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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

March Break Awareness Team to Haiti 2018 is heading home!


Do Your Best With What You Have

For our last morning in Cap we toured the market. Odette welcomed us in to her home and we were able to meet her family.  We had lunch with our hosts from the Sacred Heart Centre.  They made us feel so welcome the entire time.  In our time here we’ve seen how many challenges Haitian people battle daily.  They are incredibly strong people.  

We had a quick entrance to the airport with a short flight to Port Au Prince.  We were greeted by our new hosts at the air port and brought to St. Joseph’s Boys Home.  We learned the amazing work that has touched many lives in this tiny part of Port Au Prince.  Bill shared how this work came to be and his love of God.  Bill played his Djembe (drum) and Wootrod sang and played his guitar.  We were blessed to hear their incredible talents. 

- Sally Parkinson

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Day 4 March Break Awareness Trip to Haiti 2018

Friday- Cap Haitian

On Friday we went to Sacred Heart Centre where they have a nutrition clinic, nursery, life skills class and alpha literacy classes. We met Andre and Denise who run the centre. We got split up into three groups to go to the nutrition clinic, nursery and life skills class. Unfortunately there was a huge rain storm the night before and that made it hard for families to get to the clinic so there wasn’t as many people there as we hoped for. It was amazing to see all the woman learning in the alpha classes and how happy they were to be getting education. It was great to see them be so happy when they finally understood or got the right answer. We played with the children and fed them twice in the morning and then worked with the adults in the afternoon. It was hard to see how much the rain took a toll on the community as we drove through town that morning. Everyone’s yards were flooded and they were scooping water out of their homes. But neighbours and friends came together to make the work lighter and get done faster for all. Overall it was a great day and an unforgettable experience. 
- Maggie Parkinson

Friday, March 16, 2018

Day 3 March Break Awareness Trip to Haiti 2018

Luc- Our Hero

I asked Meghan to share a pic that was a highlight of our day and she sends me this pic....
To you it may say...’yes, that is a picture of Luc....’
For our group....Luc was our hero!!
So many times we forget to highlight the unsung hero’s of our lives....
Those who work behind the scenes who work tirelessly and with great love and commitment to the tasks they have been called to perform!!!
Luc was an incredible driver for us yesterday and today...
The road yesterday to Pinson was frankly not fit even for a donkey....
And today we timed our drive to 8 hours on a road that was not paved for almost half of our journey....
And then said goodbye and drove back to St. Marc....
Who amongst us could do that...NOT I!! 
In the many years I have known Luc I know him as a dedicated driver for Rayjon....but he is more than that....
Yesterday and Today I trusted him with the safety for all the members of my group and all of us are extremely grateful for how he took care of us these last couple of days...
It was another incredible day and difficult to put into words all that was learned today...
BUT most of all...a profound thank you from all of us to Luc!!!
He holds a special place in my heart!!

- Joanna

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Day 2 March Break Awareness Trip to Haiti 2018

The day started with another early morning to get a head start on our hike up to Pinson. 

There are close to no words to describe our experience. For those who decided to climb the 2 hours and a half hours, the hike was challenging and hot but absolutely breath taking. 

Upon arriving to Pisnon we were welcomed by an assembly of singing, dancing, and plays. Sheets were hung from the rafters as curtains and music was blasting from the speakers we had brought up on the truck. For almost all of us, the highlight of our day was how engaged the students became when the teacher started to sing and dance. By the end of our visit we found ourselves all dancing together. 

It was decided due to lack of time and water, we had to all take the truck down the mountain in order to make it in time to the alpha program.

The bumpy ride down had all flying out of our seats, but with our trusty driver Luc, we had nothing to worry about. 

When we got to the alpha program, we were disappointed to hear we were too late to see a program in session. Although we were lucky enough to have 4 women in the program wait around just in case to share some words about their experience and their appreciation. 

We finished our day back at our accommodations (Hopes nest) with a delicious meal provided by the staff. The days virtue to discuss at reflection was curiosity and all of us were definitely curious. 

How do all the children at the school make it up that mountain every day? 

How can you convince parents to keep their kids in school?

