Monthly Archives: March 2010

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

 

 

 
 
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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.


Day three – Saturday

As you might have noticed from the closing of the last post, today started early at 6:30. 

We spent a good amount of time moving and organizing donations before the day’s heat set-in. Cathy and Art, who worked the night shift in the church, received a reprieve from some of the heavy lifting as they were definitely tired!  Apparently the roosters like to sit outside the open-air windows and crow during the night.  Every fifteen minutes!!!! 

We then ate breakfast, met with the staff and shared some thoughts.  A devotional was held and we closed with a prayer.  Art and Cathy went off to freshen up.  Drew and Denise went back to the one-room clinic.  Kim has morning duty with Dawn at the Church and Adam is still trying to get the internet up at running for the staff.  The internet is the staff’s main source of communication with, friends, family and the outside world.  However, it has been down for over a week.  These blog posts are going through Adam’s phone!

Later in the day Kim and Art braved the heat of the store room to empty the remaining eleven duffels.  Cathy and Denise helped prepare dinner with Sonya, a volunteer from South Carolina.

In terms of the work that we are doing there are two paths we are following.  One path, as you have seen, is that we are engaged in the day-to-day hands-on work of caring for the kids, assisting with food prep, storing and organizing donations, ETC. 

The other path we are following is more long term.  We are taking opportunities to meet with the school staff, clinic staff and their management teams to see what we can do to impact on a longer term.  These would be ideas for possible projects that can be done while back home… with your help…..

Some ideas that we are discussing include:

  • Initiating an immunization program through the Minister of Health
  • Understanding what we can do to further support their church and their ministry
  • Developing a support team to raise funds for school supplies
  • Investigating a stipend fund for supporting another full-time staff member
  • Investigating a way of updating and integrating their network and computer systems
  • Further support for their larger clinic construction
  • Further support for the Hospital of Hope
  • Assisting with the building and supplying of a new orphanage house (so they kids can move out of the church)

We have mentioned a few times that we see an ample need here to assist with the work that Danita’s team is delivering.  With their progress, new opportunities open up to expand their works.  You will notice in the photos on this blog that there is a massive difference between the kids who have access to Danita’s facility and those who do not. 

We feel the opportunities listed above expand the list of services available as well as extend the present services to other destitute children in Ouanaminthe.  While the word ‘destitute’ may seem dramatic, no member of this team has ever seen such abject poverty before.  The fact that it lands at the doorstep of children is crushing to us all and inspires us to work harder.  The fact that we see smiles on faces is humbling.  It offers us both perspective and gratitude to be able to help in some small way.

The ideas listed above are just ideas.  Ones that we have thought of over the past few days.  We are also looking for any ideas that you might have, or if you are interested in working on some of the one’s above.

Don’t forget to check out our photos (at the bottom of the home page)to see your friends in action!

Also, please sign in to the guest book and continue to leave us comments.  They are really great, warm our hearts and give us strength!!  Let us know that you are out there!  A special shout out to Dawn’s Daughter, Kate for her post.  Nothing like a child telling her mom that they are proud of her.  It brought a big smile to all our faces!!!


Day 2 – Friday

Today we got to work!  And boy did we work!!!

The day started with breakfast with the staff and volunteers… and Coffee lots of coffee. We then met for our orientation to discuss the process for integrating the new children, the rules for the environment and the shifts available to work with the children.  The meeting closed with a devotional and songs.

Every member of the team worked quite hard.  Drew and Denise went to the clinic and worked with a number of children.  Drew is already thinking of how he can establish an immunization program for the children at Danita’s. They also took a trip to the local hospital.  Art and Adam did some heavy lifting and started the process of unpacking the duffels.  Art is also working the night shift in the Church where the new arrivals from Port-au-Prince are housed.  Cathy is also working the night shift tonight.  They will be joined by two other volunteers.

Dawn got to sit in a staff staff meeting with the school and will be meeting with the teachers and interpreter on Monday.  She already has a number of ideas where we can have an impact on the school environment, starting with supplies.  Kim worked the afternoon shift with the kids in the church and performed a feeding evaluation on a child with Cerebral Palsy. 

As you can see from some of the photos, there are a number of children who have been through a war (the earthquake).  There are moments where they are happy and laughing and others when there is no question that they have been deeply touched by the recent disaster.  There are a number of amputees as well as special needs.

 

The team is finding that there are many people with good hearts who have come to volunteer.  There is a staff of 54 people from the local community that cook, clean teach and the like.  However, there are only four permanent staff members that run the whole show locally.  At any given time, it seems that at least one of them are away on some mission.

