We arrived and the kids were super quiet, just staring at us. We had Sylvestre with us to translate and we asked the director's wife if we could do art projects with the kids - she said "of course". So we went to the bus to get the bag of supplies. Each person on the team took a different age group and project and Sylvestre helped get the kids to sit down in groups by age. One group decorated foam visors, another colored pictures, some made necklaces with beads and yarn. Sally, Kay and Ashley set up a little area where they had a little medical clinic and started seeing the kids there who have been sick. There was one little boy in particular that was not doing very well. Sally said he had malaria and was also anemic. He was pretty much non-responsive. Unfortunately, we hadn't brought anything that was for malaria so we were limited in how we could help him. Sally had Sylvestre translated and explained to the director's wife Claujine that this child needed to go to the hospital or clinic. Claujine's elderly mother had a pretty bad ankle injury and the team helped her with that. There were some hair/skin conditions they treated, some wounds to bandage and rashes. And several kids had been having stomach problems.
Claujine took myself and another team member, Laura on a tour of where the living quarters were. This orphanage stood in the middle of one of the worst hit areas we visited that week and buildings on all sides of it were leveled by the earthquake and yet, this orphanage building still stands and doesn't look like it was even damaged. From what I could gather - they are still uneasy about being inside though - which is why they have school outside and almost all the beds and such are not in this building. The backyard houses 2 tents where kids sleep and what looks like a little shed that has several doors and inside each one was a very worn bed for the kids. The mattresses where in bad condition and one of the metal bunk beds didn't have a mattress, just a few wool blankets on top of the wire frame - it looked like someone even slept there. These conditions were heart breaking. My camera battery had died at this point but Laura took lots of pictures with hopes that we could get new beds for them.
My thoughts are that this orphanage really needs a lot of ongoing assistance. It would be ideal to partner them with a church or two in the US that could provide monthly support to help them feed these children and provide better living conditions for them. We'd need to make sure there was someone on the ground in Haiti to make sure the funds were used properly and for what they were designated for. But wow - what a difference a partnership like that could make. The children there are precious and they need help. I'm praying we can help bring it. We are in the planning process of sending a team back to Haiti this fall and would love to find some potential church partners who would go with Visiting Orphans on this trip to help. So much need everywhere. I am still processing all that we saw.
We had several hours at the Delmas 19 orphanage with those precious children. I got to hold a beautiful baby girl named Mona Lisa who absolutely stole my heart. She is the cutest thing! And all the kids love her - they call her "Mo Mo" and they would come up and make her smile and laugh and you could tell they look out for her. At one point, Barbara was holding a child that fell fast asleep so comfortable in her arms. Several other team members had the same thing happen. One of the sleeping children was carried by another child to the back yard and placed carefully in their bed. It was so precious to see the kids looking after each other. Yet, made it so apparent how fast these kids have had to grow up and much they have had to adapt to in the absence of parents.
Many of the children we saw at orphanages that week were only recently orphaned because of losing parents in the earthquake. It's hard to even fathom what these kids have been through. And yet, they still play and smile and laugh. The Haitian people are so strong. And what we discovered daily on our visit was that instead of giving up in the midst of pain, loss and poverty like we can never fully understand - they aren't blaming God, they are praising God that they survived and for what they do have. In fact, what we heard time and time again from those we met in Haiti was that the earthquake caused many people to turn to God. I know we didn't hear about it on the news here but there is a youtube video about this - t several days after the earthquake, the president called for the people to fast and pray and cry out to God. Thousands upon thousands of people filled the rubble-covered streets and did exactly that. It just shows me that God truly can work all things together for good. And how precious that in their pain, He is drawing the people of Haiti to Him - ministering to their hearts and giving them a new hope. It blows me away. He is so good! And the Haitian people are truly resilient and strong.
After we left the orphanage, we then traveled to Delmas 31 to visit Christian Light Ministries, which is a school run by a wonderful American woman named Ms. Sherrie who has been living in Haiti doing this for a very long time. She has that school run like a well oiled machine. And it was like night and day from where we had just come from in just seeing how a ministry can thrive with help from the US in the form of partnerships. In fact, Ms. Sherrie was about to venture to the US for a period of time and told our medical team to take any medical supplies they thought we might need. And the Lord is so good because she had malaria meds for that little boy we saw earlier at the orphanage. We were so happy. And we decided to head straight back there before heading home for the day and deliver those meds. While we were at Ms. Sherrie's - we took a tour about a block away where her former orphanage stood. The entire back section of it had fallen (see photo). Ms. Sherrie was in the bedroom that is now laying in a pile of rubble of several stories of what was the building. When the shaking started, she started to run out and was pushed out into the hallway by the force. Most of the kids went running out in that direction too - and that was the part of the building that survived. The child of one of her staff did not make it out but miraculously most everyone else did, including Ms. Sherrie. She said that even in the midst of it - she felt a peace and did not feel fearful. Totally the Lord.
When we were walking there, Sally noticed a little boy with a bad infection all over the side of his face. She asked the mother to bring him to Ms. Sherrie's so she could take a look. She did and it turned out - there was some kind of a winged bug wedged way into his ear and it had caused an infection that was spreading to the outside of his face. That little boy was so tough - he did not cry but squirmed quite a bit as his mother held him and Sally tried her best to get that bug out with tweezers. Unfortunately it was not successful - it was too far in there and was just coming out in pieces. So she tried to flush it out with warm water - that didn't work either and he was really unhappy at this point. Sally gave the mom cream for the infection, an oral medicine to take for it and some drops to put in his ear every day. Sylvestre translated all the instructions and we wrote it down too so she wouldn't forget. I truly hope that bug came out and that infection cleared up. It just amazes me the things that when let go can do such awful things to our bodies. And how simple things we take for granted here are simply not available to so much of the world. The need is great. We need more workers!
While at Ms. Sherrie's, Ashley was looking at a little girls arm that had been burned at a young age and was hardly useable. She took a lot of pictures of it and showed the girl some stretches to do. And since being home, Ashley has been hard at work finding a surgeon to operate on her arm. She found one and is currently working on setting up the logistics of making that happen.
I love going on these trips and seeing what the Lord does in the hearts of each team member. It changes lives. And you can't return home unchanged. You just can't. And you also can't return home and ever be content to do nothing. Seeing what you see around the world changes you. It may break your heart. It may be heavy. But it's for the better - because it's that broken heart that propels you to do more, to get outside your comfort zone and reach out to those that so desperately need your help.
We left Ms. Sherrie's on Monday and drove back to the orphanage at Delmas 19 and our medical team went in and gave medicine to that little boy who was so sick with malaria. And it was totally the Lord who orchestrated the fact that we went there first, saw that need and then happened to go to Ms. Sherrie's a few hours later who would give us the medicine needed to care for that little guy. And a few days later, we went back and that little boy was doing so much better! Praise God. It's all about his schedule for our week and He truly orchestrated all the details. We just had to be willing to go with His lead and be flexible to where He would take us. Not having a full itinerary or plan in advance was most certainly outside my comfort zone - but I think it was always supposed to be that way. Mission trips are all about getting outside that comfort zone and letting God change you.
To see more of my photos from Haiti, go to this link:
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