Help to Haiti - My Family Travels

The duct-taped, 19-person plane wobbled higher into the Haitian sky as I looked down and silently absorbed the glaring picture of poverty that stretched below. Among the rubble and debris of Port-au-Prince lay scattered clumps of makeshift homes, and children ran along the dirt paths after their mothers who balanced incredible burdens on their heads. As the plane touched ground in the northern city of Port-de-Paix, and we boarded the rickety bus that would take us to our final destination of Saint-Louis du Nord, I felt exhausted yet at the same time had a strong inkling that the following week would be filled with incredible memories…

The Northwest Haiti Christian Mission staff was eager to greet our weary group, and led us to our rustic dorms on the roof of the mission where we collapsed for the night. I was awakened at four o’clock next morning by a boisterous rooster and reluctantly got out of bed at 6 after two hours of fitful sleep. Since it was Sunday, we ate breakfast, and headed to a Haitian church, with a long line of toddlers from the orphanage in tow. Sunday afternoon was dedicated to turning four rooms of utter chaos into a working hospital.

Although surgeries weren’t scheduled to start until Monday morning, the surgical team (including me as one of four teenagers who were interested in medical work) had an interesting and unexpected start to our Haitian experience after a dozen gang fight victims landed at our ‘hospital’ that evening and kept the surgeons up past midnight.

On Monday morning, we began caring for much more pleasant patients… shy and sick Haitian children who were very easy to entertain. Most of these children had never possessed their own toy, seen miraculous globes of color (a.k.a- bubbles) or had a colorful fleece blanket to call their own. It was such a blessing to see their faces light up when given a doll or toy car, or see their eyes widen with awe when we blew bubbles at them for the first time.

Another highlight of my brief stay in Haiti was visiting, cuddling, playing with and loving on the precious infants and toddlers in the baby orphanage. As soon as I stepped into the one-room building, I was surrounded by toddlers with their arms outstretched, begging with their pitiful eyes to be held and shown some much-needed love. The infants who couldn’t walk or crawl tried to gain the attention they desperately needed by crying out from their cribs. The most heart-breaking of all was the little boy who had at such a young age given up on love. He sat forlornly in the back, not playing with the other children, not engaging in activity, not smiling or responding when I tried to get his attention, but clinging on for dear life the instant I reached out and pulled him into my arms.

Although a cruise to Hawaii, a relaxing vacation to Hilton Head, or a lazy week at home would have been more and restful, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the way I decided to spend spring break this year.  Even though serving myself would have been more comfortable and fun, serving others was more satisfying and fulfilling. {540 words}

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