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Last July I went to Haiti with about 50 people from my church. I remember we had to raise money, get travel size of everything, have very few clothes a day because we had to fit everything for a week inside two suitcases. All of the food we ate had to be shipped so it would be there when we got there.
The moment I got on the plane to New York, I was freaking out because I didn’t have my phone to get a hold of my friends or my boyfriend. Thank God my mom was with me or I wouldn’t know what to do. As our flight landed, everyone in our group got something to eat and went shopping. “This is our last American food on American ground,” my mom said. Even though our food was shipped over to Haiti before we got there, we wouldn’t be able to eat
Mc Donald’s, Wendy`s, Qdoba or any good fast foods like that.
As the group loaded up on the plane from New York to Haiti, we were getting anxious. A few more hours and everything would be different. Pictures in my mind; rude people would be standing right next to us, not saying a word. Thoughts and images were raging. I didn’t know what to expect until I got there. All the things in my head became true. We all walked through the doors and above our heads was an immigration sign. I had a frown on my face and it never left. Right in front of me I saw so many black people, nobody wearing clothes, children were skinny and running around without any shoes on. My stomach started pounding.That is when I discovered how grateful I should be for everything I have.
A little bus was waiting on us as we arrived. We loaded our suitcases on top of the bus on a rack that carried everything. Everyone piled in the bus, leaving no empty space whatsoever. Going through the different cities, smells became unbearable; like a scent of trash that had been lying there for years. Finally about an hour from the airport, we arrived at our compound where we were all going to be staying for the week. There were different buildings, about 6 of them that were close together and there was a sidewalk all the way around the front of the doorways.
We had three meals a day, one shower a day, which was cold, and no cool air. We had to bring certain fans for every person because it would be so hot there. Water bottles were your best friend almost every hour of the day. Our buildings that we stayed in were fenced around. The Haitian people were not allowed to be inside the fenced in area. Also, we were not allowed to talk to them through the fences because it would tempt them to come in.
Since we were there for a week, every day we had a camp life for kids. We were only allowed to have 1,000 kids a day. Everyone split up into groups and taught them different things: first aid, soccer, crafts (making bracelets), relay races, and basketball. My mom, my friend Chelsie, and I were in a group together and we taught them first aid. It was a ton of fun because as we talked English, there was a translator that talked in Creole. We had the camp life everyday for four hours. We also went to their church on Wednesday. The church was outside, very small, and the walls had holes in them. The speaker was so into God and everyone else was, you could tell. It was a very good feeling inside that made you happy even though you couldn’t understand them. But as we were sitting there, the kids would come up to us and would want us to hold them. It was the sweetest thing that I have ever seen. The children were so beautiful; I wish I could have taken them all home with me.
We also worked around different villages close to us. There were a lot of children, babies and older men and women. We came to one lady`s house that was blind. She said she didn’t believe that there was a God and she has never heard of him. This broke my heart; I was devastated because I`ve been involved with church since I was five. I was thinking, “How does she think she got here? Who does she think has let her live on earth for this long? Why does she not think that sins were going to take her to hell if she doesn’t meet Jesus?” I was upset for a long time. Everyone was crying and talking about it. We also came to another lady`s house and she was on the verge of dying. She loved to sing and dance. She had been sick for quite some time so we decided to talk and pray with her. She loved that. It brought a big smile to her face although she stayed, lying in bed.
The days went on and before I knew it, it was Friday. Friday was our day to relax and go to the Caribbean that was next to the Dominican Republic. It was 2 hours away from where we were staying. When we got there, we all laid our towels out and got in the water. It was so clear that you could see the bottom, such as coral, jelly fish, color of the rainbow fish. Some people went snorkeling, others went on boat rides, swimming, walking down the shore, shopping on the beach and lying out to get sun. The bugs and scorching weather were getting to me. Lizards, tarantulas, and moths surrounded us. Haitian people were selling bracelets, necklaces, wooden jewelry boxes, carvings, paintings, and earrings that they made to make money because they don’t have any. Everyone that we went with got something from them and things for people back at home.
As it was getting dark outside, it was time to leave. We all loaded up and went on back to the cabins. Dinner was served as soon as we got there. We all talked and had a devotion about the whole week and everyone`s reaction from being here. A question came up for me: “Would you ever come back?” Honestly, I want to, but I couldn’t handle another day in the hot, 120 degree weather and with the bugs. I don’t ever want to put on a long skirt again because that’s what all the girls had to wear when we were off our compound. I was so ready to leave but I know that I would miss Haiti.
Now was the time to get all packed up and showered. After 2 a.m., everyone was sound asleep. Morning came fast and now it was the sad part. Saying by to everyone we met a week ago. Sitting on the bus, driving through the place we all would never forget, taking pictures of everything we could possibly see. The sad, distraught looks upon faces, the smell and trash all around you. Yes, it was awful, sad, and pitiful, but it was indeed the best thing that I have ever experienced and I will never forget my life for a week in Haiti.