Saturday, June 29, 2019

Good morning all! Today was yet another amazing day in Haiti. Today was incredibly busy, but we had fun throughout all of our activities. We started out the day by waking up at 5:45 am. Do you know how early that is for a 16 year old like me? Paulette came in to wake us up and her voice inserted myself into my dream... creepy!! Anyways, we were at Church on the Rock by 7 am for mass. When we got there, we got a little surprise - the whole church did not have power. No lights, no music, no microphones. However, this didn't affect us at all. Mass was right on time, preaching was loud enough, and singing endured. It was so beautiful; all of the people walking around with their arms open and willing to accept God into their lives. They are so willing to reach out to God and accept His presence, it's cool to see.

After church, we headed to Cite Soleil. We went to the water truck station and watched our truck fill up. While it was filling up, Danielle and I had a dance party. After our truck was full, we drove to our first water truck stop. Water truck days are my favorite days. The kids are awesome! They have so little, but are so happy. All they want is your attention and love for the hour and a half you are with them. The water line is always crazy: people yelling at each other and trying to cut the line = pure chaos  - but so understandable when you are desperate to receive the water for their families before the truck runs out! We stay busy the whole time, that's for sure, and leaving once the water truck is out of water is always the hardest part.

After the first water stop, we went to the next water stop which consisted of a similar dynamic: crazy with the line and kids fighting over you for love and attention, calm with the kids who just want to be held. We were supposed to hit a third water stop, but our water truck broke down, so unfortunately we didn't make it to the third. However, due to the third water stop cancellation, we had time to take a tour of the 28 acre farm run by Healing Haiti in Cite Soleil. We learned about all of the crops they were growing, their employees, and their plans to provide jobs and better Haiti's economy in the future. It was interesting to learn how everything works.

Our last activity of the day was visiting the Sakala community center. There are around 300 kids from the ages of 12-20 who are blessed and get to visit Sakala. These kids get to eat, play, and receive tutoring at this community center. It has a full size basketball court and full size cement soccer field. The tutors help the kids with their homework, because most of their parents didn't receive an education so they can't get help from their parents. Some of the older kids were also very talented at chess. Sakala is also an after school program for younger kids. It was such a wonderful, happy place. It was very cool to see the vast range of ages because usually we only see younger kids. Sakala was definitely a highlight of the trip for our team.

When we got back to the guesthouse, we were all exhausted. We showered, ate, and had word of the day. Then it was off to bed! Not for me though, my whole room was sleeping when I found our toilet leaking and flooding our bathroom. That was quickly fixed and cleaned up, and then I went to bed too. Overall, another amazing day. I wouldn't trade it for the world.


Proud Parents & Playday

The sounds of roosters ring out as we awake for our third day in Haiti.  I thought to myself, what a different birthday I am having today.  As usual, the sunrise was beautiful as the Healing Haiti team greeted day.  After a devotion, prayer, breakfast, and cleanup we stored our water bottles, food, and other essentials for the day into our "tap tap" for our trip to the City Soliel, the poorest area in what is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.  Our destination, Hope Academy to see and experience their first ever Kindergarten graduation.  We take turns riding in front with our excellent driver and today was my turn.  As an Iowan and soon to be Minnesotan, the ride to and from City Soliel was a ride that I-35 and I-494 a "walk in the park".  We were blessed to have excellent driver as we have had everyday. 

Immediately upon arrival to Hope Academy a door opened and out walked about 30 proud and very well dressed Kindergarten students getting into position for their grand entrance to what was to be a first ever graduation for Hope Academy.  It was truly an amazing and beautiful event for the deservedly proud parents smiling and the Cite Soleil community. The smiles of the kids, parents, grandparents and school staff was easily seen throughout the entire time.  What a joyous occasion for everyone, including us!  As a retired educator it was truly one of the most special graduations I have ever seen.  Graduation not only included song and recitation of long paragraphs, but also a type of dance where a boy struts his stuff past all of the beautiful girls and then stops to ask one to walk with him.  It was fun and a cool thing for all to watch.

Throughout all of our time at graduation our Healing Haiti team engaged in support, talked with children, met parents, or holding small children, some of which actually fell asleep on their laps.  I believe that regardless of country, culture, or socio-economic status, all parents want the best for their kids and the Haitian parents at Hope Academy in Cite Soleil are no exception.  They were very proud of their kids and it was a blessing to have been able to see.

After our time at Hope Academy we drove to the nearby Cite Soleil "park" in need of work. It is one of the few parks.  The park had a stage, an open concrete area, and a small basketball court, all in need of significant repair. Although there was no advanced notice and we were immediately inundated with kids. Sounds of kids saying "hey you", a common greeting that is a fun and cheerful way  way to greet others.  For about 2 hours our Healing Haiti team was engaged in numerous activities with the children: talking with them, handing out cross necklaces and stickers, becoming human jungle gyms, playing soccer and basketball, jumping rope, giving horseback rides, swinging kids, and braiding of hair by the children of some of the young ladies.

It was a privilege to watch the Kindergarten graduates, their parents, and families and then to play with the children of Cite Soleil. Although I missed being with my family, this was a most special day for my birthday as I had the opportunity to join in and for a brief time feel like a proud member of Cite Soleil and to spend the day with my new Healing Haiti family.  What a blessing!

Greg Moen
Fairbank, Iowa