Abby Wila ~ Wednesday, March 29. Flying was fun! I lost my suitcase. We stayed in the Guest House in Port Au Prince and enjoyed goat(?), rice and beans, bread, and a jelly dessert. Then we went to bed.
Thursday, March 30. For breakfast we had eggs, mango, papaya, and bread. Before we left Port Au Prince for the mountains, we spent about two and a half hours at the car rental place. Once we were on the road, it was beautiful! As we got higher and higher, the views got prettier and prettier. They looked so unreal. At one point we had to drive through a shallow river to get back on the road. Once in Seguin, the roads were just partially cleared paths of rocks. They were so so so SO incredibly bumpy. Cam was so close to peeing her pants. I don’t know how I didn’t get sick (thank goodness!). We arrived at the rectory very late, so we unpacked quickly and ate (cold) dinner. It was still delicious! We had plantains, chicken, fries, rice, and no one ate the coleslaw ;). The girls’ room freaked out about moths before we had to go to bed.
Friday, March 31, 2017. Clear, cool morning. Today for breakfast we enjoyed spaghetti, peanut butter and jelly, plantains, and hard boiled eggs. We drove down towards Roger’s house and then hiked the rest. We gathered so many rocks to build a wall by Roger’s house and all the kids wanted to help. After we built one wall, we took a break and ate lunch. All the kids wanted to take pictures with us and they even sang us a Haitian song, it was so cute! Jim led us to make an assembly line to bring rocks down the mountain and that was way more efficient. We built two more smaller walls and then hung out with the kids. Once we had to start heading back, all the kids grabbed someone’s hand and walked with us all the way back to the rectory and even hopped in the truck with us. My little buddy for the walk was Evan- we sang songs together while holding hands. Once back to the rectory, we took out soccer balls, frisbees, jump ropes, and baseball bats. It was crazy! There were so many people running around playing so many different games. Once the craziness died down, we got out string for friendship bracelets and boy did they love that! They caught on so quickly to making the bracelets! Valerie (Roger’s daughter) started to braid my hair and then we started doing hair wraps as well. After we used all the string, I started to dance with the guys and they were teaching me some dances-it was so fun (and now I have some sick moves for Prom!). Then dinner was ready so we came in to a feast of rice, fried plantains, beets, carrots, rice, popcorn, chicken, and potatoes. Side note: after I write this post we’ll have to have another session of Toilet Talk with Tim- more on that later.
Abby Rakus ~ Wednesday, March 29. My first flying experience went better than expected! It was kind of scary as we were taking off. Then, we arrived at the Atlanta Airport, and I enjoyed a “Peach on the Beach” smoothie (hence, Georgia ;)) and some oatmeal. Then, we eventually got back on the plane to travel to Port Au Prince, but the views outside of the window were awesome! We had to wait a while to get through immigration, but all was well! We had to stop back at the airport because Abby lost her carry-on. After that, we took a car ride to the Guest House, and let me tell you, driving here is CRAZY! It’s basically a free-for-all, where people walk into oncoming traffic and expect you to stop. We got settled into the Guest House, and we found out there was wifi! 🙂 We ate dinner, which consisted of goat, rice and beans, bread, and a jelly dessert. We played Spoons and BS, and then we played hide and seek; we proceeded to walk up to the balcony and alongside the mountains, where there were lots of houses with the lights on…it looked like the lantern scene in Tangled. I took a shower and tried going to bed, but was kept up by the sound of the other girls screaming about cockroaches outside!
Thursday, March 30. After waking up, I had breakfast, which included mango, papaya, and bread with jelly. We packed all of our stuff and loaded up the trucks. We had to stop at a car rental place because one of our cars had bad tires. We stopped a bit after that and got ice cream; I had strawberry, and man was it good! Then, we headed up the mountains. We saw the sight of the accident from four year ago when the car fell off the cliff. There was a large white cross. We passed through a village, Jacmell. The people there kept looking at us when our windows were down and yelled “Le blancs!” (White people) We continued making our way up through the mountains, and the roads become increasingly worse. At one point, we had to drive through a small body of water to get up the path. As we kept going up the mountains, the views became so unreal and like nothing I have ever seen. Pictures definitely don’t do it justice! As we approached Seguin, it became much colder and the terrain became more rugged. It got dark very fast, and we arrived a few hours late to the Rectory. We unpacked everything after finishing dinner, which included chicken, rice and peas, and fried plantains. Then, a little later, I went to bed.
