Haiti Series: Beginning

Now that I am back from Haiti, have an internet connection, and a lot of spare time on my hands, I am going to review my adventures and transcribe some of the best bits for you, from my journal.  My experiences here were life changing and quite astounding.  I hope you enjoy them!

21 May 2012

It has been one day and I am already exhausted.  I arrived in Port-Au-Prince alone, at about 8:45am.  I supposed I would be sharing my flight here with other volunteers in Sustain Haiti, but because I signed up so late, my flight was not the same.  My first experience in this country, I was alone at the baggage claim without a lick of French or Creole in my knowledge.  After locating my bags, I approached a group of lost-looking white people and asked if I could borrow a phone.  One of the girls consented, and I made two phone calls - one to my home to assure them I was safe and to get the number for my in-country director, and then a phone call to the aforementioned, Eric.  He was waiting just outside the terminal for me, and directed me to come on out!

We walked through a milling crowd of Haitians who all tried to help me with my bags, whom I refused, and then arrived at the back of the parking lot, where a small van filled with the other volunteers awaited us.  Seating was sparse, consisting of two benches made of 2x4s in the bed, with the rest of the room being taken up by our luggage.  I sat on a wooden plank wedged against the door and rested my forehead on the windowpane.  For three hours, we made the 18 mile trek to Leogane.  Wavering between exhaustion and nausea, I took in my surroundings.

Traffic is mayhem, people are stacked on top of each other, and crammed into every crevice between the grey rubble, garbage, and sewage.  Some places seem to be in good shape.  Others are absolutely filthy fields of garbage and refuse.

Although exhausted, I decided to spend the afternoon observing some of the work that Sustain Haiti does.  We took a "moto taxi" out to a community called Mellier (125cc modified Daihatsu motorcycles), where I watched Eric teach a business class.  At 5:30, we returned to Leogane and I watched a few ESL classes being taught, which I will begin helping with tomorrow.  These people are in dire need of help, but also need to be able to help themselves.  I am excited to get to work here, and hopeful that I will be able to make a difference!