A youthful perspective on Haiti
12-year-old Sage recently traveled to Haiti with her mother. Their purpose was to visit with the child her family is adopting from Kingdom Kids Orphanage. Below is a poignant report she wrote about her trip:
On the morning of January 12th my mom booked our tickets for our trip to Haiti. I was so excited to be officially going. Ever since I was nine I had always dreamed about going to Haiti. Later that same day Haiti was changed forever. An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 hit Haiti leaving tens of thousands dead, thousands more missing, hearts broken, and devastated people.
For six weeks after the earthquake I didn’t know if I was going to be able to go to Haiti. Everything was more dangerous and they were continuing to have powerful aftershocks. My family and friends were all telling me I wasn’t going, but I knew that God wanted me there so I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Two months and many prayers later I was on my way to Haiti.
When I arrived in Haiti I had a good idea (or so I thought at the time) of what it would look like. I knew there would be people that had nothing, starving children, sad faces, tent cities, and collapsed buildings because that’s just Haiti. But, you just can’t prepare yourself until you actually see it. I can’t explain it any better than that. It was devastating, that being my first time there I don’t know how much of a difference there is, but to me it looked horrible. There were piles of rubble everywhere, buildings collapsed, homeless lining every street, the Haitians with their aged faces that wore solemn expressions and appeared much older than they actually were, countless tent cities, and graffiti writings saying “We need help” or “SOS” on every wall. I felt guilty. There I was sitting in the back of a truck well fed and clothed, with my mother, and there they were sitting on the streets most not knowing where their next meal was going to come from.
When I got to Wayom Timoun (Kingdom Kids) it was a different story. There were still tents, collapsed buildings, starving people, and orphaned children, but it was the atmosphere that changed. These children were sleeping in overstuffed tents that smelled like pee, next to open “gutters” that were basically sewage pipes, they had lost everything they had, whether from the earthquake or before, but yet, they were happy. From the way they acted you could’ve never guessed what these kids have been through. They were just regular kids, they loved to talk, and hang out, to play Uno and Spoons, to fool around and make you laugh, to dance, to sing, and to just sit with you and hold your hand.
These kids have been through more than I will ever know. One day as we were driving through the country side. My nine year old brother, Roody (whom my family is adopting), pointed out the mass graves, a look of complete sadness came over his face and he kept saying “tris, tris” which means “sad” in English. Another boy about ten told me about the shaking and how scared he was.
The Haitians in Pastor Rigaud’s church have amazing trust in God. There appeared to be about 100 people at the 3 hour long church service. They all got really involved in worship and the service. When you compare it to most churches in the US it is very different. We sometimes will miss a service because we planned something or we have a little cough, but not there. They get up at 5:00am to sit through a three hour church service! They lift their hands up and start to dance around and say “Mesi Bondye!” (“Thank you Lord”) Here most church services don’t start until around 9:00 or 10:00, they last about an hour, and people will rarely get involved in worship.
I loved Haiti. It was better than any other trip or vacation I’ve ever been on. I loved hanging out with the kids, holding the babies, playing monkey in the middle with tennis balls, watching the boys break dance and sing Just Beat It, and We are the World, playing Uno and Spoons after dinner for hours on end, teaching them how to high five and play Frisbee, watching them dive in the warm ocean and come back up face dripping, eye’s squeezed shut, and a huge smile on their face. I loved it all and can’t wait to go back again.
Sage really hit the klou (Creole for “nail”) on the head with her statement, “But, you just can’t prepare yourself until you actually see it.” I would encourage all readers of this post to check out her assessment for yourselves. Join us on a future trip to Haiti. Chances are it will be “better than any other trip or vacation” for you as well.