Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hello All! This is Alesia. The team knows me as "Mo", short for Moesha. It was too confusing to have two Alicias on the team, so I inherited a fun name. It works well, and I love the name. 

Before I blog about the two outings our team experienced this morning, I'll share some of the words of the day from our evening meeting: hope, passion, refresh, worry, care, observe, appreciation, local, joy, connection, impact. 

Today, energy was vastly different than yesterday. If I were to compare and describe yesterday and today in one word, I'd say Yesterday: Intense  Today: Calm. 

Our first drive was to Sweet Home Orphanage. When the gate opened from the street, an "ahhhh" was heard from our tap-tap. There was a beautiful, massive gazebo where children would later hang out with us. We observed immediately how loved and cared for the children were at this facility. The children wanted to stay with their nannies rather than run to our arms like the children did in Cite Soleil (water truck day) yesterday. We got a grand tour of the grounds. Sweet Home started as an orphanage seven years ago after the 2010 earthquake.There are doctors and nurses on site for the children. All the spaces are very bright, colorful and welcoming. We embraced in the hope and faith that the orphanage has for the future as they are in the process of building more dorms to house 50 more orphans. 

After our tour, we went back to the gazebo to love up the children. They got into the songs, story and craft. Sydney and Abby did a fabulous job sharing the five loaves and two fish Bible story to go along with our fish craft. We had a lot of laughs with the fun camp songs too. Getting silly and allowing ourselves to be kids at heart was evident during our visit. Unlike yesterday at water truck day, leaving the orphanage was much easier because we knew the kids were in good hands.

The second location we went to this morning was to Peace Cycle. It is an organization that upcycles small plastic water bags by making them into fashionable and durable totes and purses. Fact question of the day: How many bags of water (similar to our water bottles) are consumed everyday in Haiti?     The answer is 5 million!!!!! Since Haiti does not have a garbage sanitation system, all garbage ends up on the sides of the streets. Peace Cycle's goal is to help reduce the waste on the streets. There is a large process of steps to make the totes and purses including washing and sanitizing the water bags and ironing plastic sheets together with a coal iron. Eventually after a lot of steps, the plastic pieces are sewn together to make totes and purses and so much more.

Peace Cycle focuses on valuing, honoring and giving dignity to the employees. I like how the organization leader, Rose, is finding progressive ways to teach the employees how to speak and interpret English so they can confidently communicate with the visitors and guests. 

After our tour, we had time to explore all the fun products Peace Cycle makes in the gift shop. As we approached the merchandise, we walked past a world map that included how many water bags have been bought by upcylcing for each U.S. state or country of the world. I am proud to announce that Minnesota is crushing the contest! We have bought and upcycled over 25,000 bags. Way to go Minnesota!

Our morning was calm and engaging by everyone on our team. It was enjoyable to see how our team has bonded so much over two days.

Signing off with love from Haiti,

Hi friends! This is Sydney, and I would love to share with you what we did this afternoon! After Peace Cycle, we headed back to the guest house because we had some time before we went to Gertrude's Orphanage! Some people used the time to reflect, while the majoriy of others used this time to nap (which was greatly needed). After nap time we all hopped in the Tap-Tap and headed to Gertrude's. Gertrude's is a unique orphanage that not only houses able-bodied children, but 15 children with special needs, physically and/or mentally. In Haiti, many who have disabilities are abandoned and forgotten in the hospital. Gertrude's works to give these kids a second chance and it is truly remarkable.

For me personally, this was a very emotional stop. Two years ago on my first trip to Haiti, the team stopped at Gertrude's and I met this two year old baby, Sarah, who could not move her arms, legs or back due to stiffness and her brain developing faster than her body. I instantly fell in love, so much so, that having to say goodbye left me with my first true heartbreak. When I went home, Sarah was on my heart and mind so much I wanted to do more. I asked my mom if we could sponsor her and for the past two years we have donated to Gertrude's in honor of Sarah to give her proper meals, medication, a better wheelchair, and more.  Flash forward two years to today, she is bigger, healther and has the most contagious smile! I wish I had the words to describe the emotion my heart felt and the gratitude I felt towards God and my mom for allowing this girl to have a better life. I spent the entire time rubbing her head (as she still could not move her body), singing her songs, pushing her around the orphanage, just holding her and giving her my love. 

While I was sharing my moments with Sarah, the other team members were singing songs with the special needs children, blowing bubbles, stacking blocks, racing the kids around on their wheel chairs and sharing God's love and compassion through the gift of touch and genuine connection.

Last night, our team listened to the song "Difference Maker" by NEEDTOBREATHE. Sometimes when you are surronded by the amount of poverty that you see in Haiti, it's hard to see the difference you make because there is always another child to love, a mouth to feed, and a conversation to have with the amazing people here. I couldn't help but think of this song today as I was surrounded by 17 people who took the time to serve, the 15 children playing with us, the Haitian staff who allow us to do what we do, the Haitians who take care of these kids in the orphanage, and God who shows himself through every interaction. I learned today that, although I feel as if I can never do enough, being present in every moment is enough for the person I am interacting with. Every person can be a difference maker; you do not need to end the poverty in Haiti to do this. You can take two extra minutes to ask how a friend's day is going or smiling at a stranger. I challenge whoever may be reading this blog, make a difference tonight, tomorrow and everyday. You are a difference maker!