Mason Pavan,  with Cumberland University, enters Haiti with eyes wide open and explains how the planning is so vastly different than the reality of Haiti. 

Two months prior to our visit to Haiti, I had been attending a class every Friday morning to prepare us as a class. We had uncovered a little bit about ourselves to each other, put together our Leadership Conference, and had been informed about some Haitian culture. The trip here itself took about seven hours from Nashville to Miami and finally Haiti. Immediately as we got off the plane everyone was taking pictures like any other group of tourists and headed to baggage claim, which was an adventure in its own. Although there was preparation for the trip, and hearing that Haiti was a third world country, it didn’t really hit me till we opened the airport door.

We made our way through what seemed like a cluster of chaos to the Tap Tap (it was a small pickup truck with makeshift seats and rails). About six of us piled in the back and on the top and embarked on a 3 ½ hour trip to Many Hands For Haiti campus. The roads were torn apart from the absence of maintenance, and if the bumps and turns didn’t wake me up, what I would describe as questionable driving tactics did. With no bright yellow lines to designate the sides of the road, it meant free game for everyone who can operate a vehicle, or even a donkey.

Washing in the river

But the Tap Tap wasn’t what really opened my eyes. It was everything that I was taking in, from the second we arrived to getting to our destination. You see pictures, videos, and hear stories about the conditions the Haitian people are living in, but you don’t truly understand until you drive through the heart of the country. There are unfinished buildings throughout from where people had either run out of money or just up and left. Trash everywhere, abandoned vehicles, unattended children roaming freely, and what seemed liked the saddest looking animals you had ever seen. People of all ages screaming “Blanc Blanc”(White White) and pointing. Some friendly and waving, some not so friendly and we won’t talk about their hand gestures.

Here’s one way of transportation A Haitian Artist Dawol

Words cannot describe all of the feelings and emotions coming over me. Now the land is beautiful, the mountains, trees, and a bright blue sky surrounded us as we kept driving. When we made it to the compound we were welcomed by the rest of the MH4H staff. There we were given some more information about what we were getting ourselves into during the debrief and believe me we were in for a treat. Then off to bed, we had a mountain to climb in the morning.