Lindsay Overton, Speech Pathologist and owner of Lindsay’s Chatterbox in Oskaloosa, IA, joined her good friend, Liz Clarke, in Pignon, Haiti for a week of educating moms in the First Thousand Days Program on the importance of language development and the joys of creating sensory experiences for their kids. Lindsay loves creating learning opportunities through playtime with young children. Sure enough – moms and kids alike were laughing, playing, and learning using the knowledge Lindsay presented!
The beginning of the rainy season occurred the day before I stepped foot in Haiti. What a relief! I heard it hadn’t rained since October. The relief of the rain mirrored a relief I felt as I left my stress behind me in Iowa. Entering Haiti, I had two goals: I wanted to encourage anyone I came in to contact with and serve them if I could.
On my Missionary Flight across the Caribbean, I was reminded of the passage in Philippians 4 where I should be focused on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy! Ok! I wanted to try.
This marked my third trip to Haiti. The past two times, I came with the Central College group. This was a very special trip where I could use my knowledge and skills as a Speech Language Pathologist. It was also a time to visit my best friend and see her day to day life so I could learn how to pray for Liz with more focus!
Liz Clarke is the program manager for the First Thousand Days program in Sylvain and Maliarette. Wow! What an excellent lady! I was able to observe how well she delegated and created such a fun atmosphere for the employees serving the moms in the programs. Liz asked me to present to the moms about language development. Perfect! I am obsessed with sensory experiences and emphasizing the importance of play with children under the age of three.
I presented to the moms on brain development, gross motor development, language milestones, and how to interact with their children through play in order to develop their language. I was so thankful that Liz could not only translate my words, but she turned what I said into something that was culturally appropriate.
After some thought, we decided to have the moms create a sensory bottle with objects they could find in Haiti. I provided the objects they needed for the toy that day, but we encouraged them to create their own at home using sand, rocks, flowers, beads, sticks, leaves, whatever they could find! Madam Kalot commented on how beautiful the toy was by saying, “This brings me so much joy to look at. It takes all of my problems away.”
The fruit from the presentation happened a few days later when Liz was buying gas from Kalot. We went in to buy some lollipops and Sebastian was playing with a bottle that had water and marbles in it. What?? He said his mom made it for him. The concept of learning through play is something I talk to parents in the USA about often. I was so pleased to see Madam Kalot understand and put in to practice the information from the presentation.
Reading about the new buildings at the Many Hands campus is one thing, but seeing it all with my own eyes was amazing. The new school is being built and is looking wonderful. I walked on a lovely prayer path around the campus. I saw the goat land and climbed to the top of the guard tower. The office spaces are perfect for focusing and Irene’s place has a beautiful view from the top.
We traveled to Hinche to Basin Zim and experienced such a beautiful sight. An added bonus was riding on a moto on the brand new black top highway to Hinche! I walked across the suspension bridge and had pumpkin soup for breakfast in Pignon. I visited my sponsor child’s family and went to a local church. Haiti is currently under a “travel not advised” label. I had some reservation about going, but I decided to trust Liz and go. I felt completely safe during the entire week. I was so thankful I took time away from my day to day life and spent it in Haiti.