How can you provide enough water to a school that’s in the mountain? 

With today being such a eventful first day, we wonder what’s in store for tomorrow with a trip up to Cap Haitian. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Day 1 March Break Awareness Trip to Haiti 2018

Oh The Places You’ll Go

What started off as an early brisk morning turned into a hot, humid drive  from Port Au Prince to our accommodations at Hopes Nest. As a team we all agreed that the day was full of challenges from problems with our baggage to more problems with baggage. Our chosen virtue for today was collaboration, which was put into good use throughout the journey, as noted by working together to meet baggage weight limits, shuffling supplies between bags, eating lunch together, and reminders to stay hydrated. 

The drive out of the city to our accommodation was an experience in and of itself! From the interesting traffic laws, to the different infrastructure, and even a game of guess how many people fit on a motorcycle... we saw four! 

After arriving at Hopes Nest we met our host Paul and had a delicious meal prepared for us by our accommodation. We look forward to what the next steps in our journey will bring and we prepare ourselves for our morning hike

Michaela Cromwell 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Final Day March Break Awareness Trip to Haiti,2017

Haiti March Break Awareness Trip 2017 - Day 7

We have found ourselves on the final day of our trip. This day started out with a bit of a later breakfast. As has been the theme St. Joseph's, staff provided us with a great meal. Following breakfast we boarded a bus and visited the Apparent Project not very far from our accommodations. We met our tour guide Tricky who provided us some background information and took us through the various workshops that would create goods.  The Apparent Project is the location where many different goods are handmade for sale in the shop. We saw different types of beads for jewellry, some of which are made from recycled cardboard. We also saw pottery and t-shirts being made among other things. We learned that this project was created to provide jobs for parents so they can afford to support their children and avoid situations where they may end up having to bring their children to orphanages due to poverty. We visited the shop where finished projects are sold after our tour. It was hard to pick just one thing so most of us picked many! It felt nice to support the program, but many of us agreed that the things we purchased would have been worth buying on merit alone in a store anywhere. 
Our time at the project was capped off with a delicious lunch at the rooftop Papillon Clay Cafe. 
From there we took the bus to Croix Des Bouquets, also known as "tin town".  This is an outdoor market that sells hand crafted metal works made out of the recycled oil drums. Our group split into pairs and went on a shopping excursion to buy items to be used in Rayjon fundraisers. Some of us even bought a few keepsakes for ourselves!  Overall this was a good experience and there was lots to see. The amount of creativity involved was at times overwhelming. 
On our way back to St Joseph's house there was a very important pit stop to buy some Haitian vanilla. It is said that this vanilla stands apart from the rest in its aroma and essence. On our way we drove through City du Soleil, which was perhaps our most jarring experience of seeing the abject poverty that exists for many Haitians. For lack of a better word this is a slum made up of many small dwellings packed in together. We also made a brief stop at the Cathedral in Port Au Prince. The Cathedral was significantly damaged in the 2010 Earthquake. There has been limited repair since. Group members who viewed the Cathedral pre 2010 spoke of what it looked like before which put the damage into perspective. Nearby we also got to see the famous statue of the "Unnamed Slave" which we had learned about days earlier at our museum tour in St. Marc. This powerful image celebrates the revolution. 
When We returned to Our accommodations we enjoyed a delicious dinner provided by our hosts and spent some time reflecting on our trip. Our reflection tonight was about the true purpose of Rayjon Awareness trips.  Each of us shared how we used "Look, Listen and Learn" during our journey and what stood out to us. We also discussed ways we can share our experience when we return to Canada (so if you're reading this there is a good chance one of us will be looking to tell you some more in depth stories than this blog can provide at some point). 
We (bloggers Ian and Amanda) think it is safe to say that this trip proved to be an enlightening experience in many ways, some of which we might not have seen coming. This has been a great group of people to travel with and we met and listened to some truly inspiring and insightful people; people that are passionate about their country, their people and the issues that are present. If you're thinking about an awareness trip we would all encourage you to attend an info session for a future trip. 
That's a wrap on the 2017 Awareness Trip. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

