Last time I talked to you, I had just been back from Haiti. Now that I've been back for over a month, I still think about my trip everyday. An article on my trip is featured on my friend's blog, Olamild Entertainment.
The purpose of the trip was to bring medical care on the island of La Gonave. But for me, it was to open my eyes to how people were living in a part of the world I had heard so much about.
I met so many people, most of who didn't speak English. But I was able to connect with them. I'm not sure what it was, but I felt comfortable sitting amongst the people, with or without a translator, and trying to communicate.
I think it all started on the first day in on the island when I was trying to talk to the children in Pointe-a-Raquette. Kids, by nature, are very curious, so while I was observing the what was happening as translators helped collect information from people who came to see the doctors, some of them stood around me. I greeted them with a "Bonjour." Haitian Kreyol is based on French, and many of the words in the language are similar to French, or the same as in French.
In Haiti, people assume that anyone who looks like them speaks their language. From the time we reached the airport in Port au Prince, people were walking up to me, speaking Kreyol, to which I could only nod and smile. Lol... So from my greeting, the kids thought I spoke Kreyol. Before long I learned how to say "I don't speak Kreyol" and "I speak English and a little Spanish." :) But I was able to find a way to communicate with the kids. It started by writing down simple math problems in my notebook. I handed them my pen and let them complete the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems. From there, I had them teach me some words in Kreyol by drawing a picture of an object and then having them write and pronounce the word for me. Then I taught them the English translation. It was lots of fun.
In the mountain town of La Plaisance, I met a group of boys who performed some praise songs for me. They were led by Jin Will, the guitarist. From them I learned a beautiful song.
I also met people who I'll never forget, like Jania, a mother of two who was the first to come to the clinic area with her sick baby, before everything was fully set up. She was trying to explain to me that her son was sick, thinking that I was a doctor. Through a translator, I told her I wasn't a doctor, but that I would make sure she got to see a doctor. From then, she told me I was her friend. It was pretty cool that one of the guys there didn't speak English, but Spanish. Jania talked to him in Kreyol and he translated for me in Spanish. Those Spanish classes in high school and college were worth it!
I'll also never forget Milien, who was hired from the island when we needed more translators. Milien had studied English at school in Port au Prince and was in law school when the earthquake happened. He said that he lost 6 family members in the earthquake. His school was also crumbled. He decided to back home to the island and try to wait until it was rebuilt while trying to make money with different businesses.
Most of all, I'll never forget Alton, a little boy I met at an orphanage in Port au Prince, where we stayed for one night before going to the island and also when we came back from the island. At first, the little boy ran away from me, but after interacting with the kids more and passing out stickers and other little things, he was stuck to my side, always wanting me to carry him.
There I am crouched, with Alton in my lap.
I had fun playing with those kids. The littlest things made them so excited. I started making fans from colored paper, and they had a ball with them. I saw how they were so grateful for the smallest things. The kids at the orphanage are fortunate because they actually have somewhere to live, food to eat, and someone to take care of them. But besides the basics, they don't get much else. The ladies who help there only have enough time to clothe and feed the kids and teach them their school lessons. The kids don't get the extra attention that their parents would have given them. So they cling to you when you show them a little love. It kinda broke my heart when I had to leave.
Overall, my trip was awesome. I definitely plan on going back to visit, bringing helpful things with me. I learned so much, and I really think that this is something I would like to do very often. I guess I'll just see where God leads me...