Compassion Insights Trip -Haiti Day 7

Today is another day of travel. We are travelling from Cap-Haitien in the northern part of Haiti to Port-a-Prince, the Capital of Haiti. It is the shortest of our plane trips, only half an hour. However, it will take us most of the day. We have to get to the airport in Cap-Haitien then organise our boarding passes and pass through security (with is only an x-ray and metal detector). Then a wait for an hour and a half.  Part way through our wait the power cuts out and the aircon stops working making the waiting room stuffy and hot. Life in Haiti!

After landing in Port-a-Prince we meet our local Compassion specialist and travel to our hotel we finally get to have lunch and organise ourselves for the next few days.

Our hotel in Port a Prince is in a very wealthy area. The community has a security guard at the entrance into the suburb.  And when we arrive at the hotel we are amazed at the quality of the hotel. We feel very privileged to be staying in such a good hotel in Port a Prince. Where we are staying is so different to the children we will be seeing in the next couple of days.

The picture below: Houses just across the valley from our hotel.

Compassion Insights Trip -Haiti Day 6

Today we travelled back into the city area of Cap-Haitien to visit a Compassion centre running a Child Survival Program. This is where mothers and babies are cared for to help the baby thrive and to help the mother gain skills.

It’s a great program as it teaches much-needed parenting skills and important hygiene skills. The program covers aspects such as the need for proper nutrition for the baby, breastfeeding, immunisation, family planning. Along with this, each centre teaches different life skills to the mothers to help them earn an income. Also, they teach literacy, often these mothers had never been to school.

We had a great time with the mothers, the staff and the babies. In Haitian culture, it is very acceptable to hand around your baby to others and we all got to hold many babies.

We also had the opportunity to visit the clinic where they do the baby checks. I was really impressed with how well the clinic was stock with medications that could be given to the babies in the program if they were sick. No need for these poor mothers to struggle to find enough money to purchase the needed medicines, they are given the medication as needed. This is amazing work Compassion and the local church are doing. Also, the clinic has food formula and other supplements if a baby is malnourished. Each of the children is charted to make certain that they are thriving.

After lunch, we then visited one of the mums and her family in her home. She lived a short walk through the narrow streets. Her home which she rented, had two rooms and an entrance way. She lived there with her 3 children, her mother, her sister and her child. The two rooms had enough room for a bed each and those that didn’t fit on the bed had to sleep in the entrance way on mats on the floor.  About 90-95% of the mum’s income was used to pay the rent on the house. Not leaving much for anything else.  The support the local church and Compassion gives means that when her son was sick recently he was able to go to the hospital. We need to remember that we live in a very privileged society, and the energy and effort that we put into things that are supposedly important just pale into insignificance compared to the daily life of the majority of the world.

Compassion Insights Trip -Haiti Day 5

Today is Sunday and church. We were told that church starts early to avoid the heat and we should leave the hotel at 7.30 am to be at church around 8 am and that it was going to be okay that we are arriving half way through the service. The church where we went starts about 6 am and will go for a few hours before the heat of the day kicks in.

The worship was amazing with hundreds of people singing. The preacher was passionate and gave a message about: ‘no matter your situation, whether you are poor or not, God is with you.’

One thing about going to church in Haiti is that it is hot, and people are crammed into together. People were sitting on the stairs and any place they could hear what was going on. (Makes you think that we have it so easy in our church)

After church, some of us went on a home visit nearby with one of the sponsor children of a person on the trip. They had to climb halfway up the hills surrounding Cap Haitien, a steep climb but an amazing visit.

After lunch, we had the opportunity to visit one of the historical sites near Cap-Haitien. The Sans-Souci Palace is a Palace in Haiti in the town of Milot, Nord, located approximately 5 kilometres northeast of the Citadelle Laferrière.

Compassion Insights Trip -Haiti Day 4

Today we spent the day at a rural church and compassion centre just outside of Cap-Haitien. After about an hour bus ride we arrived at the church/centre and were greeted by a brass hand playing Advance Australia Fair, a very impressive welcome. We were then ushered into the church and formally welcomed by the senior pastor, compassion coordinator, parents and children.

