Sunday morning we met another mission team with Mountain Top Ministries (MTM) and went out in a caravan of ATV’s, 3 people per 4-wheeler. We drove down gravely, hole ridden roads- to a dried-up river bed. Through the river bed, the hills surrounded us on all sides; the country side is magnificent! We splashed through muddy water and up another hill to the church where Willem preaches. I find it amazing that this whole area in Gramothe used to be oppressed by voodoo until Willem and others dispelled superstitious practices and transformed the village with education. After the service, we shared lunch with the other mission team. Willem said the meat was ‘cat’ but my theory is that because it tasted like beef, not chicken, it couldn’t have been cat. But all of us were split 50/50 and we still don’t know! In the afternoon, we met the kids for the first time and they were all so great.
The following day, after a delicious meal of Haitian cinnamon & vanilla porridge, fresh mango, passion fruit juice and coffee, we played with the kids all day. It was overwhelming at times but Havilah, Kate and I had so much fun! I met a girl named Kamala who is 6 and hung out with her most of the day. She made me count with her to 100 in Creole AND English, she is so smart! She is also very gentle and sweet with the other children.
We also toured the facility as well and were very impressed with how spotless it was and how clean they kept the children with changes of diapers and clothes. The space is really great, with murals on the walls of animals, butterflies and trees. There is a baby room and a toddler room, a changing room downstairs and the play room in addition to a large kitchen and a few bathrooms. We bottle fed the babies, played with the kids and made sure to give hugs to all of them. It was common to have 6 kids on each of us at a time, three in the lap, two around the neck and one playing with the hair.
In the afternoon we went to pick up Mary from the airport. She will be living in Haiti for 6 months volunteering with MTM. She is a pediatrics physical therapist and has had plenty of experience working with children. She is a very cool person and we are so happy that she will be helping out at Rivers of Hope with a variety of developmental needs.
Today we had a chance to hold some kiddos that we weren’t able to yesterday. We observed that some of the children were more calm and happy when we returned today. While a few of the other kids had a difficult time as the other mission team was there as well and there was a lot of activity in the home. The Nebraska mission team had brought a plastic playground to set up in the yard of the children’s home. Everyone chipped in and helped clean it up while others feed the children. This is so great because now the kids will have more outdoor play time! It was also very evident that some of the children were responding very well to one-on-one time with eye contact, cradling, bouncing and many other things that are so crucial for child development. We felt like today was a success!