Impressions of HaitiRich Stigall
In 2011, more than 700 Americans went with GO Project to Haiti to experience for themselves God’s heart for His Children. This year, it’s possible even more will GO.
The purpose of these Vision Trips is not to build something or fix something, but rather to see what it looks like for the local church to care for children who need family, to sing, to love, to play, to worship, to open the Bible and compare what God’s Word says about orphans to this new world around them. These four days can be life changing, but are often hard to put into words and share with others. Below is one brave lady’s attempt to do so….
Impressions of Haiti by Amy Adamchak
During August 2012, I had the opportunity to visit Port-Au-Prince, Haiti and its surrounding areas as one on a team of twenty-three people. After weeks of preparing ourselves with prayer, planning meetings and vaccines, we flew into Miami, Florida and then into Port-Au-Prince.
Once we arrived in Haiti, it was not hard to notice the difference in our surroundings. The view from the plane seemed hot, dusty and somewhat barren. We were picked up by our Haitian driver, our armed bodyguard, and an American travel guide. Haiti is not a place where a first-time visitor can fly in and safely navigate the area. Thankfully, we had our driver to take us around the crowded streets, which offer few painted lines or traffic signals. Drivers jockey for position with the biggest vehicle winning the right-of-way. I was surprised that our bus was nice and air-conditioned, but learned that it had practical value. People on the streets would come to the windows to beg and to sell drinks and other items. As we rode around the city, our bus mostly full of white Americans was very much in the minority.
The initial ride to the hotel was fairly quiet. I think a lot of people were in shock as they took in the local sights. I immediately started writing down my observations of many things that we would not see in the United States. During the six days in Haiti, I was compelled to make pages of notes detailing our experiences.
It is somewhat hard for me to express what I feel about Haiti. One of my responses is that the level of poverty did not surprise me as much as its pervasiveness. In the United States, we have people who are poor and living on the streets. But regarding Haiti, photos and television cannot express the true need that is seemingly everywhere. Tent cities and shanties cover acres of land in Port-Au-Prince. The buildings that crowd the landscape are made of concrete, as are the security walls with metal gates that surround many homes. By the end of the trip, I felt that I had been surrounded by concrete, people, and the trash that lines roadways and fills the waterways.
The streets around Port-Au-Prince teemed with people set up at roadside stands, riding their scooters, piled in and on top of “tap-tap” trucks (a form of public transportation), or just loitering to pass the time. The local residents wear a variety of clothing, most likely purchased from a vendor or at the market. I was surprised by how many people were selling various items on the street, and wondered how someone finds what they need on a regular basis. An interesting fact mentioned by our guide was, that while unemployment numbers are high in Haiti, those estimates do not include the many people selling items on the streets.
Animals also roam the local area. We saw goats, chickens, tethered cows and horses, and stray dogs. I learned that people tie their large farm animals in places where they can eat, and then come to give them water and relocate them later. I wondered if the owners weren’t afraid of their livestock being stolen, which I learned is a crime is punished by jail time and isn’t really common.
The main reason for our mission trip was to spend time with children who have been placed in the local Global Orphan (GO) Project partner villages. GO supports local pastors and local churches as they provide housing, food, education and healthcare to the children. Many of the children have lost both parents, or they may have a parent who cannot take care of them. Our group loved spending time with the children and did our best to show love while providing fun songs, bible stories and crafts. Haitian Creole is a beautiful language, demonstrated by the children’s songs. To compare their stark surroundings to those of our own children in the U.S. was such a dramatic difference. My main reassurance was to be thankful that these children have a safe place to eat and sleep compared to those children fending for themselves. One of our guides mentioned that the children in the villages live at a standard similar to those of the surrounding area. If, inside the wall, children live at an elevated standard, parents already struggling under immense pressure may abandon them in hopes of their child getting a shot at the good life.
The greatest hope for us on the trip was hearing that spiritual revival occurred in Haiti after the earthquake. Many people came to the Lord! Our prayer is that Haitians who follow Jesus will keep their faith in the face of their seemingly endless trials.
One of the biggest things I learned during this trip is a respect for the strength of Haitians. They live and work to deal with their surroundings and to overcome the destruction of the 2010 earthquake. Like many in financial need, they use a great deal of creativity to utilize available materials. I enjoyed the metalworking district, where we visited a shop with beautiful decorative pieces made from metal recycled from oil drums.
I loved the people we met in Haiti, especially my best friend of the week who was a 10-year old boy in one of the villages. It was a blessing to have this experience and there is so much more that I could share. May God bless and protect the Haitians!