Today we spent the day at the Baby Jesus of Prague Orphanage, this is the orphanage that Mayor Young and Council supported the rebuilding of following the terrible earthquake 6 years ago. Our meeting included the 4 staff, the Director, the 1 remaining sister, and 2 CDN Police Officers. In brief it was a governance meeting to discuss sustainability matters. Along with admin matters we sorted out the hen house project including the need for some small tables and chairs for the preschool age children. It was great to reconnect and continue to support them with some small projects.
Back to Saturday, which was for many of us one of the most amazing and emotional experiences associated with our work here in Haiti.
We arranged for all 52 Divine Hands children and 8 adults, not including the 5 of us, to head out of the overpopulated and polluted city and spend a day at a sea side resort 1.5 hours north of the city. (Given the election protests and road blocks we were a little concerned about travel but most of the problem is in the center of Port au Prince.) We rented an old school bus that had been converted in a large tap tap.
On arrival to the orphanage in the morning we were greeted by 52 extremely excited children, who had never been on a bus, out of the city, eaten at a restaurant, or swam at the beach. We loaded up both vehicles and headed north, with Bruce and I crammed into the bus and Russ, Dan, and Rick following behind in our tap tap.
The children originally stared out the windows with anticipation of what the day would bring, but after about 45 minutes on the road with the bus gently rocking and swaying back and forth, the majority were soon fast asleep.
During the trip we encountered a police road block and the driver of our small vehicle carrying Dan, Rick and Russ, had to pay a trumped up $50.00 US fine for not wearing seat-belts. None of the tap taps in Haiti have seat-belts.
That little glitch aside we arrived at the modest seaside resort and got all the kids down to the beach. Doris, the Director, appealed to us to help with the lifeguarding for she was truly worried. So the 5 of us waded out to chest high water and created what we hoped would be a safe area to play in. We were like a rope stretched out around the perimeter in a lake. At first the kids played at the very edge of the beach, then they slowly made their way out as they became comfortable.
In no time the five of us were like life rings with up to 5 children clinging to us and squealing with joy. I should mention that 2 young american women who worked at Christian NGO group and who had recently helped Janelson, one of our kids with his prothesis, came over and asked if one of us was Bruce Brown, for they thought that they recognized Janelson and knew that Bruce and coordinated his visit to the clinic. Anyway they came over and spent an hour with us playing with the kids and helping ensure that no one drowned. One little girl that never left my arms the entire time just wanted to float, for she had never experienced the buoyancy of deep water.
After a couple hours on the beach we headed up to the restaurant for an incredible Haitian luncheon that was delicious. Each plate had 3 big chicken legs and I know they have never experienced that at the orphanage. It was also amazing how quiet the kids were, I guess they were just intent on finishing every thing on their plate.
After lunch 52 kids piled into the shallow end of the pool. I hope that the resort guests didn't mind the "invasion"
Following the swim in the pool, the children dried off and went to a stage area at the resort to put on a performance of "thanks" for everyone who helped make this day possible.
Late afternoon we loaded the bus for the return trip and got safely back around 6 pm. We think the children will have slept well that night. During a rum- sour wind down with the sunburned 5 of us, we all agreed that the children truly had an experience of a lifetime.
Latter that evening we had dinner at a restaurant with all the Canadian Police serving on the UN mission, followed by a meeting with Ricardo the Director of the Langford orphanage, and a team meeting rap up that lasted late into the evening. A most successful day!!!!!