Neither words nor pictures can accurately or adequately capture my experience in Haiti. Nearly two years ago, a massive earthquake destroyed countless buildings and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Haiti was and is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, and the disaster brought this tiny country in the spotlight for a brief moment--long enough to bring awareness of the great need that existed before the earthquake and the one that still exists today. As one who has a first-hand account of its current state, it is my responsibility to bring awareness today, even though the media spotlight has faded.
Earlier this year, my church missions team (that I am now a part of) announced that a team would be sent to Haiti in the fall. God's calling on my heart was immediate, clear, and I knew that I was supposed to join. Our team joined as Team #95 of the North Carolina Baptist Men who had an existing presence in Haiti shortly after the earthquake in January of 2010. Good Hope sent a team of 16 (a true cross-section of our church in age, gender, ethnicity, trade, and personality) to serve in a construction and medical capacity for the purpose of helping the people of Haiti. Our mission was clear and was two-fold:
1) Help those who had physical needs by way of shelter and medical care
2) Provide for those in spiritual need by sharing the gospel of Christ to anyone who wanted to hear.
Our time in Haiti was an unbelievable experience. Never in our lives have we witnessed anything so moving or worked so hard for such amazing and appreciative people. We arrived in Haiti in shock and left with HOPE. We saw it in the eyes of everyone we encountered. In one short week, we feel like we made an impact:
2 homes constructed. 1,598 patients seen (111,026 to date). 22 souls won for Christ (1,444 to date).
Upon arrival in Port-au-Prince, the poverty and conditions were indescribable. As we made our way to home base, we drove through streets covered with waste and thousands living in "tent cities."
Thirty minutes up the coast via Rue 1, our compound was located in the small town of Titanyen. The 60+ acre facility was constructed by Global Outreach and currently utilized by the Samaritan's Purse and NC Baptist Men. Our accommodations far exceeded our expectations; we were hosted by a wonderful couple named, Mr. Bobby and Mrs. Wanda Temple of Creedmoor, NC, who in their retirement, were called to full-time international missions.
Previous Teams (beginning in January 2010)
Men's Bunk Area
Our teams were split between construction and medical. I was fortunate enough to be able to split my time evenly between the two teams. The construction team spent the week at one location: the Bon Repos neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. This was the chosen site of the permanent structure(s) we built during the week. There were two qualifications for home sites: 1) the recipient had to own the land and 2) the original home was destroyed by the earthquake. Local Haitian masons were hired by the organization, and we as volunteers, we gave our labor by assisting the masons (sifting sand, getting and hauling water from local wells, shoveling brick mortar, transporting cinder blocks, etc).
Two medical teams, Alpha and Omega, were led by three amazing Haitian physicians: Dr. Vladimyr Roseau and Dr. Merline Milien (engaged couple), and Dr. Francis Milien (Dr. Merline's sister). Each day, the two teams would go separate ways and set up mobile clinics in different locations. The schedule during the week was as follows:
Monday, October 10 -- Alpha: Cite Soleil | Omega: Bon Repos
Tuesday, October 11 -- Alpha: Cabaret | Omega: Titanyen
Wednesday, October 12 -- Alpha & Omega: Mountain clinic
Thursday, October 13 -- Alpha: Casale and Germain | Omega: Tent City Clinics
Friday, October 13 -- Alpha: Arcahaie | Omega: Luly
Orphanage in Lizon
On our last day, we were able to visit a local orphanage. Twenty five children (ages 5-12) lived in the house. We were greeted with smiles and excitement. Hearts were melted and broken.
The children sing for us.
Dr. Vlad & Dr. Merline's Land
Sometime after the dynamic duo are married, they plan to build a home on a piece of land they purchased. The views were breathtaking. Nearby children stopped to greet us to take pictures and play. We taught them how to play Duck-Duck-Goose except in Haitian Creole. Dr. Vlad didn't know what a goose was, so instead we played Kana-Kana-Bef (translated Duck-Duck-Cow).
A fitting end to the week.