By: Jake McGlone
My trip to Haiti entailed with it; numerous joys and vicissitudes I would never have thought to encounter in my life. I arrived in the tumultuous Port-Au-Prince with an optimistic attitude and quickly felt victimized at the horrific sites that are literally ubiquitous. Paradoxically, this is something that I am now very grateful for, considering I’m fortunate to live in a safe, wealthy, environment with all of my needs and most of my wants. While driving through the squalid city streets of Port-Au-Prince, I felt my entire outlook on reality change, and I quickly succumbed to the realization that the world I live in is not the scenic, blithe, place I perceive it to be.
The Restavec Freedom Alliance team then proceeded to drive 5 hours through, in my opinion “the better part of Haiti.” We finally arrived at the mission house in Les Cayes, to which I was welcomed by a delicious, traditional, spaghetti dinner. I woke up the next morning (and all the mornings after that) with a chill of anxiety in my body, excited to see the RFA kids and all the wonderful things I have heard about them. Ironically enough, I was feeling nervous to meet the kids, even when I knew they were going to be kind, virtuous beings. I stepped off the “tap-tap” to see Djasly, a boy around the age of 13 that came up to me and gave me a great big, welcoming hug. All the children soon came to greet me, and each one of them came with a big smile on their face excited to receive lots of love and gifts from strangers.
The first day comprised of some basic activities (introduction, visitation, etc.) and the start of building a soccer field entirely from scratch. The day went by much faster than I had expected, and the team went back to the mission house were we conducted our daily activities (eating, praying, meeting, etc.). The day after that (Thursday) was one of my favorite days, for I got to lead the science activity with Leander. I had planned a simple, but versatile activity where the kids could build their own DNA model out of gumdrops and toothpicks. The most memorable part was definitely the biggest smile I had ever seen on Robenson’s face, when he saw we were building something with candy. One of the translators, Geurson (God bless him!), facilitated the activity by being able to explain things perfectly to children (I could not have done it without him). The kids all loved building them (and eating them), and when finished, enjoyed brandishing their proud work of art to all the people.
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The day after that, we took a trip to the beach: Port Salut. The water was a beautiful, deep turquoise, and by far the nicest I have seen and been in. Simultaneously, there was a festival taking place, and with all the loud music, dancing (which I did not do), and love on that beach, it was the first time in my life were I really felt integrated into another culture. Sunday we did not go to Chantal, we went to church were Pastor John preaches. I have never been inside a church were there was so much love, passion and excitement to parse the word of God and love one another. I am definitely envious of the services the Haitians get to attend.
The other days consisted of more fun, activities that put big smiles on both the kids faces and my face. The most memorable of the other activities we conducted would have to be finally getting to watch the kids play soccer. After a long, hot week of sweat and exhaustion (with the help of many enduring community members), the field that looked really nice and professional was ready to be played on. To see everyone have so much fun running around, falling down (Pastor Lubin), and scoring goals brought joy and laughter to my heart. Obama was definitely the most exciting to watch play; he gave a 110% every second of the game and even scored a goal in a shoot-out against Watsen!
Before I knew it, the week of laughter, enjoyment and lots of love sadly had to end. This trip I recently embarked on opened up a new chapter in my life; a chapter where I am now not apprehensive of meeting new people, or trying new things, and for this, I would like to thank all of the Haitians and the Restavec Freedom Alliance team. I am now grateful of everything I do and receive no matter how small, and this uncanny attitude inside of me was opened up by merely loving and helping other people. God bless you all!