It will take more than a blog or pictures to describe what’s going on in Haiti. One has to be there, see and feel the sufferings of the people of Haiti, to even come close to sensing what they are going through. When I left for Haiti, I thought I knew a lot about the people, knew exactly what the situation is and how bad it is. But I was so wrong. From the moment I stepped off the plane, until the moment I boarded the flight to come back home, I have learned much more about the people and about Haiti.
The people of Haiti are beautiful. Their faith in God even in this situation and their innocence amazes me. They are well behaved and respectful. Every single Haitian greets us with a smile, either Bonjour (morning greeting) or Bonswa (afternoon greeting). There were no feelings of hostility or anger on their faces as I thought I would see. Just simple innocence and a Hope to make their lives better. I’ve never seen such courageous people. They are loving and caring and it is common to be greeted with a hug and a peck on the cheek which I found very welcoming. The kids are adorable and so playful. They do not have real toys as any other kid would and as Agnieta (our team member from UK) once mentioned, the children make toys with whatever they can find, creative and entertaining. I have never seen the kids fighting although they do not have all the necessities a human being needs. If one kid is wearing shoes, the other is not, if one has pants on, the other might be fully or waist down naked. But no sign of jealousy or superiority. They are just kids growing up together, hand in hand, looking after for one another. There were several times when I wanted to give them my shoes, my pants but stopped as it won’t fit them. So many times I felt helpless and ashamed at myself that I couldn’t help them. A feeling of guilt kept nagging me as I saw how unfair life is for some people. I’m not from a rich family, but I had food, clothing and a good education, thanks to my loving parents and siblings. The children of Haiti are growing up with nothing but the minimum water and food their parents or caretakers can afford to and only the few lucky children have clothing and a chance to go to school. One day in the clinic (PID) where we were staying, we had lunch and played games with Haitian people to get to know them and their culture better. I talked to a 17 year old boy who was lucky enough to go to school. He brought along his school book, one book which he used for his Mathematics, Chemistry and English courses. He had better knowledge of Chemistry than me and I was surprised at how good he was at explaining how chemistry worked. These kids have so much potential, it is a shame that they do not have a chance for a better future. He told me “if I go to America to study, I will always be number one in the class”. It was said with such confidence and hope, I wanted to help him go to a better school. Another moment among several, where I felt helpless.
Before leaving, the whole team was warned about the not very convenient stay with limited food and water, sleeping in tents and cold showers. In the end, even with all the mosquitoes, the falling mangoes on our tents at night, the barking dogs, the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and one bucket of water a day to shower, I felt we lived a luxurious life by Haitian standard. Although we had sandwiches for lunch, PID provided us with a good dinner every day, and believe it or not, I ate so much better during that one week, compared to the past year. Although our loved ones were worried about us having to stay in such difficult conditions in Haiti, I assure parents and loved ones of the team that we were treated very well by Haitians and not a single member of the team had a complain about anything. Well almost lol. Except for second degree burns, dehydration, diarrhea, fever, few scratches and swollen ankles, and of course, me picking on everyone , the whole team worked hard and gave their maximum every single day. Group dynamics and team work was a big part of the trip. Each one looked after the other as if we were siblings.
This is just a very small part of what I experienced. I’ll try to post something each day from now as there is so much to write. Each day I experienced and saw many different things and felt strong emotions. I will bring the news bit by bit. Thank you to all the readers of this blog for being patient.