We are seeing some amazing things at Danita’s but we also see that it is a refuge in a deeply impoverished country. All around is vast desperateness.  We took a heartbreaking tour of the local village.  While Danita assists them, she is maxed out for resources.  The school ($5.00 charge per year for the local families and free to the orphans) is full with 500 students.  The students that attend school from the town get hot lunch included which is usually their only meal of the day.

Tomorrow Danita will be retuning from a trip to the DR and she will be joined by Sheree Bowie.  Sheree is the Executive director for the US office for Danita’s.

Every night the team is meeting to discuss new ideas, what we feel is working well and what is not working.  We are all very tired and very excited!!  We are all in agreement that this trip was a great idea and there is so much work to be done for these kids!!   We cannot wait to get back to work tomorrow… at 6:30..AM  🙂


Day One

After a long day of travel (began at 2:00AM) we are are here at Danita’s in Haiti and we are very excited!

Going through JKF airport with the fourteen duffle bags was almost as exciting as exiting the Santiago Airport with the same bags!!

When we arrived and were settled, we toured the Main facility as well as the individual homes for the boys and the girls.  The whole team is both amazed and surprised how well the children are cared for and how much more there is to do.  All students (there are 500 who attend the school from the town and from the orphanage) wear uniforms.  Their manners are impeccable.  They are so very happy, but have so many needs.   

The church has been converted to house the 55 Pot-Au-Prince orphans, many of which have chronic medical needs.   Services are now held outside.  Check out the photos in the photo section of the site.

We are very impressed that Danita’s staff has taken on the challenge of kids with needs such as burn victims, hydrocephalous, amputees and others.   With all the great work, the staff here is definitely challenged.  Aftershocks scare the Port-Au-Prince children terribly. Emotional needs are high especially for the children who have just recently lost family.  Support is around the clock. 

The staff is grounded, well spoken and fully engaged.  There are a number of other volunteers here as well from a fourteen year old girl who is stationed here with her family to college students who chose to come here for their spring break.

Tomorrow is our formal orientation.  We will be getting assignments as to where we can begin help hand-on. We will also be spending some time distributing the donated materials and learning what the individual team members can do to engage in the medical and educational support.  Some great relationships have already begun!

Speaking with our Field Coordinator, Karris, she wanted to make sure that we pass along our their thanks and gratitude for all of the people that have supported the team and Danita’s in general.  The donations made for the advancement of the clinic seems to be assuring that it will be completed before the end of 2010. 

Please check out the new pictures in the space.  However, we must include this one directly in the blog.  Denise carried a large platter of Cini-buns from NJ all the way to Haiti for the staff.  The entire team begged her to throw them out all through the day, but Denise persevered.  Here she is pictured with Brittany, our direct contact, who exclaimed that this was “the best thing she has had to eat in months!”

Take Care!!


Why the students at Oak Hill Academy Rock:

The Oak Hill Academy Student Council in front of 50 bags of clothing and toiletries. They are presenting a check representing the contributions collected for Danita’s children in Haiti.  Art and 6 other Tower Hill Members will be leaving on Thursday for Haiti.


Preparing for the trip

All,

 

We are very excited and yes, a bit nervous about traveling to Haiti.  We are hoping that we will be able to get access to the internet and make frequent updates to this blog.  Fingers are crossed!

 

Please feel free to look through the team list to meet us (just your everyday common people), check out the photos and please leave us a comment or two.  We would love to get your thoughts and words of support!

 

Why Haiti? 

Team Haiti has been around for more than two 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.  With the recent events of the Earthquake, we feel compelled to make this trip and support Danita’s Children and the orphans in their care.  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 will be in suport of that advocate.  The earthquake did not create this issue or our interest.  However, it has multiplied the effects.

 

What are we going to do?

Our trip will focus on bringing much needed supplies and care to the Orphans at Danita’s Children.  While we have made some significant investments in their future clinic, we wanted to have a ‘hands-on’ experience. All team members will engage with the children directly – reading, playing, helping, changing diapers – whatever is needed.  In addition, we have two medical personel that will work with the people at their clinic.  We have a two people on the trip with education experience and they will be working with the school and teachers.  The rest of the team will be working with the management of Danita’s to understand long term needs and how we can support when we get back home.

 

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?

We are presently preparing for the trip which will leave very early on the morning of the 11th.  The flights, accommodations and the logistics have all been arranged.  Kim and Denise have done a great job getting the team on track (with seven children between the two of them, you know they are the right people to organize this group)!

 

Now our focus is packing and getting the last minute items ready to go!  So many people have been so gracious with their support!  At this point we have 14 duffle bags (2 for each of us) to pack on Sunday!  There is a very good chance that we will have to ship some materials down after we are done packing.  Rumor has it that Art has collected over 40 bags of donations from Oak Hill Academy.  You guys rock!!!!

 

Best and please come back and look in on us!!!

 

– Team Haiti