Another very full day here in Haiti! After breakfast today, we headed out in the big truck just north of Port-Au-Prince, to the village of Titanyen. We visited Global Outreach, which is a 66-acre compound with a variety of ministries. They have been able to drill almost 350 wells in the surrounding area since starting their ministry in 1993. In addition, they offer youth programs, a camp, and a burn clinic, among other things.
While there, we had the opportunity to visit Sheryl, who is the RN who runs the burn clinic. Burns are unfortunately very common in Haiti. Few people have electricity, so it is very common for people to have an open flame or fire for cooking, as a light source, or for burning trash. Sheryl also sees many leg burns from motorcycles, since heat guards are not required over mufflers in Haiti. We were amazed to learn the extent of what she does to care for these people, with limited resources. In North America, burn treatments are usually performed after a generous dose of narcotics to treat pain, since debriding and treating burns is so incredibly painful. As you can imagine, it is difficult in Haiti to obtain morphine or other narcotics for such purposes, so many patients are under-medicated for their treatments.
We spent the afternoon helping with a very unique ministry called Sport Disciple. This is a way of reaching out to the kids in the area through soccer! The program currently serves about 800 children and so far has had an enormous impact on the surrounding community. The children are split into soccer teams based on age and gender. Each time they attend practice or game (one practice and one game per week), they are fed a nutritious meal upon arrival. Then they play soccer, learning all of the great things that sports teaches like character, teamwork, perseverance, friendship, and not getting hit in the face with a ball (or maybe that was just what I learned?). After they play, they sit to hear a short bible story or gospel message and pray before heading home. Their cleats and uniforms are provided. Each team also adopts an elderly person in their community, and once per month they go with their coach to perform chores, cooking, and other acts of community service for them. The program is lead by a missionary couple but staffed and coached by Hatians, which provides jobs and income for them.
Our role at Sport Discipile was to help with serving food and washing dishes. It was a very organized affair. The kids ate in shifts. The first team would line up to receive their food. As they finished eating, the dishes would get passed back to us for washing. The clean dishes were then given to the servers to dish up for the next team. We fed and cleaned up after 200 kids! Then we got to “play soccer” with the smallest group of girls (about 5-6 years old). And by “play soccer”, I mean we got hugged and climbed on in excess, and gave a ridiculous number of piggy-back rides. The girls were hungry for affection and so full of love.
One of the highlights of our day was meeting a fisherman named Tege (pronounced Tee-gay). Tege has the good fortune of living right on the white sandy beach. Our leader, Frank, has become friends with Tege over the last few years, and since he is a fun person to visit, we had the chance to drop in. As we headed out to see him, Frank said, “Let’s go see Tege….hopefully he’ll be wearing pants today!” Apparently if you are a fisherman in Haiti, pants are optional!
Thankfully, Tege was fully clothed today! He was a gracious host. He took us out for a ride in his boat, which he made himself by hand. His two sons did the rowing. They were super strong and lean. We watched as Tege dove off the side of the boat to catch 2 huge red starfish. He was so proud! We then enjoyed visiting with his family after our boat ride.
What I would say so far about my trip overall is that it has been eye-opening, life-changing, humbling, and exciting. I have been battling with some disappointment over not getting to do as much medical or nursing activities as I had originally hoped. However, the things that we have had the opportunity to be involved in have been awesome, and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss them!