Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Day 3 - Cite Soleil: Hope, water trucks and Sakala

Today started off with a delicious breakfast that included pancakes, veggie eggs, and fresh juice.
 We made our way then to Cite Soleil - the heart of the destitution in Haiti. The roads were rough
and journey seemed long in the morning heat.
As we left Dalmas center and made our way to Cite Soleil, we could see the plastic and trash
garbage accumulation increase - it certainly did not help the situation that we had a huge downpour
of rain last night. We could see the water line by where the trash had floated up to.
 Despite all of this and although labeled the worst slum in the western Hemisphere, we found hope
and jubilation in Cite Soleil. We started off at the Hope Complex - it houses the Hope Clinic,
Hope Church, and Hope School.
The church and school were first established 3 years ago and the clinic opened this year.
They offer free services to the people of Cite Soleil and are truly changing lives
- and with the clinic now, certainly saving them too!

The tour of the complex was impressive and we met many of their over 260 students - all dressed in adorable lavender-checkered uniforms. The kids were excited as they were practicing for their end-of-the-year performance with song/dance number that they all seemed to enjoy! When we came into the room where they were, we were about knocked over by their little hands wanting us to pick them up or dance with them.

One of the most interesting aspects to the campus is the Innovation center - it houses workstations and 25 ipads to help teach the kids technology and innovative learning styles and processes. What a great addition to an already impressive project!

We then headed out to the nearby streets to help dispense water, carry buckets, and play with the children. The neighborhood nearby has rows and roads of shacks - made with rudimentary materials of corrugated metal, scrap sheet metal, and broken down concrete. A large water truck parks in the street and we hook up the big hose to fill their buckets, pails, tubs, or whatever they bring. So many words to describe our time with all the people and the water truck - joyous, overwhelming, exciting, and, i think we can all agree, wet. The kids are the best - they are SO EXCITED! They try to catch your eye and once they do, they leap up into your arms or just climb right up you! They giggle, tell you stories, and show you their trinkets. Each of us seemed to even find a special child that we bonded with with. Mine was Rosalinda. It helped I learned the creole word for "name" so we could exchange names with each other. What a special time with the kids and people of Cite Soliel. We all took turns helping with the water hose, carrying buckets, and entertaining kids. In total, we made three water truck stops throughout the neighborhood.

After that we came back to the guesthouse for a quick clean-up and headed back to Cite Soleil to the Sakala project. This is an afterschool program for kids that encourages them to find their dreams and go after them. They have sports programs, a computer lab, and with 20 shelves in their library - they host the largest library in Cite Soleil. They told us schools all over the city come to it and also partner with them to host sports events and competitions. We also learned about their efforts to cultivate Moringa trees - an indigenous tree that has immense nutritional value. They also had a place where they create cool art pieces made from salvaged trash pieces - a painted and textured framed mirror was a group favorite. However, newborn baby goats were equally exciting for some of us animal lovers!

The evening closed with a hearty lasagna meal, that we should note only took us 10 minutes to eat both pans, and a quick trek to the nearby Elite hotel for a dunk in the pool which definitely cooled us off from today's heat. Sounds like another thunderstorm is rolling in for the night as we wrap up our team meeting. I'm sure we will all sleep well tonight.

In Christ's steps,
Heather Douglas