I Left My Heart in Haiti

What can I say about Haiti?

Other than when I learned about it being the first black republic in the world at 12 years I old, I wanted to visit. So I did. Jasmine, of Black Celebrity Giving, posted on her Facebook page either late January or early February about a trip to serve overseas. Not much else was stated. Then Haiti was mentioned. I jumped on board from the beginning. This was finally my chance to go. And I was not going to let it slip by. Getting there with everything I had going on was not going to be an obstacle I let prevent me from going on this trip. I’ll save all the details for my podcast. Check out that episode coming in Season 3.

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Okay so let’s fast forward to my weekend in Haiti. Here this introvert i.e. me heading to a country where I know NO ONE or anyone else on the trip besides Jasmine. Now my long time readers know I get extremely nervous in new situations or I clam up and not really socialize with others. I’m happy to say that didn’t happen. The surprising part was I felt really comfortable surrounded by people I didn’t know. I spoke to as many people as I could. I jumped in the van anytime it was leaving the hotel, except the hike. I just couldn’t do it, lol. I wanted to fully embrace any moment I could in that beautiful country. But the last night there I was exhausted from being around so many people though.

So what did I do?

Why did I go?

So glad you’re curious.

This was a service vacation. That means it was a two-fold trip. We went to do mission work while also exploring spots that tourists would absolutely love.

And I went because this year I challenged myself to live.

Do things.

Not stay in my comfort zone.

2016-09-09-16-54-40So let’s get to what we did while we were there. I flew in Friday morning to an airport that reminded me of ones you see in movies that feature African countries. Not to be funny but it really looked more like the regional airport in Sugarland, TX, than an international one. At the airport I ran into 3 other ladies who all happened to be on the same flight I was on who also came for the Giving In Haiti weekend. The ride to the hotel was quite interesting. Unlike a lot of people who say they are used to seeing certain types of poverty, I was more prepared than I thought I would be. Not to say it was all doom and gloom. It wasn’t. It so wasn’t.

We stayed at the Best Western Premier (this hotel was featured in an Ebony Magazine article in their Mother’s Day issue 2016). First this was way nicer than Best Westerns I’ve seen in America. The entrance was just beautiful. Okay enough with the details (I’ll share more in my podcast).

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We did two missions over Labor Day weekend. The first one was at a children’s home called Notre Dame des Victoires Orphanage.

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2016-09-09-17-04-09Now heat and I don’t mix. I’ve had my fair share of heat strokes and you would think living in Texas most of my life I would be used to heat. Nope. People ask how do I make it in the summers? Easy. I stay in the A/C. Anyway, I came extra prepared with water, snacks and a fan. I know my body so I knew when to remove myself from crowded rooms and when to just sit down.

 

So at the children’s home (they prefer that to orphanage which sounds better to me too) we set up a “boutique” for the children to receive school supplies, toiletries, underwear, socks, and shoes. The expressions on the kids faces were priceless. It’s amazing to see people grateful for what we would deem basic things. After the items were pretty much sorted, I left the room. It was about to get crowded with a lot of body heat, so I opted to work with the kids who wanted to paint. This cute little boy who had to be about 2, maybe 3, sat there for like 30 minutes unbothered while he painted. He was so focused. So I sat with him while the other little ones came and went from the painting table. While some of the other volunteers were outside playing with the kids, the rest were helping the kids fill their backpacks with items they would use during the upcoming school year.

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After all of these activities were finished, we waited on lunch to arrive. Haiti takes CP time (colored people time is an expression we use in the south for not being on time) to a brand new level. Before lunch arrived, the nun came and spoke to us. She asked God to bless each one of us. Which I claim. She blessed our families as well. She thanked us for giving to her children. Then the kids sang for us. The nun brought a change to the atmosphere that was considerable noticeable. She is definitely one of God’s angels on Earth.

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The food arrived and the kids ate their pizza. Then I got on the first van headed back to the hotel. The others stayed to get a tour of the living facility.

The next day we headed to Jacmel for the vacation part of the weekend. The water was absolutely gorgeous. Puts nasty Galvestion Beach to shame. We had lunch at Villa Nicole that was situated right on the Caribbean sea. Then there was a group headed to see the waterfall. Of course, I got in the van. Getting out of my comfort zone, right! We unfortunately couldn’t cross the river to get there so we decided to do a walking tour around Jacmel. I saw both breathtaking, picturesque buildings and scenery as well as unbelievable sites such as their market and how people used the river. It was krazy how night and day the same street was. But parts of Houston are like that too.

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We learned about the history of the “downtown” street in Jacmel. Walked around and took photos. We saw some vendors and all I wanted was a t-shirt. I came for the t-shirt, lol. One guy understood English and helped me connect with a local vendor who sold t-shirts. He only had one that said, “Haiti” on it. So I bought it. I didn’t care that it was a size too big. That momento was all I wanted. After some of us shopped we headed to a local hotel to eat at their cafe while we waited for the vans to return to pick us up.

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OMG getting to and from Jacmel, we had to go over and through a mountain range. I tried to take photos but people in Haiti drive like they are competing in the Indy 500. So I got what I got. The funniest thing happened on the way from Jacmel. Our van broke down. I can’t even write all the details. That’s definitely for the podcast episode.

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We got back to the hotel, I ordered dinner then went to sleep. I was exhausted from being in the heat literally all day. Our last mission was on Labor Day at Centre De Santé Communautaire which is a community center. The setup crew got there ready to work but other plans unfolded. So we met and spoke with the Director, Doctor and Dentist until it was time for us to volunteer. Being there opened my eyes to the fact that I have nothing to complain about when it comes to lack of funds. The amount of work they get done with NO money is ridiculous.

 

After we met the staff, we started to sort items for the buckets. The goal was to provide food, toiletries, school supplies for 100 families. And we did. It took me a minute to realize what the buckets were for. Then I remembered the day before I saw a lady in Jacmel using the same bucket to wash her clothes. The buckets served a dual purpose. No waste happening at all.

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After we finished, I hopped on the first van headed back to the hotel. Going to Haiti was a once in a lifetime experience. And I will never forget it. This is why I left my heart in Haiti.

I met some amazing women from all over the country. I felt true sisterhood. Everyone came with the same intent, to share their heart with others. I am truly appreciative that Jasmine yielded God’s Word and planned this trip. Next year, she’s hosting a service vacation in South Africa. So I’m going to work that into my schedule.

For the funniest details about my trip like flying Spirit Airlines, the van breaking down and more, tune into Season 3 of ‘A Toast To Truths‘ podcast.

For more photos from my trip, check out my gallary:

Many people may want to giveback but may not have the funds. I fundraised my way to Haiti, met my goal and was able to be part of a group making an impact. If you would like to learn how to use Gumroad to raise money for your nonprofit, fundraiser, trip, etc then register for this training. I want to share my strategies with you. Register today.

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