Friday, March 31. After waking up (late compared to almost everyone else), I proceeded to eat breakfast. Then, I got ready and we were off to help Roger (a blind man) build a wall to avoid future flooding. It took quite a few hours, but we made some cute friends (kiddos) along the way. I spent quite a lot of time with Son and Valerie. A few injuries took place, between Margo, Joey, and Jim from the large rocks that were thrown amongst each other. Then, we walked back to wait for the cars to pick us up to bring us back to the rectory. Valerie and I held hands on the walk, and she told me she loved me. My heart melted! We came back to the rectory and ate some snacks, while also refilling our water bottles. We invited quite a few friends over to play jump rope and soccer. Hair braiding from Valerie and friendship bracelet making took place…it was SO fun! Eddy made me a sick bracelet! We ate dinner, which was chicken, white rice, potatoes, and popcorn. Another session of Toilet Talk with Tim will take place soon. The sunset looked outstanding tonight!
Margo Milanowski ~ It’s strange to think about the simple things we take for granted, like ice water, or communication. Words at home almost always line up with a meaning in our mind, but here, we don’t always know what is happening when someone else speaks. Despite this, we continue to succeed in understanding the people we meet here. When building a wall for Roger today, a blind man who Tim and his group members have known in years past, we formed an assembly line to move rocks and local children quickly stepped in to help. The wall is intended to divert water from seeping past Roger’s house, because this past year, excess hurricane run off destroyed his kitchen building. In the process of constructing this wall, the children tentatively, and then very easily, surrounded us with smiles, singing, and help with the construction. We could barely communicate, but everything necessary was understood. It’s hard to say that love exceeds language, because it’s such an abstract concept, but today, we saw it.
Jim O’Neil ~ I’ll be short and sweet. Since we’ve been here I haven’t regretted anything other than becoming best friends with a goat which a colleague and I named Chops. Then accidentally eating him the next day:( When we return you have to understand the pictures we have taken can’t quite match the true beauty of seeing and experiencing Haiti every day. There is no human or object that can relate to what this world has to offer. This just helps me understand more deeply that there is a God and he’s present everywhere! My only suggestion is that you experience life while you still have it at your feet. Helping others on this trip has been truly mind-blowing. Without this trip never would I have known that we are so fortunate to have the things we do. In the U.S. kids smile when they get something like an iPad. Here in Haiti, the kids smile when you smile. That’s the most life has to offer; happiness. In our daily lives we become too distracted by objects. In the end these objects make you happy for short periods of time, but the truth is real happiness can only be received through each other. I’d like to stress this fact. Helping the people of Haiti has truly opened my mind. Never have I been happier!
Cam Mannion ~ This honestly has to be the best vacation I have ever been on. I have not had one regret on this trip… it is amazing. This trip is almost exactly like the out west trip, but better. I get to help the cutest little kids that absolutely love all of the attention that you give them. On this trip I have already realized that the littlest things that we do for them are the most amazing things they have ever seen. Just looking at Haiti it looks like it is completely run down, but looking at it after being here you realize how beautiful this country really is. The kids here light up when you hold their hand, or you smile at them and take a picture with them, or even if you just ask their name. That is true happiness and you can see the appreciation that they have for every little thing.When the kids here smile you can’t help but to smile because you just understand the joy and excitement that they have and it just makes you appreciate the little moments in life like these that you can enjoy. Their happiness is the most amazing thing you could ever see. It’s so easy on this trip to not look at your phone. You forget about what everyone else back home or on different vacations are doing, and you just focus on the people here. There is not one moment that you never think, wow I’m bored. There is always someone to talk to and new things to learn, and make new friends and have the best laughs with them. This experience has been the most amazing thing in my whole entire life, and I wouldn’t ever trade it for the world. This is one of the most amazing moments of my life.
