It’s been a whirlwind of heat & hugs since arriving here at HATS in Haiti. I’m a Calgary girl, so there was no way to anticipate the heat in July & a wet towel has become a constant companion. But…nothing, and I do mean nothing, can take away from the gratitude I feel when I hear the laughter & get the constant cuddles from these beautiful children. A trip like this has allowed me to see love, in its basic form; without the frills & spoils of material goods we THINK we need to give our children in Canada. To watch learning, the LOVE & eagerness of learning to sew tells me we have too much excess “stuff”. It tells me that just maybe some of the money we spend at the dollar store on junk, the endless clothes, stuffed Christmas trees & the latest ipads or computer is simply not justified. I do think we need to see beyond our own eyes & reach further into what “feeds the soul”, because lets face it…all the extra STUFF is bought on impulse.
|a view of Haiti|
|Some of the wonderful donations|
Put a coin jar out in the kitchen & forego the Starbucks…see how much you can collect. You see, this is what I plan on doing for HATS. One cannot comprehend what it takes to run a place like this & how every penny is used to its highest capacity. I SEE now…but I wasn’t able to see it firsthand prior to the trip, but put some names to these little faces & giving to a place like this is going to be a no-brainer. AMAZING PLACE. My cup is most definitely FULL this week. My soul is aching with joy & humility. Xoxo
I’m so happy to be home again. I’m thrilled to get hugs and more hugs from the kids, and boy they have grown up in the last year. This year, we have been blessed by some new members of the Beate Team…Heather from Cape Breton, and LaRee and Ronaele from Calgary (mom and daughter duo). There was an instant connection between us via email, and I felt that this was going to be an awesome team…I was 100% correct! The only person missing is Vivieene who had to cancel her trip last minute. The kids and Karen miss you Vivienne.
|A wonderful welcome|
Yesterday was a scorcher, and the “newbies” did super well even though they were melting away. You see, NO ONE gets it when we say it is HOT in Haiti until they actually get here. Thank goodness it poured rain for about 30 minutes which happened to be on our way to see Luckner at his radio station. Heather and I decided to jump in the back of the truck for the ride home and got pretty wet…it was glorious.
This morning was so very exciting to see everyone at devotions. I know I will always leave devotions uplifted and happy to start the day. I need to do this at home in my condo…wonder what the neighbours would say if I belted out “Sevi l, Sevi l, Sevi li nan matin, Sevi li nan midi…?” After yummy Hatian oatmeal made by the ever famous, wish she could come home with me, Germaine.
We started something super exciting with our older kids. You see, LaRee teaches sewing to young people, and wow, they brought 3 sewing machines with them and all the fixins to teach our kids to sew. We were all so very proud of JJ, Moise, Djemima, Leica and little Dieunel who all listened so well, and quickly got started on sewing a pair of shorts for themselves. They had to pin the patterns, mark them, cut them out, and sew them. Can’t wait to have a fashion show.
|cutting out the material for shorts|
|Heather showing Leica a trick to cutting|
|Mama, are you paying attention|
|Big brother JJ helping Dieunel|
Then this afternoon was spent on the new computers that had been donated to us. Again, such quick learners. And all this teaching is done in English…these kids are soooooo smart!
|Using the Internet|
|Learning how to work the mouse pad|
Well, I’m signing off as we have a big day ahead of us. Canada Day will be celebrated here at HATS in a fun filled way, with lots of games that involve WATER!!!!! YIPPEEEEEE….
One last note: Words simply can’t express how happy I am. My heart is truly, deeply filled with joy again. It is such a joy to see these children being loved so much and taken care of by Karen and the house mothers. It is such a joy for this to be my fifth visit to HATS…and yes, it does feel like home. I know I just got here, but Karen and I are already planning my next year’s visit.
P.S. Ronaele is still with us…we haven’t lost her…however, she is the one behind the wonderful pics. We promise to take some of her as proof that we still have her…hee hee
We arrive just before 9am in the blistering hot 38 degree Haitian sun–a slight change in temperature for this Nova Scotia girl who just left frost warnings in the forecast only a few days ago! Interestingly enough, the girl I sat beside was also making her way to Deschapelles, as she works for Sean Penn’s reforestation efforts in Haiti. Turns out she was here to see the planting of their 2 millionth tree! The number is staggering and hard to imagine when it comes to trees, but even more surprising was the fact that this reforestation effort is solely concentrated in the area of Deschapelles! No sign of Sean Penn, though!
After making our way through the airport and yet another customs’ line, we join the hundreds of people in the relatively small baggage area–3 flights have landed within 15 minutes of each other, including a mission team all the way from South Korea, easily identified by their neon green vests. I am pleasantly surprised to see so many young people in the airport, and they are all identified with a mission group of some sort.
Just exiting the airport with our 8 suitcases, carry ons, and 3 sewing machines was no small feat either. We wound our way up the incline of the parking lot to our air conditioned black van, Identified by the windshield full of cracks, and began the white knuckle drive through the streets of Port au Prince, and continued onward to the orphanage!
After nearly 2.5 hours of twists and turns, and one ‘near miss’ with a truck, we finally cross the last bridge spanning the canal that runs outside the orphanage. To say the drive was hair raising would be an understatement, but I came to realize that was the Haitian way! No yellow highway lines seems to mean that whoever gets in the passing lane first gets the right of way!
We are swarmed with happiness when the big blue gates open to the compound, revealing our welcome sign and 16 beautiful Haitian boys and girls singing a song in the Haitian language of Creole. The children immediately stole our hearts, from 2 1/2 year old Magdali, the smallest and youngest, to 13 year old G.G., one of the oldest and tallest. They weren’t long taking our hands in theirs, showing us to the swing set. I eventually was overwhelmed with trying to keep up with requests for pushes on the swings, and piggy back rides around the yard! 2 kids on one lap quickly became the norm, and they clung to my legs when I tried to get up to leave.
To be here and see these children, you can’t help but be drawn in by their big smiles and their beautiful brown eyes which seem to truly sparkle, just like their personalities. But I have found out that if I spend too much time thinking about why they’re here, it’s impossible not to feel sad inside. Instead, though, I have to remember that they are well taken care of, they go to school, they are loved, and they are happy here–their giggles and laughter are proof of that!
So, after a day of sewing lessons, some computer lessons, and our ride to the grocery store, I had time to play with the kids at their playground. It turned into more pushes on swings and more piggybacks, and ended with 3 sets of little hands braiding my hair in the dark, while one of the boys sat on my lap to hold the flashlight for the girls to work! It was a real team effort!
Now we’re off to bed, listening to the chorus of roosters who seem to do their best ‘cock-a-doodle doing’ between 11-7 am, along with their ‘back up’ band of neighborhood dogs, horses, and billy goats, and our own snorer. Haiti, here I am…gimme all you got!
|Ok, so you do snore.|