Back home

(9/5/2010)

After a very long day of travel (can you believe we had traffic in NYC on Saturday night? ), we are back home in NJ.  So excited to see our family and friends!

The trip was such a great success and it was amazing to see all of the children and team at Danita’s!  How do we know it was successful?  Besides the overwhelming feelings of gratitude for working with such a great team as Danita’s, most of the discussion on the last day centered around planning the next trips.  When you hear the phrase “next time we come down…” begin a sentence, you know the trip is a success.

As you can see if was not completely all work:

Ned’s Birthday:

That’s not fair!:

Aside from the great work and progress we made on the projects, the depth and expansion of the relationship with Danita’s and the Team was significant.  The Vision Team members and the broader, full Team Haiti are very excited for Danita travels to NYC (Microsoft) and NJ (Tower Hill) in October.  Although we have been back home for only one day, plans for the visits are already in the works!  To quote Ned, “it is gonna be ‘off the hook’ !”

Thank you to all of our supporters who made this trip possible!  Special thanks to our significant others (Julie, Ann, Danielle and Kim) who put up with lots of logistics (and executed a few) to plan this trip and also to make sure we had the time to go!

Thank you to the core and extended members of Team Haiti!!  Gathering materials, helping with plans and packing the duffels.  Your giving for a trip taken by others was selfless and wonderful!  You embody the spirit that makes working in mission great. 

Lastly, thank you to our friends at Microsoft who raised $2,000 through personal donations and the matching program!  The giving spirit is alive and thriving through your actions and compassion!!

2010 Vision Team (L to R): Gary, Adam Steve and Ned:

Thanks to you all for your love, prayers and support

-Team Haiti


Day three….

Well, today is our last full day here in Ouanaminthe.  We are all very sad to leave but extremely excited to be heading home to see our loved-ones.

Today was a very good day indeed:

  • We unloaded the eight duffel-bags of donations – Heather said that everything we brought was perfect – extra special thanks to Art, Cathy, Shelley and especially Ann P. for the donations and the help with packing!
  • We were able to get 12 School computers loaded up and networked with the latest software
  • We distributed a number of toys to the kids (Sports equipment donations, ETC.)  An extra special of thanks to Sarah and Rachel Basore for the Beanies!  Lots of smile (see picture below).
  • We took a trip across the border (on Market day) to get access to an faster ISP.  Should be a few days and there will be a more stable access for all. 
  • Gary P. spent a good part of the morning taking photos of the teachers to go with the bios for the teacher sponsorship program.  That project is in the home stretch.
  • We have confirmed the dates of the visits for Danita to NYC and NJ (Tower Hill on 10/19 and Microsoft on 10/20).  These will be absolutely great events!

Aside from the broader goals of the Vision Trip, many of the projects with Danita’s took  big steps forward with this visit.

Lubenson gets his Beanie Baby (named Sarge):

Gary getting some exercise:

Walking in town:

More progress on the clinic.  First floor concrete going in….

Steve….  Well doing what what Steve does….


Vision Trip Day 2

We are well in to our second day and here and there has been some great discussions and works.

For any of you who might be concerned with our caloric intake, please rest assured that we are eating well and often.  We may need a diet when we get home !

Ned has spent a good amount of time on the computers and has been facing a ton of challenges (first issue was that they have a Spanish version of Windows.  Second is that the network is exceedingly slow!  We are making progress, but it might be a long night!

Sheree took Gary and Steve on a tour of the village and visited some of the families and children in the local area.  Seeing what Danita and her team have built in the middle of harsh conditions accents how much of a miracle and sanctuary the orphanage is.  As Kim and Denise back home say “It is an oasis.”

Gary, Adam and Steve played a quick pick-up game of basketball with some of the girls.  For anyone who might be curious, Pastor Steve is a ringer.  He made some serious baskets from deep and not even Gary’s height advantage was a match for the bulls-eye baskets!  Adam shot a number of bricks and did a fair job of keeping himself from getting hurt!

Tonight we sat with Danita and Sheree after dinner to review the projects that we have been working on and to discuss local visits to NYC and NJ.  There is a great fit that has emerged as we have worked together over the past year.  Team Haiti is looking to work in an ongoing project fashion and Danita’s is looking for a long term partner.  They described us as a ‘Member of the family’ and are looking forward to seeing the full team in October!

Some more pictures for your viewing:

Sports Equipment donations hard at work (this soccer ball traveled from New Jersey) to find this happy home:

Denise….Got to love Denise….

 

 

Progress on the clinic – Tower Hill donations hard at work:

Progress with Ned (this is the coolest room on the compound):

Gary and Steve going to the dental clinic:

Getting the vision for the homes for the children:

Gary and Ned tackle the network:

The dental clinic progressing:


Back in Ouanaminthe

It is day one of our return trip to Danita’s and we have had a very long day of travel that started at 2:00AM.  We arrived in the DR safely with no issue, passed through customs and had a smooth ride (as smooth possible for the DR) to the Haitian border.  Crossing the border took only a few minutes.  We had lunch, got to the hotel and are looking forward to dinner and a short tour of the facilities.  Looks like it will be an early night as we are all exhausted! 

