the night began to set in. I tried to get as comfortable as I could on a bus that was roving up rocky hills and laid my head against the window to doze off. Waking up to a screeching halt and a shout “We’re here!” by the rest of the group, I rapidly sat up and looked out the window. It was morning and the sky was hardly lightened. I stepped off the bus and looked around at the poverty stricken village. The aroma of sewage lying out for days filled the air. Over-packed with people and livestock, the village was a hustle and bustle of madness. I had heard and seen on television these kinds of things, but to actually see it with your own eyes is a feeling I can never fully describe. Immediately, I was greeted by Haitian children with ragged clothes and muddy feet running up to me and hugging me. Wanting to play hand games and run around, they took my hands and pulled me away to play. We ran through the tall green grasses laughing, shouting, and trying to catch one another. Finally, out of breath I caught a few of the children and we fell to the ground laughing with joy. With ring worm sores and mud all over their small feet and faces I looked at these children and for the first time realized that they had nothing but yet were so happy.

That night we got settled into our tents up on a hillside outside the village. I fell asleep, to chants of “voodoo” tribes off in the distance. The next day a few members of the group and I were told we were going to go to the town orphanage called Saline Mayette to help out with the children there. I packed up my backpack with some supplies and began the three-mile walk to the orphanage. On my way my eyes were opened to how the people of this isolated island nation lived, in poverty. I passed small houses that were made of thick mud and palm tree leaves. Children whose rib cages showed through their skin came running alongside me shouting and laughing with bliss as I walked the path.
The dusty road finally led me to an orphanage. I glanced up to see all sorts of bare-footed children playing soccer and tag. The orphanage was a small cinder block building with a tin roof covered in rust and dirt. As I was walking in, I was greeted with handshakes by the Haitian workers. I began to wash and set the tables for lunch. Suddenly a small brown eyed boy wearing a shirt with stains of dirt all over it came running up to me grinning from ear to ear. I tried to speak to him with the little Creole I knew. However it didn’t matter, a smile was universal. He tugged on my shirt for me to pick him up. Running his rough-skinned fingers across my face and hair, he was amazed at how different it was than his. We both laughed as he compared the differences between the both of us. He laid his small head down on my shoulder and wrapped his arms around me tightly. A few moments later a lunch bell shattered the silence and a line of children began to form outside the kitchen. I woke up him up with the words ale manje, go eat, but he nodded no and clenched on to me tighter. Then it hit me, these children didn’t have parents, they’d hardly felt love and affection. So I held on tighter and walked to the kitchen.

Those ten days in Haiti changed my life forever. I now have a new respect and appreciation for the simple everyday things we have here. I realize how blessed I am to have things such as food, water, in a place to sleep. However the thing that shocked me most about the people of Haiti is that they have so very little, if anything at all, yet, they are so happy. They are content with everything they have and do not have a want for materialistic possessions. They have an appreciation for the authentic simple things in life that most Americans will never understand. Their joy is contagious. I went to Haiti thinking I was going to help the people there but really I believe the opposite happened, they were the ones who helped me. They gave me a new look on life. To truly value the simple things in life, that it is not always about the materialistic things you have, and lastly, to keep a happiness and a hope that is constant through the hardships and pain that life brings.



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