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This is my first trip to Haiti- my first trip to any impoverished, third-world country. With so many firsts, I expected a lot out of this place. I’m not nearly disappointed. This country is breathtaking, to say the least. The people here are amazingly friendly and outgoing; I’ve made so many friends already. The Restavec children are even better- from the second we arrived to the moment we left it was all smiles and hugs and laughter. For all these children have been through in their lives, it is so obvious that the RFA program has helped them through it all. We’ve built for the kids (not myself personally, but RFA teams before me) a school, an outdoor latrine, a new home, but most importantly- we’ve built a sense of safety, love, and compassion in these children. We’ve taught them what it is to live as they deserve, not as they were previously forced to live.
Today, Pastor Lubin, Nina, Wadson and I went out to paint the latrine. At first, everything was going well, we decided on a cream color on the bottom half and a white coat on the top half of the building. About half way through our job, it started to drizzle a little bit. We were worrying about the rain washing the paint off, but decided to keep going. I’d give it about a two or three second period that the rain went from a slight drizzle- to absolutely pouring; And I mean POURING; And by POURING I mean the gates of Heaven opened and God decided it would be cool to dump the entire Atlantic Ocean down from the sky. At first we tried to shelter under the overhangs of the building, but eventually we were soaked. I gave up trying to stay dry and went out for a dance in the rain. At first it was a joke, I found it humorous- me, holding my arms out to my sides, face toward the sky as I spun in slow circles… but then I felt a connection. It was like the holy light was shining down on me in the form of raining cats and dogs. I’m not exaggerating when I say I felt so at peace, so content, I could’ve stood like that forever. The sound of laughter and “Where’s the camera?” pulled me back from my trance, and suddenly the cold and the wet all hit me at once; I remember Nina saying “This is the first time I’ve felt cold in Haiti!”. The rain was no longer a blessing, but more of an annoyance.
So, we packed up our things and made the brief trek back to the van, and upon leaving (rather, attempting to leave) we got stuck in the mud. Perfect. We were cold, wet, tired, and after several failed attempts to get out of the rut- muddy. We swapped up our drivers, and Nina gave it her best, and I’ll give her credit- she got the van into a very capable position; However, it was just a touch less capable than we needed. Pastor Lubin then took a shot and managed to maneuver the thing into the absolute worst position it could possibly be in (Remember Pastor- we’re laughing with you, not at you!), with the back end in muddy ruts as deep as my knees, and the front half buried in a pile of gravel. Eventually, with the help of a native we managed to dig out the front, and Wadson and I gave it a good push from behind as the Pastor gave it some gas. The vehicle sprang out like it was on solid pavement, almost a miracle. At this point I had cut both my hands in several places, was chilled right down to my soaked bones, and covered in mud and paint. It was an exhausting event, and I loved every second of it.
May 2012 Restavec Freedom Alliance, BEM Inc., Volunteer
Photos from May 19th, 2012: