Brandon Olin, from the Cumberland University team, writes about their first day in Haiti and the eye opening experience of travel to the MH4H campus.

After a long and somewhat sleepless night, the airport and the opportunity to sleep before we landed in Haiti made me excited! However, I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to land into. After I got off the plane, I found myself in a place where most people didn’t know what I was saying. It is not easy to explain to a Haitian security officer why you have tons of loose beads (for giving out to the children) spread all throughout your suitcase because someone forgot to put the lid on tight. The real experience came when we exited the airport and boarded the Tap-Tap. What is a Tap-Tap? Well, in this case it was two vans. As we drove through Port Au Prince, I was astonished at the amount of poverty, trash, and absolute chaos.

Trash and markets in Port

We continued on our journey to Pignon and began to climb our first mountain with a newly paved road. The road was smooth, however, the tap-tap I was in had a hot temper, if you catch my drift. Halfway up the mountain the van overheated and forced us to shut it off and wait while the drivers fixed it. About thirty minutes later we were on our way again. Then it was a long twisting drive through the mountains. After about two hours of holding on for dear life, we finally had then inevitable happen. We left paved roads…My butt still hurts from that. The further we drove towards our destination the more destruction I saw and the more poverty I saw.

A shack in the middle on nowhere

A shack in the middle on nowhere

Crumbling houses are a common sight

After finally reaching our destination, we got the opportunity to eat real Haitian food, made by real Haitians. It should be no surprise that I mentioned food. After a long night of talking and opening up with everyone, I went to bed and slept like a rock.

The struggle I faced today was the question of why? As I drove through all the poverty and despair, I couldn’t help, but ask why am I so lucky? Looking back, I had barriers between me and the Haitians. We were in a closed van and had no contact with anyone for the most part. However, the next day we were about to be immersed to the fullest extent. I am still struggling with the question of why at this point. I have had to rely heavily on my faith to this point of the trip and I can’t see that changing anytime soon. The best is yet to come!

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