This is the fourth trip that we have made to Pignon, Haiti and we will forever have our hearts and souls connected to the country and our friends who live there.
For a week in July, with the help of eight Haitian friends and Destany Morgan from Coarsegold, we put on a summer program for the children of the community. As in past years this program was at the Vallee d’Adoration et Benediction (Valley of Adoration and Benediction) Elementary School in Pignon. The entire program is done in a single 20’ X 30’ classroom with no air conditioning and minimal ventilation. Along with singing both Creole and English songs (the Hokey-Pokey is still a favorite), creating craft projects (including edible bracelets made with licorice whips and Fruit Loops) and Bible stories there was plenty of outdoor recreation. Being outdoors gives the kids time to burn off some of their apparently unlimited energy as well as give us a chance to catch our breaths. The week typically starts with about 100 kids and by the end of the week that number has grown to over 250. We try to arrange lunches each day and on Friday we give each student a toothbrush and toothpaste along with some small gifts. The news of lunches and gifts spreads throughout the community and as a result this year we hit a record of 292 kids on Friday. It was a madhouse and lots of fun. The week is not only fun for the kids it gives parents a break knowing that their children will be well supervised and entertained. We feel blessed to have the energy, support and encouragement to continue this program.
We also worked on some long term planning issues for future efforts in Haiti. Included in this was setting up an account for the school at the Fonkoze Bank in Pignon. Fonkoze is an international organization that provides banking services in developing countries. This account will allow us to deposit money directly into the school account without going through Pastor Carsel’s church in Florida. It will also allow us to track expenditures. When we make these trips we typically stay in a Haitian family’s home. This can present a number of challenges including lack of running water and electricity, communication barriers and inconvenience for the host families. While we have chosen to accept these challenges as part of the experience we are not comfortable asking others to do the same. Since we have a number of friends and family who would like to make a trip to Haiti and not face as many challenges, we spent our last night in the guesthouse at Haiti Outreach -http://www.haitioutreach.org . It was a treat for us and the perfect spot to house others making future trips. The guesthouse has hot and cold running water, electricity, flush toilets, internet and offers three meals a day. Future trips will be housed at Haiti Outreach. The time we spend with Haiti Outreach Founder, Neil Van Dine, and Executive Director Dale Snyder was invaluable. Each has over 20 years of working, and in Neil’s case living, in Haiti. They shared their experiences, past mistakes and cultural insights with us. We felt like this information took years off our learning curve. We look forward to making a clear and ambitious commitment to working with Haiti Outreach on some larger countrywide programs. It was inspiring to spend time with them.
As always we are happy to be back. We feel grateful each and every day for the abundance and comforts we enjoy at home. These trips have had such a positive effect on our lives and those of our family and friends. Every trip we learn more about ourselves and what is important in living a life that benefits the greater good.
We are very blessed.