Gina Vicini~ This has already been an extremely eye opening trip. I have been here for less than four days and I am amazed by everything around me. We were stuck at the airport for what seemed like forever on the second day, but my car got to know our driver, Will, much better. So far one of my favorite moments was today when we were putting rocks out for Roger’s house and a lot of the local kids ran by us and were more than willing to help. It was just incredible to me that some of these kids were easily less than four years old and were carrying rocks I struggled to carry with a big smile on their faces. I have made many new friends during this trip, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week has in store for us!
Andie Johnson ~ Though I have only been here in Seguin for a short amount of time, I feel so welcomed into the community due to the helpful children we have met and the grateful parents as well. As we drove past through the overcrowded streets of Port-au-Prince, past endless miles of baby blue sea, and up through winding mountains roads, time flew by because of all of the beauty surrounding me. The experience of entering onto the dirt roads of Seguin and being thrown around in a car with my best friends is one that I’ll never forget. As we began working today, my favorite experience so far has been meeting the kids while we worked on building a rock wall for Roger. I have made so many new friends and lifelong memories that I will never forget. The beauty and positive atmosphere, especially the kids, have made this one of the best trips I have ever been on.
Cassidy Triestram ~ So far, this trip has been so much more amazing than what I ever could have imagined. Haiti is gorgeous and the people here are so friendly, and their genuine excitement to see us entering Seguin is the most heartwarming thing a person could experience. Our first day in Port Au Prince was busy. We spent the first few hours of our arrival in Haiti sitting in the airport waiting for immigration, and I don’t even know what else. The next several hours were spent packing our luggage into trucks and spending hours at the other end of the airport searching for Abby’s lost bag. We got to the guest house later on, and the outside was gorgeous. The palm trees, the sunset, the breeze, and the perfect furnishing and decorations made it feel like we were in a tropical paradise. For dinner I ate what I believe was goat meat, salad, bread, some fruit, and some sort of jelly dessert. We played hide and seek around the guest house property, played cards, and talked later at night. We did see a lizard and a cockroach, which caused everyone to panic. Because of the cockroach sighting, the two other people in my room and I slept on top of the sheets and slept with the light on all night. We even packed up our bags and put them in a pile in order to keep the bugs from getting into out bags. The next morning, we went to breakfast and I ate some mango, papaya, and eggs. After breakfast, we packed our bags back into the truck and left the guest house at about 8:30. We were experiencing some troubles with our car so we spent the next three and a a half hours at the car rental place. After the several hours spent in the parking lot, we drove about 4 hours to a gas station where we stopped for gas, ice cream, and ate our lunches. In Haiti, there are no rules of the road so everyone drives wherever they want, and how fast or slow they want to go. The ride up the mountain took about 5 or 6 more hours, but was time well spent because we were able to wave to the people that live on the mountain. When we finally reached the top of the mountain and pulled up to the rectory, everyone rushed inside to use the bathroom. A while later, while everyone but the one girls’ room was in bed trying to sleep, the people in my room were screaming about the moths. The next morning, this morning, we woke up and ate a breakfast of pb&j, spaghetti, twizzlers, and plantains. We then brushed our teeth, packed our backpacks, and left the rectory towards Roger’s house, a blind man who lives in the mountains, to build him a wall to keep the water from flooding his house. After hours of moving rocks for the wall, we walked back to the rectory with quite a few kids following us. The rectory yard was filled with people braiding hair, making bracelets and necklaces, wrapping people’s hair with string, playing frisbee, jump roping, playing soccer, dancing to music, and just having a good time. After a few hours of that, our group went in for dinner of chicken, fried plantains, rice, and popcorn. After that, everyone headed back outside to enjoy the sunset and hang out as a group. Tomorrow we will be tarping houses and installing water filters in peoples’ homes. This trip so far has been much more amazing than I ever could have imagined. The pictures of Haiti you would find on the internet of dusty roads and sad kids is nothing like the real thing. Haiti is gorgeous and the people here are even more amazing. Everyone here is constantly smiling, and their genuine appreciation for our help is so heartwarming. I would definitely come back in a heartbeat.