by Arlyn Stuart, first time trip participant
Today, we helped the nine area grade schools provide meals from Meals from the Heartland. I remember seeing various groups go to Des Moines to help fill these bags with a meal, so it was even more meaningful to help distribute them among the schools. Each school gets enough to provide one meal per day for all their kids for one month. Each month they get a new delivery, so no school has to have a large storage area for the meals. Instead, the meals are kept at a central storage area and then distributed once a month. We did have a little excitement when we found a mother rat and her nest of babies in the bin where some of the meals were stored. Quick movement and a few screams overtook our team when the mother rat jumped out and ran across the floor! Fortunately, they only got into on box of food, and we were able to dispose of her and the nest of babies.
Above: Getting ready to deliver boxes full of meals from Meals from the Heartland.
This afternoon, we helped paint the interior of a building that MH4H is building to house the local manager and his wife. This building will also provide dorm space for approximately 20 people from visiting teams. At this point, MH4H uses facilities owned by other organizations to house teams. With the new building, they will have more freedom to host trip participants because they won’t have to share a building with other organizations. A group of 15 Haitians or so helped with the painting. MH4H loves to employ Haitians to do the work so that they can provide them with a salary instead of giving them handouts. Our team of three assisted with the organizing and were the ‘go-fers’ to get more paint, move ladders, and other odd jobs. We got the first coat of paint on about ¾ of the interior. We plan to finish the first coat and get as much of the next coat done as possible on Monday afternoon.
We also went to the Saturday market; now that was an experience! It seemed like people were coming out of the woodwork to sell something. They sold everything from food to clothing, from rope to livestock. Some of the people were butchering animals right at the market to sell the fresh, raw meat, others were selling produce from their gardens, and still others were selling cooked foods. We saw the bakery where MH4H buys the bread that we have been eating, which is quite a bit different than my hometown Jaarsma Bakery. We bought some produce while at the market, including locally grown peanuts to make into peanut butter to eat for the rest of our stay. The market’s variety of all the different items for sale was amazing. And it was crowded, elbow to elbow, for blocks! I loved it. These new sights, sounds, and smells for us foreigners can be a little overwhelming at times, but I’m so thankful to be a part of this new experience.