Today was our final day of serving in Haiti, and it was an incredibly busy day. We started the day at the Haitian Initiative Feeding Center. This is a program by which boys and girls can get one meal per day if they participate in the soccer program. The children that we met were so polite, and so excited to talk to all of us. They spoke a bit of English, and liked to play thumb wars and slap hands with us. It was actually really cool to see many of the boys in soccer jerseys from many Minnesota area youth soccer teams. After we saw the feeding center, we walked over to the soccer fields. The soccer fields were not the traditional soccer fields we are used to seeing in the US. The fields were completely gravel - the picture of us is actually on the soccer field. It was really hot, and the players did not get a water break. This was yet another example how incredibly resilient the Haitian children are. Immediately following the soccer fields, we went to our first water stop. This was very close to the soccer field, and was a very fun stop! As is typical, there were many children there that wanted to be held and to play games. This was also the stop that is very near to Venel's house. He is an exchange student that has been with Carol and Marni's families this summer. The girls pictured here is the female soccer team that came to Minnesota this summer! More on that further down from Marni.
The second water stop was at a location named "Four Coffins". This was a stop that we were supposed to go to on Tuesday, but the schedule was changed. Because of this, the people at this stop were severely in need of water as they hadn't received any in at least a week. Think about that for a moment - what would you do if you didn't have access to any fresh water for a week? As you can imagine, there was a sense of desperation at this stop. Much more urgency to get the water. Many people were immediately bathing in the water as soon as their buckets were filled. At this difficult spot, amid the pushing and yelling - there were also the sweet moments. One of our translators did a wonderful job keeping everyone in line and making sure there was no "budging" in front of anyone. He is extremely careful to ensure that the system is fair, and that everyone gets the water. However, he made exceptions for the elderly - and would allow them to come to the front of the line. There were also children at this stop that still just wanted to be held, touched and love.
One of the many great things about Haiti, is the many organizations that have been started to create jobs for the Haitian people. This afternoon we were able to spend time at The Apparent Project. The Apparent Project is a non-profit working to preserve Haitian families and prevent kids from being orphaned. The artisans (employees) create jewelry and home decor. All of the pieces are made out of recyclable material such as thin cardboard (cereal boxes, soda boxes, etc.), 55 gallon oil drums, aluminum cans and clay. Again - this is just one of the many organizations working to create jobs for the Haitian people so they will be able to support themselves and their children. Each night we have had to say one word that summed up the day. Today my word was hope. Each day I have been able to witness something that shows so much promise for Haiti and the Haitian people. Thank you Haiti for sharing your beautiful country and people with us this week.
-Christene (first timer)
Today was a big day for Carol and myself! Many of you know that we have been hosting Venel, who is our Haitian Initiative Soccer Exchange guest that came to stay with us on July 2nd. We got to meet his mom and sister today. It was beyond anything that we can explain in words and we feel so incredibly blessed to know that he has a wonderful family waiting for him at home when he returns. Many happy tears were shed today as we have come to love Venel very much. We are so grateful for the experience, it is one we will cherish forever! ~ Marni