We are very excited to see many of our friends who live and work at Danita’s including Britney, Heather, Karris, Sheree, Annie and Michael.  The kids seem to be doing great (all 130+) and there is a lot of laughter. 

Really looking forward to tomorrow.  Ned has 12 computers to convert from Spanish to English and build from the ground up.  We have a tour of the city planned as well as time to discuss current projects and future opportunities.  All and all… very exciting!!! 

Please leave us a message on the blog.  Would be great to hear from you!!!!

Some photos from today:

Ned and his new friend:

Arriving at the compound:

 

Lunique:

Britney and Heather:

Benedith (middle right – brown shirt )with his gifts from sponsors Maryann and Art Livingston:


Update and Preparing for our Vision Trip (9/1/2010 – 9/4/2010)

 

Hello all!!!!

 

Since our Last trip six months ago (see posts below), Tower Hill’s Team Haiti has been hard at work on a number of projects with Danita’s Children in Ouanaminthe.  There has been so much progress on many fronts.  The list below is just some highlights of works in progress:

 

        Backpack program for the schools children

        Sponsorship for the Clinic

        HIV Testing program

        Vaccination Program

        NurseSoft – Medical Records program

        Sponsorship of Children

        Teacher Sponsorship

        Donation and supplies shipping to Danita’s

        Sports Equipment Donations

        Fundraising

        5K Run Planning

        Coordinating a visit from Danita to the NY Area

        Technology and network support

        Presentations for local NJ schools

 

We are now preparing for our next trip.  It is a smaller ‘Vision Trip’ with fewer travelers. 

 

A vision trip differs from our first visit (a Mission Trip) in that the goals are a little less ‘hands-on’ and more investigative and educational.  The travelers for the trip are Gary, Steve Ned and Adam.  But don’t worry; we still have a lot to do!

 

While at Danita’s we will be delivering eight duffel bags of donations from team members and extended teams including sports equipment, clothing, medical supplies, beanie babies (thank you Sarah and Rachel!) as well as items that we did not have room for from our last trip!

 

We will also be spending time touring the facilities, meeting with staff and children, participating in some daily routines and investigating additional ways that the team can support and spread the word!

 

We ask for your thoughts and prayers and to please post any comments for the team!!!  You have no idea how energizing your posts are for the travelers!!!!!!  (Keep in mind your posts are visible to all).

 

Our goal will be to update this blog more as we get closer to the trip and to try and update it each day so you can see pictures and progress.

 

Some Background if you are not familiar with our efforts:

 

Why Haiti? 

Team Haiti has been around for more than three years.  Some members of the team are new; some have been here since the beginning.  We have planned and deployed a number of trips to Haiti. 

 

While there is work to be done all over the world and very close to home, the team feels that there is a very strong need in Haiti.  Many countries and communities have the ability to offer basic services to those in need, Haiti does not.  Simply put, it is a matter of life and death.  These orphans need support and an advocate.  Our team supports that advocate – Danita’s

 

Why blog?

This trip is not about the team members.  It is about helping others.  The purpose of this blog is to bring awareness to you, our readers.  Full transparency – we are trying to make you aware and get you engaged.  We are looking to establish a longer term relationship with Danita’s and broad support.  That is where you come in.  When the team returns, we will need help.  If you have any interest in supporting the longer term efforts, please let us know.  Perhaps you will be on the next trip?

 

What’s next?

Now our focus is packing and getting the last minute items ready to go!  So many people have been so gracious with their support! 

 

Best and please come back to this blog and look in on us!!!

 

– Team Haiti

 

 

Last day

Well today is our last day at Danita’s.  We are preparing for a long day of travel and decompression.  It has been a very spiritual, emotional and giving experience.  As we reflect on our time it seems short and we marvel at the volunteers that have committed a month or more to their work here. 

 

We feel we have accomplished something good for Danita’s Children through you, all of our supporters who read this and wait for our return.  We, all of us here in Haiti and back home, have had an impact in a small way on the lives of others who need assistance.  We have kept our hearts open, been willing to learn and be teachable.  We have struggled with our own humility as being humble is the only true place where a person can learn.  There are certain things that people can only learn through experiencing them.  Gratitude, Perspective and Thanks are a few items we have learned a bit more of this past week.  We still have a lot more to learn.

 

Our time has exceeded all of our expectations.  The travel was safe and swift.  Crossing borders and customs was smooth.  The volunteers, missionaries, children and staff were wonderful. The success here and th vast opportunities overwhelm us.  However, being here and experiencing Danita’s vision has changed us.  So many people have wondered what to do about Haiti.  How do you help a country that have so much need and do not seem to have the capacity to help themselves?  Do you start at the top?  Is it financial, political or cultural?

