We are all sunburned and exhausted, telltale signs of a great day in Haiti. After spending yesterday serving and delivering water in the slums of Cite Solei, today we drove up to Titanyen and Grace Village, where hope abounds.
We met up with live-in missionaries, Don and Carolyn Pugh, at Grace Village for a tour of the facilities there. School was in session, so we saw the classrooms, feeding center, playground, and pavilion all near max capacity with students, all in their formal purple school uniform attire. Students at Grace School come from both the on-site orphan care program and the surrounding Titanyen community. We overlooked the garden, which supplies much of the produce for Grace Village and Fleri Restaurant, and we peeked in the door of one of the family-style homes where children who have not been able to be reunited with their biological families live.
Before leaving the school, we got to see a fully functioning IT lab, a rare and beautiful opportunity to expand the students’ education! A company in Minneapolis has donated and set up over 40 new IPads, along with some other necessary technological upgrades for Grace Village, which are already making a big impact. We looked down at Grace Church and Fleri Restaurant from the waiting area of Grace Clinic, which now serves several hundred people from the community each month, offering reasonable rates for medical and dental care.
Along with our translators, Brune and Emmanuel, we visited three women in the Titanyen community who are part of the elder care program. Some of our group dropped to their knees in washing feet and applying lotion, a beautiful service and connection with these sisters of ours. Others prayed over each one, sang worship songs, and played with neighbor children who came running with “Hey-you”s and every other English phrase they have learned as soon as they saw the Healing Haiti tap-tap.
After those joyful encounters, we headed back for a tour of Fleri Restaurant and Bakery, led by another live-in missionary, Jake Stebbing. The job creation program is flourishing, living up to its name. Now employing 25 Haitians, both from the Titanyen area and older students from Grace Village’s transition program, the bakery makes bread that is distributed by local vendors, boosting the local economy, and the restaurant serves pizza and other delicacies, largely to international groups working in the area.
Our last stop of the day was a visit to the mass graves and memorial, commemorating the January 12, 2010 earthquake. It is a sobering experience to hear first-hand stories, realize the magnitude of what it was like on that day and the days following, and consider all the people that Haiti lost that day.