Heather

It’s our first day and we’ve been up since four AM, but luckily go to bed with the sun at six PM. I am so excited and ready to work starting tomorrow, while today I just played with the kids my favorite part I might add. I was surprised at how many kids I remembered after five years of not being here, but even more amazed at how the kids remembered me. You don’t think you know a language that you’ve studied for six years until you are in a situation where that’s the way to communicate. So now, having graduated grade twelve, I can look back and say I guess all those years of painfully boring French classes were not a complete waste.

Brushing my hair in the morning will be fun after I’ve had an assortment of different kids adding braid after braid. Also flowers and stick to make a beautiful
arrangement, all pulling and adding different sizes and styles until every last hair was in place.  I am a little scared to see those picture printouts.
Will Heather ever be able to comb her hair again
Overall, I had a great time with lots of water brought on by lots of tag chasing lots of kids in this scorching weather. I’m glad to be out of Canada. All kidding aside, thank you for supporting us on this trip. Keep us in your prayers and I can’t wait for more.
~Heather

Rick

It’s been 18 months since my first trip to HATS and Haiti. From what I’ve seen of the day, there have been no extreme changes since my last rendezvous with the Deschappeles crew. Karen’s building has had a roof (pronounced “ruff” for the Midwesterners) put on the top floor, yet much remains open still. This is fortunate, as I have many fond memories of watching the stars in the Haitian sky at night. We’re 3 hours from Port Au Prince, and there is zero ambient light to cloud the views. A new generator has been installed at the compound, which has been a blessing for everyone besides Karen.  Good dependable electricity is in the compound.  Karen’s place which is the hub of the mission/administration centre, etc is still having electricity problems., which is the result of the lightening strike on June 23rd.  Yesterday the problem at her place was found but now will require time and some new wiring (outside the cement walls) to rectify the situation.  If only Building Blocks, Chicago’s finest terra cotta renovation specialists,  had connections that reached to here…. darnit. Ha!

One major snafu on the trip so far – one of my bags from Chicago not making the connection through Ft. Lauderdale to PAP. I’ll spare you the woes, but it resulted in exactly one hour of sleep for me last night and a bag that won’t make it to the compound until 24 hours after I did (thank you Jah Zay for QB’ing that from Chicago and the help packing and drop-off). Though excited to see the kids and staff today, I was exhausted shortly after our arrival, triggering a 3 hour nap. This might explain my absence in the soccer pictures. Or maybe I was throwing down color commentary from the booth.
Playing soccer in rain with older kids

 

Soccer with younger kids in rain and puddles
While HATS has had few changes and remains the wonderful place I remember…. I’ve changed considerably since last trip. Six months after my departure from HATS, I began my MBA at the University of Illinois. The program and the people have been fantastic.  And the timing of this trip couldn’t have been better, as we’ve just completed our seventh module which brought together Entrepreneurship and Global Business Horizons. The former is self explanatory; the latter was a course focusing on living in subsistence. While we don’t spend much time off compound usually (Haiti can be pretty dangerous), I’m hoping we might be able to visit the market and talk with sellers and buyers a little more than last trip. I view that environment through a much more refined lens at this point and have a much more solid foundation to better evaluate what I saw through the eyes of a wide eyed tourist initially. Biggest obstacle, of course, is that the folks at the market don’t speak English, only Creole. Liette is very fluent in Creole though, and a fantastic translator.
Things I’m missing already from back home so far: snow on the ground today in Chicago (it was +90 here), reliable internet connections, my nieces birthday party (sorry I couldn’t make it work Stortos’, please send love from Uncle Makes Me Cry), Cunningham muffins and those that make ‘em, and James’ missed birthday party (I hope it was loaded with lemons, and congrats to Jen – all hail the Poker Princess), and …. today… my air conditioner. I’m sure I’ll miss more as the week progresses, but I’m in the exact right place for right now.
A huge thank you to all the friends and family who donated to the trip. None of it subsidizes my portion, everything, as the HATS motto says, is “For the children”. When the lost bag arrives, I’ll have 2 huge cargo bags full of Christmas gifts and clothing for the kids. I won’t be around when they get it, which I’d kind of prefer. I remain supremely grateful for being a part of the process.
Cheers all!
~Rick