 

Danita’s vision is to change the lives of people through a passion for excellence. Day in and day out.  The staff, the children the missionaries and the volunteers never accept ‘good enough.’  Outside the gate, ‘good enough’ is OK for today.  However, within the walls of the campus, ‘good enough’ will not cut it.  And that is what these kids experience every day in school, at play in their rooms of the orphanage.  Excellence is being engrained in their being.  Excellence is what they will take when they leave.  They will bring it to their colleges, the other students they encounter and eventually they will teach it to their children.  Danita’s grandchildren will change Haiti and eventually the world.  That opportunity and have but a small role is very humbling indeed.  We are grateful to be apart and count the days until we can get back home, get back to work and get back here.

 

Thanks to you all for your love, prayers and support

-Team Haiti

 

 

 
 

Day Four – Sunday

Below are thoughts from a few of the team members after a day of Church, time with the children, and an evening meeting with Danita and Sheree (Danita’s executive business manager). 

Kim – Today we went to church.  The service was 2 and a half hours of singing, and beautiful Creole.  The children were all dressed in their best clothes.  It was beautiful to watch.  I then helped take care of the children.  I’ve been spending most of my time with the handicapped children, in particular with a child named Jean.  He has Cerebral Palsy and is one of the children Danita brought from Port-au-Prince.  He has been having significant difficulty with eating and swallowing.  Today I was able to meet with Danita to relay my recommendations for this child.  Hopefully he will be able to go to the United States on a medical visa.  A team of people were also here today from Florida. They are here to measure and fit prostheses for the children who are amputees from the earthquake in Port-au-Prince.  There is so much hope here in amidst all the devastation.  Tonight I will be staying over night in the church with all the children Danita rescued from the earthquake. 

Art –Hi all.  Thanks for your prayers and wishes.  We set up 500 chairs this morning for church.  (felt like Oak Hill).  Church was beautiful.  The children all dressed in their best clothes.  There was a band and everyone was dancing and having a real experience for a couple of hours.  Today was kind of our day of rest.  We spent a lot of time with the kids and tonight we meet with Danita to see how Oak Hill and Tower Hill can help her grow this wonderful mission.  We’re taking lots of pictures and will update you soon.  Love to all.  Art.

Denise– Hi all, hope you are weathering the storms we heard about up there. We had a reprieve from the oppressive humidity late this afternoon when a shower passed through. Today, after church, I and a nurse named Nancy from Chicago area worked in the clinic. Set up on the second story of a building with no electricity or working plumbing we saw many of the villagers who attend church here on Sundays. The most common problems we saw have to be the effects of dehydration, chronic malnutrition and near starvation. I was so excited to see my friends from last year, Junior, Joseph Israel, Mackendy and the boys. The time has flown by so quickly. I am finally starting to get the names of the children down and we leave in 2 days. I know the Lord meant for us to be here though. I have watched my team glow with the Holy Spirit and I am blessed to be in their presence.

Drew– Geez, where to begin with all that was said above.  All of it so true and yet it is only a morsel captured that you must also experience and understand with your own eyes. You too would be overwhelmed with wonder and bewilderment at the site of progress considering the despair. However, I feel the team’s approach to Danita’s needs was very enlightening for both sides since we are both interested in achieving sustainability. Our open dialogue led to many possible and realistic options that ranged from sponsoring teachers for continued education, jump starting the internet, construction and sustainability of the future clinic and establishing an child immunization program and an HIV testing clinic.

Cathy – I spent Friday and Saturday night in the church caring for the children.  While my time has been spent with all of the children, when I am there I have been primarily responsible for a beautiful little girl named Denise.  Denise has hydrocephalous which means she has an abnormally enlarged fluid-filled head.  When Danita found her in Port-au-Prince her head was 2 to 3 inches larger than it is now.  She would just lay around all day without moving or expressing herself in any way.  Over the last six weeks her head has shrunk, she “sings” and she has started to express joy by smiling and briefly laughing.  She is a princess and having the opportunity to care for her has been a gift.  I held her during much of church today, and while I didn’t understand the service, I never felt more inspired in church. 

Amid all of the devastation of the last few months, the children and adults alike were singing and praising God and expressing their gratitude with prayer for over 2 and a half hours.  It was an amazing experience.  After church I hung around to care with and play with the children.  Davidson and Darlene (12 and 10) are brother and sister they hug me whenever they see me and tell me they love me.  Davidson speaks English well and has helped me when I need to communicate with the other children.  Djuono and Djery are brothers (we think 18 months and 2 and a half) and they love to play and cause trouble!  They sleep together in a little Lightning McQueen toddler bed and it is adorable.  Yvela is a little girl, about 3 or 4, who loves to jump on my lap and stand on me.  Richard, Khervens and Djiovany all love it when I pray over them at bedtime.  They are typical little boys and love to tease and cause trouble. 

There are so many children and upon arrival it is very hard to distinguish them and remember their names.  But over just a couple of days, their personalities emerge and it becomes hard to forget certain expressions and smiles.  They are what make each of them so beautiful.  I will never forget them.