March Break Awareness Trip Day 5 & 6

This morning we had to say goodbye to our wonderful hosts Mike and Nancy at Deep River Mission house. We graciously thanked them for the hospitality shown to our group! 
We boarded the Tap Tap and let our luggage ride in another truck. Our first stop was the Sacred Heart Centre where we were greeted by Andre and his team of volunteers (centre staff who volunteered on the weekend for us). From here we split into three groups and were led by an interpreter and a few of the Haitians.  Volunteers took us on a walking tour through town.  We had the opportunity to visit the local hospital, the main public square, the Basilica where mass was underway and the market area.  I am sure this walk about will be a highlight for all of our group members when they look back on their trip to Haiti. This was another great opportunity for us to be introduced to part of Haitian society. After our walking tours we reconvened and headed out for lunch at a Haitian restaurant. Our volunteers and translators joined us. The food was great and all seemed to have a good time. 
Our time came to leave Cap Haitian so we boarded a very small plane for a quick flight to Port Au Prince. We were met at the airport by representatives from St. Joseph's Boys home. We took a very scenic and cozy bus ride to the Boy's Home which will be our accommodations for the next few days. This space is beautiful and we are thankful to Bill and his staff for having us here. 
As part of tonight's reflection we heard from Walnes, one of the gentlemen who had been raised by the Boy's home from a young age and now works here. He shared with us a bit about his life and the trials and tribulations he faced. We are thankful that he had the courage to share with us. 
Each night on our trip we have met for group reflection at the end of the day. Each member has been assigned a different virtue to present/discuss one night. Tonight's was courage and at trip leader Joanna's request here is part of what was presented tonight:
"Courage is an important thing and it's available to seeing many places for those who look and listen for it.
Courage is an openness and response to vulnerability. Courage is a choice to risk and accept potential discomfort and to face fear and uncertainty. 
  Courage happens on many levels whether it's asking a question, turning out a night light or trying something new. Courage is accepting the call to go an awareness trip, meeting and agreeing to travel with strangers, getting on a bus in Haiti, hiking mountains, trying to speak Creole, offering stickers in a crowd (see "mob") of school children, communicating through a translator and admitting that you don't know what you don't know. 
 Courage is speaking an unpopular point of view, questioning the status quo, working for equality, accepting foreigners who don't speak the language into your learning environment, asking for and accepting help, singing songs acapella  and working to better yourself and your situation at any age. 
 Courage is a big theme in our trip to Haiti but courage will be with us when we return to Canada."

Tomorrow we will attend mass then hike to a waterfall that is commonly used as a voodoo site.

Day 6 
Today was our first full day in Port au Prince. We were greeted by a wonderful breakfast and broke out our Sunday best to venture to the Sisters of Charity home for Sunday mass. We celebrated mass with a many children from the school there as they led the worship service for us. A highlight was the music and singing the children provided. Despite mass being in French many of us felt the significance of the service. 
After mass we made a pitstop at a grocery story, which our host Bill explained to us would be a store utilized by foreign delegates and some of the more wealthy Haitians. We noticed many familiar items that we would typically find in our stores back home. Honourable mention goes to the Kirkland brand Maple Syrup that was "Made in Canada". 
From there we took a road trip to Saut D'Eau Falls. We were greeted by many Haitian young men who happily assisted us during our time at the Falls.  After enjoying a picnic lunch, many of us took the opportunity to climb up the Falls. Our Haitian helpers fulfilled their role by ensuring our safety and level footing through this adventure. Their balance impressed all of us and we extended our thanks to them. Our bus ride back was full of Haitian-bus Karaoke, and to clarify these weren't Haitian songs, just "interesting selections" sang by Canadians IN Haiti. 
As part of our evening reflection we had the opportunity to hear from our host Bill, another gentleman who was involved with St Joseph's Family Home as a young boy and has gone on to give back to his community in many ways. After hearing a bit of his life story and how he became a part of St Joseph's house he and another gentleman of the community, Woodward, shared their musical talent with us through song and drumming. For many of us, this by far was the highlight of our day! 
Tomorrow we will be visiting the Apparent project and doing some shopping at Croix des Bouquets.