Thursday July 26, 2018
All students who were supposed to arrive today have arrived! We are still waiting on 5 more students, 4 who arrive tomorrow and 1 who arrives on Saturday. We’ll try to post another group photo once our group is complete!
Saturday July 28, 2018
Today we went to Blue Hills community at 9. After a short 10 minute car ride we were all ready to work. I began by sorting out the good and the bad bottles and proceeded to cut some wires. After cutting the wires I painted one of the rooms yellow. Right before having lunch we played soccer with the locals and after a while I was sad to stop playing because it was so much fun. Everyone was very nice and we had a lot of fun together. For dinner we had noodles and then continued working soon after. I started putting bottles into the walls and talking with the locals. When we got back to the lodge we had a creole lesson which was very easy to understand as it is basically an informal version of French. For dinner we had chicken rice and beanssss!!!!
The day began at 7:30 a.m. with myriad of excitement and energetic kids. We spent the day working in a community called Blue Hills on a vocational school made made from recycled plastic bottles. Many, like me, couldn’t wait to play with the joyful kids. When we got there, a bond was created between us and the Haitian people. Both parties worked hand in hand to accomplish the same goal. Knowing our goal was to finish walls by 3:30 caused us to put our differences aside and cooperate. All in all, everyone had a great time and enjoyed the amazing life changing experience.
Tuesday July 31, 2018
Today, we visited the Citadel, a famous fortress created by General Christof after the successful Haitian slave revolts of 1805. It is often referred to as one of the world’s untold wonders. After a precarious and bumpy drive up to the market place, we began our hike up to the fortress. The trek was completed quickly and efficiently, though it was quite tiring. On top of the Citadel, we enjoyed the breathtaking views and a delicious lunch of potato salad.
From this experience, we learned about how poverty and joblessness drive Haitians to resort to an extreme dependence on American tourism for income. Returning home, we enjoyed a soccer game between a local men’s team and our GLA boys. Concluding the night, we watched an informative documentary called Poverty, Inc. that goes into depth about the disparities between NGO aid and their devastating impacts on local communities.
Thursday August 2, 2018
Today was our last day- and we traveled to a Dr. Daytons Medical Clinic in downtown Cap Haitien. In order to accommodate all patients in the smaller space, the group was divided into two separate shifts at the clinic. While one group staffed the clinic, the other group went to a local market to purchase snacks and cold drinks. At the clinic we were able to see around 60 patients and provide routine checkups and consultation with Dr. Dayton. During the clinic the group staffed: Registration, Medical History, Vitals, Doctor Consult, and Pharmacy. The stations allowed us to interact with the locals in a positive way, as well as strengthen our own knowledge of how clinics are typically run. Following the clinic, we headed to the outskirts of Cap Haitien to observe a typical Haitian Voudou ritual- a ceremony that included singing and dancing. The ritual was the complete opposite of the Hollywood view of “voodoo” which has been portrayed as a pagan or occult practice, where in reality Voudou is a beautiful culturally rich practice that is focused on community and the preservation of Haitian heritage. After viewing part of the ceremony, we then returned to the lodge for dinner, our last night enjoying rice & beans. Following dinner we attended a presentation that primarily focused on the damage of Voulentourism.
Voulentourism is a multi-billion dollar industry that is unfortunately heavily influenced by the “white savior” complex- where westerners come to 3rd world countries with the mindset that they can save the native people with their superior intellect and material wealth. When attempting to provide aid in impoverished countries it is important to realize that the people are more similar to us than different, and to treat them as equals- without pity. In fact, strict material donation (ie. Clothing, food, toiletries etc) can unfortunately be more damaging to the people than helpful. Continuous material donation cripples the local economy, pushing many farmers & industry workers out of their need-sustained jobs. It is necessary to understand that the people in Haiti cannot be defined by their poverty, but by their incredible culture and sense of community. We look forward to sharing our newly learned knowledge with those at home, after our much anticipated beach day!