Then we visited the children in a couple of their classes. The classes are broken into different age groups. We spent some time in a class observing their lesson on spiritual development, where they were learning about the attributes of God.

The other lesson that we were able to observe was a life lesson for the 15-18 year age group. In this lesson, they learnt the importance of good hygiene and how to wash your hands properly. Very practical and important. Another lesson that part of our group was able to observe was about HIV, the causes, how it is spread and how to stay safe. All important information that the church is giving these kids.

We then had time to interact with the children and play some games. Bubbles were a hit, as was Chris and the soccer balls. By the end of the time with the kids, Chris was soaked in sweat from all the soccer he was playing.

After lunch, we had a home visit with a teenage boy who was living with his grandmother because his mother had died when he was young. He lives with his brother, cousins and aunty all in a one-room house with a small garden out the back. A tough live with very little but they were grateful for the help provided by Compassion and his sponsor.

Compassion Insights Trip -Haiti Day 3

Up super early as the rebooked flight to Haiti leaves at 6:30 am. Catch the first shuttle bus of the day and then through TSA customs grab some breakfast on the run and straight onto the plane. We all get seated and then we wait, and wait, finally, an announcement is made that 3 people have not made the flight,  but their bags have all been packed and now have to be offloaded. But the problem is that all the bags have to be checked to match the baggage numbers.

Finally, we take off about 1-hour later than planned, which is going to mean that we are a bit more rushed today at the compassion centre. The flight to Cap-Haitien was only a short hope of 1.5 hours.

I love arriving in a new country, to see the local customs and what the place looks like. Cap-Haitien is the second largest city in Haiti. That being said you can see the poverty on the streets. For lots of people on the trip, the rubbish on the streets was the most confronting part of arriving.

After we settled into our hotel, we quickly headed off to a Church and compassion centre in Cap-Haitien. The centre is CDSP HA159. This means that it is the 159th oldest centre in Haiti. It had been operating for 46 years and we meet a number of the staff their that had been beneficiaries of the Compassion program. Wonderful to see them giving back to the community through the ongoing work of compassion.

We were greeted with a brass band and warmly welcomed into the church, where we heard testimonies from parents of children in the program. Lots of singing and interaction. Following this, we played with the children and then had lunch at the centre.

After lunch, we then visited 2 families in their home to see how they live and also to bless them with a special gift from the church and from us.

Compassion Insights Trip -Haiti Day 2

Today we started with breakfast at our hotel just near Miami airport so that we could get onto the next part of our trip to Haiti. Everything was going well. We breezed through the check-in process and cleared customs. Had lunch altogether, found the extra person who was joining us today. During this time our trip leader David was in contact with the Haiti Compassion staff that was going to be helping us while we were in Haiti. After a message from Junior, our Compassion staff member that the plane was going to be arriving late. We looked up and it was true that we were going to be an hour late. Nothing to worry about the plane should be arriving shortly and we can fly to Cap-Haitian. The plane landed and everybody disembarked the plane and then we waited for the boarding call with anticipation that we would be soon at our destination after travelling halfway around the world. We waited even more and another hour passed. The staff then informs us that the captain is not happy with the plane and maintenance is going to be looking at an issue. No worries, better to be fixed. Then we get the news that our flight is planned to arrive the next day. Quickly figuring out that the plane had now been put out of service because of a mechanical issue we head off to get hotel rooms for the night. Luckily we all end up at the same hotel and we end having dinner at Chillies and have to do some essential shopping because our bags are still checked in at the airport.

Compassion Insights Trip -Haiti Day 1

Christopher and I have the privilege of joining 9 other fellow Australian Compassion child sponsors as we travel to Haiti to see first hand the amazing life-changing work of Compassion. With Haiti being in the Caribbean, and we are coming from Australia, then this means that our first day is taken up with flying. Flying from Sydney to Los Angeles and then onto Miami with a 6 hour stop over in LA.  Most of our time has so far been getting to know the other people on the trip, some safety briefings, especially making certain that we don’t drink the local tap water.

This was the view from the plane coming into LA