Have you ever had an experience that is hard to put into words? Well, I have. I had the most unbelievable opportunity to go to Haiti on a week-long missions trip last month. My trip down there left my heart broken, but at the same time, overflowing with feelings of hope, joy, sadness and love. I saw and did so many unimaginable things and got to experience them with a wonderful group of people who I now regard as dear friends.
Let me try to tell you about Haiti! First, it forced my heart to become more humble by seeing so many of the daily hardships experienced by the Haitian people from a severe lack of water and safe shelter, to the bumpy unpaved roads full of sewage and animals. It also forced by heart to want to burst with joy and peace because I was able to feel young children wrap their arms around my shoulders in tight hugs and hear their laughter and see their smiles from the games we played together. And gosh, at times, I also felt my heart was breaking in a million pieces. These times came when I saw the strong need for children and babies to be loved and cared for and to have the opportunity to live in a safer home and neighborhood. In fact, one of the places that we visited often named, Cité Soleil (a slum in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince) was declared the most dangerous place in the world by the The United Nations. That is because their peacekeepers are unable to patrol the streets at night, because of the extreme poverty (virtually no sewers and electricity), armed gangs, unemployment and AIDS that plague the community,
During my missions trip to Haiti that was sponsored by Healing Haiti, I was able to experience the country from many angles. Healing Haiti is a Christ centered ministry. They leverage resources to elevate and unify Haitian families so that the cycle of poverty is broken and the fabric of the community is strengthened. This means that they like to employ Haitians to do work so that the benefits of a job can be shared with families. For instance, Healing Haiti employed men in Cité Soleil to construct a church. The generous donations from the Healing Haiti volunteers and supporters helped to supply the needed resources in order to construct it. On the other hand, our job as volunteer mission workers was to bring done supplies and love and laugh and share our love of God with the people down there. This helped to make the trip so beneficial and heart warming. Other ways that Healing Haiti helps out the Haitians, is by employing them to be our team interpreters, body guards, chefs at our guest house and many more jobs! This is wonderful because the unemployment rate is as high as 65% in Haiti.
Our missions trip was carefully scheduled to include the ability to help out at in many places such as; orphanages, hospitals, and even in Cite Soleil, the poorest slum in one of the poorest countries in the world. I was able to help distribute water, food and other supplies to children and adults. I was blessed to hold babies in a baby hospital and massage the arms and legs of lonely elderly Haitian men and women. I also got to witness firsthand how hard it was to travel on the rocky roads in a bumpy tap-tap van and to live in a place with limited electricity and clean water. Not only that, I was present to attend the very first service of Hope Church. Hope church is also a school for children and it was built-in Cite Soleil on top of 40 feet of garbage and it is in the poorest area of that slum. It was simply amazing to see how prayers and God’s will helped to build something so beautiful and so useful in such a dark place. Below are pictures taken on that opening day. Look at all of the people in attendance!
I’m using this blog post to reach out to all of the special people who helped to sponsor my trip down there. Generous friends contributed to my Go Fund Me Fund, local Minnesotans contributed to purchases at a Holiday Boutique Fundraiser, and even my employer, Allina Health, contributed to the cost of my trip down to Haiti with a grant. I was overwhelmed by all of the support that my friends, family and work colleagues showed me with their well wishes and donations that contributed to our team being able to bring down eight full suitcases of well needed donations and monetary donations to Healing Haiti itself to fund more amazing projects and missions trips down there. I could never thank everyone enough for helping me! It truly was one of the most amazing, inspirational, life altering and meaningful events of my life. I feel blessed in so many ways that I was able to hold beautiful Haitian children and babies, bring food and love to the sick and elderly, and experience the smiles and laughter of many of the beautiful Haitian people.
Thank you, thank you, thank you all for your support! I would love for you to consider a missions trip too. Healing Haiti is a wonderful way to experience Haiti and even a first ever missions trip. They are super well-organized and full of loving people that support you throughout the mission in every way. I know there’s room left for more teams to head there in 2017! Go to Mission Trip Opportunities HERE to find out more. 🙂
I’m going to attach some slides to this post that will be of some of the places that I visited and people who I had the honor to meet in Haiti. Please feel free to take a look and God bless! Manda
I have to choke back the tears every time I think of how a modern-day slavery exists in Haiti and how more than likely, I saw many child slaves when I was in Cité Soleil at our stops there to bring water via a water truck. These were some of the children who ran to our water truck with big buckets, waited for the buckets to be filled and then carried them back to their homes. The buckets were very heavy (felt like 40 lbs to me) when they were full. In fact, by the end of a water truck day, I could hardly carry them anymore. In Haiti, a child slave or “restavek” are children who are often given to relatives or strangers. In their new homes, they become domestic slaves, performing menial tasks for no pay and it is estimated that there are over 300,000 children who can be classified as a restavek in Haiti at this time. It is so awful. – See more at: http://www.restavekfreedom.org/the-issue/restavek#sthash.zhLEV1jf.dpuf