My name is Lori Swanson and I am a volunteer at the Many Hands Market in Spencer. I have had the blessed opportunity to come to Haiti with my daughter, Piper, and use some of my volunteer points to help offset the cost of my trip. I volunteer at The Market on Saturdays that work in my schedule and I truly enjoy helping Karmen Brown, our manager, her staff and the many other volunteers. The proceeds from The Market not only benefit the people of Haiti but they also help those in need in our local community. I am honored to give back in a small way by volunteering.
Today we were up at 4:30 a.m. to go to the Citadel. Marcena and Carol stayed back as they went around the community to show Haitians how to sew the t-shirt diapers for the Bundled Bottoms program. Partnering with the local seamstresses and tailors will allow the opportunity for local economic development and have a way to sew some of the diapers here in Haiti.Marcena explaining how to make Bundled Bottoms.
The rest of the group left at 5:20 a.m. to drive to the Citadel. We stopped in DonDon for a quick breakfast of bread, peanuts, bananas, hard boiled eggs and coffee from a road-side market then continued on to the Citadel. Hiking up the mountain to the Citadel I realized how grossly out of shape I am! Although I made it to the top extremely winded and horribly sweaty, the cool breeze at the top and the magnificent beauty of the surrounding landscape made it all worth it! Our tour guide spoke very good English and he made our experience and tour a great one.
Getting breakfast in DonDon.The view from the Citadel.
On the way back home we ran into a problem with crossing the river. With all of the rain the river was very high and 2 delivery trucks got stuck in the mud. One was able to get pulled out with the help of a larger truck but the other was having a difficult time getting out of the water to the other side of the road. The driver of our Tap-Tap and Haitian friend, Pouchon, was carried across the river to assist the drivers so the rest of the traffic could get through. He then was carried back across the river, hopped back into our truck, and got us through the mud and on our way.Part of the mud ‘traffic jam’ on our way back from the Citadel.
This is my first trip to Haiti and I have made a few observations in my week here:
- The bugs are much bigger in Haiti. I know this to be true as this morning I woke up to a Haitian cricket crawling in my mosquito net. The crickets here are not the small, black ones like we have back in the States. The spiders are much larger here, too, and it’s not uncommon to see a tarantula.
- Haiti is very hot in June and Gold Bond powder is a must-have when traveling here in the summer.
- Drinking water is sold in plastic bags in addition to bottles.
- The weather can change in a hurry in the afternoon since it is rainy season. It is sunny and hot in the morning and early afternoon, but by 3:00 p.m. the grey clouds move in and you need to be prepared for rain.
- Most everyone drives a motorcycle and it’s amazing how many Haitians can fit on the back of one.
- The Tap-Tap truck rides can be as exciting as an amusement park ride, and the Tap-Tap drivers are amazing. They navigate the pot holes, get us through the mud and high waters when crossing the rivers.
- The Haitian culture is not one of structure or schedules. God has been stretching me this week in this area and I’m learning to embrace the laid-back attitude and pace.
- Haitians are beautiful people. The children have the most beautiful eyes and the youth and adults have the most beautiful smiles.
- The pineapple and mangoes are much better tasting here, as well as the Coca-Cola.
- Although I don’t speak Creole love is the universal language with a smile, holding a child’s hand or a wave to a stranger.
- The sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking in Haiti and evidence of God’s handiwork and beauty.
God is doing great things in Haiti through MH4H. Craig & Christi Gabhart and the other staff here are amazing and it has been an honor to work alongside them this week serving the special people here.