I came on this trip fully expecting a life changing experience. What I didn’t expect was that the similarities between our worlds would affect me as much as the differences.
Earlier this week, the team agreed that we were here to work (and we have!). In addition to testing for hearing loss, fitting, and follow-up of the children at the Haiti Deaf Academy, we were compelled to do more than that, and we provided other services for other at-risk groups for hearing loss, as time permitted. One of these extra projects came when we were invited to do hearing screenings for students of The Respire Haiti Christian School.
Day 3: Today was an amazing and wonderful day in Haiti. We got up early and enjoyed a delicious breakfast prepared by the stellar staff at New Life Children’s house, then after a pep talk from Cathy we drove out to the Deaf Academy in Leveque.
Honestly, I have never been so warmly welcomed anywhere in my life. The children swarmed out to meet us, with joyful smiles and hugs aplenty. Truly, I have never known children so eager to laugh, so generous with affection and so grateful for help. In particular, Mike (our on-site hearing aid technician) was a big hit with the young boys, who smothered him with hugs. Every time I looked at him, he had one boy in each arm, one boy clinging to each leg, and sometimes even a fifth one on his back! It was easy to see how pleased they were to have us and how hopeful they were that we could help them.
Although it was only our first full day, it was one of the most exhausting and rewarding days I’ve ever had.
We went for a drive today, and it was an adventure in itself! The roads themselves are dirt, with potholes – craters, actually – sometimes full of water, sometimes not. There are no lines on the road, no traffic lights, and no stop signs. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of rules or regulations about driving, either. And sometimes chickens run in front of the cars. It’s not like anything I’ve ever seen before, or likely will again.
We started our morning by going to MetalWorks – this amazing little artist community where the majority of the crafts were made with scrap metal. They were unbelievably beautiful, and the artists were the most talented group of people who took so much pride in their work. I even bought several pieces to take home.
From there, we went somewhere that actually had me in complete awe. There’s a small school on the outskirts of Cité Soleil. From the outside of Anacias’ Capva School, there is a guarded metal gate. The inside has a medical center on the right, and a school on the left. Inside the school, there is one room for the smaller children, and four pods for the older ones. They were just finishing classes as we arrived, and many of them ran outside when they saw our vans pull in. We were greeted with more smiles and waves and happiness than I ever have been. I truly felt like a celebrity.